March 17, 2016

5 Things You Should Know When Asking Your Organization to Support Your EMBA

Career or application advice from business schools sometimes has a generic flavor—good as far as it goes, but that isn’t typically very far. The University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School shatters that generalization with its new guide to gaining employer and managerial support for your executive MBA (EMBA). For a two-page document, it’s chock full of excellent, meaty advice. For example:

  • UNC does much more than recommend that you discuss your EMBA plans (and sponsorship hopes) with your managers. It suggests a specific order you should follow in reaching out: “Sequence your
    conversations [about employer support] wisely: you’ll want to start with your closest mentor and work up to the most critical decision maker(s).” Ask yourself who your closest mentors are but also who are people who can ultimately decide whether your organization will support (in every sense) your EMBA. Only when you know how many people will need to approve your EMBA and their order of priority, should you begin to approach them.
  • Then, do more than just craft a generic ROI case for everyone on your decision list: “establish clear informational and/or persuasive goals for each interaction, and have a solid idea of what a positive ROI looks like for each individual on your list of advisors and decision makers. Remember to consider their interests and needs, not just yours.” After winning your first decision-maker’s endorsement of your EMBA, ask them to introduce you to or share their endorsement with the next individual “up” on the decision ladder. Be strategic.
  • Don’t just argue that earning an EMBA will benefit your organization. Prove it. Identify specific electives offered by your target program that “will allow you to customize
    your studies so they closely align with the type of training that offers the greatest benefit to your organization.” Bring the names of those electives into your discussions with each relevant decision maker.
  • Winning your organization’s endorsement or support of your EMBA plans is not the same as getting them to foot the bill. Before you ask for financial support, visit your HR or talent development department and ask them if your organization has every subsidized an employee’s EMBA before. If it has, you have an important precedent to integrate into your pitch. Then go further and talk to those employees who earned EMBAs. Ask them what approaches worked best when they convinced their own decision ladders to pay for their EMBA.
  • And don’t be afraid to talk dollars and cents with the decision makers who will ultimately cut the checks for your EMBA. For example, make sure they know that the organization’s “tuition contributions may be largely tax deductible.”

Follow this link to review UNC’s full Planning Guide for Prospective Students.