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Courses on the Executive MBA

The core courses taught by our faculty ensure participants understand the different business disciplines they need to run an organisation. They encompass the full range of subjects generally taught as part of an MBA programme.

View the EMBA programme structure

This course helps participants understand the concepts and techniques used by organisations to make practical financial and investment decisions, utilising real business examples.

The course is aimed at the non-specialist and provides a strong overview of theoretical and practical financial issues that will inform other areas of their EMBA studies.

Participants also develop a basic understanding of risk management, asset valuation, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring.

Corporate governance is a critical topic for senior executives to understand. It concerns issues of ownership, control and accountability for organisations.

This course examines the role of governance, the justifications for governance reforms and the ethical problems involved across issues like takeovers, mergers, auditing processes and shareholder engagement.

Participants are taught to understand the roles that boards, shareholders and other stakeholders play in corporate decision making, that they can then relate to their own organisations. They also explore key pressures for reform in governance standards, and explore the ethical impact corporate activity can have on corporate, personal and societal values.

Knowledge of accounting is essential for understanding the financial performance of any organisation. The main objective of this course is to help students with no prior academic knowledge of accounting become informed users of financial statements.

The course enables participants to understand, record and present economic information, before developing skills to critically analyse and interpret accounting data for use in management decisions.

Understanding accounting as the language of business further allows participants to perform analyses of major decisions and even evaluate their own organisation’s financial reporting policies and procedures.

The International Business course takes place in the form of an International Business Study Trip with all lectures for the course delivered during the trip. The course covers internationalisation strategies, including why and how firms internationalise.

You meet local business leaders and government officials and visit leading domestic and international organisations to understand the varied responses to globalisation.

Learn more about the International Business Study Trip

The course provides participants with an introduction to macroeconomics. The aim is to give participants sufficient background information for them to make judgments about macroeconomic events and policies. This includes their likely impact on organisations and the ability to follow and appreciate non-technical commentaries on the macroeconomy and macroeconomic policy.

Making informed decisions in an increasingly complex business environment and articulating the value proposition behind them is a prime challenge for all managers.

This course examines how managers can use scientific modelling to test their business intuition and understanding of a complex issue. It then explores how simple models can be used to communicate business insight and decisions up and down an organisation.

Participants learn how to map the drivers of organisational performance, and how to communicate and manage uncertainty in an organisation.

In order to compete successfully and thrive, organisations must continuously adapt to new market needs and new technology. However, innovation consistently emerges as one of the major challenges faced by CEOs in their organisations, leaving them vulnerable to losing competitive advantage.

The course is designed to enable participants to develop their own perspectives on implementing innovation, exploring how companies can redefine themselves in the digital era and the frameworks and tools that can be used to support innovation objectives.

Marketing is a managerial process whose final outcome is the creation of value for the customer in a profitable way. It goes beyond having a team ‘doing marketing’ and is an essential part of managing an organisation.

The course covers the role of marketing as a process, how it contributes to an organisation’s survival and growth and how marketing plans are developed, implemented and evaluated over time.

Participants gain the skills needed to develop and communicate strategies, analyse customers and competitors and build strong brands within a global context.

The purpose of this course is to provide you with an introduction to the parts of microeconomics that are especially relevant to management. This is a foundational course designed to give you an economic perspective on the topics, concepts and analytical tools that you will encounter in other parts of the EMBA.

Topics covered include price theory, the firm, market structure, game theory, transactions costs, market power and externalities and the environment.

Relationships are key to business success, yet they are fragile. Good management, of one’s life and professional career, requires a set of distinct relational skills: the ability to distribute value, to spot opportunities for value creation, to deal effectively with differences, to circumvent or resolve conflict, to be seen as fair and objective and to manage difficult conversations.

The course provides strategies and tactics to succeed in all types of negotiating environments; drawing on case studies, role playing and real-world experiences to help develop the skills required to successfully and confidently manage the negotiation process.

Most of an organisation’s personnel and assets are typically devoted to processes – systematic activities to be delivered reliably over time. From marketing and sales, to finance and HR, every corner of a company is affected by processes.

The goal for participants, in taking this course, is to understand the different levers operations managers have at their disposal to manage supply and demand effectively and efficiently.

Participants are taught to understand different kinds of processes, critically examine them and make recommendations for improving their productivity. This learning will ensure participants understand issues facing supply chain management and process alignment, and its impact on key operational decisions such as revenue management and product development.

Can you motivate your employees without using formal authority? Can you persuade your peers and get their buy-in to a new business idea? Can you adapt your leadership style to the diverse needs of your employees?

This course explores answers to these and many other ‘people management’ questions. It is designed to enhance participants’ understanding of people’s behaviour within organisations and how it can be influenced and managed to maximise organisational performance.

The main objective of this course is to help participants understand the role of strategy in the success and failure of organisations.

Participants learn how to develop, evaluate and implement organisational strategy, the frameworks involved to address strategic dilemmas and how to align strategic activities to attain competitive advantage, amongst other learning outcomes.

Electives let you broaden your experiences, focus on subjects of particular interest, and tailor your Cambridge EMBA to your specific needs.

