The Benefits of Theory can be seen in Practice

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The Henley approach to learning: more than just theory

The Benefits of Theory can be seen in Practice

Most Henley courses include practice parts outside the classroom

Experienced managers choose an Executive MBA to push forward and accelerate their careers by learning the latest knowledge. This goal will be achieved particularly if their new knowledge also proves itself to be valuable in the job and is not just ‘nice theory’. The academic world is often viewed as being disconnected from the real world – like being in an ivory tower in which one deals with interesting theories which are of only limited relevance in practice. Business Schools are also in danger of being seen as such, even though they do bring the real world into the MBA classroom through case studies. However, an innovation manager in a high-tech company has to apply his knowledge himself using what he has learned e.g. about the marketing strategy for the pizza market in Japan, to his company and his industry – this takes additional effort in an already well-filled daily routine.

Henley sees things differently. Since its foundation in 1945, Henley has pursued the goal of combining theoretical knowledge and practice. Accordingly, practice integration takes place outside the classroom. What better field of application could each student find than their own companies and roles? Specifically, this means that the students work on a practical project in each module in which they apply what they have learned. In the ‘Managing Processes & Systems’ module, they select a business process that is in need of improvement. They conduct analysis using the newly learned tools and methods and develop a recommendation as to how the process can be improved. This enables them to apply the new knowledge in a targeted manner and to see the benefits. In the process, they often encounter challenges because reality and theory are not always a 100% perfect match. They document their learning journey on paper so that they can learn from this individual example for their future and share the knowledge within the company.

The Henley Executive MBA students adopt this practical approach in all their assignments. They take advantage of the opportunity to apply the new material in a protected environment whilst simultaneously also creating benefits for their company: Ideally, the recommendations developed are suitable for immediate implementation. These practical projects prevent having to employ expensive external consultants who don’t know the company as well as the student.

This added value comes as a surprise for many companies, as they do not expect their MBA students to create immediate direct benefit. Ideally, companies can tailor all practical projects to their needs and thus use the MBA degree to bring new ideas into the company and at the same time adapt them to their own needs. A real win-win situation!

The practical projects have a further significant advantage for the students: They become visible in the most diverse parts of the company, from Finance to HR, to Marketing and Strategy, which expands their internal network. In this way, many Henley students gain excellent visibility in the company and are then requested by other departments for further projects due to their performance in the practical project.

Christoph Raudonat

Head of Henley Business School Germany