Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

If see it. You are better off networking or

If you are getting it to get a job, then I presume you have a list of companies where the MBA credentials are called for.  When you don’t have an MBA it seems like a huge deal, but admittedly afterwards it seems a tad smaller of a deal than when you started. I didn’t give up career to get mine – “only” sleep for about 4 1/2 years as I juggled my MBA with career at work and endless overtime.  Having said this, I loved it!   I found it much more enjoyable than my engineering degree.   Why?(a) I already had a job.   No pressure, all I had to do was learn.   Actually though I graduated Dean’s List (a high GPA from a top MBA school), I didn’t apply to a single MBA job after graduation – though I got letters from companies asking me to apply.  Frankly I couldn’t afford the pay cut.  This ought to have you thinking: is this to get your foot into a company, or to advance?   Foot in… yes.  Advance… I don’t see it.  You are better off networking or trying new roles to impress some exec where you work.(b) The material didn’t become obsolete the moment I graduated.  Unlike my engineering degree, the MBA stuff lived on.   Yes I could have probably learned much of it with access to the right books, but a good 50% of it I could not have.   For example, I was taught banking policy from the chap who advised the Bank of Canada.   I was taught Microeconomics by the Minister of Economics from the Province of Ontario.   I got a killer course where in a group of 7 students and for 8 months, we dismantled a real company and then provided a strategy report on what it ought to do into the future.   The VP of Mktg flew in from another country to listen to my pitch and was quite unhappy with it.   The owner loved it.  I was taught Derivative Securities by a chap who was writing a text on pricing derivative securities using Calculus (to me that was the Holy Grail… I lived for both topics).  A trading course was taught by a chap who traded for a living… what was the big deal about my profs?   That they had real jobs during the day doing what they taught at night.  Priceless.(c) Following from the above, my courses were by and large not taught by dedicated profs or what would have been even worse, Executives.   There is a trend these days to hire Execs to lecture students as a justification for the higher fees and presumably higher reputation of the University.  Given how many Execs got to be Execs through sponsorship and networking, unless this is what they are teaching you I don’t see the value (yes I do know what I am talking about).  So I would be careful to ask who will be teaching the courses I plan to take and stay clear of courses I can learn by reading a couple of books or treating someone “connected” at work to lunch for his pragmatic advice and mentoring.(d) The MBA is *not* the right answer to the economy, companies and society.  It is an aggregation of common sense if you are taught it as such.  Keep in mind that there was no shortage of MBAs in the economic debacle depicted in the Oscar winning documentary “Inside Job” – a film every MBA student ought to be forced to watch before graduating IMO.  Also like everywhere else in life, an MBA prof is not infallible, neither has a monopoly on truth.   I argued with one at length in one of my Advance Finance courses… she asked “how do you price stock XYZ” which of course I could do in my sleep, so I told her… she moved on but I stopped her with :”of course this means bubkas compared to investor lemming psychology – was there a bomb planted somewhere that day, or did the CEO fool around with his secretary, or did the stock market expect a few cents more profit per share?   Any one or more of these would bounce the stock like a rubber ball…”  The prof lost it there, which told me she hadn’t had a real job outside of academia in her lifetime.  And definitely unlike me, also had not dabbled in the stock market.  And anyone drinking her kool-aid would be a dangerous person in the workplace, indeed.  Folks like her give MBAs a bad rep and academia has plenty of them.  Learn what your potential school has by way of professors.   They are listed on the school’s web pages.(e) There is a big difference between the MBA student who has never worked for a living, and the one who has worked in an office environment already.   Yes they are taking the same class, but listening to what they have learned at the end of it you wonder if they were in the same course after all.  If you are planning to do an MBA, you need to have some work experience under your belt in order to squeeze the juice out of the material.  Otherwise you will have yet another degree under your belt and no more common sense to apply it with.Ironically, more than 20 yrs after attaining my MBA, I have switched to a role where it lands perfectly.   I am bridging Sales, Marketing, Development, Channels, Executives, … in a very lucrative and vital product line.  I’m in a dream job from an MBA point of view.  Did I need the MBA for it?  No.  Does it help?  Yes it does.  It brings me back to the “fun” of the MBA and I treat every day as and every issue as yet another case study.  I’m having a blast.Many “courses” taught in the workplace are not much more than diluted MBA business cases, or snippets of such.  If you value workplace education, you will value the MBA.In the 4 1/2 yrs it took me to do my MBA, I didn’t skip a single class.   I missed 3 classes due to work travel that just could not be avoided.   I was caught up in the material for every class, and at the end I felt ready to teach the material.   This I say to share the infectious passion I had for what I was learning.  So to wrap up with the obvious: if you are doing an MBA for yourself, you can’t go wrong.  You will learn a ton and have a blast doing it.   If you do it for credentials… sigh.  In that case I suggest you wait until some exec at work tags you as a future special something, and so they pay for your tuition in an Executive MBA program.   This program takes half as much time to complete as the normal MBA (which means you won’t learn as much – that is obvious – but you won’t care), and as it will likely be paid for… you get your credentials for minimal effort and sleep deprivation.Now a word of warning:  there is an optimal time and place for many things in life.   Doing your non-executive MBA while juggling a demanding job and little kids at home.. is a *bad* idea.  Very far from optimal.  It may burn you out. 

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