Online/EMBA for small family Business


cfduarte
Dear all,

I am currently evaluating whether - and where - enrolling in an Executive or Online MBA makes sense and would really appreciate your input on it:

I am 38 years old, with a Masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering, working in a small (20 employees) engineering family company in Portugal.

I have a total of 10 years full-time experience post graduation (PhD) , initially as a senior process engineer (for roughly 4 years, initially at my family company and later on for 2.5 years at a small, AIM-listed, UK company) and now as a MD (for the last 6 years), together with my father.

We have been growing steadily in the last 3-4 years, with staff increase of more than 50% and 3x the business volume (which is around 3 M€, at the moment), but now are facing transitional choices, both in terms of succession and a more professional management (sales, human resources, accounting) as the company has been heavily focused on the engineering side only up to now.

The idea would be for an Executive or Online MBA which could give me training on the more formal aspects of management, which I lack (all I know was gained through on-the-job learning), especially focused on smaller, family based operations (I don't care for corporate finance or operation, nor am I interested in a career change or working for another company).

I thought about taking an EMBA on a local business school, but besides not being completely sure on their track record, the 2-days-a-week schedule is far from ideal (I would prefer 3-4 days, or even a full week, every 1-2 months, as it is less disruptive). I also looked at Online but I am afraid I might miss on the interaction, especially with faculty staff.

As I wrote above, any input would be greatly appreciated.
Dear all,

I am currently evaluating whether - and where - enrolling in an Executive or Online MBA makes sense and would really appreciate your input on it:

I am 38 years old, with a Masters and PhD in Chemical Engineering, working in a small (20 employees) engineering family company in Portugal.

I have a total of 10 years full-time experience post graduation (PhD) , initially as a senior process engineer (for roughly 4 years, initially at my family company and later on for 2.5 years at a small, AIM-listed, UK company) and now as a MD (for the last 6 years), together with my father.

We have been growing steadily in the last 3-4 years, with staff increase of more than 50% and 3x the business volume (which is around 3 M€, at the moment), but now are facing transitional choices, both in terms of succession and a more professional management (sales, human resources, accounting) as the company has been heavily focused on the engineering side only up to now.

The idea would be for an Executive or Online MBA which could give me training on the more formal aspects of management, which I lack (all I know was gained through on-the-job learning), especially focused on smaller, family based operations (I don't care for corporate finance or operation, nor am I interested in a career change or working for another company).

I thought about taking an EMBA on a local business school, but besides not being completely sure on their track record, the 2-days-a-week schedule is far from ideal (I would prefer 3-4 days, or even a full week, every 1-2 months, as it is less disruptive). I also looked at Online but I am afraid I might miss on the interaction, especially with faculty staff.

As I wrote above, any input would be greatly appreciated.
quote
Duncan
I don't know where you are are in the UK, but a more typical format is a Friday and Saturday every other week, or a long weekend every month, and even then only in term time. Certainly take an EMBA: you will get a better cohort and a better experience.

I'm a small business owner who has helped take a handful of businesses through to sales or mergers. You don't need a specialised MBA. You need a general management degree. You might not think you need to know about corporate finance, but you do if you might ever want to invest in equipment or projects, borrow or lend money or buy or sell your company. I was a director in a 15-person firm, and my MBA at London Business School was exactly what I needed. Every major business school is very good at entrepreneurship.

If the Eurostar is easy for you, also consider the EDHEC family business MBA http://www.edhec-family-business.com/programmes-for-family-business/mba-programs/mba-programs-for-family-businesses-165484.kjsp
I don't know where you are are in the UK, but a more typical format is a Friday and Saturday every other week, or a long weekend every month, and even then only in term time. Certainly take an EMBA: you will get a better cohort and a better experience.

I'm a small business owner who has helped take a handful of businesses through to sales or mergers. You don't need a specialised MBA. You need a general management degree. You might not think you need to know about corporate finance, but you do if you might ever want to invest in equipment or projects, borrow or lend money or buy or sell your company. I was a director in a 15-person firm, and my MBA at London Business School was exactly what I needed. Every major business school is very good at entrepreneurship.

