For the Future of Lifelong Learning and Executive Education study, CarringtonCrisp asked 2,500 employees and 500 employers for their views about shifts in the professional development marketplace.
EMBAC corporate member CarringtonCrisp and LinkedIn co-sponsored the 2021 study, which garnered media attention and continues to prove popular.
“It has become our most downloaded report ever,” says Andrew Crisp, co-founder of CarringtonCrisp. “In terms of reach that piece of research has had, it’s been quite phenomenal.”
Almost 20 years ago as a brand-new firm, CarringtonCrisp undertook a research project that looked at the branding and marketing practices of business schools in the United Kingdom. Today, the firm annually conducts – most recently in collaboration with EMFD – the Business of Branding study.
“We actually began with research,” says Crisp. “I suppose you could say research has really been at the heart of what we do, and on the back of that research where we’ve grown is to develop more consulting.”
While previously working for a corporate communications agency, Crisp led a rebranding project for London Business School, his first introduction to business schools. Then as a freelancer, he collaborated with another consultant on a business school branding project. At the end of that successful project, the two decided to form CarringtonCrisp.
Now, CarringtonCrisp produces five annual research reports: The Business of Branding; Generation Web that explores website and social media best practices; Alumni Matters that dives into what alumni want from their relationships with business schools; and Tomorrow’s MBA and Tomorrow’s Masters that profiles prospective MBA and Master’s students respectively.
CarringtonCrisp shares general findings from the research on its website. Schools that subscribe to the reports receive a public version and a local report with their results.
“We believe very much in sharing at least a base of information so that people can have, no matter where they are in the world, insights,” he says. “We think it’s at least important to provide an understanding of how the world of education is changing, and that’s at the core of what we do.”
The consulting part of the business takes those insights from data and applies them to higher education projects, such as portfolio reviews and new product launches. For example, Crisp recently helped a British business school assess the prospects of a new campus in South Korea.
“We inevitably have done a lot of projects on digital issues and a growing number on lifelong learning and executive education,” says Crisp, adding that there can be an interesting variety in projects. “We just completed a project for a music conservatoire looking to launch an online degree in opera studies.” Another project involves helping a dentistry teaching hospital determine potential professional development offerings.
The focus, though, doesn’t vary.
“It all has that education, learning, development strand that runs through it,” says Crisp. “We don’t work outside of higher education. We only work in higher education.”
Three words help drive CarringtonCrisp’s approach: Intelligence, insight, imagination. Intelligence refers to data, but data alone doesn’t do the job.
“The data offers little without the insight and context – knowing what’s going on in the market,” he says. While it might be tempting to offer the same answers time and time again, that doesn’t work well in a changing world.
“With a global market of 10,000-plus business schools and numerous private providers, coming up with imaginative solutions that will work with different institutions in different circumstances in different parts of the world is really important.”
CarringtonCrisp has worked with clients in 35 counties throughout the world and has a group of global associates that it taps for projects, ensuring diversity in perspectives. Crisp anticipates more global growth in the years to come, particularly in North America, Asia, and Africa.
Through his work in higher education, Crisp has noted an increase in professionalization in business education, the trend toward digital and its impact on delivery, and more diversity in programs. EMBA Programs have undergone adjustments in formats, with more variety emerging, he says, and they are attracting more students who are interested in becoming or already are entrepreneurs.
Crisp was familiar with EMBAC and its research and completed a research project for EMBAC and the Working Professional Task Force, a group of business education associations, advisory boards, and steering groups that focus on the needs of business education students who are full-time working professionals. He presented results from that project at the 2020 EMBAC Virtual Conference, and based on his experiences, he decided to join the council as a corporate member.
“We found that the value of being involved added an enormous amount to the work that we were doing with our customers, whether it was the research, the connections, or the networking at conferences,” says Crisp. “It’s become an excellent relationship.”
Crisp appreciates the open and welcoming environment that EMBAC offers, and, in turn, CarringtonCrisp wants to share its research and the implications for EMBA Programs.
“We’re very approachable,” says Crisp, who is willing to talk about public reports and interested in building mutually beneficial relationships.
“We’re independent. We’re not beholden to a third party. We’re not part of publication that does a ranking. We will tell people exactly how we see things, and we’ll have the data to back that up.”
For more information about CarringtonCrisp, contact Andrew Crisp at email@example.com or visit www.carringtoncrisp.com.