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How to get firms to sponsor MBA

#1 How to get firms to sponsor MBA
14/05/2006 21:38


I have been to a number of interviews with various consultany's and all seem reluctant to sponsor MBA's. Most have said 'nowadays MBA's adds little or no value and its experience gained through working with them that really matters'. Some have said, to do an MBA I must prove to them how it benefits the company and offered me a cima instead. What must one do to get sponsored to do an MBA? I find it amazing that all the partners that have interviewed ME have these so called unneccary MBA'S attached to their names.

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#2 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
15/05/2006 07:49


Join a bank or the civil service. They are the only ones I know of still throwing money at MBAs- though firms like BP will offer an MBA to a very few high potential senior execs globally a year.

If consulting is for you, you have 2 options- join a big firm, work 4-5 years, performance score off the chart and have a stellar career path then you're in a position to bargain with them to go to one of the top schools- but you need to be a real high flyer, future leader, with '-est' attached to your name a lot- youngest, cleverest etc, and many of them still aren't convinced.

More realistically, do an MBA at your own expense and then negotiate a refund into your joining package (I did)... but be prepared for it to be only partial.

And accept that over 85% of MBA candidates don't work for the same company on graduation as they do when they start- many change careers altogether- and the total cost to a sponsoring firm can be will over a million dollars in fees, loss of work time etc for a top school (and why bother with anything else?). Which means even the most rudimentary cost benefit analysis makes it seriously unattractive for firms to offer...

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#3 Forget it - it'll never happen.....
15/05/2006 13:28

The Director

It is very unlikely that you will find a firm to sponsor an MBA.

It just doesn't make sense for them to fork out approx £50k over 2 years when there a hundreds of unemployed/frustrated MBAs in the job marketplace who they can hire for much less than that.

And at risk of causing ire among all the MBAs out there - the qualification doesn't mean you'll be paid more than non-MBAs either, particularly in consulting.

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#4 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
15/05/2006 21:31


Also consider:

- One possibility, if you can budget it this way, is to obtain sponsorship after you start the course. You might then get a project sponsor which could offer firms an output at a sub-market cost. Obviously the risk is that you don't get the sponsorship, but if you can survive without it, this might be worth considering. Once you start the course firms are more likely to know you mean business and will be more likely to take you seriously.

- Another variation might be to get a project sponsor and another sponsor that employs you after the course. This was happening at some top schools before the downturn, so if the demand for talent keeps increasing we might see those days again. Nothing wrong with it, if you can manage it correctly.

- The obvious source of sponsorship is current employer, but have you asked the right person? Is there anyone else you can ask?

I would not be put off by doing CIMA and (probably more likely or) a top MBA simply because someone can't afford to sponsor you. Alot of the anti-brigade unsuprisingly do not have either qualification. Obviously neither are obligatory for success in consulting but they are helpful. The 'cut everthing but the board level salaries' philosophy often disappears when an economy improves. Most of all get lots of soundings before you decide, I've met many successful people with MBA, CIMA or neither.

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#5 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
16/05/2006 18:48


I work for the public sector who (still) sponsor MBAs.

They choose the school (which aren't always the best ones) and lock you in for 3 years after you graduate, but for a five-year plan it is not a bad deal. The MBA I am looking at costs £18,000 in fees alone.

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#6 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
17/05/2006 13:52

Don Leslie/BLT

I recruit MBAs into consultancy, so here's my ha'porth...

1. McKinsey used to (and may still do) sponsor business analysts to take an MBA after 2 years. Check them and the other top-tier firms for similar offers.

2. An MBA offers you the opportunity to STUDY a wide variety of business issues in a wide variety of organisations alongside high calibre peers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Consultancy offers you the opportunity to WORK on a wide variety of business issues in a wide variety of organisations etc etc. Why do you need to do both at the same time?

3. If you do get support, it will be more likely to be for an EMBA(which means sacrificing holiday and weekends) or a distance learning programme (which means hauling out the text books after a 12 hour shift in the consulting mines). Have you got the health, stamina and the support of significant others to do this?

