5 arguments to get your employer onboard with your MBA plans


Once you have set your heart on following an MBA, your next question might be about the investment it will cost you, both financially and in hours since an MBA requires significant expenditures on both these elements. Fortunately, several options to get (partial) funding, like loans and scholarships do exist. One option that candidates don’t always consider but that can be mutually beneficial, is receiving the financial or hours/leave support from employers. In this article, we hope to provide you with some strong arguments to help convince your employer.

But first, it is important to know if your company has specific policies on covering study cost, or study leave, and more particular, in funding MBA costs. So, start by digging into your company’s policies before you approach your manager.

Once you understand what your company has on offer when it comes to sponsoring your MBA endeavors, you need to have a clear idea of what it actually is that you are asking for. Would you like financial funding, or would you be looking to negotiate extra leave for your study? Or maybe a combination of both?

When you know in which direction you are heading, you need to spend a serious amount of time in preparing your request for funding and/or leave. Your employer needs to have a clear view on what’s in it for them (the company) instead of how following an MBA would benefit you. You should basically look at it as a sales pitch and get your arguments right to ‘sell’ your proposal.

In a nutshell, you can confirm to your employer that during the time you do your Executive MBA at MSM, the company will benefit from a ‘free’ consultant (you), that will be covering management issues from a holistic perspective through the various assignments, company visits, group works and experienced professors. As great as this nutshell argument might be, to convince your employer you might need more explanations and in-depth arguments.

1.   An MBA is about practice-oriented assignments
Designed specifically as a program for working and experienced professionals, the method of assessment in the MSM Executive MBA changed from exams to assignments. The reason for this is that exams mainly test your short-term memory, while assignments have proven to be more efficient for long-term embedding of knowledge in the brain. Through assignments you can apply the knowledge you have learnt immediately to your job, which allows your brain time to firmly embed the knowledge.

Another good thing about these assignments is, that you can center the topics around your organization. Since the assignments are always linked to the course module, you can apply the knowledge and skills you gathered during that course to a real-life challenge in your company. With the 18 courses and the thesis that the MBA curriculum is composed of, your company will benefit from your gained knowledge on a wide variety of business and management issues.

Some examples:
For the Strategy course, students need to analyze, and comment on their company’s strategy by reviewing the vision/mission, current corporate and business strategy, and look into ways to improve.
For the course on Change Management, students need to focus on a particular change needed within their company and suggest how to achieve this, by taking on the project through a change management plan.

It is not only the MSM Executive MBA that focuses on applicable, learning-by-doing assignments, MSM’s Online MBA is also all about practice-oriented assignments based on current events and real-life business cases.

2.   Learning from other experienced professionals
MSM’s Executive MBA requires at least 5 years of working experience and therefore the cohort composition consists of a diverse range of participants, ensuring the opportunity to learn from professionals working in other sectors and with different job backgrounds. As MSM is the most international business school in the Netherlands, an important added benefit is that the class is highly multi-cultural, often with more than 15-20 nationalities per class. Also, MSM’s Online MBA program is characterized by the diversity in the classroom, in terms of nationalities, as well as in professional backgrounds.

Working and learning together with experienced professionals from various backgrounds will help you to gain perspective on how things are done in different industries, at different levels and within different cultures. This will certainly provide you with new insights into how to handle things in your own organization. You will acquire a fresh look on old topics and you will be stimulated and challenged to go beyond the beaten track.

The Executive MBA at MSM typically consists of about 30 students coming from all corners of the world. With an average working experience of 13 years, and with most courses including group assignments, students are constantly learning from one another. This contributes to an increased awareness to cultural differences, growth in self-awareness and improved management of group dynamics.

A typical MSM Online MBA class consists of students with on average 12 years of working experience. To optimally facilitate interaction and networking, MSM keeps its Online MBA intakes rather small with a maximum of 15 participants per intake, often representing more than 10 nationalities. Students discuss and interact with each other about course related topics on the discussion platform, which provides the opportunity to participants to significantly expand their viewpoints and insights.

In the Executive MBA program, company visits, guest lectures and simulation games are part of the program. These will not only help you to get a more practical feel for the course topic, but also to see how other companies handle a specific situation related to the course. This will give you more insight into different processes or strategies, which you can directly apply to the practice of your own company.

3.   Dedicating your final project to your company
Most MBA’s require a final project to close off the program. At MSM, you can choose to do either an academic research paper, a business plan or a consultancy project for your final MBA thesis project. You can fully dedicate the content of this final project to your organization, either by doing a more theoretical in-depth research (academic paper) or in a more practical approach (consulting project or business plan).

For instance, if you choose to compile a business plan, you can dedicate this plan to bringing a new product of your company to the market. Or, if you conduct a consultancy project you will work as a consultant for your company on a specific problem or project. Instead of hiring a consultant for this, the company will benefit from your in-depth understanding of the company, as well as your newly gained MBA knowledge.

4.   Know your own value
As important as it is to show the contribution of the MBA to your employer, it is of equal importance to show your own value to the company. Make sure to demonstrate your achievements in the company so far. This does not mean your personal accomplishments, like job promotions, but actual contributions to the company goals. Did you contribute to generating revenue or to save cost? Did you optimize business processes or develop clear procedures? Highlight projects which you successfully completed, and which positively impacted the performance of your company.

Then make the link to the MSM MBA Experience, and how the curriculum, the teaching approach and class composition will increase your impact even further.

5.   Corporate discount opportunities
Finally, something worth mentioning to your company is that MSM offers special corporate discounts for companies that would send two or more high potentials to do the MBA. This might not be as strong an argument as the ones mentioned above, but could still be interesting to look into. Especially if you know that there would be more potential MBA candidates among your colleagues.

What does your employer ask in return?
Once you succeed in convincing your employer to (partially) sponsor your MBA financially and/or with additional study leave, make sure to understand what it is your employer requires in return. It is quite common that you have to sign a contract in which your employer asks for a certain level of loyalty, in the form of a  required number of years working for the company after graduating from your MBA.

After all the company will be making a significant investment in you and it makes sense to expect some return on this investment. Before accepting the sponsoring offer, you should decide for yourself if the terms in the sponsoring contract are feasible for you and if you are prepared to give that commitment. 

MSM MBA programs
MSM offers its MBA program in three formats to accommodate your study needs. You can choose the part-time Executive MBA or the part-time Online MBA, or you can choose the one-year Full-time MBA.

All three variants follow the same curriculum and share the same international accreditations. For more information, visit: