Executive MBA FAQs

Executive MBA FAQs

What experience is required to enter the program?

A minimum of six years professional business experience is required to enter the program. This requirement is in place to ensure that participants have the background necessary to participate and add value to the discussions of business issues brought to light throughout the program and during assignments.

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Do I need to take the GMAT or GRE test to be admitted to the EMBA Program?

No, GMAT and GRE scores are not required to be considered for admission into the program. The admissions committee places a heavy emphasis on professional experience and achievement, in addition to looking for demonstrated quantitative skills in undergraduate coursework.

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What are the application deadlines?

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and new cohorts start two times per year (fall and spring.) Completed applications received by the 15th of every month will be reviewed for a decision by the end of that month.  Please see the academic calendar for specific dates and final application deadlines.

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Is there an application fee?

There is a $60 non-refundable application fee. (This fee is waived for RIT alumni and veterans.)

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I started my MBA at a different school. Can I transfer the credits to this program?

No. Transfer credits are not accepted for the EMBA program. Since this is a cohort-based program, students need to work together throughout all courses. Additionally, the sequence of courses is structured with the expectation that certain models, theories, and methods are covered prior to students progressing through their courses.

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How many classes will I be taking each session?

Online Executive MBA courses are 6 weeks in length. Students take 2-3 courses each session, equating to 6-7 each semester, for a total of 25 courses and 49 credits over 17 months.

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How will I get my books?

All course materials will be provided in electronic format to each Online Executive MBA student. Students will also be supplied with an iPad which will be used to access the course materials.

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How many hours outside of class should I plan for assignments?

Everyone learns at a different pace, but typically success-oriented EMBA students put in approximately 20 to 30 hours a week to complete assignments and work with their team. Toward the end of the program, more time will be required to complete the Capstone project.

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How are the students divided into teams?

Teams of 3 to 5 people are established based on duration and level of work experience, functional discipline, industry sector, and educational backgrounds. We strive to create well-balanced, diverse teams so you can learn to work and grow together. Students also come to rely on one another for support, both educationally and personally, throughout their EMBA experience.

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Where will I go on the Saunders International Experience?

We are always looking at the global environment to determine a location where students can see some of the latest developments in technology, globalization, and innovation. The choice of venue for the international residency is based on global trends, country-specific attributes, and logistical considerations. Recent classes have gone to China and Europe.

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How will I balance work, family and the EMBA program?

Because spouses, family members, and employers are often surprised at the time commitment of the RIT program, you need to inform them that you will be taking a rigorous online Executive MBA (EMBA) program for the next 17 months and that your time for “extracurricular” activities will be very limited. However, with careful planning, you can still have a life outside of school and work. Many students find that making plans to celebrate during the occasional week off between semesters, and at the end of the program with family and friends, is a good way to make up for the sacrifices everyone makes throughout the program. Planning a party, vacation or other exciting event will help keep everyone motivated for 17 months. In addition to support from family and friends, students also have access to online EMBA alumni through our mentoring program. Students will receive short biographies and contact information for alumni who will be assigned as their mentors throughout the entire program. Mentors are a valuable resource with firsthand knowledge and advice from their experiences in the program.

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What if I start the program and find I cannot finish it?

Each student is different, and at times personal situations arise that can make learning difficult. We will work with you on an individual basis to determine the best path for you. It may include taking a leave of absence or waiting for a future session to begin your online Executive MBA program.

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What are some of the intangible benefits I will realize through the EMBA program?

You will not only learn new business theories, but you will increase your confidence, writing ability, presentation/speaking skills, leadership awareness, teamwork abilities, and professional and personal networks through faculty, staff, and peers.

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What degree will I earn?

You will earn an MBA degree.

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What are the differences between an EMBA and an MBA?

Executive MBA programs allow students to study as they continue to work while traditional MBA programs often assume that students are studying full time. EMBAs also tend to enroll more experienced professionals with proven track records and demonstrated leadership potential. Thus, top EMBAs match the quality and rigor of full-time MBAs but attract more seasoned individuals who are able to add greater value to each other's education. The cohort nature of Executive MBA programs—all students progress through the program with the same class and team, taking the same courses—promotes peer-to-peer learning and encourages strong networking and lifelong personal and business relationships. In general, traditional MBA students possess more academic knowledge than business savvy and can take years to prove their potential, while the payoff from experienced EMBA students' learning is tangible and immediate. Furthermore, the value of earning an Executive MBA midcareer continues to grow as organizations and students experience a faster return on investment.

