The Imperial Executive MBA is taking next-generation leaders to China, the U.S. and Germany – and straight back to school when they get there.
What does it take to make it in business today? And tomorrow?
And what about the next 30 years?
Ask Imperial Professor George Yip, and the answer is unequivocal. You’re going to need to really master the what, how and who of business in the world’s major economies: China, the U.S. and Germany, for starters.
And he is in a position to know.
Professor Yip has been at the vanguard of global business research and practice for more than three decades. He has led flagship MBA programmes at some of Europe’s top-ranked business schools and is the prolific author of major works that give deep insight into the complex world of global business and strategy.
Getting on in today’s international business panorama, says Professor Yip, is about understanding the big picture – the challenges as well as the opportunities in the world’s biggest economies. Which is why at Imperial College Business School, where Professor Yip is Associate Dean of the Executive MBA programme (EMBA), his students complete overseas residencies as part of their degree programme.
“We want our EMBA students to understand the three most important economies in the world: China, the U.S. and then Germany as Europe’s most powerful economy.
“And then we look at what’s strong in those economies as well as their distinctive approaches to management. So in China, we focus on manufacturing, in Germany it’s advanced manufacturing such as robotics and Industrie 4.0. and in the U.S. the focus is the financial sector.”
If you are going to be successful in business over the next 20 to 30 years, you need to know about the three most important economies and the sets of companies driving business around the globe. No other business school in the world is bringing MBA students to these three countries as an essential part of their degree programme
This happens, says Professor Yip, by means of a confluence of academia and real-world exposure to industry leaders — through a lecture programme at leading business schools such as Cornell in New York, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and ESMT in Berlin, and company visits.
That’s How it Works in Practice – But How About in Theory?
Practice and theory. According to Professor Yip, Imperial EMBA students need both: “As you progress through your career, it’s pretty certain that you will have international assignments. And preparing for this is about understanding how business is done around the world.”
EMBA students arrive at Imperial with years of experience under their belt, says Professor Nelson Phillips, Abu Dhabi Chamber Chair of Innovation and Strategy. And much of that experience is already international.
So what do they stand to gain from overseas residencies? What does the EMBA give them that they don’t already have?
“Our students come with a lot of experience, but they also need context and ways to think about what they are seeing. The overseas residencies accelerate their understanding of these major world economies by bringing them together with expert, local faculty who give them a real and broad overview of each system, its main issues, the challenges and trends.
“Later, if they see an opportunity to work there, they know the kinds of things their company needs to be worried about. So these experiences really give them context for making decisions, analysing and coming up with proposals.”
The current cohort of Imperial EMBAs spent three days on campus at ESMT Berlin in February to get an immersion in German leadership and Industrie 4.0.
This is an experience, says Programme Director at ESMT, Annie Faulkner, that engenders “hard conversations about innovation, creativity, wealth creation, the digitisation of manufacturing and the powerhouse of the Mittelstand.“ All of which, she says, leads to a “deeper understanding of the unique cultural values and strategic lines that Germany’s business leaders are following today – and tomorrow.”
At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, students explore the nexus of technology, science and business. “From healthcare to renewable energy to service industries to 3D printing, students gain insight into the vision of Chinese and Hong Kong decision-makers,” says Dr. Paulina Chan, an alumna of Imperial College London, who helps organise visits to blue-chip behemoths that form part of her Hong Kong network.
Dr. Chan’s career has spanned senior management roles in a number of multinational Fortune 500 companies and a such, she is a staunch advocate of the EMBA programme: “It’s an experience that merges the real world – connecting, touching and participating – with theory. It is a chance to integrate their own business experience with what they see and learn, connecting the dots to the benefit of their careers and the advantage of their companies.”
What’s successful in the Executive MBA is the chance to think about the experiences that they’ve had – a structured way to process and share these experiences. And to work with their colleagues to find the opportunities that lie in difference. Thus we provide them with the academic framework to organise these experiences for subsequent implementation.
Putting Theory Back Into Practice
While most EMBAs will have worked abroad, says Professor Phillips, not many have worked in all three of these major economies. Nor can they compare and contrast the different ways of thinking about – and doing – business that exist between the U.S., China and Europe.
“This really prepares you to work in a global company, or in a company that is globalising, because you’re bringing knowledge and experience and the ability to help shape the right questions and then find the answers.”
And because the programme blends face-to-face time on campus with online elements, says Professor Yip, you have a chance to put everything you learn into practice as the EMBA progresses.
“You are challenged to think about China, for instance, not just in terms of selling there, but also in terms of producing there, doing R&D there and so on. To encourage them to apply this new knowledge, students complete a project where they choose a major U.K. company and then explore how that company would make use of these three countries in as many ways as possible.”
A Truly Global Mindset
The typical EMBA student is in a fast-track situation, working their way up in an international organisation. Among the challenges this brings, says Professor Phillips, is thinking about the global distribution of business and the multi-cultural nature of the teams you work with: everything from differences in regulations, to differences in customs and differences in how you motivate people.
“Business is global, business is international. There’s no point in studying business unless what you’re studying has that international dimension woven into it.”
The key to meeting these challenges is the development of a global mindset.
“These international experiences are about giving students an intense, focused period where they establish frameworks, think about how things work differently and how they need to think differently as global leaders.”
The Imperial EMBA is unique in this sense, says Professor Yip. The only Executive MBA programme that develops a trulyglobal mindset.
“No other single university executive programme offers in-situ access to the theory and the principles that support a global understanding of the world’s major economies, as well as an opportunity to experience those economies at work.”