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BY Meghan MalasOctober 28, 2022, 5:31 PM

Girls walk around during the World Wide Women Girls’ Festival at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, as seen in October 2018. (Ray Chavez—Digital First Media/The Mercury News/Getty Images)

People who are considering an executive MBA are typically professionals well into their careers, seeking a path into an upper-management role. And for some candidates, the goal is to land a high-up position at a technology company.

If you want to become a leader at a tech firm, an MBA degree may be the boost you need. Among corporate recruiters at tech companies, 90% report that they are confident or highly confident in business schools to prepare graduate students to succeed in roles at their companies, according to a GMAC survey. Moreover, in 2021, of all industries, tech saw the lowest percentage of business school grads move to another industry post-graduation, based on findings from another GMAC report

Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business’s executive MBA is hoping to position itself as a leading business school to attract people who want to move up in the tech industry, given its physical proximity to a plethora of headquarters and experienced talent. 

As Fortune has previously reported, the top business schools for prospective tech company workers reflect that location can play a big part in breaking into the industry. The University of Washington’s Foster School of Business has about 17% of its MBA alumni employed at Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, or Meta. Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business had the second-highest employment at big tech companies—with about 7% of its MBA graduates landing roles at those companies. 

“We are one of a few schools that could say that we truly are in the heart of Silicon Valley—and if you look at their alumni base—we’re throughout it in a big way,” Ed Grier, dean of Leavey School of Business, tells Fortune

Fortune spoke with Grier and Jo-Ellen Pozner, faculty director of the school’s executive MBA program to find out more about what the program has to offer experienced professionals in the tech field.

Why location matters for executive MBA candidates

Why is Leavey attractive to EMBA candidates? The answer is three-fold: rigorous programming, a well-connected alumni network, and reputation, according to Leavey’s leaders. 

“Companies know that they have pretty good chance if you get someone from Santa Clara that they’re going to work well in the organization—not just from their technical skills, but how they can work in a diverse environment,” Grier says.

Santa Clara’s executive MBA program is ranked No. 31 on Fortune’s list of the best executive MBA programs. The average amount of work experience a student in the program has before enrolling is 17 years, making for an experienced, robust network of peers, many of whom already have strong professional connections in the region. 

California has the highest number of chief executives in the country, with nearly 34,000 employed in the state as of May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, Santa Clara University is located just outside the San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward metropolitan area, which has the fourth highest employment for chief executives in the country. The BLS reports there are 5,350 executives based in the area, earning a mean salary of $258,010.

Leavey’s Executive MBA focuses on technical training  

All modern day executives‚ no less the ones at tech companies, are tasked with understanding how to best blend technology with their business practices—and what the limits of tech are.

“Most people move up the ranks by being stellar individual contributors but may not have a broad view of organizations and the systems that make them run,” Pozner says. “This is especially true in tech, where the technical skills that make you successful become less critical as you take on more responsibility.”

The school is keen on educating and preparing students for data-driven decision making—which is becoming more and more of a demand from both recruiters and students alike. 

“The SCU Leavey School EMBA builds on students’ strong technical training and work experience by adding competencies in core areas, including management, strategy, operations, finance, accounting, marketing and more,” Pozner says. “That allows our students to excel at not just working in tech firms—but running them or founding them or taking them to the next level.”

Analytics also is a core focus of the program. And while learning the ins and outs of data science could be helpful, the curriculum is geared more for teaching the type of information that is most practical for business leaders. In essence, executive MBA students are taught enough technical information to learn what types of tools are available to them, how these tools work, and when it makes sense to use them. 

“The demand is going to just accelerate and we know that our location gives us a great advantage if you want to learn data science,” Grier says. “No matter who you are, what your interest is, this whole idea of data science and analytics has been core—you just can’t get away from it.”

See how the schools you’re considering fared in Fortune’s rankings of the best master’s degree programs in data science (in-person and online), nursing, computer science, cybersecurity, psychology, public health, and business analytics, as well as the doctorate in education programs and MBA programs (part-time, executive, full-time, and online).

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