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Do you have an alumni network?

Yes, RIT boasts an active network of more than 110,000 alumni.

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Whom do I talk to if I have more questions or if I want to apply?

Please call 1.585.475.2729 to speak with an Admissions Officer for more information.

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Shari’s Trip to Prague

My name is Shari Maxwell and I started the Online Executive MBA program in February of 2013.  At the time, I was living in Hagerstown, MD, working as a Production Manager for Rust-Oleum.  My background is in chemical engineering and I have 18 years of experience in manufacturing as a process engineer, process improvement leader, and several management positions.  I recently moved to Baltimore after taking an Operations Manager position with WR Grace.  The EMBA courses helped prepare me for my new role and have been using what I’ve learned since day one.

trip to prague

The EMBA opens doors for me in Prague!

Day 1
KGB Museum- Independent study:

Two of my classmates and I set out to find this gem of Prague. The museum is extremely small and the collection of artifacts is not particularly impressive- but the tour guide, a young Russian man, makes it worth the price of admission. He is a master storyteller; he creates these fantastic images with words and engages you in history, making a difficult subject quite entertaining. If you’re in Prague, stop by.
Official Start of the Program:

Traipsing thru the rain: 45 and rainy does not make for a good walking tour of the city.  The tour guide did not know how to adjust for crappy weather conditions. We were good sports about it. But well into hour two, you could tell our hearts were not in it. This picture of our professor, John Ward, at the castle sums up how I felt that afternoon.


Day 2

University of Economics at Prague:

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The lectures were outstanding!  First, the history of the Czech lands, and then a review of the Czech economy. In the first lecture, we only made it through World War II and I was genuinely sad that we didn’t make it all the way to 2014. Czech Republic has a rich and often sad history. One comment from Dr. Chalupsky that struck me deeply was how “the failure of communism was the devastation of the spirituality of the people- it will take generations to recover.”  Though we are business majors, we just never forget our greatest resource – the people with which we work. The fact that the soul of a people has been changed just shook me. The fact that they live in the shadow of the mounting crisis in Ukraine, fills me with dread and a sense of responsibility. We saw banners yesterday in Old Town in support of the Ukrainians, and today’s speakers all showed support for the native people in the coming bout with Russia.

Day 3

Cultural Day:

We toured the Karlstejn Castle, just outside Prague. The rich history of Czech Republic is evident- the quaint little town surrounding the castle makes the long walk uphill to see it enjoyable. Castles are fascinating for a number of reasons, primarily the ability of ancient peoples to build such magnificent structures without the use of modern construction equipment, but also it’s interesting to  hear the stories of life centuries ago – the wars, the drama, the romance. Interesting tidbit – Charles IV was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and was married four times in life.

We headed to Plzen to tour the Pilsner Urquell brewery and bottling plant, which is of particular interest to me since I worked at a bottling plant just a few months ago. It was a leisurely afternoon. We saw snow and rain on the way and sunshine after lunch. In Czech Republic, you can have it all!  There is a restaurant on site, so we enjoyed lunch there; meat dominates the menu, but fried cheese is an entree option and beer is a staple with every meal. The food was good and the group was relaxed, finally getting over our jet lag.

I stayed awake for most of the bus ride back to Prague and it is surprising to see how far the country has come in the short 25 years since communism ended. Market development everywhere; retail shops all over the place and information transfers rapidly. The advancement of technology and the internet seem to make time move faster: what once would have taken 50-75 years to accomplish now happens in 25.  Many of our tour guides are young, most likely born after the Velvet Revolution.  Yesterday’s professors are older- they lived through it and there is a glaring difference of perspective in speech and tone. With the recent events in Ukraine (Russian president Putin is attempting to annex this former Soviet state back into his country), I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.  The professors who have lectured us are clearly concerned about Russia’s action and potential movement across the continent. It is a constant subtext for our discussions; however, the young ladies who have toured us choose not to even bring it up; perhaps they have no fear of the future and are more timid in expressing political views. Either way, the timing of this trip will be historic.