If the Eurostar is easy for you, also consider the EDHEC family business MBA http://www.edhec-family-business.com/programmes-for-family-business/mba-programs/mba-programs-for-family-businesses-165484.kjsp
quote
cfduarte
Thank you Duncan.

I am not in the UK anymore (back in Portugal for the last 6 years), and that's the reason I mentioned that I am not wholly sold on course quality over here, despite the obvious advantages in networking (we only work domestically by choice).

Regarding corporate finance, and to give you an idea of where I am coming from, this is a family company founded by my father 35 years ago. Although I cannot predict the future, selling it is not really in my plans - I am more concerned with the fact that I have a 100% engineering background and I have some difficulty in handling everyday finance (to give you an idea, I had no clue what an EBIDTA was up to a couple of years ago and I still have no idea what is its practical use in management).

In terms of financing, and given our company type (we are "old-school" engineering, proving equipment and services to the industry, not really working in an "innovative" sector) and size (20 people, 3 M€ sales), the only real funding available will always be banks. We have very little use for investment (our main "investment" is renewing the van/car fleet) and use short term credit (similar to an overdraft) for the odd use (usually paying larger equipment in advance or solving short-term liquidity mismatches).

I might be looking at it wrong, but corporate finance might be both too much and too little at the same time for our situation.

I have no problem with a course outside Portugal (taking into account flight connections and costs), but due to both cost (i.e. reduce the number of flights) and internal organization (I can schedule 2-3 off every month, but not a single day every week) I would really prefer a course that operates on "short bursts" as you mentioned, or, at the very end of it, online.

Again, your help is really appreciated and thank you for taking time to answer my post.
Thank you Duncan.

I am not in the UK anymore (back in Portugal for the last 6 years), and that's the reason I mentioned that I am not wholly sold on course quality over here, despite the obvious advantages in networking (we only work domestically by choice).

Regarding corporate finance, and to give you an idea of where I am coming from, this is a family company founded by my father 35 years ago. Although I cannot predict the future, selling it is not really in my plans - I am more concerned with the fact that I have a 100% engineering background and I have some difficulty in handling everyday finance (to give you an idea, I had no clue what an EBIDTA was up to a couple of years ago and I still have no idea what is its practical use in management).

In terms of financing, and given our company type (we are "old-school" engineering, proving equipment and services to the industry, not really working in an "innovative" sector) and size (20 people, 3 M€ sales), the only real funding available will always be banks. We have very little use for investment (our main "investment" is renewing the van/car fleet) and use short term credit (similar to an overdraft) for the odd use (usually paying larger equipment in advance or solving short-term liquidity mismatches).

I might be looking at it wrong, but corporate finance might be both too much and too little at the same time for our situation.

I have no problem with a course outside Portugal (taking into account flight connections and costs), but due to both cost (i.e. reduce the number of flights) and internal organization (I can schedule 2-3 off every month, but not a single day every week) I would really prefer a course that operates on "short bursts" as you mentioned, or, at the very end of it, online.

Again, your help is really appreciated and thank you for taking time to answer my post.
quote
Duncan
I did my EMBA international project in a business even more traditional than yours: A paint distributor. There is a lot than an MBA would do.

If you want blocks and a programme designed for you, then maybe EuroMBA or the Harvard OPM is right. A friend of mine studied in the Lisbon MBA and I think you are right to be cautious about the local options. LBS, Chicago, IMD and WU also come to mind.
I did my EMBA international project in a business even more traditional than yours: A paint distributor. There is a lot than an MBA would do.

If you want blocks and a programme designed for you, then maybe EuroMBA or the Harvard OPM is right. A friend of mine studied in the Lisbon MBA and I think you are right to be cautious about the local options. LBS, Chicago, IMD and WU also come to mind.
quote
cfduarte
Thanks again Duncan.

If I could just ask for an additional input, I took a look at the top FT EMBA with more industry/senior position applicants and most EMBAs seem to offer schedules similar to what I am looking for (2-3 days a month, every month or a full week with a month/).

Do you have any suggestions in the UK or Europe (UK preferred due to easier/cheaper flights plus having family/friends there which can help)?
Thanks again Duncan.

