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The best executive education programmes in 2021

Executive education
Boost your career and make it fit for a post-pandemic world with one of these top executive education programmes. Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

What do employers want from senior executives in a year unlike any other? In 2021, it’s leadership and change management. Digital transformation, as well as strategy and innovation, are key priorities too. 

These are the findings of a survey of 363 chief learning officers surveyed by the Financial Times together with Unicon — international consortium for university-based executive education — Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the European Foundation for Management Development as well as the Society for Human Resource Management.

As much as CLOs are demanding proven results, they’re focusing on diversity and inclusion too. More than 55% consider this a high priority — the number is higher still among US respondents. 

To meet this need, many companies are willing to spend. Over half plan to maintain spending at 2020 levels. More than a quarter say they would increase budgets for executive education in 2021. 

There is no question where companies are turning to for executive learning programmes: universities. Over half planned to use universities, a testament to their enduring impact. The past year has shown how business schools have been agile. They were quick to adapt, invest and develop online programmes fit for a post-pandemic era. Here are three that best exemplify this:

Brown University

Executive education

Brown University offers flexible, high-impact and innovative non-degree executive education programmes. Source: Brown University Facebook

The School of Professional Studies at Brown University is where senior executives realise their professional goals. A distinctive offering of flexible, high-impact and innovative non-degree programmes make this possible.

“The Brown Difference” lies in the Ivy League’s innovative education, multidisciplinary research, complex problem-solving and community service. It is uniquely qualified to offer customised programmes to cultivate professionals with the critical skills vital to each company’s future. They can be online, in person or in blended environments. 

It currently offers custom programmes in the following areas: Leadership and Organisational Advancement as well as Emerging Technologies and Special Topics. The former covers Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Communication and Public Speaking; and Diversity and Inclusion. The latter incorporates Global Economy and Politics; Cybersecurity as well as Data Science and Analytics.

“Any company that is focused on increasing knowledge and exposure to leading-edge thinking and practice in business, should work with Brown,” shares Matthew Josefowicz ‘94, who is CEO of Novarica. “The faculty is top-notch, the facilities are great, the support staff is extremely helpful, and the programme ran very smoothly.”

For individuals, choose from programmes such as “Leader as Coach for Healthcare,” “Team Coaching Programme,” and “Pandemic Problem-Solving: Surviving and Thriving in the Age of Pandemics.” The first two start in fall 2021, the last next spring.

“One thing I really appreciated about the coaching and coaching skills was empowering our people to help solve their problems because they’re the ones actually doing the work,” comments Dr. Raki Pai, Physician Leader of Metro Health, University of Michigan Health, Grand Rapids Michigan.

University of Florida

University of Florida executive education programmes aim to transform your organisation and your career. Source: University of Florida

With FIU’s College of Business, expect to sit up and rise up. Programmes here are no sitting back on your chair, absorbing a one-way stream of information, kind of affair. They are, by design, compelling enough for you to participate. 

Using Zoom and Canvas, students can ask questions. Peers and faculty are there in real-time to bounce ideas. Add polls, breakout rooms, faculty office hours, group projects, and team building exercises, and it’s one holistic experience.

When it comes to executive education that is comprehensive, immersive and fun, graduates say FIU does it best. A mix of real-time, faculty-led lectures, complemented with industry guest speakers, and case studies, is a key reason why.

Each programme aims to transform your organisation and your career. The Business Data Analytics Certificate Programme teaches professionals how to go through the data analysis process from start to finish. Hands-on experiences include preparing, analysing and visualising data with MS Excel, as well as building a personalised reference guide for future data analysis work

Similar real-life situations are used in the Certified Treasury Professional Certificate Programme. Led by an experienced presenter, candidates master current and emerging technology, analytical skills, soft skills and the ability to collaborate effectively. Both programmes are live, virtual and available from fall 2021. 

University of California Los Angeles

UCLA executive education programmes provide the right knowledge, are taught the right way and produce measurable impact. Source: University of California Los Angeles Facebook

Collaborative, fearless, change-driven — these words describe the three core qualities of UCLA Anderson School of Management. They are present in each and every non-degree executive education programme offered here. 

Programmes here help organisations and individuals work smarter. Walking the talk, this means the top business schools offer programmes that fit around the personal and professional commitments of senior executives today. They are on the go, in the cloud and online. 

What sets UCLA Anderson’s executive programmes apart is how they provide the right knowledge, are taught the right way and produce measurable impact. “Entering the new decade, we must rethink and redirect our efforts to develop brave and dynamic leaders, willing and able to be the agents of change,’ shares Donna Sharp, Associate Dean. “Although we are proud of the work that we have done over the last 20 years in the field of Business Leadership and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, we know that we have much yet to learn and even more still to do.”

Upcoming programmes include “From Diversity to Inclusivity: Build an Inclusive Leadership Culture.” Participants will learn how to curate workplaces and dynamics that energise, inspire, and unify diverse employees. In “Women in Governance: Preparing for Board Service,” you’ll find an applicable toolkit to claim your seat at the table. The programme explores the obstacles women face in seeking corporate board service and how to overcome them. 

“Opportunities for women will only expand as forward-looking organisations increasingly recognise the business necessity of inclusivity,” explains Carla Hayn, Program Faculty Director. “Our programme is a great place for women business leaders to acquire the tools, perspectives and networks required for effective board service.”

*Some of the schools featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International