Banker pay can rise 17 percent after earning executive MBA

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Stuck in the same job for ages? You might ask your employer to help finance an executive MBA in the hope it will pull you up the career ladder, expand your client network and ultimately improve your earnings.

Compensation for recent EMBA graduates increased by 17.3 percent from course start to end, according to the 2012 Student Exit Benchmarking Survey from the EMBA Council, a global association representing business schools. That’s just as well considering elite EMBA courses can come with six-figure fees.

In 2012, about 30 percent of students had their education funded by their companies, while almost half of EMBA programmes offered scholarships or fellowships, according to the council. EMBA experts said that despite current cost-cutting drives at banks, employers in the financial sector were still generally willing to help with course fees. But to join this elite group of funded students, you must be a manager with a long-term record of high performance and be identified by the bank as a potential senior leader.

“In many instances, top financial institutions are part funding their star performers in middle management to pursue EMBAs,” said Ashish Bhardwaj, vice president, Asia Pacific, Graduate Management Admissions Council. “They want to supplement their existing operational skills with the leadership and strategy skills that an EMBA can impart,” he added.

Richard Johnson, managing director of Chicago Booth Business School in Asia, where a 21-month EMBA costs about S$185k (US$148k), said about 25 to 35 percent of EMBA students at his institution were company funded. About a quarter of Chicago’s EMBA intake in Asia were from the finance industry, he added. “As well as new skills, financial professionals get a new network,” he said.

Finance professionals tend not to do an EMBA to achieve a radical career change. Students were typically experienced in their field and wanted a better managerial job in the same function, said Vince Chan, chief executive of the consultancy AlphaPowerMBA in Hong Kong.

Dawn Tay, a student at Chicago Booth in Singapore and a mezzanine-capital banker at Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation, one of Southeast Asia’s largest banks, is already a vice president but started her EMBA, which is part-funded by OCBC, to give her career prospects a boost.

But it’s not only about snagging a promotion. Tay stressed the importance of learning from her classmates, many of whom are senior managers and potential clients. “In one day, I could be hearing about surgical equipment from someone at Johnson & Johnson, and then discussing the nickel industry in China with someone who floated his own mining company,” she said.

Tay said her EMBA, which she is doing part time while working, demanded a high level of commitment. “I have become religious with time management. There is no sugarcoating the heavy workload involved – from voluminous pre-reading, to in-class case work, and nail-wreaking preparations for quizzes and exams,” she added.

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