Alastair Collier








Jan 2014 - Sep 2015

By Alastair Collier

Your employer – a key to your executive education

I came to a point when I knew I needed to step change my contribution and effectiveness at work if I was going to advance in my career. I spent a few years as a middle manager at a couple large multinationals but wanted to move into more senior roles. As such augmenting my professional experience with a quality and recognised masters was an essential part to my career profile.

After reviewing and visiting several top business schools, Oxford stood out for two reasons: First, it was the one institution that offered a Diploma route onto the EMBA – Second, on my visit to the school’s open day, the programme director for the EMBA ended the evening with: “At Oxford, we are looking for people who want to change the world – they just need a bit of help to do it”.

The plan was always to complete the full EMBA. The diploma gave me optionality. First, my current employer wouldn’t support a full EMBA or my diploma; second the full 17 weeks out and price tag of the EMBA was going to be a difficult sell to any new employer. Therefore, by starting on the Diploma, which I self-funded, I could show initiative and reduce the cost and time burden to a future employer while extending my time at Oxford.

The Diploma to EMBA route was essential in enabling me to breakdown the rather large task of paying for and completing the Oxford EMBA. The three years I spent at Oxford completing both programs was a fundamental career and life turning point. Coming off the programme, I am now a senior leader in a new industry to me, I have a wealth of life experiences to draw upon, and a group of friends who will be invaluable to my happiness and career moving forward.

To those considering the Oxford EMBA: if you believe it is right for you, then do it. If you need to boost your career, advance your thinking, or challenge yourself then this is the place to go. My council for anyone looking at doing this type of programme is go to the best school you can, the cost and time spent will pay back in dividends.

On getting support from your employer, it starts with your current performance. Ask when you are already delivering noticeable results. Then, spend some time to understand “Why the organisation will benefit from investing in me”. If you can’t answer this – then no one can and you won’t get support. Once you understand and can articulate this, then create a proposal and get the most senior advocate you can to support you.

My proposal was broken down into 6 parts:

1. Benefits to the organisation
2. Course content
3. Why it’s important
4. Timings
5. Costs
6. Summary

Be flexible on how you co-fund the cost and time of the programme. Salary sacrifice is a great way to pay your course pre-tax. Also, by doing the diploma beforehand, the time out each year is more manageable. Don’t forget if you must travel to Oxford to do the programme to think about travel costs – even if you live in Oxford there are up to 5 courses internationally; I would recommend you do them all!

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  • Hari Vikram

    Thanks Alastair, most resounding for me to read the above as I am in a similar situation. Thank you.