The Evolution of the EPFL Executive MBA in Management of Technology

As many of you may know, we have been working hard to expand and invigorate the program in order to make it a self-sustaining beacon of excellence for EPFL and the College of Management of Technology.  It is now our pleasure to announce the next iteration of the MoT Program.

Since it was established in 1998 as the Executive Master’s Program in Management of Technology (MoT), the MoT has had some twists and turns in its brand identity. For some, it was a technology-oriented management program, but for others it was a program on how to start an entrepreneurial business. As the program grew into an Executive MBA, the identity stretched further as an MBA in entrepreneurship in addition to the above.

Through a process of market evaluation and brand analysis, including extensive interviews with many different stakeholders, we discovered that people were interested in our program for three reasons:

  • They wanted an MBA that they could attend while working
  • They were interested in innovation
  • Our program had the EPFL name behind it

The brand of “MoT” did not, in itself, communicate these elements. Reluctantly, it became clear to us that strengthening the brand would require changing it. The acronym EMBA is clear in itself: an MBA that can be attained while still working for people with business experience. Likewise, given that EPFL is one of the top universities in the world and it has attained this prized ranking through its innovative activities, we felt that it would be redundant to have both “EPFL” and “Innovation” in the name. While innovation is “sexy” in today’s business environment, we believe that EPFL’s reputation will endure and that this alone is enough to convey the message of innovation. So, in order to fulfill the three criteria above, there could be no better name than EPFL EMBA.

At the core, the EPFL EMBA is about the interaction of two concepts, innovation and business. They intersect, overlap, and, to an extent, rely upon each other. Innovation is dynamic, fluid, in motion, while business is structured, hierarchical, and linear. The logo, as pictured at the top of this page, contains the name of the program enclosed by an angled line and an arced line, arranged in a manner suggesting that they are overlapping shapes—the circle representing innovation and the square business. We have integrated the theme of these shapes in our marketing and visual identity as a thematic logo, such that, even without the text, these iconic elements will continue to link the brand.

Starting in August of 2017, the EFPL EMBA will once again be a stand-alone program; however, it will retain the structure of an Executive MBA for working professionals. The intent will not be to replicate exactly the modules that were previously offered through HEC, but to create a program and curriculum built around the key theme of harnessing innovation. While we will provide all of the requisite elements of the generalist core of an MBA degree, the presentation of those elements will be done in a manner coherent with the context of strategic innovation management. To that end, not only will we be offering a new curriculum, but we will enhance it with pedagogic and technological advances that will bring the program up to date and in line with the expectations of today’s participants.

At the executive education level, what is vital is how theory applies to practice. The ideal method to convey this message is a professor who has first-hand experience in industry and can speak to how theory works in practice. While we do have several of these professors, they are, nonetheless, a rare commodity across all the disciplines we teach.  Our way to complement this asset is to combine the outstanding theoretical talent of an academician with the real-world knowledge of a practitioner. When the co-teaching team of professor and executive is based upon a mutual respect for each other’s competencies, this leads to a dynamic dialog in the classroom where the professor can speak to the theoretical foundations of something, and then the practitioner can illustrate the challenges to implementing such a concept in company, as well as the successes and, just as importantly, the failures encountered.

The core of this program will thus be “theory in practice,” a teaching methodology strongly geared toward the executive-level student wherein each module features not only an academic expert in the subject theory, but also teams that expert with a practitioner who is knowledgeable in how the theory is put into practice. By bringing practitioners into the executive classroom and encouraging them to expound upon the challenges, obstacles, and impediments to implementation in a manner that expands upon and brings into context the academic subject at hand, we enhance the EMBA experience. We believe that this is a unique element to our approach to bringing the broad learnings of the MBA curriculum; it creates a dynamic dialog in the classroom that entices the students to become part of the conversation and add their own experiences.

One important goal of an EMBA is to provide a basic understanding of topics such as accounting, finance, law, economics, and statistics. Each of these topics has an elemental vocabulary and some formulaic implementation that is not well suited to executive classroom teaching, so these “basics” are conveyed to the participants prior to the classroom session whereby the students are then able to apply them in a highly contextual conversation with the module leaders. To this end, we are implementing an online learning management system. This system will provide students access to course materials as well as video content comprised of micro-modules that teach many of the elementary concepts. It is not intended to displace or supplant lectures, but is instead a means to bring students up to a common level of understanding and validate that they have achieved that level.  Most modules in the future will have an online learning component. These “leveling up” learning elements will allow the lecturers to dive right into the high-context material and hone in on the weaknesses in understanding the base material.
At its heart, the same ideal of harnessing innovation for the benefit of an enterprise remains at the core of the program. By implementing the changes listed above, we are committing to strengthening the reputation, the brand, and the value of the EPFL EMBA program for all its stakeholders—alumni, future participants, and EPFL alike!


The EMBA in MoT Direction wishes you a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.