Introducing Executive Education: First regional information session for students and alumni

Introducing Executive Education: First regional information session for students and alumni

The Middle East Centre recently hosted its first Executive Education online information session for students and alumni in the region, following the Middle East launch of the first suite of 17 new short business courses, in October 2023. The session was led by Aakanksha Samuel, Programme Counsellor at the Centre and featured a presentation and Q&A with Kieran MacCourt, Head of Client Relations for Open Programmes at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS). Kieran is part of the Executive Education team and has held sales and marketing director roles with prominent companies. His specific area of interest is leadership and management development and he is passionate about raising standards through theory and practice.

The short business courses are designed for senior managers and business leaders and are delivered by faculty at the Manchester campus. Each course comprises face to face classes over four/five consecutive days and can be taken individually (successfully completing any four courses will result in the award of the Manchester Professional Diploma in Leadership). Delegates receive a digital ‘badge’ for each course they successfully complete. Each course aims to transform the latest industry insights, research and visionary thinking into practical skill building, networking and opportunity for students.

Kieran introduced and explained the benefits of Executive Education generally and highlighted the specific short professional development courses recently introduced by AMBS to develop new or polish existing skills. The session also covered details about booking courses, learning pathway options to achieve qualifications, pricing and the discounts available to University’s alumni and partners.

What is Executive Education?

Executive Education is for ‘anyone with ambition’ but more specifically, for competent professionals seeking a further qualification. At The University of Manchester, this means people coming on campus to a bespoke facility built specifically for Executive Education, studying alongside other professionals who are already very good at their jobs but may have areas where they want to develop skills, understanding and tools.

Research shows the main motivations of Executive Education students are to acquire skills and progress careers but they also want to identify new opportunities for themselves and develop their careers, enhance earnings, move into senior roles, and network with people. The most mentioned skills to develop are leadership and communications.

The AMBS courses cover a wide area of subjects and Kieran highlighted three courses in particular – Manchester Leadership Development Programme, Digital Marketing Essentials for Leaders, and Supply Chain Management.

Manchester Leadership Development Programme

The Manchester Leadership Development Programme (MLDP) is a very popular short, flexible, accredited, open leadership development course. It inspires and guides people to think creatively, organise differently and develop a mindset which is critical for development. Held over five days on campus, the curated course covers five core areas needed to accelerate leadership and offers a good starting point on any Executive Education journey. The course includes psychometric testing to discover leadership style, understanding finance to tell a story, strategy and innovation, and project management. The programme also includes three one-hour sessions with a professional coach, as well as networking opportunities. Participants can also choose to use the MLDP to complete the Institute of Leadership and Management course level 7, which is a master’s standard qualification.

Ultimately, all the AMBS short courses are designed to offer the benefits of improved knowledge and skills (how to fix new problems), networking (participants are in good company and learn from each other), exposure to outside practitioners and the benefits of real-world experience, and career development in an ever-shifting landscape.

Learning pathways

Working professionals can pick one course or combine four courses (and complete all four within four years) and be awarded with a professional diploma from The University of Manchester. With a choice of 17 courses, there are more than 1,000 combinations to consider – for example, Psychology of Leading People; Finance for Non-Financial Leaders; Leading ESG and Sustainability; Leading and Implementing Innovation. As Kieran said, Stephen Covey, author of the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, talked about the woodcutter cutting down trees in a forest and the need to ‘sharpen the saw’ regularly – making a vital investment in yourself.

Questions and answers

Q: Are there discounts available

A: Alumni benefit from a 20% discount and group discounts are available for employer companies interested in sending staff on courses; Strategic Talent Partners also qualify for a 10% discount. Early bird discounts (10%) will also be available and announced along with course dates. Booking and payment is easy and can be done online.

Q: Are there MBA exemptions offered with the courses?

For those considering doing an MBA later on, completing one short course equates to one exemption on an elective course for the Manchester Global Part-time MBA. Faculty leading the short courses may also teach on the MBA programme. Short courses also offer a very easy entry back to the University/business school and the classroom.

Q: Are there plans to offer short courses face to face in Dubai?

The short courses are currently only available on campus in Manchester but AMBS may look at the feasibility of other options in the future.

Q: Are there tailor-made courses for software engineers or doctors?

Not specifically but contact the Middle East Centre to discuss the best options for you – we work with healthcare organisations and a course on digital transformation, managing the customer journey, or the all-round Manchester Leadership Development Programme may be appropriate.

Q: Are customised courses available on a 1-2-1 basis?

It would be a challenge to do bespoke individual courses but the 1-2-1 coaching option on the MLDP course may be helpful. 

Q: How are short courses different to electives on the Global Part-time MBA?

The short courses are face to face, usually Tuesday-Friday on campus, where we have a hotel next door. There are lunches and evening events to support networking. The short business courses are not formally assessed – there are no assignments as they are practice based.

Q: How do these courses benefit alumni who are already at a senior level?

There is no doubt that the MBA is the top academic programme for a very elite group. A top MBA programme needs approvals for any changes to its academic content and this takes time. However, short courses can be modified and updated quickly, so are flexible and practical, and local business practitioners can share their practical knowledge. The main difference is that if you already have an MBA, there are now 16 reasons to come back and ‘sharpen the saw’. The MBA helps get you to the top and short courses help you to stay there. Short courses help keep you at the top of your game – they offer very good value and an investment in yourself. We also have a dynamic pipeline of new programmes, over the next two years.

Q: How many people are there in a cohort and who are they?

The upper limit is 30 people to ensure a good level of contact with the lead academic. We do sometimes have to wait-list people for the next scheduled course. Courses are not aimed at a particular sector and so they are very diverse. Everybody has a story, a skill or a problem to share. For example, we may see a participant from an orchestra sitting next to someone working in waste management.  

Q: Which courses are most popular?

The MLDP is the most popular short course but there is also a lot of interest in the Psychology of Leading People (combining management skills, building trust, collaboration, authentic leader, emotionally intelligent leader) and complex projects, as well as the Digital Marketing Essentials for Leaders, Leading Digital Transformation, and Data and AI for Leaders courses. It’s always a good idea to talk to the fantastic team in Dubai for guidance.

Alliance Manchester Business School has over 50 years’ experience of delivering Executive Education around the world and works with a client base spanning six continents and over 30 countries. The School was the recipient of the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) Excellence in Practice Gold Award Winners (2021); and was Ranked 3rd in the UK for its customised programmes, Financial Times (2020).