Author:Weldon, Robynn
Position:Business: mba special

MBA and Executive MBA applications have continued to increase despite the economic downturn. In the post recession world the promise of increased salaries and responsibility looks setto make them even more popular. With job security still uncertain getting an MBA, or an Executive MBA, from the right university could be the ticket to a glittering career.

There's still a powerful benefit to getting that MBA or Executive MBA, argues Prof Dr Winfried Ruigrok, dean of the Executive School of Management, Technology & Law at the University of St Gallen--an institution with a long and notable history in business studies. The Financial Times recently reported that salaries for MBA graduates are still on the rise; in fact, students of the world's top 100 programmes who graduated in 2010 have managed to double the salaries they were earning when they embarked on their courses in 2008. That's a pretty good return on investment, even considering the steep fees and earnings sacrificed over 1-2 years of study. Take note, though: this result applies to the top 100 schools of the thousands offering MBA and Executive MBA degrees around the world. "The brand of institution counts for a lot," says Ruigrok. Obviously, not all MBAs or Executive MBAs are created equal, so it is vital to choose your school wisely.

The technical education you receive will of course stand you in good stead. But even more important is the networking. Since many students will be hoping to achieve not just a step up, but a major career change--in industry, job function or country, or even all three--it's the soft "extras" that could make all the difference.

Executive class

A business school is not like other schools. At St Gallen, as at many other universities, the difference between the executive campus and the rest of the campus is striking. The university (founded as a business academy in 1898, and still focusing on management, economics, law and international affairs) sits high on a hillside, surrounded by mountains and near Lake Constance; a picture perfect setting with classic art such asorigina Miro apintings and Giacometti sculptures for added inspiration.

But the Executive School, the home of the Executive MBA Programme and a short walk along quiet roads, is another matter. Built in 1995 and extended in 2008 at a cost of Fr50 million, it has more than a whiff of the smart conference centre, with a glass dome letting in plenty of light and soothing pools of water underneath the...

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