IMPM or Executive MBA: Which is right for you?

The International Masters Program for Managers (IMPM) and the traditional Executive MBA (EMBA) are two prestigious programs designed for experienced professionals seeking to advance their careers. While both programs aim to enhance managerial skills and leadership abilities, their approaches, structures, and philosophies have distinct differences. The IMPM, inspired and co-founded by renowned management thinker Henry Mintzberg, emphasizes a unique five mindset approach. This is in contrast with the traditional EMBA’s focus on conventional business disciplines, much like an MBA.

International Masters Program for Managers

Foundational Philosophies and Approaches

IMPM: The IMPM is founded on the principle that management is a practice best learned through self-reflection, expanding perspectives, and immersive experience, rather than conventional classroom instruction. Henry Mintzberg’s involvement in creating the IMPM was motivated by his belief that effective management education should cultivate a deeper understanding of what the managerial role should be, and the responsibilities it should hold, from a variety of perspectives – organisational, industrial and cultural.

The program is structured around cultivating five vital management mindsets—reflective, analytical, worldly, collaborative, and action. These guide the learning process, and encourage managers to develop a more comprehensive understanding of their organizations and their role within them, as well as building better business, leadership and management capabilities along the way. The programme brings a global perspective, requiring participants to explore each mindset whilst immersed in a new international location – exploring the local business landscape as well as discovering their own capabilities and skills gaps.

EMBA: Executive MBA programs typically follow a more traditional academic structure, focusing on core advanced business concepts such as strategic decision-making, and leadership skills, through a series of courses. Modules cover vital management staples such as finance, marketing, operations, and other key business areas, enabling participants to draw from and build upon their existing managerial experience to gain a deeper, higher level of management capability. The Executive MBA offers a broad overview of business functions with an emphasis on executive leadership and strategy.

The McGill-HEC EMBA and the McGill International Masters for Healthcare Leadership are notable exceptions, as they also follow the same mindset-based approach as the IMPM, inspired by Prof. Henry Mintzberg.


5 modules delivered in five different countries, each focusing on one of the five mindsets

Program Structure and Delivery

IMPM: The IMPM program spans 16 months, with modules delivered in five different countries, each focusing on one of the five mindsets. This international aspect is integral to the program, exposing participants to diverse business cultures and practices. The learning format is highly interactive, with an emphasis on group discussions, peer learning, and reflection. Workshops, company visits, and managerial exchange opportunities further enrich the learning experience.

EMBA:Executive MBA programs are typically offered on a part-time basis, accommodating the busy schedules of working professionals. Classes are usually held on weekends or in intensive modules, spanning 18 to 24 months. While some programs offer international residencies or modules, the EMBA’s structure is generally more localized and focuses less on international exposure compared to the IMPM.


The IMPM offers several unique benefits over traditional Executive MBA programs

Benefits of the IMPM
The IMPM offers several unique benefits over traditional Executive MBA programs:

Individual versus Organizational Benefits: The IMPM prides itself on helping develop both the individual and the organization within which the participant works. While a traditional EMBA might focus more on the individual, IMPM assignments and class discussions centre around how the individual can affect immediate and lasting positive change with their teams, and the organization.

A Worldly Perspective: IMPM is one of the few international executive programs where the modules are designed and delivered by five different academic institutions in five different countries. These international modules in different countries immerse participants in various business environments, fostering a global outlook and understanding of diverse management practices.

Reflective Learning: The emphasis on reflection helps managers gain deeper insights into their own leadership styles and organizational dynamics, promoting personal and professional growth.

Collaborative Network & Peer-Learning: The cohort-based structure, with participants from various countries and industries, facilitates a rich exchange of experiences and ideas, building a strong, supportive network.

Five Mindset Approach: Henry Mintzberg and Jonathan Gosling published a ground-breaking article in Harvard Business Review back in 2003, “The Five Minds of a Manager.” The key mindsets they identified as key to successful leaders in organizations (based on observation): reflective, analytical, worldly, collaborative, and catalytic. Each IMPM module is based on a mindset, which then integrates business functions and disciplines under each mindset. This holistic approach encourages a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of management, beyond the quantitative and analytical focus of most EMBA programs.

The IMPM's unique five mindset approach offers a distinctive alternative to traditional management education, emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded, globally aware, and reflective management practice.

While both the IMPM and Executive MBA offer valuable opportunities for managerial and leadership development, the choice between them depends on an individual’s learning preferences, career goals, and the value they place on international exposure and a reflective learning process.

The IMPM’s unique five mindset approach, inspired by Henry Mintzberg, offers a distinctive alternative to traditional management education, emphasizing the importance of a well-rounded, globally aware, and reflective management practice.


Ron Duerksen, Global Executive Director, IMPM
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