If I could just ask for an additional input, I took a look at the top FT EMBA with more industry/senior position applicants and most EMBAs seem to offer schedules similar to what I am looking for (2-3 days a month, every month or a full week with a month/).

Do you have any suggestions in the UK or Europe (UK preferred due to easier/cheaper flights plus having family/friends there which can help)?
quote
Duncan
Well, Chicago, LBS, WU and EuroMBA *are* in Europe.
Well, Chicago, LBS, WU and EuroMBA *are* in Europe.
quote
cfduarte
Hi Duncan,

I have been researching a bit more on this, including the suggestions you gave (thank you again) and this is where I am at, based on the following options:

- I would like to start in September (somewhat though) or first semester 2018 - so something like Cambridge is out.


- The course has to be in English only. Although I can manage by in French and Spanish, my language skills are not strong enough for serious studying without additional work, for which I have no time - excludes most Spanish / French and some German schools who require some degree of bilingualism.


- I prefer an extended schedule (close to 2 full years, so 20-24 months, rather than an intensive one - 16-18 months) as I have lots of work to deal with and no replacement - seems to be a problem with most Continental programs.

- Fees must be reasonable - this is a small company and, as such, paying for my EMBA will be a substation investment - unfortunately that rules out LBS, Chicago or IMD.


- I would prefer for it to be taught at a single (main) location, with 1-2 long distance (i.e. outside Europe) experiences being OK. Multiple schools seem too confusing - EuroMBA and ESCP will not do.

At the moment I am looking at Warwick and Imperial (Cranfield is too unknown outside the UK to have any "name value" - although that is secondary, it does count). Warwick because it has a reputation on finance/management and Imperial because of location and in my field (engineering) it has an excellent brand name.

Any opinions?

Thanks!
Hi Duncan,

I have been researching a bit more on this, including the suggestions you gave (thank you again) and this is where I am at, based on the following options:

- I would like to start in September (somewhat though) or first semester 2018 - so something like Cambridge is out.


- The course has to be in English only. Although I can manage by in French and Spanish, my language skills are not strong enough for serious studying without additional work, for which I have no time - excludes most Spanish / French and some German schools who require some degree of bilingualism.


- I prefer an extended schedule (close to 2 full years, so 20-24 months, rather than an intensive one - 16-18 months) as I have lots of work to deal with and no replacement - seems to be a problem with most Continental programs.

- Fees must be reasonable - this is a small company and, as such, paying for my EMBA will be a substation investment - unfortunately that rules out LBS, Chicago or IMD.


- I would prefer for it to be taught at a single (main) location, with 1-2 long distance (i.e. outside Europe) experiences being OK. Multiple schools seem too confusing - EuroMBA and ESCP will not do.

At the moment I am looking at Warwick and Imperial (Cranfield is too unknown outside the UK to have any "name value" - although that is secondary, it does count). Warwick because it has a reputation on finance/management and Imperial because of location and in my field (engineering) it has an excellent brand name.

Any opinions?

Thanks!

quote
Duncan
Good luck. I don't understand why you think any of the schools discussed here require skills in another language.
Good luck. I don't understand why you think any of the schools discussed here require skills in another language.
quote
cfduarte
Hi Duncan,

I apologise if my post sounded dismissive of your suggestions. Far from it. The problem was that I need to set some requisites for short-listing courses *before* looking at actual programs.

My first requirement was teaching schedule / duration. That was one, if not the main, reason why I rejected the two EMBAs in Portugal - both are taught Fri/Sat, every week. That doesn't work for me (and if, on top of that, you had the fact that the EMBAs seem to play a very second fiddle to the MBAs, they are just not an option).

The second one was cost. I cannot, in good judgement, pay more than 50 000 - 60 000 euros. Although I expect a return on the investment, the return will (hopefully) reflect itself more in terms of developing the business than career progression or salary, since I am already the GM/MD.

From these two points, I shortlisted the following, based on FT rankings:

ESCP
Kedge
Warwick
OneMBA
Cass
ESMT
Imperial

From these I sort-of eliminated the France-based schools as I had enough dealings with French companies and academia to know that the risk of having lower-quality lecturing due to problem arising from French professors speaking (bad) English is probably significant. I MIGHT be wrong and just thinking based on prejudices, so if anyone can tell me otherwise, based on personal experience, I would appreciate it.

