• ESAE

Executive Master International Association Management

An interview with Alessandro Cortese, Co-Academic Director of the Executive Master in International Association Management at Solvay Business School.


ESAE: 10 years of EMIAM, how it started, what has changed


AC: The EMIAM program started in 2014, after some talks during the year before between ESAE, of which I was a President back then, Visit Brussels and the Solvay School of business and management. At that time, while there was an offering of professional trainings, there was no executive and academic program dedicated to the management of international associations.

With over 2300 international associations in Brussels, it seemed possible to start the program as it seemed reasonable to expect demand for a similar initiative. Until the 2022 edition, the program remained structured as the first edition, with some tweaks and improvements between years based on the feedback of the participants. After 7 editions, all very successful, the 2023 edition will see some changes also in the structure of content and the faculty to align the needs of association executives to face new challenges after the pandemic and, in general, in a fast-changing environment.


ESAE: Who is it for? What makes it unique?


AC: the program is designed to provide a holistic view on general management, with specific applications on international associations, from leadership to finance; from strategy to marketing; from project management to governance. It, therefore, aims at responding to the needs of both the C-suite in associations and also the management of units or projects who want to obtain a broader perspective on methods and approaches. In associations, often, the management comes to leadership positions after a “vertical” career of increasing responsibility grounded in the specific knowledge of a sector or an industry. The EMIAM program aims at broadening that perspective giving a common professional ground across industries and sectors and a shared professional practice.


ESAE: What new is n store for the next cohort?


AC: The 2023 program will have an increased focus on strategy and business modeling and planning for associations. The 2023 edition will also look at the need of blending sustainability, both financial and environmental, with the aims and the impact that associations want to have in their respective fields. Finally, there will also be an increased focus on governance, as the framework to apply strategic decisions.


ESAE: What is the role of the master in a changing European Associations Community ?


AC: There are today over 150 association executives, in Europe and beyond, who attended the EMIAM program. These alumni have often grown into leadership positions in their organizations, but also in the networks for association executives, sharing a common professional method and a vision of economic and societal impact for international associations. We believe that the EMIAM program is playing an important role in creating increased awareness of the role of association management as a profession. Also, we believe that association executives who attended the EMIAM have a solid method to face the challenges that their respective organizations face and have the desire of sharing their experiences with peers in networks like the ESAE.


ESAE: Collaboration with ESAE, and what is in for our members?


AC: With the years, both ESAE and the EMIAM program grew substantially. Today there are new opportunities for ESAE to continue the discussions started at the EMIAM within its activities, allowing for continuous development of ideas and content. We also hope that the partnership will lead to a few joint workshops, to look at the applications of the models and methods shown at the EMIAM program within the cases of the associations who look for immediate and concrete solutions to their challenges. Ultimately, both ESAE and the EMIAM Programme aim for more competent Association Executives By working closer together, we can increase our impact, and achieve a broader recognition of your profession by the wider Community.


You can find more information about the programme here. ESAE members benefit from an exclusive discount. If you are interested, get in touch!