Executive education and MBA and Masters programmes, now and in the future, are not just about accumulating knowledge, but about learning to apply that knowledge in the real world and in a place where you are measuring yourself against similarly motivated and competent executive learners, according to David Shearer, the director of executive development programmes at the University of Canterbury.
Shearer says in today’s world where knowledge can be acquired from a multitude of sources, it is learning how to apply that knowledge that is important along with learning at a deeper level by putting strategic thinking into action in an environment where you can take risks.
He says learning with a group of people, who are at a similar level on their leadership path, is important because business is, in essence, about people.
“We spend $20,000 on a car, mortgage or overseas holidays but when do we invest in ourselves? Executive development programmes are an opportunity to stop and reflect on your place as a leader in the world and what role you are going to play going into the future. You’ll be exploring these dynamics with a group of people who are asking the same question of themselves.”
Executive learners are able to leverage their learning from each other and at the same time develop strong professional networks outside their own sphere which can, and does, lead to new employment opportunities.
These executives are investing in their own future and preparing themselves for a challenging future as technology becomes all pervasive and innovation becomes crucial for sustainable and successful organisations. In the rapidly changing environment leaders operate in today, Shearer agrees executive education has become more important because of the recognition that, in order to keep up, we have to be a lifelong learner. While leaders can dip in and develop the skills needed at a certain point in time, he see executive development programmes as an experience that leaders and senior executives keep coming back to throughout their careers.