There’s this Czech version of hot chocolate, dubbed “Heaven in a cup” by one of my classmates.  Each evening seemed to end with a run to find more.  Here’s the late night, “Heaven in a cup crew”.  Yes.  We recognize that this is a sign you’re over 30.  Instead of running to the club at night, you’re trolling around for hot chocolate!!

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Day 4

Lectures and Tours:

On this day, we had a great balance of lectures and touring. The two professors in the morning were very good; at this point we were all surprised by the frankness of the Czech people: they openly and calmly speak of corruption in government.  There is no window dressing here and it’s refreshing to hear their political and social views. They speak of the successes and failures of the country with honesty and hope for the future.

We head to Skoda in Mlada Boleslav and tour the factory and museum. Foolish American in me: I thought Henry Ford invented the automobile. But this company has a history dating back to the early 1900s and continues to innovate in the auto industry. The string of excellent presentations continues with Lucas Molehsky, a well-dressed Marketing Manager, who gives us an overview of the Czech automobile industry.  Skoda is part of the Volkswagen group and in this small town; roughly half of the residents are employed by Skoda. Sounds a bit like Detroit, huh?

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The factory is impressive, clean and well organized. It is a showcase for lean manufacturing, which we learned about in our Ops management course. As a Lean Practitioner, I am pleased I see the concepts at work.  You don’t need to know Czech to understand the principles of Lean. We see the use of JIT, milk runs, Kanban and score boards that measure takt time.

Another running joke amongst the group: don’t be the “Ugly American” whole traveling abroad. Read the article by Rosenbaum before any international work assignment. It’s a good one.

Day 5

We had our trip debrief at the VSE, then took a trip to the US embassy. We had a talk with the Public Relations attaché there, which was interesting. We spent the afternoon shopping and wandering through the city. As a cohort, we revisited the Charles Bridge, squares and various tourist traps.
We stopped for lunch down the street from the Embassy, and I broke down and ordered a beer to complete my Czech experience.  (Apparently, small does not translate well!) The food and company were good- but I needed help finishing the drink!  We have really pulled together as a team; now us ladies are helping the guys find precious souvenirs for their families. I think we spent 2 hours scouring Prague for an owl for Justin’s wife’s collection! The weather is beautiful and life is good. It’s a great day to see Prague. The bridge and squares are crowded. I’ve only met my cohort twice in life and somehow feel comfortable discussing everything with them. Class 15 is so special and talented- we’re going to do great things!  My teammate, Fa, should start planning that 5 year reunion now!

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My Residency Experience

 Written by Allison Cooper, Executive Regional Editor and Online EMBA Student

My name is Allison Cooper and I am one of the members of the RIT Online Executive MBA Class 17. From August 7-9, the cohort attended the residency program, which is designed to help us get acquainted with one another and with the rigors and rewards of the MBA program.

I am a regional news editor for a chain of newspapers and websites in the Finger Lakes region. The decision to apply to the Executive MBA program was not an easy one. The commitment required is significant because students are adding a challenging graduate program on top of already demanding careers.

A huge factor in my decision was my experience working with the RIT Saunders MBA staff – Director Marty Lawlor, Assistant Director Kristi Mitchell and Admissions Officer Stefanie Griffin. It was great to start the residency by meeting them in person. We spent a lot of time communicating via email and telephone in the time leading up to the residency. I felt like I had known them for a long time. All of the factors that go into making the decision to commit to an MBA program are complex. Marty, Kristi and Stefanie simplified the process.

Day One


RIT Hospitality

The first person I met was Will. Will works for RIT’s Brick City Catering and he is enthusiastic about what he does. It was early. We needed coffee. The great energy Will puts into his job meant a lot to those, like me, who were a little uncertain about what to expect. There is nothing like that kind of hospitality right from the start to put people at ease.

On our first day, we set up computer accounts and email, learned who the teams would be (MBA cohorts are split into teams for class and Capstone projects), had our portraits taken, talked about business ethics (absolutely not a contradiction in terms) with Dr. Bob Barbato and had a wonderful dinner at Max Rochester.

The Start of Something Big

It was a long but satisfying and exhilarating Day One. My classmates and I began to get a glimpse into the reality of the program. It will be a lot of work. It won’t be easy. It will, however, be extremely rewarding. We’ll get out of it what we put into it and that is the key. We will bond on many levels as a cohort and a team. By the end of the first day, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us for the remainder of the residency.

