Executive Education

The Number One Reason Professionals are Seeking Executive Education

seeking executive education

Inertia can be a powerful force—and when we’re comfortable in a certain job, position or company, it can be incredibly difficult to change course.

Ivy Exec recently surveyed their global professional community (90% which highly value educational opportunities) about executive education — their perceptions about different EMBA offerings, their motivations for choosing among those offerings, and the factors that would spur them to attend a program.

But for today’s professionals considering executive education, one motivator rose above the fray: the desire to expand one’s professional and personal breadth.

Surprisingly, the least compelling motivators for pursuing executive education were ones you might have expected to be prime drivers of such an important decision: loss of a job, and frustration with stalling career progression. Even desire for a bump in salary did not crack the top three reasons that our respondents would seek executive education in the next year or so—all three top motivators were linked to a thirst for personal advancement and desire to learn.

After the desire to expand one’s professional and personal breadth, the thirst for new knowledge followed by the thirst for new challenges filled out the top three motivators for people considering executive education. But when respondents’ answers were divided up by gender, an interesting difference emerged. While both men and women selected personal and professional enhancement as their top reason to pursue executive education, the number-two motivator diverged. Men were more likely to follow a thirst for new knowledge. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to be motivated by a marquee faculty member at an educational institution, or a particularly compelling course offering.

Although a possible bump in salary was not a top motivator, respondents revealed a range of expectations for exactly what kind of a boost could they expect from an EMBA. Most respondents of both genders expected a salary bump between 21 and 34%. Nearly 70% of respondents between 36 and 40 years old expected a post EMBA salary bump to exceed 20%. Again, although salary was not a top motivator to pursue an EMBA, more than 75% of respondents ranked a higher salary as the top type of career advancement they would expect upon completing an EMBA program. The flexibility to change industries came in second on the list of post-EMBA expectations.

In the words of 18th century poet Alexander Pope: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Unfortunately, the actual salary and bonus increases that EMBA graduates saw after completing a program did not entirely align with our respondents’ hopes—but the cash bump remains impressive all the same. According to 2012 exit studies conducted by the Executive MBA Council, program participants saw a salary boost of 16.3% between the time they began their studies and the time they completed their EMBAs.

About the Author

R. Kress is an Emmy Award winning journalist whose reporting and writing has appeared in national media from NBC News to the International Herald Tribune. She has covered news from cities around the world including Jerusalem, Krakow, Amman and Mumbai.