Executive MBA: Meet the Course Director

17 October 2023

Hossam Zeitoun, Course Director of the Executive MBA (Warwick) discusses why the Executive MBA is important in today's business world, and how it develops leaders that can thrive in the modern business environment.

Tell us about your background as an academic, and as Course Director for Executive MBA

I am an Associate Professor (Reader) and Course Director of the Executive MBA Programme at Warwick Business School (Warwick campus). My research interests are strategy, behavioural science, and theories of the firm, using psychological and economic perspectives. My current research projects aim to improve our understanding of psychological mechanisms underlying joint action in organisations.

Before embarking on an academic career, I worked in the insurance industry and had international project experience in Gabon, Tunisia, and India. I earned my PhD at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Then I joined the University of Warwick, first as a visiting researcher and then as a staff member. I speak five languages and teach corporate strategy and corporate governance at Warwick Business School. I am passionate about the Executive MBA as a programme that combines theory with practice, engaging highly talented students on their way of progressing their careers and their positive impact on organisations and society.

Why is the Executive MBA important in modern business?

Today's business environment is characterised by so many disruptions – global pandemics, the constant emergence of new technologies, artificial intelligence, and new working patterns, to name just a few. The Executive MBA equips people with the skills to not only survive, but lead and thrive in this environment.

How does the Warwick Business School Executive MBA challenge our participants to become leaders?

The essence of leadership is to influence others in a positive, productive, and fulfilling way.

Understanding yourself is key to understanding others and to influencing them in a positive manner. Our course helps participants progress through this journey, using not only traditional teaching methods but also skills workshops that bring them outside their comfort zone in order to stretch themselves. They’ll leave with a deeper understanding of their own personality and values, and how to utilise these for the best outcomes as inclusive and inspiring leaders.

Tell us about the average Executive MBA cohort

There is no average Executive MBA cohort! Every cohort is different, but they are all united in being diverse, with participants from many different industries and backgrounds.

This diversity in professional backgrounds helps ensure that our students often support one another well beyond their graduation, for example, by providing contacts, resources, and career opportunities to one another within and across industries. Crucially our participants learn a lot from the rest of the cohort through group work and intense discussions, and they often develop friends for life.

How can participants expect to be taught?

Teaching on the Executive MBA will be quite different to what they’ve experienced at undergraduate level – our cohorts are much smaller, many classes are discussion-based, and we often adjust our case studies and examples to align with the experiences in the room.

Rather than learning only from the teacher, students learn tremendously from each other’s experiences. The case studies used in the classroom typically prompt students to share related examples from their own professional lives, and the teachers facilitate these conversations.

Each of our teaching teams uses varied teaching methods, including case studies, interactive lectures, role plays, discussions, and external guest speakers, to develop a contextual understanding of the topic.

What’s the course structure like?

Our core modules provide a cohesive narrative and build on each other to give the most effective learning experience possible; participants gain a foundation by understanding the organisation, its people, and its environment, and then cover the core functions of an organisation, as well as how to become change makers using leadership and strategic entrepreneurship.

We then move on to the elective modules, which offer a broad range of opportunities to deepen and refine the knowledge gained in the core curriculum.

Finally, participants apply their knowledge and showcase their learning through a strategic consulting project or dissertation. Often participants choose to focus on their own organisation, and leave with work that can be immediately applied to their role.

Throughout the course, students receive outstanding support from our Careers, Leadership, and Development Team, who help students focus on their specific long-term goals.

How and why has Social and Environmental Sustainability been embedded throughout the course?

In today's society, successful companies achieve not only high financial performance, but also social and environmental performance, which is increasingly important to their survival and competitiveness.

Across the entire curriculum, we promote values of social and environmental sustainability applied to the different topics. For example, in some topics such as operations the environmental aspect is essential, whereas in other topics such as organisational behaviour or leadership, the social side is very prominent. Thus, students obtain a rounded understanding of sustainability in the curriculum.

What advice would you give to anyone considering an MBA at Warwick Business School?

Firstly, think about which variant of the Warwick MBA is right for you – all variants produce excellent learning experiences, but each one is tailored to students with different objectives and sometimes different stages in their management journey. Our Executive MBA is for established executives who are looking to build their leadership acumen, create a strong network of professionals, and engage in intensive in-person interactions with other talented individuals.

Secondly, make sure to have a plan for your work-life-study balance. Our students typically experience multiple pressures as they aim to excel in their jobs, their studies, and their family lives. You will interact with current students and alumni, so make sure to ask how they managed their work-life-study balance. Thinking ahead will enable you to maximise the synergies between all your activities.

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