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Gaining support from your employer is an essential step in your MBA journey. Whether you are asking for financial support, flexible working patterns or time off, a well-researched business case will show your employer that you are serious about it. But how can you do this? In this blog, we provide our five top tips for building a successful business case.

Five top tips for a successful business case

1. Plan ahead

Choose the right time in the financial or business year to present your case. If your company is halfway through the financial year and you want to start your MBA the following month, this may not be realistic. Depending on your organisations size and internal processes, approval for sponsorship may also take some time. Be mindful of this and ensure that both you and your employer are aware of admissions deadlines for the degree programme you are pursuing.  

During the planning process, speak to your HR team, line manager and colleagues to find out if anyone else in the company has been sponsored previously and if so, chat with them to find out how they navigated the process. They may have some tips for you! 

2. Define your ask

Know what you are asking for and be clear about this in the conversations you have.

There are two main types of support that our students gain from their employer. These are: 

Financial assistance 

If you are asking for financial assistance, how much are you seeking? Are you asking for the full cost of the MBA or partial funding?

Time off or flexible work arrangements 

If you are asking for time off, will this be paid, or will it be taken from your annual leave entitlement?

Before having the conversation with your employer, think about what the minimum is that you would accept and whether you would pursue the MBA without their support. Finally, be prepared to negotiate. This is a skill you will develop further on your MBA, but you may need to employ this during conversations with your employer.

3. Know the timetable

This is key, particularly if you are asking for time off from your sponsor to pursue your studies.

Whilst our part-time programmes are designed to be studied alongside full-time work, there are some on-campus commitments that you and your employer need to be aware of. You’ll find the timetable for our part-time programmes, Executive MBA, Weekend MBA and Global Online MBA, on our website. Share this with your organisation so they can see the dates in advance.  

Be prepared to answer questions around how you will manage the time off but set expectations around this too; you will get most out of the classroom experience if you are fully engaged and immersed, so we recommend having your out of office turned on when you are on campus.  

4. Make your value proposition clear

Pursuing an MBA degree alongside work will have an enormous benefit for both you and your organisation. Think about the short- and long-term gains that this will have on you personally and professionally. Why is this choice of development the right one for you? 

For your company, communicate the return on their investment by sharing the tangible benefits of you studying the MBA. Identify some of the modules you think will be most relevant to your organisation and mention these in your business case. Our Programmes Handbooks provide the learning outcomes for each module on the MBA, which you can use to demonstrate how your learnings will be directly applied.  

Whilst there are numerous benefits for your employer, here are a few key ones to help get you started: 

  • Leadership development: our leadership modules help you become more aware of your strengths, weaknesses, traits and habits and build on this knowledge to improve your leadership practice through self-development 
  • Problem solving: you will have the opportunity to solve real business problems facing your organisation throughout the degree but specifically through the ‘Business Problem Solving’ elective and independent or final projects  
  • Networking opportunities: you will be networking with students and alumni from a global, world-leading institution, providing your organisation with diverse perspectives and potential new business opportunities 

5. Get in touch

We are here to support both you and your organisation as you prepare to pursue your MBA. We provide:   

  • A downloadable business case template 
  • One-to-one meetings to provide further guidance and feedback on your business case 
  • Meetings with your organisation, so we can talk through any questions they have about the programme, funding and next steps  

If you or your organisation would like to request a meeting, please contact us on ib-partnerships@imperial.ac.uk to arrange this.