So, the ones remaining were Warwick, OneMBA, Cass, ESMT and Imperial.

OneMBA is too international and seems very geared towards trans-national (multinational) management, which is something I don't really need. As I wrote in my first post, I am looking at a "run you own small company" approach.

ESMT requires GMAT, which I don't have nor do I intend on taking, unless necessary.

Cass seems to be geared towards finance, due to being close to the City. I MIGHT be wrong here, so I would really appreciate some feedback.

Warwick seemed to be the best bet, although some transportation problems exist. The price is fair and I am trying to find out more about the program and whether it fits what I am looking for.

Imperial is more expensive than Warwick, but easier to get there. Also, they have an elective on family businesses that looks interesting and a good name (as a College) in engineering.

I apologise if my bilingual comment seemed off (it does read as such), but I was talking about it being preferable, on French (and Spanish) schools to take the courses in French and Spanish, as English can be iffy.
Hi Duncan,

I apologise if my post sounded dismissive of your suggestions. Far from it. The problem was that I need to set some requisites for short-listing courses *before* looking at actual programs.

My first requirement was teaching schedule / duration. That was one, if not the main, reason why I rejected the two EMBAs in Portugal - both are taught Fri/Sat, every week. That doesn't work for me (and if, on top of that, you had the fact that the EMBAs seem to play a very second fiddle to the MBAs, they are just not an option).

The second one was cost. I cannot, in good judgement, pay more than 50 000 - 60 000 euros. Although I expect a return on the investment, the return will (hopefully) reflect itself more in terms of developing the business than career progression or salary, since I am already the GM/MD.

From these two points, I shortlisted the following, based on FT rankings:

ESCP
Kedge
Warwick
OneMBA
Cass
ESMT
Imperial

From these I sort-of eliminated the France-based schools as I had enough dealings with French companies and academia to know that the risk of having lower-quality lecturing due to problem arising from French professors speaking (bad) English is probably significant. I MIGHT be wrong and just thinking based on prejudices, so if anyone can tell me otherwise, based on personal experience, I would appreciate it.

So, the ones remaining were Warwick, OneMBA, Cass, ESMT and Imperial.

OneMBA is too international and seems very geared towards trans-national (multinational) management, which is something I don't really need. As I wrote in my first post, I am looking at a "run you own small company" approach.

ESMT requires GMAT, which I don't have nor do I intend on taking, unless necessary.

Cass seems to be geared towards finance, due to being close to the City. I MIGHT be wrong here, so I would really appreciate some feedback.

Warwick seemed to be the best bet, although some transportation problems exist. The price is fair and I am trying to find out more about the program and whether it fits what I am looking for.

Imperial is more expensive than Warwick, but easier to get there. Also, they have an elective on family businesses that looks interesting and a good name (as a College) in engineering.

I apologise if my bilingual comment seemed off (it does read as such), but I was talking about it being preferable, on French (and Spanish) schools to take the courses in French and Spanish, as English can be iffy.
quote
Duncan
I don't understand what you mean. Do you think that some of the top French or Spanish business schools allow students in their English-language EMBAs or Online MBAs to take courses in Spanish or French, and that these might be better taught? Both of those sound quite improbable to me.

Personal experience: I studied on the French Riviera, in what EDHEC now call the Global MBA (it used to have a modular executive option). I was taught: financial accounting (Dominique Helle, French), management economics (Ahmet Aykaç, Turkish), marketing (Horst Bender, German), human resource management (Craig Marsh, English) and knowledge management (Maurice Hardaker, British), corporate finance (Walter N. Torous, American), advanced finance (Bhagwan Chowdhry, Indian), technology and operations (Uday Karmarkar, Indian), international business (José de la Torre and Robert S. Spich, USA), and international marketing (Dominique Hanssens, Belgian). At the recent EDHEC MBA refresher in Nice, the key speakers were Karin Kollenz-Quétard (German), Michelle Sisto (American), Joe Fisher (American) and the dean, who is indeed French.