Day Two


Now we are really getting to the heart of the residency. Our days are packed but somehow seem to fly by!

Learning the Ins & Outs

On day two, we started with some web-based instruction on how to navigate our courses and log on to see our lectures, which will happen in real-time and be recorded so they are available for us. We heard from writing coach and RIT professor Doctor Pat Scanlon, who gave us great examples of succinct writing and proper structure for research papers. For many of us who have been out of the academic world and functioning in the email-based work world for several years, the reminders about writing research papers are invaluable — and Pat’s assistance will also be invaluable, I imagine. He has offered to be a resource and I’m sure many of us will take him up on that.

We also heard from Business Librarian Jennifer Freer, who gave us a wealth of information about our research database options and the challenges we may have when we use them. The library, which we toured, is amazing. I happen to be an avid reader and I love libraries. The RIT library is impressive and very inspiring to me. I’m one of the local cohorts — I live in the Rochester region — so I plan to spend a good deal of time there!

Next, we received our iPads. That was one of the sessions I was very much looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. Our iPads have our name and our program on them. It is so cool! It has taken some time to sync all of our materials but again, the RIT staff is a wealth of support and information for that process and it has gone smoothly.

Accounting is Cool

We received our student ids, had a campus tour and then fastened our seat belts for an accounting session with the (and I don’t think I’m overstating this) biz legend RIT professor Dr. Dan Tessoni and his teaching partner Roberta Klein. It was a great session. After talking about business ethics with Dr. Bob Barbato on day one, we got an accounting-based perspective from Dr. Tessoni. They are both valuable perspectives for business students and they most certainly mirror the business world and its challenges. And Dan Tessoni is smart and funny so it makes learning accounting an engaging and eye-opening experience. (I hope someone sends this link to Dan and highlights the compliments. Not that I am in any way implying that it would be ethical for such wonderful compliments  to influence him  when grading me, of course. I just think he should know how cool he is.)

Dinner & A Mentor

That evening, we had a wonderful dinner of Dinosaur BBQ at Bob Barbato’s home. Bob and his wife, Linda, were gracious hosts and the cohort had the opportunity to speak with a former MBA student who will be our mentor as we make our way through the program. The cohort was listening intently as she offered some great perspective about the rewards and challenges of the online MBA process.

The day that started at 8 a.m. ended at about 10 p.m. I had the distinct feeling that these long days were designed to prepare us for some long days ahead as we work the program. I think we agree that we are ready, willing and able to put in the time because, as many have said during our residency, we will get out of it what we put into it.

We are ready for the challenge! But first, day three . . .

Day Three


Team Bonding & Contracts

By the last day of the residency, the cohort seemed to be gelling in significant ways. We were beginning to know our individual teammates better, having worked through the process of creating contracts to help us talk out some potential challenges — and agree on actions to overcome them — with the help of Dr. Michael Palanski.

One of the benefits of putting together a team contract, besides having a written agreement to refer to over our 17 months together, is that we were able to talk to one another and make decisions about our styles of collaboration. Although we may have varied personalities, each member of the team is investing in and embarking on a most certainly life-changing program. We all have personal and professional goals we’d like to reach. We all have a lot at stake.

It only makes sense that we would want to tackle some of the finer points of working together, including potential challenges, at the beginning of the program, rather than wait until we are deep into the program and its attendant workload and less able to see the forest for the trees.

Getting Out What You Put In

Speaking of difficult conversations, Marty Lawlor facilitated a short session on the commitment necessary for success. Here again we heard the ever-present mantra about getting out of the program what you put in. Of course it’s true. And we have jobs and families and all of the challenges that come along with the workaday world and raising kids and nurturing marriages.  What really struck me about the cohort was the varied approaches to life and work and, conversely the commonality of commitment and seriousness each person brings to this great investment. We are here because we want to be and we are excited and inspired.

We will need to keep that top of mind when we are buried under assignments!

Capstone Consulting Project

Our teaming and capstone overview with faculty members Andy Lawrence and Rich Notargiacomo spurred a number of questions about the capstone portion of our graduate experience. We will be working in teams on real-world problem solving for real-world companies. Case studies are great but actual cases are greater. Hearing from an alum who has been through the process made the possibilities and potential pitfalls all the more real. The idea is that nothing worthwhile is easily gained. We will be given challenges that require our persistence, creativity and intelligence. We’ll need to dig deep to come up with the type of successful outcomes we are seeking. That’s what being in the RIT Online Executive MBA Program is all about: digging deep and being creative and persistent. The residency gave us some real insight into that concept.

