An MBA program for those with five or more years of work experience, the Executive MBA will provide you with the personal development, professional skills, and networking to take you up the career ladder. Experts at the QS World Executive MBA Tour have come up with the top five reasons as to why you should consider an EMBA in your career planning - if you are up for the challenge!

1. New skills
The best way to learn something is to 'just do it'! After several years in the work force you'll have a vast array of skills and attributes next to your name. However, after experiencing a range of positions and facing the challenges that many a promotion offers, you may begin to feel slightly stagnant. It is human nature to want to learn, to be excited by situations that put us out of our comfort zone - which is exactly what an EMBA will do.

One of the many benefits of an EMBA is the range of new skills you'll acquire:
• new management skills and techniques to move towards increased responsibilities
• strategic thinking, critical analysis, and a 'bigger picture' understanding
• better communication and team building skills
All skills that will make you the manager your employer is looking for, and the kind of manager your staff will want to learn from. 

2. Career development and financial returns
To get straight to the point - these can be significant!
The Executive MBA Council's latest survey results show that 23% of students' salaries rose from US$117,617 to US$144,361 upon completion of the program, while 39% of graduating EMBA participants were expecting a promotion. An impressive 43% actually received a promotion during the program. 

Yvonne Winkelmann, 2006 alum of Kellogg School of Management, was able to move into the international arena within her job as a direct result of her EMBA - something she wouldn't have been able to do without the qualification.

 Daniel Burns, an Executive MBA student at TUM/HHL is using his EMBA thesis as an opportunity to devise a business plan, which he hopes to develop once he graduates. He wanted skills that would allow him to go off on his own and create a business - which is what the EMBA is providing him with. 

woman3. A different perspective
I am amazed at how much I learned in the first week alone. It has changed my view on business and the way I look at the world. I'm making some changes to my company as a result. It is one of the best experiences I've ever had - seriously, says IESE Business School's EMBA alumna Ana Paula Reis, General Manager at Selplus. 

Ana's experiences are common among many EMBA students. Studying for this executive program will not only provide you with an insight into different managerial and leadership approaches, but also into different business practices. Health professionals, public sector executives, as well as participants from NGOs, SMEs, family-run businesses, women and entrepreneurs are adding to the diversity of today's EMBA classrooms, enriching the cohort experience. The mix of professors, and in particular classmates, allows you to gain a different view on the world, which, in today's global business arena, can only be beneficial. 

4. Immediate reward - for you and your employer
The key difference between a full-time MBA and an Executive MBA is the immediate return for you and your employer. As a student, you will walk away from each class with applicable skills and knowledge, as well as a holistic approach to understanding and solving business problems. The following week you can put it all into practice. 

For the majority of EMBA participants, the intense schedule is just part of the trade-off that sees them able to earn more and move ahead without interrupting their careers. The nature of the EMBA, which enables you to work and study at the same time, is incredibly relevant particularly in tough economic times. What's taught in the EMBA classroom relates to the current economic climate, ensuring that the skills and knowledge you acquire is not redundant. Professionals and experts from other industry sectors also gain from the general management skills they have reaped from the EMBA experience. 

5. Networking
This is one of the most valuable outcomes of your Executive MBA qualification - the international network you will be able to develop. Your fellow classmates that you meet on either a weekly or monthly basis will come from a diverse range of backgrounds - regionally, culturally and professionally. There are very few other places where such a unique group of people converge with the potential to form life-long friendships and, in some cases, business partnerships. 

Kellogg-WHU alumni Peirre-Yves Rahari, VP, Head of Shareholder Services, PIMCO Europe Ltd says: As an alumni, you continue to receive the benefits of the Kellogg alumni network for a lifetime. I feel that the network has really opened doors to me. Such a network will remain with you long after you have completed your EMBA. In fact, the time spent studying for an Executive MBA is simply the beginning. It is also in the years after when you are applying the skills and tapping into your networks, where the real benefits of the executive program lie.

An added bonus:  personal challenge!
An Executive MBA is intense; it is a challenge, a test of your personal and professional ability, and at times a struggle. Yet through struggle there is almost always growth and as these top five reasons for studying an EMBA show, it is an experience not to be missed and one that is well worth the challenge.