Rutgers' Executive MBA: Thriving, diversified and ‘healthily’ competitive
Farrokh Langdana, professor of finance and economics at the Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick, is affectionately known as the “Macro-Giant” to his students. This can be attributed to the global demand to have him speak on macroeconomics issues, such as monetary and fiscal theory, in countries like China, France, and Singapore. In the competitive circle of business school leaders, Langdana is known as the man who put the Rutgers Executive MBA (EMBA) program on the charts.
This year, Langdana, an expert in international economics, marks his 10th year at Rutgers as director of the EMBA program, an intense, four-semester curriculum designed for executives with at least 10 years experience in the business world. By all accounts, the program is thriving and attracting stellar students. On average, Rutgers receives 140 applications each year for 54 spots in the EMBA program.
“The competition for students is so intense – to the north we have NYU and Columbia and to the south we have Wharton,” said Langdana. “Their programs have bigger budgets for advertising than we do, and we go eye to eye with them and come out on top.” Langdana noted that 68 percent of the student body was attracted to Rutgers through word of mouth. “Whatever we’re doing in the classrooms in regard to teaching and course content is working,” he added.
It’s working so well that BusinessWeek’s biennial ranking of the world’s best EMBA programs ranked Rutgers fifth in the strategy category and sixth in finance in its October 24, 2005, issue. What makes the program so successful, said Langdana, is that the EMBA faculty continually reshapes course material to reflect the changes in the global business environment. For example, Professor Jacob Mathew, former director of strategy development worldwide for Procter & Gamble, teaches a leadership and negotiations course that focuses on turning a company around in trying times. Another timely course includes a finance and strategy class that delves into investor psychology, exploring why investors hold onto stocks long after they should be dumped. And Langdana re-engineered his macropolicy course to focus on the softening United States housing market.
In addition, the average work experience for the EMBA student is 14 to 16 years, which adds a rich dimension to class discussions. “With so much experience, students learn from each other,” said Langdana. “That may be lost in a classroom where students don’t have any business experience and the professor just disseminates information.”
Throughout the semester, the EMBA program offers modules – mini three-to-six-hour courses that address pressing issues. Steve Adubato, host of NJN and Fox News, will present a module this semester about how a company should interact with the media in times of crisis. In a 13-module series, Professor Claire Calandra, former deputy attorney general for New Jersey, and Professor Barry Karafin will explore modern business strategies, such as strategic execution, strategic human resources, and corporate strategy for the multibusiness firm. Another module being developed for the fall 2007 semester involves creating a profitable business strategy while protecting the environment.
The EMBA academic year runs September through May. At the beginning of each of the four semesters, students spend a week taking courses at the North Maple Inn in Basking Ridge; they then take classes at the Newark Campus on alternating Fridays and Saturdays. Students also spend two weeks over the summer in China, where Rutgers has had an EMBA program since 1993.
What Ashley McCormick, sales manager at Verizon Communications and current EMBA student, appreciates about the program is the camaraderie with her fellow classmates. “It’s the relationships that you build,” she said. “Rutgers is different from competitive programs in the area; we’re not ranked and filed. It’s more of a team approach. At this level, you’re joined by 53 highly intelligent, highly diversified people coming from all over the globe – it’s competitive, but a healthy competitive.”
And even though McCormick said she works three times as hard in Langdana’s classes as in others, it’s worth it. “He has a unique way to get students to understand broad, complex issues,” she said. One innovative assignment was to watch the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, which he tied to international trade, she said.
“He [Langdana] wants you to be able to speak fluently on economic policy at a party and be able to draw macroeconomic graphs and concepts on the back of a cocktail napkin,” she said. “His goal is for everyone to succeed and get the most out of the program.”
Langdana, author of Macroeconomic Policy: Demystifying Monetary and Fiscal Policy, has many awards to back up McCormick’s claims. He’s the recipient of the Horace dePodwin Research Award as well as Rutgers’ Warren I. Susman Award and the School of Business Paul Nadler Award, both for excellence in teaching.
Awards aside, McCormick has her own praises. “In macroeconomics, he’s ‘The Great Langdana,’” she said. “I think of him as the high economics priest – we’re all believers.”