'It's like rocket fuel': the Swedish Executive MBA that takes you to the next level
Everybody faces certain crossroads in their lives and careers. If you have ambitions in business, then the challenges of the 2020s so far may have given you extra reason to reflect on how you can excel in future.
International organisations have faced unprecedented disruption and will need a new generation of savvy leaders to thrive in tomorrow’s world. That’s why the 18-month Executive MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) has been revamped to help participants remain relevant and maximise their potential.
Here, The Local finds out more about the opportunities the SSE MBA offers for personal and professional growth, learning new skills, and building new networks. And you can do it all without having to put your career on hold …
Studying in a global innovation hub
Sweden is home to an impressive range of big global companies, ranging from long-established giants like IKEA and Ericsson to digital companies like Spotify and King.
According to Angelika Lindstrand, SSE MBA Program Director, being an “innovation and entrepreneurship hub” makes Stockholm a great place to do an Executive MBA focused on global business. “Sweden is such a small country, so we always have to adapt to the global market and not only the domestic market,” she says.
So, who is the program for? Lindstrand says it’s for people who are already “high-achievers” but now want to take new steps to shape their own path and take their expertise to the next level. In short, if you want to help develop or lead an international organisation, it’s for you.
“It’s for people who want to enhance their careers and be creative,” says Lindstrand. “We’re looking for highly ambitious people, who have already achieved quite a lot. People who now want to achieve something special and feel they need something extra to follow their ambitions.”
One such person is Vicky Green Samuelsen, CEO and co-founder of seafood startup EIR of Norway. She started her company just two months after graduating and now makes daily use of the skills she learned, "from finance to people skills".
"I also have a priceless international network of experts in all fields," she adds. "The class still stays in regular contact. We give each other advice, bounce ideas, and help make connections. And I think I’ve really grown as a person."
If you think you could be ready for the challenge, the SSE MBA is delivered part-time, requiring around 20 hours of studies per week on average, on top of the ten mandatory full-time campus weeks. It ranks 60th globally in the latest FT rankings.
It's in the top 15 for gender balance and you can expect around half the participants to come from outside Sweden.
What’s new? Personalised learning and managing uncertainty
So, what will be the key differences for new entrants starting in December compared to earlier participants? “We wanted to make it a more personalised learning journey,” says Lindstrand. “It’s still a general management program. But you have more elective courses to choose from depending on your interests and that’s the main change.”
Students have two elective periods, one at an SSE campus in Stockholm, Latvia or Russia, and one at another leading business school within the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM).
“The new program is also more focused on today’s global issues,” adds Lindstrand. “We’ve added specific courses and workshops on risk management and crisis management.”
The opportunity to develop an impressive personal network from a wide range of backgrounds and industries is also a big part of the appeal.
“Our participants learn so much about themselves, about other industries and from each other,” Lindstrand says. “You get to develop a more diverse and interesting network from the moment you start the Executive MBA and meet new people you’d probably never have met otherwise.”
Self-aware leaders and soft skills
Grant Calder, SSE’s American Head Coach, and himself an alumnus of the SSE MBA, is now responsible for coaching in the LeadershipLive program and helping to promote soft skills and self-development.
Participants are supported to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of themselves and others, thus enhancing collaboration.
“One of the main soft skills we work on is the ability to build good relationships with people,” says Calder. “Everything gets done through people, so people’s feelings matter. How do you communicate with someone who is totally different from you or have the emotional intelligence to stand in someone else’s shoes?”
The SSE MBA has been designed to ensure participants learn from each other’s perspectives. This includes peer-to-peer coaching, in which students are paired up for the duration of their studies.
“We teach them the basic coaching skills and they then coach each other and take that learning back into their organisations,” Calder says.
There is also considerable focus in group sessions on understanding lessons from neuroscience. “We look to help people understand how they react to things and how to better manage not only your time but also your mind,” says Calder.
Ultimately, the coaching is intended to create more self-aware leaders with the confidence to reach for the stars.
“Where can you contribute the most unique value?” asks Calder. “People get the confidence to go after their bigger goals and the tools to make things happen. It’s like rocket fuel.”
This was certainly true for Paul Seimann, Head of Austria Open Market Business, who won promotion only two months after finishing the program. He says the tools, theories, and models he learned will support him throughout life.
"Furthermore, the program equipped me with new energy and self-confidence to aim much higher than before," he adds. "I now look differently on my colleagues and managers, and can support them when we face tough challenges. And to be honest, it’s also applicable in your private life."
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