Embracing challenges is a rewarding endeavour — just like how climbing formidable-looking mountains unlocks glorious vistas and greater still perspectives. Majestic sights and scents often inspire climbers to return to their base refreshed, revitalised and ready to grab life by the horns. This is precisely what it feels like to complete an emba X — a transformative degree programme jointly offered by the University of St.Gallen and ETH Zürich.
The first is a “Triple Crown” accredited leader in business education, renowned for its ability to foster an entrepreneurial spirit that sparks positive economic and social change. The latter is a globally recognised institution of innovation and technology. Together, from the Swiss Alps, they seek to bridge the gap between business and technology with Europe’s most relevant Executive MBA.
Simon Grossenbacher, CEO and Partner of Sound Capital AG has loved exploring both topics. “The emba X has been a rich experience,” he explains. “So far, I’ve received cutting-edge insights from great professors and my fellow students. The programme is also very diverse — covering everything from sustainability and non-governmental organisations to macroeconomics and technology, which has been really cool and fascinating.”
Before students pursue such rigorous topics, they build a holistic foundation. “Even during the pre-interview phase and when we were writing our essays, I knew that this programme was going to be different,” says student Jayashree Sahni, Senior Global Programme Clinical Head at Novartis. “I’m on a personal journey myself to find out how I can use my skills within my organisation.”
The kick-off is intentionally wholesome. This ensures students understand the importance of doing good business before actually learning how to. Essentially, the journey begins with identifying a purpose. Callings are realised and intentions are set during WHY Week — an on-campus induction reserved for a personal leadership development programme and the first few of many skill-building workshops.
Then, students revisit the core concepts of leadership, technology and general management through the emba X’s strategically curated Essential Courses. These span: Adaptive Cognitive Leadership, Organisational Leadership, Strategy and Innovation, Business Ethics, Macroeconomics, Corporate Finance, Risk and Resilience, Analytics (Business and Marketing), Cognitive Technologies (Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning), Product and Service Technologies, Energy Management, Technology and Economics, as well as Agile Hardware Development and Technology.
Sahni enjoys the constant focus on sustainability and social responsibility. “I came in because the programme was so well written out and there was a component about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” she explains. “What is highly impressive to me is how sustainability and societal problems are built into each course component for every subject and every time we have an interaction.”
To apply knowledge, students take on group projects — ventures that unlock significant insight. Through the Business Model Innovation Project, they evaluate a company’s business model before refreshing it with testing and financial analysis, scaling, the development of a business plan and pitching. The Social Impact Project is introduced early in the emba X programme, giving students the chance to help a non-profit organisation or social-driven institution identify and resolve a specific challenge.
“For me, one of the most thrilling aspects of the programme is the way it brings together people from different sectors,” says Dr. Emily Elsner, Social Impact Manager, ETH Zurich. “They have different approaches and mindsets and inspire each other to reach for a more sustainable future. Our impact projects are about creating more ambitious change within the global business community.”
Meanwhile, the Company Impact Project sees students identifying problems that require investigation within their own organisation. Findings are then evolved into an evidence-based solutions proposal, including a business case, a risk assessment and mitigation plan, and an implementation and change management plan.
Of course, expert guidance is provided throughout to ensure students remain on track. All instruction is delivered in English through a combination of online modules and in-person classes from two picturesque Swiss locations: Zurich and St. Gallen.
“The spirit within the cohort has been very encouraging,” says student Andrew Haynes, a self-employed Information Architect. “People here have been very supportive of each other. There have been some lectures that I have had to attend online, and still, people were really inclusive. They took extra efforts to engage me.”
To begin your “Alpine Journey” to becoming a 21st century business leader, click here to apply to the emba X.