By Eigen Escario
For working professionals who decide to pursue an Executive MBA (EMBA), it is essential to secure better career prospects and maximize the return on their investment after the program. Juli Bennett, Vanderbilt Executive Director, Executive MBA Programs, highlights key considerations to leverage the EMBA experience and negotiate your next role or negotiate a promotion.
Sharpening Your Business Instincts
Putting in the hard work through relevant education and professional experiences is certainly a necessity in order to get ahead in any industry – it’s important for students to sharpen their business instincts before pursuing asking for a promotion in order to establish their competence in real-world settings.
“The EMBA program at Owen has two capstone experiential courses – Creating and Launching New Ventures, as well as a Capstone Strategy Project. Both courses not only teach the curriculum but also give our students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned,” Bennett said. “Alumni of the program stand out among their colleagues because they are able to function differently and really apply what they have learned back at work.”
Along with building strong technical foundations, Bennett encourages students to demonstrate the newfound value in the contributions they make in their workplaces.
“I think it’s really important that students create visibility in their organization by having conversations with the people who are both their superiors and those working with them,” Bennett said. “They should make sure that their co-workers have opportunities to observe them doing things differently and not just doing what they had been doing prior to the program.”
Harnessing the Alumni Network
One of the biggest assets of the Executive MBA program is the alumni network that grants students access to professionals who are seasoned in the career paths that they might want to pursue.
“Students gain access to a new group of faculty as well as student peers who have an interest in their personal success and offer resources through challenging times,” Bennett said. “They have a really deep network of people they can reach out to when faced with unfamiliar challenges or pivot points throughout their career.”
Additional resources like personalized Executive Coaching from the EMBA program, where students are paired with an executive coach to strategize about their leadership goals, aid students in learning how to be better leaders.
“These resources help our students get their return on investment because they recognize personal behaviors that they may need to change,” Bennett said. “They think about how they want to be perceived as a leader, identify the roles they want to take on, and prepare themselves to take on those objectives.”
Maintaining Focus and Contact
Students can position themselves for upward movement by keeping their eyes on the prize while keeping their workplace leaders informed on their progress with the EMBA program.
“Often, the promotion that students have their sights on will come even in the first year of the program because they have already identified themselves as someone who wants to be positioned for a promotion,” Bennett said. “It’s important to engage stakeholders in ongoing conversations throughout the program—that ongoing dialogue can result in a promotion, but you sometimes have to raise your hand to take on a project or challenge that may be out of your comfort zone.”
Highlighting unique skills acquired through the program and tailoring tools, like a resume and LinkedIn profile, to showcase those skills gives students more powerful ground to stand on when negotiating promotions.
“During the program, the ongoing conversations might include things about what you’ve learned in the classroom,” Bennett said. “Students can often identify areas where their organization could be improved. Part of the continuous improvement process is identifying those things that could be done differently and then being ready to be the one to lead that change.”
Refocusing on Your Goals to Negotiate a Promotion
Throughout this whole process, students are continuously exposed to new information–the curriculum, in combination with their professional development and personal reflections.
“As a student goes through the program, possibilities are opened to them that they encourage them to be open and willing to explore—being in an EMBA classroom exposes students to people from different personal and professional backgrounds, new experiences, and new ways of thinking,” Bennett said. “Having not only a new skill set but also new people in your network to help you navigate your end game makes this a transformational experience, not just during the program, but throughout a career.”
While negotiating a promotion might mean a more prestigious position or a higher salary, Bennett implores students to contemplate deeper aspects of their decision-making with regard to their long-term plans.
“My hope would be that all of those things result in a higher position or salary, but for those who already have an impressive title and salary, it’s more about finding what will be satisfying and rewarding for the duration of their career,” Bennett said. “It’s not always about the salary and the position – sometimes, it’s about what you find intrinsically of value.”