The Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) MBA program offers senior executives and entrepreneurs a complete framework for integrating the strategic and successful management of an organization. It incorporates appreciation for key executive roles and responsibilities in a changing environment. The program helps executives enhance the leadership competencies, knowledge, environmental sensitivity, analytical tools, and implementation skills necessary to
- Lead effectively and inspire high-level performance.
- Anticipate opportunities and challenges in hyper-business environments and assess the likelihood of their occurrence and their impacts on the organization.
- Create and balance bold visions with effective strategy and efficient implementation.
- Demonstrate appreciation for corporate and cross-national cultures and their impacts on strategic and tactical implementation in global competition.
- Ensure ethical fulfillment of customer and stakeholder needs.
- Integrate the individual and learning community experiences of the PKE program for leadership effectiveness in business, community, and life.
This 15-month program usually meets on one Friday and Saturday every three to four weeks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but some sessions also meet on Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Class size is kept small (about 15 to 25 carefully selected participants). Each class member experiences the program within a cohort, thereby providing an energized environment for the development of a unique learning community experience. Students are enrolled as a full time student, continuously until the program is completed. Participants commit to the entire program as scheduled, so their calendars should be cleared in order to avoid any absences. In special hardship circumstances, participants may seek permission from the PKE Program Committee to complete their studies with a subsequent class.
PKE MBA Program Content Outline
The PKE program offers an integrated learning opportunity. It is designed to develop synergy across content, delivery, experiential and cognitive learning, and real-world application. Its content is developed around several meta-themes. Coverage of these themes does not always take place within the confines of one university trimester. Topics such as ethics are continuous; others are pulsed or covered in segments during the 15-month program. To offer an efficient and compelling learning experience, several integrating approaches are utilized.
Dedicated Faculty Team
Five professors and a class advisor are identified before each cohort begins. They meet before the class commences for planning purposes, meet the class up-front during the four-day kickoff session, and then remain in contact with the cohort throughout the entire program.
The Class Advisor
This sixth faculty member attends all class sessions throughout the 15-month period and provides continuity throughout the program. The class advisor assures that appropriate preparation and progress are maintained by meeting with individuals and learning teams between class sessions when necessary. The advisor helps integrate the content and the experience of each cohort and advises the students on conducting and completing their strategic management projects.
The Effective Executive Workshop
Each PKE MBA class begins with a four-day residential effective executive workshop. The workshop provides an overview of the entire program and develops working relationships with the faculty team. The central thrust of the workshop is the enhancing of each student’s competence in the essential executive leadership processes of influence and facilitation. These emphases become evident through the debriefing of a series of case analysis and team problem-solving tasks. The workshop builds a learning community among the students by developing shared understanding of learning goals, identifying individual differences, and developing communication and team skills. While the privacy and individuality of the students are respected and valued, students examine and learn from their own behavior and the behavior of others in the class.
Strategic Management Project
The project has deliverables within each segment of the program. Students apply course content and materials from each program segment to their respective organizations. At the conclusion of the program, the students integrate all course content into a strategic management document. This project is primarily an academic document similar to a thesis. It attests to the students’ mastery of MBA subjects and to their skill in integrating and applying subject mastery within their organizations.
Students must fully complete the content for each module of the strategic management project to the satisfaction of that module’s professor prior to being allowed to attend classes in the subsequent module. If this requirement is not met, the student will be placed on a mandatory leave of absence from the program until the module’s work is completed. At that time, the student will request that the PKE Program Committee allow him or her to reenter the program with a subsequent PKE cohort.
Each class cohort forms into learning teams that meet on their own on a regular basis outside of the class to dialog, work on team assignments, share learning, and discuss other readings and topics relevant to them beyond the class requirements. Members of an effective learning team are interested in the development of one another’s skills, knowledge, and personal and professional growth. Learning teams multiply and enrich the resources of the cohort and each person throughout the 15-month PKE experience and often continue to meet after graduation.
PKE MBA Program Content Themes
Theme 1: Visionary Leadership for Organizational Change
Based on research into the needs and learning patterns of senior executives, participants are taught new skills to equip them for enhanced performance in the role of a visionary corporate leader. The theme begins with the effective executive workshop in which a learning community-complete with a student-generated learning contract-is established. The learning community will serve as a container, a context, and a catalyst for the personal and professional development of each student.
Using General Systems Theory as a framework and drawing on established research and theory in the behavioral sciences, this theme continues through emphasis on the following topics: personal/executive presence, interpersonal influence patterns, principles and practice of team formation, facilitation competencies, organizational culture diagnostics, developing leadership competencies, managing people through facilitated shifts in corporate culture and change, visioning to create a desired future, and professional and career development planning.
