How Executive Education has changed and evolved over past few years
Marketing Management, IMT Ghaziabad
The history of executive education started with World War II. Harvard Business School (HBS) established a strong military connection during war and started a number of programs to support war efforts. In one of the initiatives, HBS started a retraining course in February 1943 for businessmen who were too old to enlist but who wanted to help in war efforts. These participants, aged between thirty-five and sixty, were trained for war-related jobs and 25 percent of class included participants who were sponsored by companies. This experiment has been often credited as seed of executive education. HBS wasted no time in sizing this opportunity and repurposed the war retaining course into Advanced Management Program in 1945 for men in age group of 30 to 50 years.
Executive education was brought to India by the two Indian Institute of Managements (IIM), established in Ahmedabad and Calcutta (now called Kolkata). In fact, the first academic program of IIM Ahmedabad was executive education program which was started for managers working in corporate houses. The executive education programs, which were offered along with the regular MBA programs, provided a valuable opportunity for working professionals to upgrade their skillset. Some of the top corporate houses also had their in-house training centres (for example, JRD Tata established Tata Management Training Centre in Pune in 1966 to train officials of Tata group) but such examples were quite limited.
The executive education in India got a boost after economic liberalization of 1991 whereby companies realized the importance of trained manpower to take on upcoming competition from different multinational corporations. Private B-Schools like IMT Ghaziabad had also been involved in executive education. IMT Ghaziabad had been one of the pioneers in India, with a legacy of over 20 years, in conducting executive education programs for participants who had significant work experience.
Over the years, the nature of executive education has undergone multiple changes with changing times. What was started as a six-course program by HBS in 1945 has metamorphosed into a full-fledged 12/15/18 month programs involving subjects across multiple academic disciplines. This evolution is not surprising given the complexities associated with business in recent years and need for participants to undergo different courses to fully grasp the nuances of business challenges. Also, what has been offered as a standard program in executive education, has evolved into program with multiple options whereby students can choose their field of specialization. For example, IMT Ghaziabad provides option to have concentration in atleast five areas as per interests of students which provide depth and/or breadth to the experience of participants.
In keeping with changing times, the executive education programs have incorporated topics which are relevant for participants as they take up roles in middle management once they graduate from the program. Thus, IMT Ghaziabad has incorporated sustainability and ethics issues in different course so that our students are sensitized towards issues which led to downfall of Enron and Lehman Brothers. B-schools, across the globe, have realized the importance of international exposure or immersion, given the rise of interconnected businesses in global economy. Accordingly, IMT Ghaziabad has also included 4-5 weeks program named Global career Accelerator in its executive education program which is implemented in collaboration with more than 50 international partner B-schools of IMT Ghaziabad.
A well-rounded curriculum with different components aimed at enhancing the breadth and depth of knowledge for experienced participants is hallmark of current executive education programs. B-schools need to ensure that they must deliver on this promise.
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