So, I don't think you should assume that most of the faculty on a top European MBA will be nationals of that country: it's simply not the case. With a few exceptions (Mannheim, Vlerick, Bocconi) you will get a balance of staff all of whom have decades of experience with teaching executives in English, and most of whom did their PhD in the USA, UK etc.

[Edited by Duncan on Jul 07, 2017]

I don't understand what you mean. Do you think that some of the top French or Spanish business schools allow students in their English-language EMBAs or Online MBAs to take courses in Spanish or French, and that these might be better taught? Both of those sound quite improbable to me.

Personal experience: I studied on the French Riviera, in what EDHEC now call the Global MBA (it used to have a modular executive option). I was taught: financial accounting (Dominique Helle, French), management economics (Ahmet Aykaç, Turkish), marketing (Horst Bender, German), human resource management (Craig Marsh, English) and knowledge management (Maurice Hardaker, British), corporate finance (Walter N. Torous, American), advanced finance (Bhagwan Chowdhry, Indian), technology and operations (Uday Karmarkar, Indian), international business (José de la Torre and Robert S. Spich, USA), and international marketing (Dominique Hanssens, Belgian). At the recent EDHEC MBA refresher in Nice, the key speakers were Karin Kollenz-Quétard (German), Michelle Sisto (American), Joe Fisher (American) and the dean, who is indeed French.

So, I don't think you should assume that most of the faculty on a top European MBA will be nationals of that country: it's simply not the case. With a few exceptions (Mannheim, Vlerick, Bocconi) you will get a balance of staff all of whom have decades of experience with teaching executives in English, and most of whom did their PhD in the USA, UK etc.
quote
cfduarte
That was exactly what I meant (although I did narrow it down to Spanish / French schools). As I said, I was working on assumptions that might be (and apparently are) incorrect. I will look with more detail to both Kedge and ESCP.

Also, and back to one of your initial suggestions, the Family Business EMBA seems to have all but disappeared from the EDHC website, which is a pity. I might - and probably am - clueless here, but I just find it strange the complete lack of offering for family-business/SME applicants at EMBA level.
That was exactly what I meant (although I did narrow it down to Spanish / French schools). As I said, I was working on assumptions that might be (and apparently are) incorrect. I will look with more detail to both Kedge and ESCP.

Also, and back to one of your initial suggestions, the Family Business EMBA seems to have all but disappeared from the EDHC website, which is a pity. I might - and probably am - clueless here, but I just find it strange the complete lack of offering for family-business/SME applicants at EMBA level.
quote
Duncan
I was at an academic workshop with a professor who Kedge who told me most of their recent hires were foreigners. Okay, Kedge is not exactly on the top-tier is MBAs, like the FT Global MBA 100, but even there around half the faculty are foreigners. Certainly there is no way than a student there could take courses in French as part of either of their MBAs. At the ESCP campuses, similarly, all of the EMBA tracks are only in English.

PS I'm not surprised about the small market for family/SMB oriented MBAs. My experience as a small business owner and senior manager has been that there's very little that's different about the general management toolkit when it comes to SMBs. The basic tools of general management can be used for businesses of any size.

[Edited by Duncan on Jul 07, 2017]

I was at an academic workshop with a professor who Kedge who told me most of their recent hires were foreigners. Okay, Kedge is not exactly on the top-tier is MBAs, like the FT Global MBA 100, but even there around half the faculty are foreigners. Certainly there is no way than a student there could take courses in French as part of either of their MBAs. At the ESCP campuses, similarly, all of the EMBA tracks are only in English.

PS I'm not surprised about the small market for family/SMB oriented MBAs. My experience as a small business owner and senior manager has been that there's very little that's different about the general management toolkit when it comes to SMBs. The basic tools of general management can be used for businesses of any size.
quote
Duncan
EDHEC family business EMBA is at https://www.edhec.edu/html/fbc/
EDHEC family business EMBA is at https://www.edhec.edu/html/fbc/
quote
cfduarte
Well, I had never heard of Kedge (to be honest, in France I had only heard of Insead) but they are well placed in the FT 2016 EMBA ranking (22nd) and that's why I short-listed them.

