EMBA program branches out

Starting next fall, students enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the Yale School of Management will be able to choose from two new areas of focus — sustainability and asset management.

The EMBA program, launched in 2005, originally offered only a concentration in healthcare and solely admitted working professionals in that field. Going forward, students in the EMBA program will spend more than a year completing a general MBA as a group, before splitting into the three specialty areas for part of their second year. According to SOM Associate Dean David Bach, the EMBA class will likely double from an average of 30 to roughly 60 students as a result of the new areas of focus.

Bach said a great deal of thought went into choosing the new concentrations.

“We asked ourselves — where does Yale have a lot of expertise, where is there a lot of demand in the market and where does it fit in with our brand position of educating leaders for business and society?” Bach said, adding that sustainability and asset management were the topics that best satisfied these three criteria.

Ian Rogan, director of the EMBA program, said this expansion will help attract more applicants to Yale SOM and improve the school’s image.

In the past, many prospective EMBA students overlooked the general MBA component and viewed the program as a degree mainly in healthcare, he said.

“It is first and foremost an MBA degree, 75 percent of the work is in general management,” Rogan said. “External audiences maybe did not fully appreciate [this].”

SOM professor Will Goetzmann, who will serve as faculty director for the asset management concentration, said Yale has particular expertise in this area. He cited the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller and the prominence of the “Yale model” for institutional investing as examples of this strength.

The asset management program will be taught in a style that reflects this expertise and prioritizes general MBA principles over specific finance skills, Goetzmann said

Both Goetzmann and Bach said Yale’s asset management program will be unique because it will focus on the good that finance can do for society, rather than simply on techniques for personal success and monetary gain.

“It’s a challenge for us because when people hear finance, they immediately hear ‘greedy Wall Street,’” Bach said. “But finance is necessary and it can do a lot of [good] — in order for it to do a lot of good, you need responsible long term investment management.”

Vani Nadarajah, who serves as admissions and marketing director for the EMBA program, said the sustainability focus, like asset management, is centered on management skills. This emphasis is particularly suited for executives who have already worked in the industry and mastered the skills and now want to improve as leaders and managers, she added.

Still, Shresta Marigowda EMBA ’15 said sustainability, though important because of its applicability to any sector, was already offered as an elective for EMBA students before it became an area of focus. The EMBA program could potentially be restructured as a general EMBA degree with several electives and no mandatory area of focus, Marigowda said.

“Yale is the first university to try something along these lines, and that is something valid,” Marigowda said. “But there are just more things they could do at this point, like keep a general EMBA, just as the top 10 [business schools] do.”

Goetzmann said SOM faculty members have considered the idea of offering a two-year general EMBA, but he added that it is not feasible at this point. Professors are content with the two additional concentrations for now, he said, though that will not preclude them from possibly expanding the EMBA program further in the future.

Goetzmann said he is not concerned that future expansion will threaten SOM’s “intimate and close-knit community.” Even if SOM grew considerably, it could remain one of the smallest business schools in the country, he said.

Similarly, Lori Anna Dees EMBA ’15 said she does not worry about the EMBA program becoming too large. This expansion will only improve SOM’s cooperative, noncompetitive learning environment, she said.

“It will remain intimate, but the addition of these two new groups is going to make the learning environment much richer than it really is,” Dees said.

Christine Vetter EMBA’15 said she believes the two new areas of focus are increasingly relevant to healthcare, and that the intersection between the three concentrations will foster innovative and productive discussions.

EMBA classes are held every other Friday and Saturday.

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