Feature: Building Business

The Future of Executive Education

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: November 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm
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executive learningWith things like MOOCs becoming increasingly popular, I was interested to see what the future held for executive learning.  Howard E Horton, President, New England College of Business and Finance (NECB), joined me to discuss the trends in executive education.

Adaptability has been quoted as the key management skill of the current age. Do you think executives do enough to refresh their skillsets?

Executives, like most, require some periodic skillset updates to adapt to the changing nature of their respective industries. Some industries, such as high-technology and healthcare, are evolving more rapidly than other verticals, such as retail and food, but all are experiencing challenges from the rapid pace of information exchange; new patenting and product design; international competition; new government regulation; and a changing workforce as baby-boomers retire.

To adapt to their changing industries, some executives will need to deepen their existing competencies, while others will just need to address some skill gaps. Executives generally need enough leadership skills to set the direction for their organizations or departments and enough knowledge to adequately manage and supervise those who report to them. This may also mean executives looking outside of their own companies to give them new frameworks and points of reference.

Effective executives train as efficient delegators, and so the great berth of executive education programs tend to center on leadership, management, entrepreneurship and organizational development from the theory perspective. However, at New England College of Business and Finance (NECB), we have also provided more specific “practical” management skills to help close the skill gaps some executives face. A great example of this is our course called “Financial Statement Analysis for Non-Financial Managers.”

The research seems to indicate that executives are meeting the challenge to deepen and expand their competencies through both continuing and formal education, with larger companies continuing to commit steady, if not growing, budgetary resources to executive education. The University Consortium for Executive Education (UNICON) reports an increase in executive education programs during the past few years, but since most higher education institutions do not report enrollment figures for non-credit programs, it is a bit hard to ascertain the exact amount. However, there is reportable growth in the number of MBA program graduates and in the number of Executive MBA programs as a subpart of the MBA discipline. In the past decade, graduate degrees awarded in business have increased by 50 percent, with almost 200,000 awarded in 2011 – so this clearly reflects a trend of existing executives pursuing more formal education and others seeking additional education to attain executive level positions.

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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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