Between two continents, cohorts of asset and wealth management executives are traveling back and forth for the next two years to refine their expertise in their field by gaining insight from the faculty of both American and European universities.
As part of the Dual Degree Executive MBA in Asset and Wealth Management, 34 students from around the world are studying under professors from the Tepper School and its partner, the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, in pursuit of a more global understanding. The inaugural group has just completed the first year of the two-year program, while the second cohort has just begun its journey.
In order to accommodate the schedules of high-ranking participants, many of whom cannot suspend their duties for the amount of time a traditional MBA would take, the program is divided into two-week chunks that alternate between the U.S. and Switzerland. There is no online component; rather, all students must physically attend their courses on campus.
“As [students] are going through it, [they’re] growing and learning and applying from Day One,” says Heather Johnson, associate director of executive MBA programs for the Tepper School. “They can really dig down and work hard for those two weeks, and then when they go back to their jobs, they don’t have nightly courses that they have to do between their modules.”
The program evolved from a similar offering five years ago that targeted international wealth management. Owing to greater demand, the asset and wealth management curriculum was developed as a means of reaching a targeted audience who would not otherwise seek a degree program.
“It’s a unique way to bring similar industry executives from around the world to develop a community amongst themselves in a way that otherwise never would happen,” Johnson explains.
For Grace Chen, a financial planner for the National Bank of Canada, the program offers a means of enriching her overall knowledge of the field in which she serves along the front lines daily.
“I eventually chose Carnegie Mellon for its reputation and also because it is the only program on the market that I could find that specializes in assets and wealth management,” Chen says. “One thing that is very intriguing is all the professors that we’ve been getting. They’re fantastic; I have learned a lot from them.”
However, Chen cautions that the coursework is especially rigorous and not for the faint of heart.
“If somebody thinks it will be easy and [they’ll quickly] be done with it, it’s not,” she says.
According to John Lankford, executive director of the Tepper School’s executive programs, interest in the program is broadening. While students in the first cohort were largely from Europe and North America, the second group includes students from Asia, and he expects other parts of the world will eventually be represented also.
“The perspectives [from the two continents where the program is held] are distinct, but they work well together,” he says. “It’s an integrated curriculum, but you’re able to pick up the core of wealth management in an increasingly connected international marketplace while at the same time learning about the nuances or unique aspects of the European markets, the North American markets, and for that matter, the markets around the world.”