In addition, the groundwork is laid for a solid start on the strategic management project (further discussed under Theme 7 below) by participation in Project Day. To further support the students’ individual learning efforts, spouses and significant others may be invited to a special event to orient them to what the students will be experiencing during the program and to explore ways that they can create a supportive environment during the term of study.
Theme 2: Macro-environmental Influences on Organizational Decision Making
During this theme, discussion will examine the basic concepts of consumer and producer behavior in competitive and monopolistic markets and consider these concepts in the development of corporate policy. Topics include tax incidence, profit maximization, price discrimination, wage and salary determination, rent controls, and international trade restrictions. In addition, concepts, techniques, and fundamentals of international and national economics of business are examined. These aspects of study provide a foundation for the later development and expansion of thought during the themes in which the maximization of customer value and various strategies are developed. Theme 2 further develops the foundation for management in multinational environments, and an examination is made of trends in trade and international payments. Important international, cultural, political, economic, and legal issues also are examined, with a focus on their effects on international pricing, financial policies, and investment strategies. Ongoing attention will be given to the student’s strategic management project.
Theme 3: Acquisition and Management of Organizational Resources
This theme explores financial and other resources available to the executive. Available accounting data will be examined; in particular, students will learn to use accounting statements as effective management tools for coordinating managerial and organizational activities. Students will be taught to analyze business situations and develop strategies in terms of financial variables. Issues explored in depth include sources and costs of capital; tax strategies; financial and capital structure; capital budgeting; valuation and portfolio analysis; dividend policy; and ratio, break-even, and cost/volume profit analysis. Participants will learn how to apply a variety of analytical tools designed to enhance profitability, cash flow, and valuation. Central throughout this theme will be consideration of the ethical issues faced while responding to the interests of multiple stakeholders, including stockholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and community. Ongoing attention will be given to the student’s strategic management project.
Theme 4: Maximizing Customer Value
This theme will examine the firm’s opportunities for improving sales, profit, and customer satisfaction performance in its current product/market via efficient use of the marketing mix, strategic analysis of new product/marketing offerings, and planning and managing the interface issues between marketing and other organization functions. The cost and value of acquiring, servicing, and retaining customers will be explored. Software will be used to facilitate the research and modeling of business practices. Particular attention is paid to strategic advantages flowing from building and exploiting enhanced customer information. Further emphasis will be placed on ways in which telecommunications and technology are transforming the development of global products and services, pricing programs, advertising and promotion, and distribution tactics. Further examination will take place around the benefits gained from aligning the entire organization behind customer satisfaction and the ethical issues raised in shaping-as well as responding to-the contemporary world. Ongoing attention will be given to the strategic management project.
Theme 5: Creation of Global Strategic Advantage
This theme will build on strategic thinking and strategic analysis to formulate the grand strategy. Using the concepts and knowledge gained in prior themes, emphasis will be placed on the techniques for analyzing present strategies and generating alternative strategic choices. The grand strategy will be based on the development and integration of underlying strategic components of corporate, business, industry, and global strategies of the firm. These strategies take into account the probability of growth and success, given the stage of industry evolution and the position of the company globally and within the industry. The use of portfolio analysis for evaluating and achieving a balanced business portfolio also is covered. Globalization, diversification, and vertical integration options at the corporate level are explored, along with entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. Ongoing attention will be given to the student’s strategic management project.
Theme 6: Implementation of Grand Strategy in a Dynamic Environment
The implementation theme will extend the strategic management theme of the PKE program to its logical, practical, and desired conclusion. It will begin with a review and test of the grand strategy and its components for successful implementation. The relationship between strategy and organizational processes and structures will be studied, and design alternatives for implementing the grand strategy also will be explored. Functional (marketing, finance, technology, etc.) and business unit strategies for implementation of the grand strategy will be cascaded into realistic operational plans. Performance management, reward, and control systems best supporting effective and efficient implementation of the grand strategy will be considered. Strategic change leadership in a global and technology-driven marketplace will help the firm navigate the dynamic legal/regulatory/economic environment and will build sustainable core competencies for success. Implementation topics are applied to real-world business situations and cases. Ongoing attention will be given to the student’s strategic management project.
