Balancing a full-time job while studying for an Executive MBA: three EMBA Alumni share how they did it.

Balancing a demanding full-time job with an Executive MBA can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be.

With effective time management and choosing the study track which fits your unique schedule, thousands of HEC Paris EMBA graduates have navigated and successfully mastered the art of time management.

From making firm agreements with managers about being ‘offline’ to sticking to deadlines to making ‘de-stress dates,’ three recent EMBA Alumni share how they managed their EMBA studies with their busy schedules.

Mallika Mathur Lhéritier

Director of Transformation – RCI Banque and Services

“I had a bit of an extreme situation from my side because my family was in Kuwait. My work took me to Qatar four days a week and in between, I was flying for two weeks at a time to Paris. So, I was really spreading myself across three countries and it was a hectic merry-go-round all the time.

I really believe where there’s a will, there’s a way. I was really investing in myself and I was going to be all in and give it my best shot. In between flights, lunch or work, I always found time to connect with classmates.

Secondly – and I think this is very important to know – is that I knew I wasn’t alone.

Everybody in the class feels overwhelmed at some point. As executives, we all have a zillion commitments! But the cohort is like a family, it’s incredibly supportive, collaborative, friendly spirited, and I found that everybody was always willing to give their time and support.

One of the things you learn about at the HEC Paris Executive MBA is empathetic leadership and that sometimes you’re a leader, sometimes you’re a follower, or a coach or a mentor and it all depends. And this is playing out all the time.

For example, during group work, sometimes I found myself leading if another person in my group was overwhelmed at work, or maybe I was following if I was the one who was more overwhelmed in this particular moment. There’s always someone you can reach out to for moral support or advice, so you always know you are not alone.

The last thing that I did was, I made a de-stress date with myself in my agenda and I really tried to keep to this no matter what was going on. That  was my 30 minutes a week of me time. I highly recommend doing this in order to stay sane.”

Kadir Karaman

Vice President Finance Transformation – Coty 

“Completing an Executive MAB is a lifetime opportunity to transform yourself and accelerate your career. The more you invest, the more you get.

In order to do that you need to manage your time. The 24 hours in a day don’t increase because you joined an EMBA.

My approach was simple: I organized all of the time that I would be out before I joined the program.

I made an agreement with my wife to spend my time during the courses near the campus, staying in a hotel (which lots of participants do), focusing on my studies for the week of classes. I spent time with my cohort and did assignments in the evening. By staying in the hotel next to the campus it allowed me to be fully present there.

I also made a plan with my manager about the time I would devote to my EMBA, which was planned during my vacation time.  I didn’t take personal vacation for one and a half years, which was tough when you have to make a deal with your wife or partner, and not just your work.

The second agreement I made with my manager, was when I am at the EMBA, I am at the EMBA.

So, unless it was an absolute emergency, I wouldn’t be contacted by work. I wouldn’t check my emails or receive calls. Of course, if there is a crisis, then you can take some calls, but if it becomes a routine that every day you have to join calls, then it doesn’t work.

Margherita Kochi

Retail Manager and Business Strategy Expert – Burberry – Burberry

Firstly, everything is possible if you really want it. And I really really wanted to offer myself this unique once in a lifetime experience.

You can manage tasks if you are happy about what you’re doing. It’s all about having positive energy.

What allowed me to complete my EMBA whilst working full-time was time management and self-discipline. It’s about planning the time you need to dedicate to each task and sticking to your own deadlines. The sticking to the deadlines is the key point.

For months, my decisions were taken based on the questions ‘is it urgent and important?’ If yes, do it now. ‘Is it important but non-urgent?’ If so, I planned to finish it afterwards. Everything else was kind of a compromise.

The last successful factor was support. My inner circle always motivated me in different ways: from friends to fellow peers – the 54 exceptional business leaders who I called classmates made the EMBA’s journey an inspiring adventure, and gave me the strength to push through the challenging moments . 

The people around me were understanding of my busy agenda and tight deadlines. Without this, it would have been very difficult, so try to set up expectations with people close to you before you enroll in the program.

Self-discipline, flexibility, fun and passion: a magic recipe to make the EMBA an inspiring – and achievable – journey!   

 To find out more about the HEC Paris Executive MBA visit our website