Saying Goodbye

We talked more about ethics and leadership and had the opportunity to share our impressions of one another through a team building exercise that allowed each of us to see ourselves from the others’ eyes. It was heartening and illuminating and ultimately, while a bit daunting, extremely rewarding.

The days flew by and soon it was time to say goodbye with the knowledge that we will likely meet in person only a few more times — the last being graduation day, when we walk across the stage together having accomplished something weighty, something of great value. Until that day, we have a lot of work to do.

I, for one, can’t wait to begin working toward my future.


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Mike’s trip to Vietnam

Written by Mike Mangione, Sales Director at Cardinal Health and Online EMBA Student

Sunday October 19th, 2014 11:35 PM

After spanning the globe for 15 hours in the air and traveling at speeds of over 700 MPH our EMBA cohort of 18 arrived in one of the world’s largest airports in Hong Kong.  The group was a bit weary from the long trip but incredibly excited to be half way across the world in East Asia.  We had just enough time to stretch out and make a few phone calls before getting ready for the last leg of our journey which would be touching down in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!


Day 1

From the 14th floor of the 5-star Novotel Hotel in Downtown Ho Chi Minh City, I looked out on to the bustling streets of old Saigon. What seemed like an endless stream of motor bikes, mopeds and motorcycles of all types raced by our hotel.  I have no idea where everyone is going but this city of over 8 million people is awake and moving at 7AM.

After spending a few hours with speakers Ron Parks, Director of Industry Engagement, and Mark Oakley of ACS Legal, the group has a feel for why this country is one of the fastest growing, emerging nations in the world. The main take-a-way from this morning’s lectures,-“for those that can strategically and patiently navigate Vietnam’s complex regulatory processes, the rewards can be significant”.  

The afternoon was spent scavenger hunting and sightseeing. Our group wandered the streets of Ho Chi Minh, learned how to cross the street without getting run over by the motorbikes, had our first bowl of steaming Foa, window shopped for the unusual, bought a turtle- set it free, and also visited the Ho Chi Minh City zoo.

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Day 2

Day two started out with two insightful company visits to The Global law firm of Baker and McKenzie and the International Advertising Agency TBWA. Mr. Yee Chung Seck, Managing partner of Baker and McKenzie, schooled us on the how big-ticket M&A deals get done and sometimes don’t get done in Vietnam and the surrounding region.  Tom Guerin, Managing Director of TBWA, walked us through how a multinational advertising agency utilizes disruption and innovation to create award-winning advertising campaigns for some of the world’s largest multinational firms.

The evening of day two was truly my favorite. Eight members of our group were brave enough to jump on the back of motorbikes for a foodie night tour of the city which spanned multiple districts and 4 different culinary stops.  Some of the menu highlights for the evening included grilled goat, frog, crab, and duck eggs… not for the faint of heart and lots of beer to wash it all down. The tour was amazing and took us from the streets of China town to the upscale districts of new Saigon . What a great way to experience the city!

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Day 3

Day three, I’m ready to go ….no ill-effects from last night’s unusual foodie meal.  Thank goodness.

Our day starts with a very cool manufacturing tour of Kinh Do Group (a bakery). These guys love to bake, everything from cookies, to bread to crackers (66 tons of them per day) to their Holiday specialty- Moon Cake.  The folks that work here are truly passionate about their company and the foods they produce. Everyone from our group was given a giant bag of cookies and goodies to take home with us.  The tin of cookies made it all the way home with me.

The next tour of Esquel garment manufacturing was equally impressive.  This company manufactures garments for companies like Nike, Hugo Boss and Ralph Loren.  The manufacturing operations were modern and their strategic vision and attention to corporate responsibility were surprisingly forward-thinking.

The evening started with a trip to the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House where a group of us were entertained by a talented group of acrobatic performers. After the show we headed to the beer garden for some more great food and a networking event where we were able to meet with a number of young professionals from abroad who were working, teaching, going to school and living in the city.  The expats and foreigners who I spoke with all seemed to love working and living in the Ho Chi Minh area.