Subjects vary from year to year, chosen to best complement the interests of each cohort. Electives undertaken by past cohorts include:

  • Fast Strategy, Intrapreneurship & Business Instinct
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • From the Savannah to the Boardroom: The Evolutionary Roots of Decisions & Leadership
  • Finding Customer Insights & Staying Customer-Focused
  • How to Start Technology Companies
  • Innovation Management: The Secret of Growth
  • Project Finance: Innovative Techniques in Valuing & Raising Finance for Large-Scale Projects
  • Strategy & Organisation for the Information Age
  • Changing the Game: Business Models, Marketing Strategy & Innovation
  • Global Energy Security
  • Philosophy in Business
  • Strategic Performance Management
  • Understanding Consumers: Using Psychology to Build Brands & Increase Profits
  • Venture Capital, Private Equity & Acquisitions
I had to pick just two electives when I was doing the programme, and afterwards there was a lot of feedback from the other participants about the courses they’d done. I felt I’d really be interested to do some of those courses myself, and when I came back this year I was able to do the Fast Strategy, Intrapreneurship and Business Instinct elective.
Shiri Gold, Senior Engineering Manager, Imagination Technologies

Electives for life

EMBA graduates can return to Cambridge every year to take one elective. Once the subjects for the electives have been decided, a list is circulated to alumni.

This is a valuable opportunity for alumni to keep abreast of the latest research and thinking, catch up with former classmates and make new connections across the EMBA alumni network.

António Horta-Osório, Lloyds Banking Group

António Horta-Osório speaks to Executive MBA participants and alumni, during electives week, about Lloyds Group’s strategy in recovering from the financial crisis.

I consider myself a manager specialised in the banking sector. And therefore, I believe that business schools have a huge role in fostering people’s development in terms of leadership, in terms of seeing the bigger picture, in terms of strategy, which people do not learn in their roles in the companies.

Focusing on the customer

Well, my vision for Lloyds is that Lloyds be like it was a few years ago – a UK-focused bank focused as well on retail and SMEs, not on investment banking or international areas, and that [it] becomes a simple bank with low risk and absolutely focused on its customers. Banks in the past have lost sight of their basic function, which is to be focused on their customers. And together with that, they became more lax in terms of risk, and they have not addressed the high cost bases that they have built over the years and of several acquisitions. And that’s exactly what we are trying to change at Lloyds. So we are absolutely customer-focused. We are simplifying the bank, from the customer’s point of view, in order to create cost savings, which we can share with the customers and, therefore, offer them better value for money, which is what any company does in any other sector.

A bank more than any other company, given the strong link between a bank and the communities in which it operates, has a very special responsibility for their communities. And in the UK in particular, given the support that banks received from taxpayers, the responsibility is even higher. And I do believe that a strong economy requires a healthy banking sector, and a healthy banking sector requires a strong economy. So both futures are inextricably linked. And Lloyds – as the largest bank in UK, retail and commercial banking – has a special responsibility in that regard.

The importance of communication during change

Communication is critical. I mean, you may communicate a lot and people will always think that you are communicating less than you should. And when you are on a turnaround situation, you even have to communicate more because things are changing. Everything is new, and people normally – they don’t like change. People don’t like to change. It’s normal. We like a routine in our lives. So when you are changing a big company, you have to communicate even more.

That’s why I have immediately set up a big conference every year with 5,000 people in the bank. I do an off-site with the senior leaders three times a year. I do several town halls. I visit branches every month. I have breakfast with customers. And I am communicating all the time because it’s my function as the leader of the bank to tell them, especially in a moment of big change, where the direction is what progress has been made, what are the short-term targets. Very important for them to see and understand where the bank is going.

The very interesting thing about Lloyds’ challenges as you just put it – and that’s what attracted me a lot to Lloyds apart from the fact it was the largest bank in retail and SMEs in the UK – is the complexity of the task because we have had and still have different and conflicting priorities. And we have to manage the whole in such a way that the bank progresses, addressing all those priorities and the different stakeholders through time. And I’m very proud about the progress the bank has been making, but I don’t want to sound at all complacent as I said in my speech here at the University.

Driving down costs to provide value for money

We have a lot more to do. We still have to finish dealing with the end of our legacy issues, our non-core assets. We still have to implement our strategic plan to the end and get the last part of taxpayers’ money back in the near future. And at the same time, we are simplifying the bank – which is the core part of the plan – and relentlessly driving costs down in order to provide better value for money for people, which is the aim of what a commercial retail bank should do, which is day after day, client per client, product per product, providing better service and value for money for customers. So we are in the middle of a journey. We have come very far – probably quicker than we thought – but we are not complacent at all. And we’ll continue as a team to work relentlessly in this direction.

Leadership and teams

I think that in banking, and maybe contrarily to other sectors, the managers of the banks are people that came through the ranks, and from a technical career, from their success in their technical career, became managers. And I strongly believe that to lead the bank, like any other company, you should have management skills, and management competencies. And I myself do not consider myself exactly a banker. I consider myself a manager specialised in the banking sector. And therefore, I believe that business schools have a huge role in fostering people’s development in terms of leadership, in terms of seeing the bigger picture, in terms of strategy, which people do not learn other roles in the companies. And I am a strong believer that you should differentiate, as I told you, the technical career from the management career. And in the management career, in banks or in other companies, business schools – their role is absolutely crucial.

Well, the personal lesson is that this requires a relentless energy and drive in terms of communication and leading the bank through bad times in the same direction, leading all the team behind you, that you should not think that you can control everything. There are always factors beyond your control. So you can adopt a strategy sometimes in between, but you cannot go absolutely in a straight line. And the final one is that what you have to do – which I try to do all the time – is to attract the best talent with you and lead them by example, creating great teams because great teams is, in my opinion, the real, big competitive advantage that the bank can create as a service company for the sustainable future.