Executive education is treated by many companies as discretionary spending that gets cut back in bad times and the reactions to COVID-19 seem to confirm this conjecture. Business schools are currently challenged to fulfill existing commitments in times of social distancing. In addition, they are struggling to refill their pipeline with new contracts. A range of questions needs to be addressed in this context: How can business schools maintain their attractiveness as an education provider in recessionary times? How can executive education be delivered effectively in virtual learning space and how can clients be convinced of its value-added? And, most importantly, will COVID-19 ultimately change the role of executive training provided in an academic setting?
- Moderator: Ulrich Hommel, Founding Partner of XOLAS
- Speaker: Prof. Jörg Rocholl, President of ESMT Berlin
- Speaker: Martin Möhrle, Director, Corporate Services at EFMD Global Network
- Speaker: Dominique Turpin, Former President & Dean of External Relations at IMD Business School
On July 1st Prof. Jörg Rocholl, Martin Möhrle, and Dominique Turpin provided an insightful discussion about the future of executive education. For the foreseeable future, executive education will not be able continue with business as usual. The current state of the world demands that educators and educational institutions be creative in delivering their material and engaging their students.
There was an overwhelming agreement between panelists that education must have a personal component. Rocholl explains that as knowledge becomes more accessible, business schools must have a unique value add and often this comes in the form of person-to-person interactions.
“for top-notch executive education, there needs to be a personal component” -Rocholl
Möhrle asserts that the question of sustainability is what must be addressed next. The way that we have been addressing the issues in the short term works fine, but these methods have much room for improvement. He looks at the issue logically to determine that there are significant cost pressures. Premium prices are a little more difficult to realize in this environment. In the next decade, there is a need for rescaling and upscaling of the interface between humans and machines. “It is a symbiotic relationship.” How to deal with technology and discover how to integrate is important.
“Only innovation helps along the entire value chain” -Möhrle
Turpin agrees with Möhrle; he says that there is room for experimentation. “We are in television black and white 1962. We have boring backgrounds, we only have one camera.” The executive learning experience cannot be satisfied by just having a “professor talking to an audience.” He recommends including interviews, having calls–anything to make the experience interesting and surprising the students. By “wowing” the participants, the expectation will be set higher and higher.
“Especially for the smaller schools, there is a need to be creative… schools should not try to replicate what was being done offline–totally rethink the learning experience” -Turpin
These schools can reach out to their larger ecosystems. By involving the right people, smaller schools can demonstrate a higher degree of agility.
The conversation ended with a positive look on innovation. Rocholl states that he is “truly convinced, despite all of the uncertainty, that companies still want to get better. Managers still want to learn and grow–maybe even more so. Students would like to start meaningful careers… It is up to us as business schools to see whether this increasing demand can be captured by our content, research, qualities, experience, expertise, and independence. Let us try to build on our existing strengths.”
Stephanie is the International Communications and Events Planning Intern with GBSN. She is currently a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC in the Elliott School of International Affairs.
As GBSN’s Network Coordinator, Emma works closely with GBSN member institutions and partners across globe to design and support programs and activities that engage the membership base and the broader network.