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Executive Education in the Digital Era

  Jun 5, 2020

Executive Education entails leadership and management courses designed to aid the professional development of company leaders and managers which are considered part of an ongoing process of lifelong learning. It forms an important tool for businesses to nurture leaders and managers across the different cadres in an organization by offering new knowledge to enhance skills and an opportunity to step back and gain new perspectives.

Bob Johansen says that leaders increasingly will face challenges that have no solutions, but they will have to make decisions anyway. The Volatile, Uncertain, Complex Ambiguous (VUCA) world such as we are in now will have both danger and opportunity, he explains. “Leaders will be buffeted, but they need not allow themselves to be overwhelmed, depressed, or immobilized. Leaders must do more than just respond to the whirl of events, though respond they must. They must be positive change agents during the chaoscreating the future. Some things can get better, even as other things get worse.” In an increasingly complex global business environment, leaders will continue to look for ways to stay ahead of the crowd and make meaningful change, ensuring the continued need for high-quality executive education.

According to Sunny Bindra because of the coronavirus, we may all be staring at a ‘Low-Touch, High-Friction’ world for quite a while. Such a world would have two key characteristics. The first (the touch part) would be that folks would be reluctant to gather in person and in public as freely and easily as before. The second (the friction) would see a world where countries have shrunk back inside their own boundaries, with harder borders and more self-sufficiency and deeper surveillance, and more drags on business flows. That world is likely to be with us until a proven Covid-19 vaccine is found – and beyond.

The business landscape has considerably changed as a result of disrupted supply chains, remote client relationships management, disrupted global markets, remote working among others which calls for new skills and knowledge to deliver new business models during and post the pandemic. Companies are faced with the challenge of leading their teams to virtually develop skills to build adaptability and resilience in the digital environment, and this calls for continued learning in the high touch environment.

Strathmore Business School is committed to continue supporting businesses provide opportunities for their managers and executives for lifelong learning, gain knowledge that enhances the executives’ skills and capacity to navigate the crisis while taking care of the people issues, take up upcoming opportunities, turnaround businesses through meaningful change by providing tailored E-learning journeys during and post the crisis through webinars, online learning series, online programmes and  E – summits.

“E-learning is a relatively new tool with the potential to radically improve participation and achievement rates in education. Benefits include the ability to customize learning to the needs of an individual and the flexibility to allow the individual to learn at their own pace, in their own time, and from a physical location that suits them best. This could be in their local library, at their work or at home. Through e-learning, we have the opportunity to provide universal access to high quality, relevant training and education” (DfES 2002, p.4).

To ensure the programmes are relevant and have an impact on the executives’ life as well as their organization, they are designed to encompass the five principles of andragogy (art and science of helping adults learn) espoused by Malcolm Knowles, a pioneer in the study of adult learning. Knowles posited that adults learn best under the following circumstances:

The learning is self-directed: Participants are required to define and work on a real challenge they are experiencing or an opportunity that is at hand. The faculty and coaches support the participants achieve their goals. The programmes encompasses the various learning styles: Visual the presentation will have pictures, graphs, and illustrations. Audio the participants will be able to listen to the faculty delivering the session and Kinesthetic the participants will be required to work on their action learning projects as they continue with the programme.

The learning is experiential and utilizes background knowledge: The executives have acquired extensive knowledge and skills in the course of their work hence the faculty engages them to share experiences to enrich instruction. This brings authenticity and spontaneity in the class set up and creates an environment that allows cross-learning among the participants.

The learning is relevant to current roles:  The goal of the programmes is to fit the needs of the business executives, who are more often than not opting to be there because they identified an area of need for themselves or for the organizations they work for. SBS has developed new targeted programmes as well as updated the content of existing programmes to respond to the needs of the executives in navigating the crisis.

The instruction is problem-centered: Business executives learn from situations of immediate relevance to them; from utilizing their experience and problem-oriented learning rather than from content-oriented teaching. This starts with the faculty getting to know the expectation of the participants and hence customizing the content to them. This provides immediate pay – off, especially during a crisis.

The students are motivated to learn: Learning happens only when students are intrinsically motivated hence the faculty and coach’s role is to encourage this motivation and maintain the positivity. During this crisis, business executives are eager to acquire new knowledge for the new normal. The proverb “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” applies in executive education.


  1. Johansen, BobLeaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World. San Francisco, ca: Berrett- Koehler, 2012
  2. De Vries, Harvin “Crafting a successful executive education programme” Global Focus Magazine.
  3. Bindra, Sunny “Life after Coronavirus begins now” 26th April 2020.
  4. UK Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Research Digest 2002.

Learn more about our Executive Education Programmes here

Article by MUNYI Eddah Director, Executive Education & Executive Coach Strathmore University Business School


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