4. Many people do an MBA in order to re-invent themselves. It might be worth keeping that option for later.

5. As Johnnie says, you'll have the golden handcuffs slapped on you by the firm if you get sponsorship. You'll have to buy your way out if you want to leave early. And once achieved, the MBA has a nasty habit of breeding dissatisfaction with one's present lot...

Good luck.

(Sorry, that was more like two and sixpence worth).

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#7 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
17/05/2006 16:20

grad - question

Hi, I have an aggressive career plan and have to support a large family. I'm 25 and have about 18 months experience at a consultancy. I want to do an MBA for two main reasons

1) I've become a little dissatisfied with my job and feel i'm not being given the opportunity to achieve greater things

2) I want to earn more than im earning now which is mid 30k as I have to support a large family monetary wise

Would attempting to do an MBA now be foolish and for all the wrong reasons, or am I at an appropriate stage to do one?

Many thanks in advance

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#8 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
17/05/2006 18:04


RE: grad - question:

You should do the MBA now. The earlier you do it, the better the chance of switching fields post-MBA, and leveraging what you have learnt. If you choose to wait your personal commitment will inevitably grow. Also, one more piece of advice: research the career u want to switch to before u do the MBA, this will ensure that you have a goal & interest; choose the right MBA program; and learn what u require for that job.

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#9 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
18/05/2006 09:07

me too

Eh? Isn't that thought process like being interviewed by a Doctor and then reasoning that they should then pay for your PhD as the interview has the title and you don't.

Think of it as a business case.

Firm takes you on at £50k per year and then gives you a £50k course. And you will give them precisely what??

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#10 Re: How to get firms to sponsor MBA
18/05/2006 20:44


RE: MBA Sponsorship

Don Leslie offers a fascinating take on this issue and BLT deserves significant respect in the industry for their approach to helping MBA’s into consulting. My scepticism rests with the pre-course stage, and the wider funding problems of providing competitive world-class business skills and education, that can be properly assessed, without a yet tighter squeeze on the taxpayer.

It is interesting how little of what is written in this thread actually answers the original question.

Specifically the MBA offers a bridge to link business with academia. There are other reasons as to why an academic project is enhanced with empirical data from the business world. These challenge critics that label anything academic as ‘ivory tower thinking’. It is worth at least considering project sponsorship as an option. I re-iterate the risks of post-entrance sponsorship; it can be a dangerous gamble without financial alternatives. However bear in mind that the project also offers an opportunity to experience an industry before permanent employment in it.

An MBA is not the status quo of commerce that some parts of the business press would have us think. It was, and probably still is the case, that the majority (of this minority), do not rely on project sponsorship. They either have no sponsorship or course sponsorship. If anyone reading this is considering taking an MBA you should at least try and get sponsored.


Consider it from the point of view of the sponsor, say an imaginary consultancy called ACNe-consulting. There are large numbers of people in their early 20's trying to get sponsorship. Apart from the internal competition there is also the problem of the opportunity cost of sending consultants on courses. If you take an MBA you are, in a sense, challenging existing business knowledge in a firm. You should think:

- Would it be better to do the course when I’m older? (…it counteracts workplace ageism problems…I’ve read about the need to relate it to existing experience…)

- What do I say when my boss says sponsoring me is an unnecessary cost?

- What are they going to want in return?

- How can I articulate all this to potential sponsors?


A good way is to let them invest in the opportunity and share in the returns, either by working for them after the course, or by offering research project work.

It would be wrong to suggest that a business or accounting qualification is the only route into consulting. A better business consulting world would be one that is less homogenised and where teams have a mix of skills. MBA’s can in fact offer various specialist skills, and a good example of this is helping to create long-term and sustainable business growth. Obviously that is not the exclusive territory of MBA’s and entrepreneurs. However it is reasonable to conclude from the markets that the utilisation strategy of these skills has, in places, begun to look a bit shallow in recent days.

Whether the availability of these skills is generally a bit thin on the ground, we have the skills but people are not being allowed to use them properly, or there are other difficulties such as too many restrictive practises, looks like anyone’s guess right now.

Here ends the lesson.

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