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ROI is not just a number
The world of knowledge is continuously moving and our executives are stepping into new waters and therefore, they need to gain new knowledge, new experiences and new skills. Businesses too are facing new complexities and challenges. Executive education creates an opportunity for peer learning - when people come together, they have the opportunity to learn from each other. We do not have a specific set of programs or institutions that we use always. These keep on changing year-on-year based on our needs. The moment one thinks of a fixed set of universities, it acts as a restriction on other opportunities. So we continuously find new learning opportunities and new associations.
We review our courses, our learning associates and where we send our people to. For example, we may find that increasing knowledge on geopolitics is important in today’s scenario, so we find appropriate associations where our managers can learn more about geopolitics. We cannot keep on doing the same thing every year because some of these subjects might not even be relevant that year. For senior managers, we educate them on ‘future of work’ that we think will be relevant in the years to come. The content of the learning changes every year so we change our courses and learning associations accordingly. When finalizing on the institution, the subject matter and content is of primary relevance and the reputation of the institution also influences our decision.
The duration of a program cannot be very long in the case of senior managers as it is not possible to pull out senior management for a complete year. So, for example, if someone has to go the Harvard Business School for an Advanced Management Program (AMP), it happens three times a year and therefore managers have the option to choose one of the time frames keeping in mind their business commitments.
With respect to the return on investment (ROI) in this case is not just a quantitative number. But the return on such investments must be measured against what is the objective of executive education? Or does it help in building bench strength to meet the future market needs? Therefore, the effectiveness is reflected in the level of engagement seen in the senior management team; what the executive level attrition is; and whether or not it has resulted in the business outperforming its competitors? Thus, when there are many such macro indicators emerging, we can confirm that there is a return on investment. Further, if the objective of the program was to help the senior manager get exposure to critical and strategic problem solving, and the manager returns with ideas to solve some problem, it reflects a return on investment. Often, peer learning that takes place on such interventions also lead to process improvement. Even, the employer brand is an indicator of return on investment made on executive education. Therefore, seeking a quantitative ROI always is not accurate.
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