Exploring Executive-In-Residence Programs

The still-contracted economy has caused more and more MBA programs to recruit executives in residence who can provide students with realistic career advice and closer connections to the corporate world, Alina Dizik reported in the Financial Times Monday.

Upon profiling such programs at Chicago Booth, Babson College, London Business School, Kellogg, Columbia and Harvard, among others, Dizik has found that using executives in residence adds real-life experience to classes that are sometimes steeped in theory.

And interest is definitely on the rise.

Columbia’s executives in residence program grew to 12 executives from five in 2002, and it plans to add another executive with not-for-profit expertise this year. At Babson College, there are about 30 executives working throughout the business school, up from 25 in 2007. Harvard’s Entrepreneur in Residence program, sponsored by the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, has expanded from one entrepreneur to four since starting five years ago.

The payoff for MBA students is obvious, but what spurs executives to abandon the boardroom for the hallowed halls of education? For executives, sharing their lessons of the business world is a fulfilling experience, writes Dizik, adding that the increasing attention paid to work-life balance means many executives in residence are keen to share their wisdom and give back in some way to the business schools.

“It comes from the heart and from my own experience,” says Kees van der Graaf, a former executive at Unilever and now executive in residence at IMD in Switzerland. “I discovered late in my career that you don’t become a workaholic who has eyes only for his job and nothing else.”

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