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Day 4

Day four began with a visit to the government-run Saigon Hi-Tech Park and a tour of Datalogic’s Manufacturing Operation on site at the park.  The government of Vietnam is highly focused on attracting both high tech and bio tech firms to Vietnam.  Early indications are that it’s working as firms like Samsung, Intel and Microsoft has set up shop here in a big way.

Later in the afternoon my teammate, Tundee, and I met with our project company, TMA Solutions in District 12. The meeting included spending time with the firm’s Director of R&D and VP of New Applications Business segment. After our meeting we enjoyed another amazing meal with our host from TMA at a local restaurant.

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We closed the evening with drinks on the rooftop bar at our Novotel Hotel. The nights have been beautiful with the temps in the 70’s.


Day 5

We closed up the week with a visit to IBM’s offices in Ho Chi Minh City. Big Blue has been based in Vietnam for a number of years and is working with both local firms and multinational firms doing business in the region.

Day 6

Day six we have the entire day to ourselves to explore whatever we wanted…. My new friend Jim Bruno and I decided to take a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels in southern Vietnam. These elaborate tunnels were a used during the Vietnam War. The Vietcong dug tens of thousands of miles of tunnels underneath the Cu Chi district of Saigon to house troops, transport communications and supplies and mount surprise attacks against the South Vietnamese and American troops.  After spending 10 seconds in the tunnels, I wanted out!!! Hot, sweaty, and claustrophobic. I have no idea how people lived in these tunnels.

After the Cu Chi visit we headed to the amazing Cao Dai Temple which is located on the Vietnam/Cambodia border. The culture, the architecture and the rituals were incredible to experience.

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The trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  The food, the people, the culture, the vibrancy of the city was all incredible.  There is no better way to learn about a county like Vietnam and understand its potential than to immerse yourself into the culture and business environment like the way we were able to for a week. I’m definitely going back to Asia!


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Reflections on Un-frequently Asked Questions: M2BA – A Meaningful MBA Experience

Written by Marty Lawlor, Director of the Online Executive MBA Program
 Marty Lawlor, Program DirectorAs program director for an online Executive MBA program, I speak to many prospective students, and field numerous questions about the program.  Most of the inquiries have to do with the operations or outcomes of the program—the time commitment each week, the technology used for delivery, the cohort model, or ROI for the program, to name a few.I am surprised, however, by the questions that often don’tget asked: “Will I think differently as a result of this program?”  “Will my colleagues view me differently?”  “Will I form meaningful relationships with my cohort or instructors?”  “Will I have the confidence to lead a major project when I’m done with the program?”  I’ve concluded that, for many applicants, pursuing an MBA degree is perceived as a relatively simple exchange—take these courses; receive your degree.
Though it may be incomplete, that perception is not entirely incorrect.  There are hundreds of MBA programs in the U.S. alone—both on-campus and online.  At the very least, most deliver a basic core curriculum of management, finance, accounting and marketing courses in which students learn to read an income statement, define a value proposition, calculate a net present value, and more.  A sizeable majority of MBA programs are further differentiated by breadth and depth of offering, or by specialty programs or concentrations.  The basic offering, albeit with some variations, remains essentially the same—a set of tools for the manager’s tool belt.  The result is a hyper-competitive MBA market with many programs promoting largely undifferentiated offerings amidst fierce rivalry. In this type of market, where potential students find it difficult to perceive real differences among programs, schools try to out-compete their rivals by acquiring similar resources and developing more, but basically similar, capabilities.  Michael Porter of Harvard Business School calls this “competition to be the best.”  Since very few schools can be crowned “the best,” however, this is a losing proposition for most schools.  Competing to be “the best” in the billion-dollar school endowment market is a tough slog even for those few programs that do have the wherewithal to outspend everyone else. RIT’s Online Executive MBA program has taken a different approach.  We’ve given significant thought to the distinctive value we can deliver, as well as to the type of students who would best benefit from our specific set of resources and capabilities.  For a while we thought our value was largely in the high-touch delivery of our program: small classes; smart committed faculty; two instructors for each class; and a dedicated and innovative staff to deliver a friction-free Executive MBA experience.  While we continue to believe that high-touch in an online program is unusual and does in fact create value, we’ve come to see that our distinctive value is in creating a meaningful MBA experience for our students, an M2BA, for short.
  • A meaningful MBA provides more than a tool belt and some tools; it causes students to think differently about business as well as themselves.  One graduate told us that, had he known earlier what he learned about himself during the program, he never would have taken his last job. Many of our graduates not only move to new positions, but also gain the personal insight and confidence to move to new industries.
  • A meaningful MBA provides a crucible experience for curious students.  It’s rigorous and intellectually rewarding.  Students learn that tension and differing viewpoints among team members can be productive and positive, and that it’s not just okay to challenge someone’s position, but often necessary.
  • Most MBA programs teach a basic set of skills.   A meaningful MBA provides multiple opportunities to apply theory to practice.  There’s a world of difference, for example,  between reading a case about consulting and actually negotiating a statement of work and then completing a messy 24-week project for a client.   Coincidentally, employers increasingly tell us it’s not what students know that’s important, but what they know how to do.
  • A meaningful MBA, especially an Executive MBA, provides an opportunity for students to learn not only from their instructors, but from each other as well.  We know that experienced managers and executives want to engage with other seasoned individuals who have faced and addressed similar problems.  This is a highly desired attribute of executive MBA programs in general, and one that we refer to as EMBA “fit.”  We define this as the ability of a student to both contribute to, and benefit from, membership in a cohort and specific team for the duration of the program.  This is as important as any other criterion in our admissions process.
  • Finally, a meaningful MBA doesn’t happen by chance.  It’s the successful outcome of a well-designed program whose curriculum, structure, and delivery all work together in a way that allows students to apply their learning right from the start, and to realize immediate returns on their investment.
Click these links for more information about RIT’s Online Executive MBA program and to hear from our graduates themselves.

