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Case studies offer EMBA students crucial insights

Published on Friday, 13 Jul 2012
Loron Orris
Photo: Jonathan Wong

Ivey School of Business

Using case studies is one of the most popular teaching methods used in MBA studies to give executives an idea of how to handle the real-life situations they might face in business operations.

The Executive MBA offered by Richard Ivey School of Business Asia is one of the best programmes in the world at making use of case studies to educate.

“We have the world’s biggest case-study library for Asian cases. Throughout the 18 months of the course, students will be involved in up to 150 case studies. From a new product launch in Europe, to a tough human resource issue in North America or raising financing for a listed company in Asia, there is a real-life case for students to discuss in every lesson,” says Loron Orris, regional director of the Ivey Executive MBA.

By reacting to difficult business scenarios across a range of industries, students will develop a stronger understanding of the sort of leaders they want to become. During case studies, students are the decision-makers, sizing up the situation, analysing what is happening and having to generate alternatives. They need to examine the pros and cons of all alternatives before making a decision on an action plan and implementing it.

“In the real world, there is either too much or too little information to help executives make decisions. Our approach is to help them move forward, make better decisions and be better leaders. Students will emerge from the course full of confidence in their ability to inspire and excel at the top of an organisation,” says Orris.

The mode of study is for students to learn about theories before they come to class and then apply those theories in case studies. After class, students are ready to apply the theories in real-life situations.

“During lectures, students are often engaged in discussions of cases that are beneficial to their learning. Our professors facilitate discussion – like conductors in an orchestra – conducting different thoughts and ideas,” says Orris.

“All Ivey professors are world leaders in the creation of business cases. Students often have the unique experience of being led through a case by the faculty member who actually authored it. Since all students come from diverse backgrounds they often create unique and different insights during discussions.”

The typical EMBA class has more than 12 different nationalities and 10 different mother tongues. Students work in manufacturing, financial services, technology, consumer goods and many other sectors. Most are in director-grade positions or above, with at least 10 years of management experience.

To give students innovative ideas, there is a two-week study trip to Silicon Valley to learn about entrepreneurship, growth and innovation.

To help students who are busy executives cope with their tight work schedules, lectures are held on two weekends every month. “Thirty per cent of students fly in to Hong Kong to attend class, so we hold lessons twice a month for two full days on Saturdays and Sundays to help them arrange time at work,” says Orris.

Applicants are required to have a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university and at least 10 years of working experience.

Graduates of the programme will be able to join an elite class of alumni, with more than 22,000 leaders in more than 100 countries. In Asia, the alumni base has more than 1,100 executives.

Founded in 1922, Richard Ivey School of Business has enjoyed a good reputation for providing executive education.

In the 2012 Financial Times annual ranking of executive development providers around the world, Ivey was ranked number one in Canada for the 13th consecutive year, and ranked 21st worldwide.

Ivey was also ranked among the best in the world for custom programmes, at ninth, and open enrolment programmes, at tenth.

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