On the family/SMB, I agree with you but when you have programs with modules like "international business law" as a core (ESCP), that is off-putting.
Well, I had never heard of Kedge (to be honest, in France I had only heard of Insead) but they are well placed in the FT 2016 EMBA ranking (22nd) and that's why I short-listed them.

On the family/SMB, I agree with you but when you have programs with modules like "international business law" as a core (ESCP), that is off-putting.
quote
Duncan
Lots of small and family businesses need to export and don't have in-house lawyers. I don't see why that's a problem.
Lots of small and family businesses need to export and don't have in-house lawyers. I don't see why that's a problem.
quote
cfduarte
As an elective? Sure. As a core module? I don't really understand it - better yet, I do: the course is geared towards larger / transnational corporations.
As an elective? Sure. As a core module? I don't really understand it - better yet, I do: the course is geared towards larger / transnational corporations.
quote
Duncan
Don't you think larger organisations have a bigger division of labour? No, I think law is there because the Grandes Ecoles have the "MACI" concept in which export contract negotiation is a core skill for international business.
Don't you think larger organisations have a bigger division of labour? No, I think law is there because the Grandes Ecoles have the "MACI" concept in which export contract negotiation is a core skill for international business.
quote
mcgr
Just thought I'd weigh in on the OneMBA program, as I've been talking to RSM and the information I've gotten is that the European cohort of OneMBA tends to lean more towards smaller organizations vs. the U.S. cohort which is made up more from people at larger multinationals. Given these demographics, the local coursework is somewhat more tailored towards the needs of small business owners. I've spoken with two alumni from the program, both of whom are entrepreneurs and small business owners, who seemed to get a lot of value out of the program. There is quite obviously a strong international component to the program, but personally I think that perspective is valuable even for a business owner who is domestically focused, as it is good to see how other people deal with similar problems.
Just thought I'd weigh in on the OneMBA program, as I've been talking to RSM and the information I've gotten is that the European cohort of OneMBA tends to lean more towards smaller organizations vs. the U.S. cohort which is made up more from people at larger multinationals. Given these demographics, the local coursework is somewhat more tailored towards the needs of small business owners. I've spoken with two alumni from the program, both of whom are entrepreneurs and small business owners, who seemed to get a lot of value out of the program. There is quite obviously a strong international component to the program, but personally I think that perspective is valuable even for a business owner who is domestically focused, as it is good to see how other people deal with similar problems.
quote
cfduarte
Hi mcgr,

Thanks for the input on the OneMBA. I did have a close look at it but - and unlike what I expect most people are looking for - the "international"/BRIC side of it puts me off.

Duncan,

Again, thanks a lot for the input and thank you for referencing me to the EDHEC family business EMBA (although it has no information for the 2018/2019 year). The subject seems to be spot-on, but since the brochure is a dead link, I can't really gauge the actual structure of the modules, only the names. Also, 15 months is a bit too short.

As an update, I am taking a second-look at schools with higher fees. LBS is not an option, unfortunately, due to the teaching schedule (Fri/Sat every alternate week), but Saïd, Judge and Kellog/WHU have perfectly acceptable schedules. IE would be interesting as well was it not short (15 months) and having a structure similar to OneMBA, with several week-long residencies outside Europe.
Hi mcgr,

Thanks for the input on the OneMBA. I did have a close look at it but - and unlike what I expect most people are looking for - the "international"/BRIC side of it puts me off.

Duncan,

Again, thanks a lot for the input and thank you for referencing me to the EDHEC family business EMBA (although it has no information for the 2018/2019 year). The subject seems to be spot-on, but since the brochure is a dead link, I can't really gauge the actual structure of the modules, only the names. Also, 15 months is a bit too short.

As an update, I am taking a second-look at schools with higher fees. LBS is not an option, unfortunately, due to the teaching schedule (Fri/Sat every alternate week), but Saïd, Judge and Kellog/WHU have perfectly acceptable schedules. IE would be interesting as well was it not short (15 months) and having a structure similar to OneMBA, with several week-long residencies outside Europe.
quote
Duncan
Kellogg is good option. Also look at the LBS programme in Dubai. The Purdue IMM is very good.
Kellogg is good option. Also look at the LBS programme in Dubai. The Purdue IMM is very good.
quote

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