Executive MBA Offers Challenges, Provides Support

Patrick McGovern.After more than twenty years of experience in the corporate world, Patrick McGovern decided to pursue an Executive MBA degree. The Motorola engineer was intrigued by the elite program catering to busy professionals who want to enhance their careers.

The Illinois Executive MBA Program holds classes at the Illini Center in downtown Chicago. The Loop location is where a diverse group of experienced professionals gather every other weekend on Friday and Saturday to be students again. The rigorous 20-month program combines higher education with flexibility tailored for working professionals.

A 1984 mechanical engineering graduate of Illinois, McGovern says the program's schedule is good because "typically it takes someone three to four years to get an MBA degree while continuing to work full time," but with the accelerated Illinois program, it takes fewer than two years.

Executive MBA students typically take two classes at the same time during each module. The program consists of ten modules, with each lasting approximately two months. Students enjoy a month-long summer vacation and end the program with a 10-day international study trip to a foreign country where they meet with business executives and offer their recommendations to current business challenges faced by these organizations.

"The EMBA class of 2005 worked with and visited companies in Beijing and Shanghai, China. Program administrators are considering those same organizations and locations for my class too," McGovern says.

Students are divided into study groups of four to five people to enhance their learning experience while in the program. By collaborating together on assignments, teammates gain exposure to the innovative ideas and problem solving methods of their peers.

"The program works to place together students who have different functional backgrounds and have experience with different industries. My study group consists of people who work in operations, finance, sales, and human resources. We even have someone who is in the US Navy," McGovern says, "The team format is very beneficial, not only for the support we provide to each other but also for the different perspectives each member brings to the team."

Although McGovern just started the program, he says that in some ways it is not much different from undergraduate classes: "You still have homework and exams." But, he notes, the classes are at an advanced level, the faculty have high expectations, and the projects really challenge students to integrate what they learn from their classroom assignments.

McGovern is looking forward to completing the program and putting his degree to use -- full-time -- at Motorola. "My Executive MBA is going to provide an edge at work," he says. "It will have real value."

--Lianne Zhang

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