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Key to Continued Success for Women: Lifelong Learning

May 26, 2018

You’re a successful businesswoman. Your education, experience, and smarts have taken you far. Maybe you broke the glass ceiling on your company’s board of directors and now you’re mentoring others on their way up. Or maybe you are an ambitious mid-level manager who aspires to the C-suite.

Either way, it’s entirely possible to have all those strengths and still face an uncertain future. It’s not because you’re a woman. It’s because the pace and intensity of change in global business and technology have created a new reality: Anyone who stops learning will be left behind.  

But a businesswoman who embraces and pursues lifelong learning will find an invaluable return on her investment: the skills to adapt and thrive amid constant churn. Think of it as a long-term strategy – for yourself.

“The pace and intensity of change in global business and technology have created a new reality: Anyone who stops learning will be left behind.” – Click to tweet

“Look at your education just like you do a business opportunity,” says Joel Dupuis, Thunderbird Executive Education’s Senior Director of Open Enrollment Programs. “You have to be forward thinking. Where are you going? How does executive education fit into your strategies for getting there?”

Costs and benefits

Executive education programs can be important tools in your lifelong learning strategy. Unlike traditional MBA programs, which have more of an emerging professionals constituency, executive education programs typically are tailored to more advanced professionals and business leaders.

In terms of gender balance, these programs have plenty of room to improve. One culprit is the slow pace of progress in boardrooms and C-suites, which creates a gender imbalance that is mirrored in many executive-level education programs. While junior and mid-level positions have more equal numbers of men and women, an imbalance grows with each rung up the ladder.

Yet businesswomen who build executive education into their career strategies are improving their shot at reaching, rebalancing, and even reinventing those boardrooms. Executive education participants cite many benefits of ongoing professional development, including being a better leader; having more focus, energy, and direction in business; and being equipped with new tools and skills to solve problems.

“Businesswomen who pursue executive education are improving their shot at reaching, rebalancing, and even reinventing the boardroom.” – Click to tweet

Fortunately, many companies will cover the costs of non-credit professional development. That’s because employers benefit too – they can see those sharpened skills in their employees who complete the programs. And this helps them identify and assess potential leaders to invest in for the long-term. So it’s a win-win.

Degree or non-degree?

Compared with a for-credit degree program, an executive education program offers great savings in time and expense. And you can complete the program and put your new skills into practice the very next day. Other factors to consider – and reasons why a non-degree executive education course might be best for you – include:

  1. You need a timely, cost-effective boost to your skills
  2. You need a program customized to your career goals
  3. You need your company to say ‘yes’

“The return on investment applies to both employee and employer. Everyone wins.” – Click to tweet

Online or in person?

Another key decision is whether to pursue an online program or an in-person program. Either approach can deliver tangible ROI. At Thunderbird, for example, the classroom- and online-based executive and professional development programs are developed and taught by the same distinguished faculty.

The decision boils down to which approach is the right fit for your individual needs. Some key consideration factors include:

  1. Is geographic location an issue?
  2. Is sharing perspectives with students from all corners of the world critical?
  3. Is connecting face-to-face an important benefit of executive education for you?
  4. Are hands-on, immersive experiences key to your learning style?

“Look at your education just like you do a business opportunity.” – Click to tweet

Bottom line: Yes, your education, experience, and smarts got you this far, but there’s still a long road ahead. Keep learning and you won’t be left behind. More likely, you’ll be leading the pack.

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