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Beyond the Promotional Mix: Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Written by Laurie Dwyer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing and President of Strategic Insite, LLC I was recently asked this question by a reporter doing a piece on digital marketing: Do businesses still need a website in 2015? With the proliferation of social networking sites, and more activity by businesses on FB, Twitter and others, do they still need to maintain a website?  It would be so easy to answer “No” to this question, however, it’s not that simple. A marketer today needs to think about their marketing communications beyond the traditional promotional mix (advertising, direct marketing, social networking, etc.) and strive for a more comprehensive as well as integrated approach. Today, one needs to think about presence in terms of paid, owned and earned media. These three categories of communication have different audiences, goals and results:
  • Paid Media is comprised of traditional advertising including print, TV, radio, display, direct mail, paid search and promotions. Paid media is directed toward the target market in general and the goal here is to build brand reputation, frame the product experience and/or infuse my brand, as a symbol, with values and identity.
  • A corporate website, campaign microsites, blogs, brand community, Facebook fan page, mobile apps, etc. make up the Owned Media portion of my communications portfolio. Owned media is targeted at the consumers of my product and the goal here is to enhance brand knowledge, reinforce brand choice and provide additional incentive to do business with my company.
  • Earned Media is the word of mouth message carried by my most loyal customers and brand fans. It includes Facebook comments, Twitter (@mentions, @replies), Vine, blogs, forums, review sites – anything in which the customer creates the content. The goal here is to achieve an authentic voice promoting my brand and product experience. Customer recommendations are the most powerful of endorsement. The marketer can only indirectly influence this message, though.
As a marketer develops a content strategy, each of these channels will play an important role in brand communications. Integrating content across all three mediums results in what is called converged media – the most powerful of integrated communications. So, to go back to the original question, one cannot substitute social networking for all marketing communication efforts. The best marketers make sure they are creating a brand personality using integrated content, providing an integrated experience across paid, owned and earned medias.

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The Yen is Falling!!! The Yen is Falling!!! (But I’m an American, so why should I care?)

Written by Gregory Van Laeken
Adjunct Professor and Business Manager & Analyst for Global Programs at RIT

References to the value of the U.S. dollar and other major foreign currencies by the financial news outlets have become as ubiquitous today as the stock price quotations of our most heavily traded companies. The value of our “greenback” has seemingly garnered even more attention in the past several months as analysts and pundits debate the impact of a rapidly rising U.S. dollar on corporate earnings. However, if you’re like most people, this information comes and goes and doesn’t really stimulate much further thought. Changes to the values of our currencies are much like the proverbial tree falling in the woods without witness – it happens, but if nobody cares does it really matter?

