Financial Times on why MIT’s new executive MBA is worth a 12-hour commute

MIT Executive MBA '12 Tim Pearson

I recently spoke to a reporter at the Financial Times about why I travel six hundred miles round trip, an international journey that often takes between eight and 12 hours one-way, to attend Sloan’s new MIT Executive MBA program.  The article identifies a trend in the number of EMBA students willing to travel long distances to earn their degrees from the most competitive business schools, and highlights recent research by the Executive MBA Council that shows an increase – from 6 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2010 – in the number of EMBAs traveling more than 250 miles to their program of choice.

What the reporter failed to articulate, and which to me was central to my decision to attend MIT, is what defines an EMBA program that is worth traveling long distances to attend?  My decision to invest in the right school was similar to my approach to stock market investing: I focus on understanding the value the investment is going to deliver over time.  By framing the objective in very concrete terms, I was able to make what I believed then, and am certain of now, was the right decision

For more than 15 years I have worked for global high technology firms as a business development leader, product manager and hardware designer.  My work experience has taught me the importance of analysis when making critical business decisions.  It has also taught me that making decisions is easy, that making the optimal decision is (usually) impossible, and that making the right decision is difficult and involves data that is both qualitative and quantitative.   I came to MIT Sloan to integrate data-driven processes into my analysis of strategic investments and to ensure I make the best possible decisions given the available information..

While researching EMBA programs, it was clear to me that MIT’s EMBA was (almost uniquely) built upon a rigorous analytical foundation that enables executives to develop a more scientific approach to management.  I discovered that this approach is built on the advanced research conducted by Sloan faculty and the resulting frameworks and methodologies are used to make complex decisions. Moreover, the extensive project work the MIT EMBA program uses to integrate these methodologies with our professional responsibilities would ensure both applicability and deep understanding of the concepts.  This action-based learning environment provides a powerful context to apply what I would learn and to realize immediate results for my company.

In today’s globally competitive environment, business leaders must seize opportunities, overcome challenges, and drive change.  It is MIT’s approach to the science of management that distinguishes the program and provides students like me an edge in their careers.

Tim Pearson, Executive MBA ’12, is a Senior Advisor in Product Management at the Ciena Corporation in Ottawa, Canada

MIT Executive MBA

Financial Times article

Executive MBA Council

Please share y0ur thoughts  


  1. Rosie Brag
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 3:16 am | Permalink | Reply

    Thank you very much for sharing interesting topic. You are giving very good stuff through this post. I enjoyed it. I will suggest my friends to read this post. Can you please tell me; is it possible to do executive MBA in weekends? And also tell me what the difference between MBA and Executive MBA is? I have collected some information about Executive MBA from What do you think about this data?

    • Posted May 20, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hello Rosie:

      You’re in luck: the 20-month MIT Executive MBA usually meets every third weekend, Friday-Saturday, complemented by a week-long executive module once every six months. At MIT, the major difference between the MBA and the Executive MBA is the level of experience and general management perspective. MBA students (average 5 years of work experience) aspire to success as executives. EMBAs (average 17 years) have already achieved it, and now want the rigorous management education that will take them further and faster. Check out for more comparisons. As for the link you sent, I’d make more of a distinction between weekend/part-time MBA programs and EMBAs. Part-time is usually local, non-cohort, and less experienced than what you should expect of an Executive MBA. Thank you for your comment.

      Jonathan Lehrich
      Director, MIT Sloan Exec MBA

      • John Culligan
        Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Hi Jonathan,

        I am looking at EMBA programs, and since I am an engineer MIT has been my dream school since college.

        Sloan is also “the” leader in the data driven management education. I have a couple questions after reading this article and reviewing the EMBA program. ( I guess other readers might benefit from your response )

        Sloan has several MBA programs EMBA, Fellows, MBA. What is the unique aspect MIT provides that differentiates EMBA from your other programs? ( extensive experience of cohort comes with the class, I am more curious on the content provided by MIT? ). Do you have a special approach to executives with 17+ years of experience? Do you have special content in courses?

        I really appreciate your answers.


      • Posted June 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Hi John,
        Thank you for your interest in MIT’s Executive MBA program. Our program offers a unique educational experience by employing MIT Sloan’s data-driven approach to teaching the science of management while also integrating our students’ professional and academic careers like never before. In fact, what really sets our program apart from the competitive set is that we require our EMBAs to immediately apply the lessons they learn at MIT at their jobs in corporate America. Be wary of EMBA programs that view their MBAs’ careers as related to but separate from their educational endeavors.

        Moreover, watch out for “the E is for Easy.” Many EMBA programs are stereotypically considered to be “MBA light”: watered-down versions for people who are too busy to handle a full-time MBA. The coursework tends to be less intensive, adjunct professors often stand in for full-time research faculty, and students are rarely invited to walk in formal commencement ceremonies. But here at MIT our EMBA program is the real deal: a genuinely rigorous management degree program for top-flight executives who won’t settle for watered-down. Our EMBAs want to learn alongside leaders who are truly mid-career. They want an MBA for executives who have already achieved succcess, not merely aspired to it. They want a general management MBA that helps them go even further and faster as world-class general managers. That’s what the MIT EMBA is all about.

        Regarding your question about unique programming components associated with the MIT Executive MBA, next year we will launch a new Sloan Lab available exclusively to members of the EMBA program. This groundbreaking Global Organization Lab (GO-Lab) will require students to participate in a four-month collaboration with leadership teams at the world’s most dynamic global firms, including a core fact-finding mission on-site. The EMBAs will provide senior teams with strategic counsel to help them solve specific emerging business challenges. The GO-Lab program will serve as a capstone to MIT Sloan’s integrated executive MBA degree and is designed to deepen each candidates’ ability to implement our data-driven approach to general management.

        I hope I’ve answered your questions and would be happy to provide an additional information if you’re interested. Again, thank you for your interest.


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