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Is it worth doing the Executive Program from IIM?

Due to the pandemic, one sector which has to go through a complete overhaul is the education sector. Whether it’s academic education or professional courses, institutions have onboarded to an e-learning platform to serve their audiences in a better and efficient way.

The boom in eLearning also must be credited to the demand for upskilling by a diverse audience. This audience consists of professionals 

  • Who have lost their job
  • Professionals who understand the need to upskill in these turbulent times where close to 81 million jobs were lost
  • Professionals who have invested in themselves since starting

When we talk about professional courses, there is a surge particularly in the executive programs on offer. The demand is so high that the major platforms have posted a growth of more than 150% in the year 2020 and anticipate much higher numbers in 2021.

In today’s world, all the top universities and private institutions all over the world offer these executive programs online.

Let us first understand in brief what these executive programs are?

These programs are non-credit and non-degree-granting courses ranging from 4 -18 months tenure. It’s very important to understand the meaning of the terms non-credit & non-degree-granting. 

Non-credit courses verify your acquired skills and can be mentioned on the resume when you see fit but it does not provide you academic privileges in the college and institutional programs.

These programs do not provide you a postgraduate degree or credentials that is why they are called Non-degree-granting courses.

It’s important to know it as a lot of professionals enroll into assuming these are post-graduate degree earning programs 

In this article, we have considered the courses on executive programs in project management offered by top universities across the world like – 

  • IIM
  • ISB
  • XLRI
  • Harvard 
  • Wharton 
  • University of Cambridge 

And other notable international business schools and universities

All these institutions offer leadership programs under different names with 90% audience experience ranging from 10-18 Years and a very significant percentage from IT companies.

It’s the project managers/senior project managers/program managers who are targeted by these institutions

These programs are offered under different names & flavors like Strategic Project Management, Certificate in Senior Leadership, Senior Management Programme, Leadership & Management Certificate, Project, Program & Portfolio Management, Advanced Strategic management, Management Development Program, Advanced Project Management e.t.c 

We have broken down our analysis in the below aspects and at the end concluded:

  1. Duration 
  2. Content
  3. Additional features & benefits
  4. Fees

Duration

The duration of the course ranges from 4 to 12 Months. Online Live classes will be conducted mostly on Saturdays while weekdays will be reserved for learning through recorded videos. 

In many courses, the live classes happen twice or once every month.

All the universities recommend 8-10 hours of learning every week.

Content / Syllabus

This is the most important aspect which is the real deal. What is covered in these programs? What is the syllabus?  

Based on our research of these programs, what we see is 90% of the content revolves around common subjects of project management. For instance –

  • Project fundamentals: The topics covered include Project, Program, Portfolio, Risk, Budgeting, etc.
  • Project Management:  Project Definition, Planning, and Scheduling, Project Risk Management, Project Monitoring, and Problem Solving: Tools and Techniques Project Closure
  • Project Leadership: Team dynamics, stakeholder analysis, conflict types and resolution, and project communication.

Some of the courses offered by international universities are heavy on interpersonal skills, Communication, and a bit on accounts and finance.

I came across 1 or 2 programs that are designed with a diverse thought process. They cover concepts like – Marketing, Communication, Account & Finance, Analytics, Economics, HR, Sales & Distribution, Business Strategy, Operations and Supply Chain Management, Human Resource Management, Leadership & people management, Risk Management, Digital Business Transformation. 

Unfortunately, it looked a little impractical to me on the coverage and real audience, and practicality of this program. It fits in the famous saying of “jack of all trades master of none”

Additional features/benefits

Almost all the institutions have the same offerings under benefits – 

  • Career Assistance – Its talks about mentorship, guidance, profile review e.t.c
  • Associate Alumni Status in the university
  • Capstone Project & Strategy Simulation will be done mostly as a part of offline learning or assessments.

Fees

The fee for these courses’ ranges from INR 1.5 Lakh to 6 Lakhs and for international universities it can go up to 10 Lakhs – 15 Lakhs or more

Most of the institutions offer EMI options or installment payments. Also, there are registration or application fees, which range from INR 10,000-25,000. Foreign institutions charged between $150 – $500 for the same.

Conclusion

Positives

  • The biggest positive I see in doing these courses is to associate your name with these reputed organizations that earlier were open to only the top 1% of students. A lot of professionals have the desire or dream from academic days to get into these top universities which can be fulfilled in this alternate arrangement. 
  • The Exposure which a person gets will also help in seeing things differently. A good listener learns from the experience of teachers and fellow students as well.
  • In some of the cases, the students get Associate Alumni status as well.

Let's look at some of the facts which are thought worthy before you enroll in such programs

  • One of the biggest downsides I see is that the uniqueness or advantage of being alumni of such an institute doesn’t hold that great of a value. For the main reason as it’s not on merit but open for everyone ready to invest money. You will find a good population of professionals who have done these courses from IIM or Harvard or Wharton or Cambridge. 
  • Given the courses are close to 75-80% offline and only 20-25% live online classes, how much exposure a person will get. Compare it with campus classes on weekends before the pandemic world. So, you can hold on to the Alumni status, but will you be able to establish that bond or connect with fellow participants to use it to your benefit or networking.
  • A lot of institutions or aggregators promote some unreal numbers like a 400% salary hike post-course completion. A sane mind also knows at senior level 30% hike on the current salary is also a big deal. Direct benefit to promotion or salary increase cannot be established after these course completions.
  • So, it boils down to how good the syllabus or content is: And I feel this is the most critical factor which should matter the most.
  • Most of these top universities disappoint in this area, with the same age-old content which is more theoretical than practical. I failed to see the emphasis on project management tools and practical implementation of use cases.
  • No institution is talking or covering about project/program management in product-based companies which is entirely different than service-based
  • Some of the international universities try to do some justice by bringing in more diverse subjects but they are not relatable to project or program management
  • Few institutions have tried to blend in project management with MBA topics, which surprises me as it will leave the candidate knowing bits and pieces of everything and not master anything
  • These programs rely heavily on the offline content which will be shared for completion. Students lose interest after some time as only 3% of the participants complete 100% offline courses. It’s a fact published by top e-learning platforms.
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