Whether you’re on the fence or have made the decision to enroll in an executive MBA program, you don’t need to go it alone. You can — and should — enlist the support of your employer.
Forty-one percent of EMBA students were fully self-funded in 2013, up from 27 percent in 2011 and 34 percent in 2009. Only 24 percent of students received full financial sponsorship, according to the Executive MBA Council.
State your (business) case
Show your business savvy by presenting your supervisor a formal business case. Start with an executive summary that can be shared with the C-suite and other stakeholders.
Present your enrollment as an opportunity for your company. Think WIFT (What’s in It For Them), not WIFM.
Illustrate how earning an EMBA will apply to your current — and, more importantly, future — role at the company. Your initiative in furthering your education reflects on your commitment to both your career and your company.
Relate how mastery of business concepts will help with retention of current customers/accounts. A higher percentage of employees with MBAs also makes the company look more favorable in the eyes of potential clients. In addition, a company with more MBA holders on its staff is more likely to attract — and retain— top talent.
If you have settled on a specific program, justify why that particular program is best suited for your needs, and those of your company. Lastly, provide concrete examples of how you’ll share your newfound knowledge with your colleagues.
As you’re building your business case, make sure your personal goals align with those of your company. Look at both short- and long-term goals.
Of course, it’s all about the bottom line. To demonstrate ROI, position this as an investment not only in you, the employee, but in your company as well. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis, taking into account tuition and other costs, and project how long it will take the company to recoup (and earn “interest” on) its investment.
Be sure to emphasize your ability to apply classroom learning to real-time challenges your company is facing. What’s more, you can use specific company issues as case studies.
Reassure your boss of your loyalty to the company (more on this later). A company may be hesitant to sponsor you for fear losing you to a competitor once you’ve earned your MBA.
Mention that your participation in an EMBA program will give you a new perspective on your company and its industry. You’ll be more inclined to question the status quo which, in turn, can result in significant savings and efficiencies. You’ll be poised to compare business practices within your vertical and across a range of industries. And you’ll have instant access to a highly connected personal network of advisers.
Remember “support” from your employer doesn’t have to be 100 percent financial. If you can’t secure a “free ride” from your employer, use your best negotiating skills to arrive at a compromise (such as travel and accommodation vs. tuition). You also can ask for additional PTO for studying or for travel to/from the school, if applicable, or request reduced travel requirements or a slightly lighter workload in the interim. Support doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If your employer won’t foot the entire tuition bill, propose sharing the cost.
Keep in mind that your request for support is a two-way street. If you receive corporate backing, you likely will be expected to sign a contract indicating you’ll stay in the company for a specified period after graduating, typically from one to five years.
For more information on the EMBA program at The University of Texas at Arlington, visit http://www.emba.uta.edu/.