When Wharton’s campus closed in March, more than 40 students from Shanghai were in California en route to Philadelphia for a finance program. The global pandemic cancelled their plans, forcing them to return home. Just a week later, Wharton Executive Education brought the program to them, online.
Like all of the new Wharton LIVE programs—available for individuals and teams and customized for organizations—it was taught in real time on a virtual platform. Participants experienced a high level of engagement with award-winning Wharton faculty and with each other, creating a true classroom community. In addition to interactive lectures, it included individual exercises, group work, and peer-to-peer dialogue.
“Engagement and participation were incredibly high,” says management professor Emilie Feldman. “The technology allowed me to seamlessly lead case discussions and breakout sessions, just as I would in person. I could sense the aha moments happening through the screen as students learned and synthesized ideas from the week, which made this a really rewarding experience.”
Wharton LIVE offerings cover the same rigorous content as programs held on campus, and include a range of topics in finance and management. Venture Capital, Distressed Asset Investing and Corporate Restructuring, Corporate Governance: Essentials for a New Business Era, and other upcoming virtual programs were designed to give executives the edge they need today to tackle current business challenges and take advantage of the opportunities arising because of the crisis.
Michael Malefakis, associate vice dean of Wharton Executive Education, says the Wharton LIVE programs are in a class by themselves. “All online education is not alike. Executives who are seeking to gain new knowledge and skills during this unprecedented time need the most up-to-date, relevant research and best practices. Our faculty deliver it on a platform that makes the virtual personal.”
True Master Classes
Irene Lee, one of the participants in the Shanghai program, says she was surprised by just how personal and engaging the experience was. “Finance is a complex topic, and it was hard to imagine how the sessions would go. We thought engagement level would be very low. But the Wharton professors were very professional and they managed the classes very well. The online platform could take in a lot more questions and comments, and the professors were amazing in how they were able to address them.”
Katya Fisher, Investment Director and Legal Advisor at Runa Capital attended the two-week Venture Capital program. She says as a lawyer working with investments, private equity, and venture capital, her work often crosses over into operations, decision-making, and collaboration with finance and investment professionals.
“I took Wharton’s Venture Capital program to see if there were any gaps in my knowledge, identify them, and learn how to fill them,” she says. “There were a lot of things that I knew and was very familiar with, but it was great to have multiple professors looking at venture capital from various perspectives. They are not only finance academics but also have a tremendous amount of hands-on experience, and helped me gain real-world skills. The program was truly a master class in the field, fantastic for anyone who is serious about venture capital at any stage of their career.”
“The program was truly a master class in the field, fantastic for anyone who is serious about venture capital at any stage of their career.”– Katya Fisher
Stephen Beauchamp, a financial researcher at Money Map Press and Deal Flow Coordinator for the Angels & Entrepreneurs Network, says small group work in the virtual platform’s “breakout rooms” offer a chance to get to know other participants. “There was a lot of socializing and networking, and it really felt like a cohort. Now we are staying in touch through WhatsApp, and I have connected with many of my classmates on LinkedIn.”
Beauchamp, who was one of the younger participants in his program, says he benefitted from the experience and insights of his classmates. It is a sentiment shared by Katya Fisher. “I wasn’t sure if a virtual program would draw the caliber of participants that would come on campus,” she explains. “But the group was very impressive, coming from varied backgrounds and with different professional experiences. The format worked quite well for us to get to know one another, and the content was at a high level that kept everyone interested. We went into breakout rooms to work on assignments in groups, which was a great way to maintain interaction and stay engaged.”
“There was a lot of socializing and networking, and it really felt like a cohort. Now we are staying in touch through WhatsApp, and I have connected with many of my classmates on LinkedIn.”
– Stephen Beauchamp
Ease of Access
The move to offering more live virtual programming has expanded the access to Wharton’s world-class thought leadership and research to a much larger audience. “The pandemic has opened up new platforms for knowledge sharing,” says Lee. “We are no longer constrained by traveling time, cost, and space. The Wharton professors, together with their support team, have made this experience so amazing. I am definitely looking forward to more online modules by the Wharton School.”
Fisher agrees. “I am always looking to grow professionally, but before the lockdown I spent a lot of time on planes traveling around the world. It is very difficult for me to find time in my schedule to advance my education and improve my skills. The fact that the Venture Capital program was online was a big selling point; I was able to take advantage of a learning opportunity that would not have been possible for me otherwise.”
For more information about Wharton LIVE Virtual Programs, visit: WhartonExecEdLive.com.