A big part of pursing an MBA is gaining support from your employer. Whether you are just starting to think about an MBA, or you’ve already begun the admissions process, it is important to thoughtfully approach the conversation you will have with your employer.  Getting buy-in from your superiors can sometimes be a difficult discussion to have.  Below are a few tips from two University of Utah Executive MBA alumni who have been in your shoes and shared with us how to make the process of gaining company support easier.

  1. Don’t make assumptions about your employer’s willingness to support you.

Executive MBA Class of 2014 graduate Anna Scott explains: “Ask for support even if this is not typical for the company. You might be surprised by what they are willing to do.”

  1. Put your company’s needs before yourself. Lay out expectations up front.

During an MBA program, you will be sacrificing a large portion of the time you can give to the company. It is important to assure to your employer that it will not negatively affect your contribution to the company’s goals. Be willing to put in the extra effort to make up for the time that is lost.

“The program required me to miss every other Friday and about 15-20 hours a week of my personal time,” shares Executive MBA Class of 2013 graduate Bill Ball, “I asked my boss if he could trust my judgment and informed him I would work on the weekends to make up things I missed if I needed.  My boss understood and supported my efforts.  I ended up not once coming in to the office on the weekend.”

  1. Identify and outline your goals, especially ones that involve your company.

In order to present a strong case for earning an MBA, outlining your goals on why it is valuable can be extremely helpful. It demonstrates to your boss you have placed a lot of thought into your decision and you have evaluated how you and your employer can benefit.

“I outlined how the University of Utah’s Executive MBA program would help me become a better leader and how I would be better suited to add value to the business,” explains Bill. “Some of the items came from the course content, but much of the value-add for the business came from the peer network of students and professors.”

Anna took a different approach: “I wrote a letter that detailed how it would help me become better at my current job and how it would prepare me for other roles.”

  1. Keep your employer informed.

Throughout the duration of the program, it is important to keep your work colleagues informed, especially concerning schedule changes and availability. Be clear about when you will be in the office, when you won’t, and how available you will be during those times. It will make their lives and yours a lot easier when communication is clear. It will also further help convince management that your performance at work will not suffer while you are in the program because you are making sure everything at the office is being taken care of.

“I sent out the school calendar to direct reports and those I reported to,” Bill explains, “We made a commitment to calendar well in advance and around the school class dates.”

  1. Involve your work colleagues and boss on your MBA journey.

Bring what you take from the program into the workplace and use it to your advantage. Others will recognize what you learn in the program adds value to the company. Suggest having regular meetings or lunches with colleagues and supervisors to update them on the new skills and knowledge you’ve been developing.

Questions regarding the Executive MBA program format, curriculum, admissions process, or requirements should be directed to the Executive MBA Office at 801-581-5577 or emba@utah.edu.

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