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Do CEOs need an MBA to succeed?

December 12, 2018

Top-class panel discussion at the HBR CEO Club in Moscow

Together with the CEO Club of Harvard Business Review Russia (HBR), the WU Executive Academy recently hosted an exclusive panel discussion at the historic premises of Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow. The event took place in the immediate vicinity of Red Square and the question all top managers and executives in the room were discussing was "Do CEOs need an MBA to succeed?

Picture of the panelists
The panel discussion of the WU Executive Academy and the HBR CEO Club took place at the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow.

At an event moderated by Elena Litvinova, Head of Marketing and Sales at NovaMedica Pharma and a graduate of the Global Executive MBA, both MBA proponents and opponents met up. They discussed the value of an MBA for professional and personal life, the MBA's importance in applying for top executive positions, and the difference between Russian and foreign MBA programs.

On the podium:

  • Olga Dementieva, CEO of HR4PR Executive Search

  • Kira Lapina, CEO of Severstal CSS

  • Svetlana Obrychkova, Managing Director of Royal Canin

  • Alexander Petrov, Board Member of SIBUR

  • Alexey Raevskiy, Managing Director of Zecurion

  • Alexey Shesterikov, CEO of AWATERA

  • Evgeniya Tyurikova, CEO of Sberbank Private Banking and

  • Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy

Portrait Svetlana Obrychkova

Svetlana Obrychkova, Managing Director of Royal Canin, has an MBA from IE Business School and her experience is extremely positive. She stressed that the program had a significant impact on her career and is one of the reasons why she now leads Royal Canin. She particularly remembers the intercultural experiences which she considers indispensable at the international level.

Portrait Kira Lapina

Kira Lapina, CEO of Severstal CSS, is sceptical about MBA programs. In her opinion, the real experience of a manager is much more important than a diploma; a person's lack of knowledge and the necessary skills can be acquired in targeted training measures and from books.

Portrait Alexander Petrov

The comparison between full-time and part-time MBAs also revealed differences of opinion: Alexander Petrov, Board Member of SIBUR, emphasized that he would always opt for graduates of full-time MBAs because he very much appreciates how much time these participants invest in a program and the focus they devote to different topics. However, the majority of the experts represented at the panel were convinced that the part-time format is optimal for busy managers today because they can continue their education alongside their profession and immediately apply what they have learned the Monday they return to work.

Portrait Alexey Shesterikov

Not all panellists already have an MBA. Some of them are just thinking about it. Alexey Shesterikov, CEO of AWATERA, for example, has taken a close look at a handful of options in recent months, including both European and Russian ones. In his opinion, there are excellent business schools in Russia such as Skolkovo. Although the school has good professors from other business schools, the participants are mostly Russian, which is a big disadvantage especially for managers who want to do business on an international level - not only when it comes to learning from the experiences of others, but also with regard to the important expansion of a personal network.

Prof. Stöttinger pointed out that - whether you are an MBA supporter or opponent - the right MBA can offer a complete package for your career that can hardly be replaced by anything else: a hand-picked business network, extensive international and intercultural experience (participants, professors and study trips to other countries), and a practical update with the latest knowledge and skills from the best lecturers in the world.

Portrait Angela Putylina

One of the evening's guests, Angela Putylina, Product Manager Immunology & Inflammatory at Celgene and Professional MBA graduate of the WU Executive Academy, summed up the tenor of the panel discussion: "After graduating from an MBA program, you're not the same as before. An MBA is a unique opportunity to develop yourself in a very special way, even if you are already a proven professional in your field. An MBA is pure experience and inspiration."

For more information about the MBA programs of the WU Executive Academy, please click here.

Picture gallery of the event

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