Theme 7: Integrative Experiences
The primary individual integrative experience in the PKE program is the student’s strategic management project. Within the first few months of the program, each student must develop a project outline, describing the institution that will be studied, methods of collecting data, and the ultimate value to the individual and institution. On Project Day, the outlines are presented to the complete faculty team for review and refinement. With the guidance of the class advisor and a faculty subcommittee, each participant then implements the study, with periodic deliverables, demonstrating the participant’s capabilities of applying all that is being learned in the program.
The final product will include analysis of internal and external environments; generation, evaluation, and selection of strategic options; development of a grand strategy; and implementation of appropriate and integrative functional and operational strategies, design, performance management, and controls to achieve desired results. During the final stages of the program, the class advisor and the faculty subcommittee review each student’s strategic management project. Special attention is given to research techniques, application and integration of material learned and mastered, format, and presentation of the project in accordance with accepted research and academic standards. When necessary, students may be allowed a maximum of three additional trimesters to complete a satisfactory project.
Class-Wide Integration Experience
In addition to the individuals’ focused strategic projects, there are three class-wide experiences that contribute to integrating and assessing what has been learned to date. One is a class session incorporating the full faculty team in which each student in turn presents a detailed overview of the individual strategic project. It is expected that the student will outline the background and supporting rationale for the project, examine the key findings, and lay out the intended strategic and implementation conclusions reached. The faculty team has the opportunity to raise questions, seek clarifications, and make suggestions from both an academic and a business perspective as the student prepares for the final phase of writing and submitting the strategic project.
An additional experience is an international session, occurring approximately one year into the program. The class travels overseas to visit world-class commercial and industrial facilities and meet with business, government, and community leaders. The accompanying faculty focus attention on the integration of course work in an international environment, with emphasis on understanding the complexities of globalization.
Finally, the third integrative experience is an ethics module. Ethical business practices and personal ethical behavior are woven through all class themes and discussions, in harmony with both responsible teaching practices and the values of both the Graziadio School and Pepperdine University. Students are given an opportunity to examine both business practices and their own behavior.
Standards and Measurements of Achievement for PKE MBA Students
Satisfactory completion of 38 units and faculty approval of a research project are necessary for graduation. Students’ academic records are reviewed at the end of every trimester. A student may be placed on academic leave for one trimester by the PKE Program Committee when the student’s performance is viewed to be below standard. The student will not be allowed to reenter the program unless all stipulated requirements are satisfied. If a student is on academic or personal leave, reentry into the program will be subject to review by the PKE Program Committee regardless of academic standing. Courses in this program are graded on a credit or no credit basis, and there is not an option to be graded with letter grades (“A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F”).
A student may be dismissed from the program at any time, if in the view of the faculty, the PKE Committee, or Graziadio School program administrators, the student has demonstrated an inability to perform at cohort level, to contribute meaningfully to team-based assignments and activities, and/or to maintain the standards of behavior and decorum that are consistent with the University Code of Ethics and the Graziadio School Code of Academic Ethics for Students .
Maximum time for completion of the degree is seven trimesters. On completion of the fourth trimester, leaves are not permitted; a student must be enrolled continuously until the program is completed. Registration is for 1 unit each in the fifth, sixth, and seventh trimesters, if additional time beyond completion of the course work is needed to complete the research project.
For the Project Seminar course, a student receiving a grade of “I” (incomplete) in any of the first three trimesters must change the “I” grade to a “CR” (credit) grade prior to the first class session of the ensuing trimester. If this requirement is not met, the student must take a mandatory leave of absence from the program until the “I” has been changed to a “CR” grade. Once the “I” grade has been changed, the student will join a new cohort at the stage in the program that matches when the initial leave of absence was taken. If a student receives an “I” grade in the fourth trimester, he or she must complete the requirements to change that grade to a “CR” grade by the seventh trimester. If the project is not completed by the seventh trimester from initial enrollment, the “I” grade will automatically default to “NC” (no credit). Students will not be allowed to graduate from the program until all “I” grades have been changed to “CR” grades.
Leave of Absence
Students may petition the PKE Program Committee for a leave of absence. The leave of absence petition must be submitted prior to the beginning of the term the student is requesting, stating the reasons for the leave and the projected time of return. Leaves of absence are limited to three years from the date of leave, after which time the student must reapply to the program. Degree work in the PKE program must be completed within five years from the date the student is originally enrolled in the PKE program. In rare cases, the associate dean may grant a limited extension of time to complete the degree. Enrollment must be continuous until completion of the requirements for the degree, unless the student is on an approved leave of absence. International students in F-1 visa status must obtain clearance from the Office of International Student Services before taking a leave of absence.