Take Time to Pause and Strategize

By Jean Choy, Associate Dean of Executive Education and International Initiatives

When business appears to be going well with no major issues, we sometimes slip into complacency. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, is a phrase we often hear, and although it has merit, in today’s fast changing and ever fluid global economy, this mentality could be detrimental to future success.

The Global Executive MBA Program (GEMBA) is one of six different MBA programs offered at the UW Foster School of Business, and the only one that is designed in an accelerated one-year full-time format — making it attractive for busy professionals and sponsoring companies to invest in their high-potential employees. In 2021 we decided to place the program in a temporary hiatus to give us time to pause and strategize on ways to grow and improve upon the program. Although risks were involved in losing momentum, prospects, revenue, and even reputation, we felt it was more important to take time to reflect, research, innovate, and elevate the overall learning experience to better prepare our students for future challenges.

Pause and Strategize: In this process, we took time to gather feedback and recommendations from faculty, current students, alumni, and sponsoring companies on the value of the program. How do we ensure GEMBA fits well among our other MBA programs at Foster? What aspects of the program are most valuable and why? What has been the ROI for individuals as well as sponsoring companies? What unique advantages does our program have? What are some innovative ways we can collaborate with key stakeholders to raise the visibility of the program? How do we tie it all together to align with Foster’s Purpose Statement of “Together we foster leaders, insights, and progress to better humanity”?

This intentional time to pause and strategize was necessary. In doing so, we were able to step back from the day-to-day operations and are now ready to re-launch the program starting with the 2023-2024 class. While maintaining valued features such as the one-year format, smaller class size, high ratio of international citizenship demographics, and Seattle connections, the next cohort will experience new features.

  1. Theme-based global immersion
  • In line with UW Foster’s Purpose Statement, the newly designed GEMBA curriculum incorporates a theme-based immersive learning experience on how business can better humanity. For 2023-2024 class, we will include learning around managing climate risks and opportunities. This will be integrated into the curriculum as a course offering as well as a global immersion experience, currently scheduled in London during spring break, where students will visit key organizations and learn from faculty.
  1. Electives and STEM designate option
  • Students participating in GEMBA have the option to take up to 16 credits of elective courses over the course of one-year, allowing them to further explore their interests. All 16 credits could be applied towards a STEM-designate option or other topics, which offers more flexibility for the students than a lockstep program.
  1. Collaboration-based Career Services
  • Career Services offered jointly with other select MBA programs offices allows not only personalized services but also integration with students and alumni from other programs at Foster which will help expand their business network.
  1. Spouse/Partner Services
  • The decision to pursue an MBA impacts not only the students, but also their families. In recognizing that the families of students also need support, especially coming from another region/country, the GEMBA program has a specially designed support program for spouses and partners. These include an orientation session just for them; social gatherings to help them get connected to one another; organized family-friendly outings; and connections with program team to provide individualized support.

Taking time to pause and strategize is an important practice that is critical to long-term success. We are confident that students in the revamped GEMBA program will benefit from the changes that we have made in consultation with faculty, alumni, and sponsoring organizations.

Learn more about the program:

  • Visit the program website.
  • Join our mailing list to get program updates.
  • Sign up to attend a webinar.
  • Learn why organizations sponsor students in GEMBA.
  • Learn from graduates on the value of the learning experience.
  • Reach out to the GEMBA Team at [email protected] with any questions about the program or to discuss how it can help you on the next step in your career path.