The short answer is clearly, yes!

At the most basic level, changes in the exchange rates represent a transfer of purchasing power.  Meaning, if the value of the U.S. dollar is rising relative to the value of the Japanese yen, then the purchasing power of Americans is rising and the purchasing power of the Japanese is falling.  A rising dollar enables Americans to buy more goods and services produced abroad with the same amount of dollars. Americans feel richer. A falling yen means that the Japanese will need to spend more yen just to consume the same amount of foreign goods and services. Japanese feel poorer.  Purchasing power has been transferred from Japan to the U.S.

The long answer is also yes, but it’s complicated.

If you owned or managed a purely domestic manufacturer – sourcing all of your raw material domestically and selling all of your finished goods domestically – would you care about changing exchange rates?  In today’s global economy and global marketplace you absolutely should care.  A rising dollar is actually a double-edged sword.  Yes, the increased purchasing power is good for consumers, but it's not so good for the domestic producers.

The global supply chain today is extremely complex, but to simplify things for the sake of an example let’s assume that Ford is a purely domestic auto manufacturer in the U.S. and let’s also assume that Honda only manufactures and assembles its cars in Japan.  The value of the Japanese yen has fallen by more than 50% relative to the U.S. dollar in the past 2 years.  As a purely domestic manufacturer, does that have an impact on Ford?  Of course it does.  Honda can lower the price of its cars sold in the U.S. market and still receive the same amount of yen and maintain the same yen-based profit margin.  Ford will now have a difficult time competing with Honda and any other foreign manufacturers in its home market.  Still worse for Ford is the fact that its exports are also becoming less competitive in foreign markets. Japanese consumers have lost purchasing power, so Ford would have to lower its price in U.S. dollar terms, cutting into its profitability in order to appeal to Japanese consumers.

Foreign exchange risk

To complicate the issue of shifting exchange rates even further there are actually three types of foreign exchange risk faced by firms:  transaction risk, translation risk, and operating (or economic) risk.  The Ford/Honda scenario given above is an example of operating risk.

Operating risk is the most complex of the three types of risks and it’s what drives companies to establish intricate webs of supply chains and distribution channels.  Sourcing raw materials from or manufacturing in more than one country greatly reduces the impact of exchange rates in any one country.  Likewise, having customers in as many countries as possible will also minimize the risk of any one country having a significant loss in purchasing power.  So, when you read or hear stories about the rising dollar negatively impacting the earnings of U.S. corporations you’ll have a better understanding of why that’s the case.  More importantly, when you hear of a specific domestic company struggling with the high value of the dollar it may cause you to question the operating strategy of that company.

Transaction risk is the most straightforward foreign exchange risk for companies, but can oftentimes become a conduit for foreign currency speculation. If an Asian airline buys airplanes from Boeing that are to be paid for and delivered in 9 months, then the airline knows that it has a contractual obligation to deliver a certain amount of U.S. dollars to Boeing at that time.  As soon as the contract is signed the airline knows with certainty its transaction exposure and will have a variety of tools available to fully hedge that exposure.  However, the company may also decide to take a foreign exchange rate “view” that the value of the U.S. dollar will fall in the next 9 months and decide not to hedge the transaction risk. The upside is that a falling dollar would lower the purchasing price for the airline in terms of its domestic currency.  The downside of this strategy is that the dollar could rise in the coming months and cause the purchase price to increase. For some, taking such a stance – identifying a risk, quantifying the risk, deliberately ignoring the risk – may be viewed as speculation.

Translation risk occurs when a multinational organization translates and consolidates the accounting statements of its wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries back into its home country accounting statements.  For example, GE owns more than $500 billion worth of assets outside of the United States.  Those assets are valued by the foreign subsidiaries in local currency terms.  However, at the end of each quarter GE must consolidate all of the financial statements of its wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries into one set of U.S. dollar-based statements.  In a rising dollar environment the foreign currency-denominated assets will be worth less when translated into U.S. dollars.  Should that matter from the perspective of managers or even investors?  In the short-run, if there is no plan to dispose of or liquidate the assets the answer is probably no.


So, the next time you see or hear a news story on the value of the dollar I hope that you will pause long enough to consider the types of impacts these changes will have on you and/or your company.

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