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Distance learning MBA after PhD

#1 Distance learning MBA after PhD
06/06/2009 07:55


Hi there,

my current situation in few words: after a PhD in Chem Eng and a couple of years in industry as a Team Leader (I lead a Development Group in a Blue Chip company in Germany) I see that this track does not suit me (too tecnical, back office work with only few contacts with customers). I would like to leave the technical career (for which a PhD strongly qualifies) to get into the general management (getting into a specialized consulting for the chemical industry would also be an option but I am afraid I am too old -32-; the system in Central Europe is different from the UK and you tend to gradute older). So my point would be now to apply for a Distance Learnng MBA: Warwick or Durham, for instance. Wha abou the choice of the Business School?How could I sell my PhD and experience with a MBA on top? Does this hybrid profile make sense or would an MBA just be a waste of energy,money and time? You know, when you feel on the wrong track you would do everythig you can to change it. How do you think you can sell better and where such a profile (PhD in science and MBA)? My age is also a matter of ceoncern. Even though I have worked hard and always respected my deadlines, I am old and still in a technical position with limited personal responsibility (4 people). I feel I have throuwn away my chances with this PhD. Thanks a lot.

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#2 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
06/06/2009 13:41

anon to Marilu' (#1)

It's a big shift and you should start by considering what you regard as "success".

Will the new path allow you to reach this goal more quickly, or will you just be resetting your "scorecard"? You mention that you feel managing 4 people is limited personal responsibility - if you want to have control over a large number of people then a front-line team leader position is the best place. In consulting and MBA-manager positions, you will manage 0 or maybe 1 person, and you will have no direct control over others.

Some research suggests that people are most "happy" when they are doing what are good at - to be the biggest fish they can in their own pond. Would you prefer to be a good technical team leader, or a mediocre consultant/manager?

It sounds like the general management track may not even be your first choice, as you mention you would have liked to try specialised consulting if it wasn't for your age. There is a big risk that you will be just as disappointed with your management career track, and will have "thrown away" even more time. It often seems that the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence", but even (especially?) general managers and consultants have many worries about whether they are achieving anything significant in their jobs, or making sufficient progress.

Of course, if your goal is to try many things in your life and you are not worried about money, external recognition or promotion, then a distance-learning MBA makes a lot of sense. It will allow you to try a few business subjects without committing to leave your present job immediately. The brand of the school is less important as you have other qualifications and most importantly, work experience on your CV. However, the two schools you mention do offer good programmes. You should also look at the Open University and the Manchester Business School distance learning MBAs as these are perhaps more likely to have people with your background (more mature students with previous management experience and scientific/academic backgrounds).

The main benefit of the MBA may be to demonstrate your commitment to a career change. You are likely to be most attractive as a candidate to scientific and chemical companies who will like to leverage your PhD experience as an "interface" between business and technical groups. If you want to move into something completely unrelated (e.g. advertising), the MBA will also help, though it will obviously be harder to sell yourself as your PhD and prior experience won't count for much.

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#3 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
06/06/2009 14:15

Anon2 to anon (#2)

I agree with Anon here. After two years in the job your leading a develoment team for a new product within a major corporation. It seems you've done a lot with your PhD. Why do you think consulting is going to be better than that? As a consultant for the chemical industry, you will always be working for people in roles like the one you have now.

I agree that an MBA will help you to redefine your role in your present company, but dont think about quitting for consulting just yet...

I think you should be more entrepreneurial in your current role. So your leading a project at the moment, what's going to be the next project? Start proposing your own ideas to senior management (think of some if you dont have any). Start speaking to potential customers as this will back up your proposal. Go to conferences. You're PhD has put you in a position to do all of the above, so take the INITIATIVE.

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#4 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
08/06/2009 13:52

Marilu' to Anon2 (#3)

Thanks Anon and Anon2 for your answers and suggestions. One can be disappointed only of the experciences that he/she personally did. Science jobs tent to be regarded as ivory towers alo in corporations: this is reflected in lower salaries and in the perception you are not generating any money with your work (therefore the salary). This is very frustrating for me at the moment, to be honest. Though I am a scientist, I do ambitions to grow in my (or in another) organisation.

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#5 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
08/06/2009 14:53

anon to Marilu' (#4)

it was explained well in a previous thread that the benefit or ROI from an MBA is better the more risk or more challenge you face in doing it, i.e. part time distance learning MBA is a low risk to yourself so low payback, give up work to do a full time MBA more likely to get a higher payback becuase employers can see you have the determinsation and commitment to give up work and go and do it

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#6 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
08/06/2009 20:30

CP to Marilu' (#4)

How about talking with your company about moving into/getting experience in the areas of the company that appeal to you more; ie where you have more opportunity to grow the company, where you can generate money.

This experience would feed well into your part time MBA.

If it goes well and you enjoy it perhaps your company will be prepared to let you move permanently, if not youll be in a good position to progress from.

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#7 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
09/06/2009 08:36

Marilu' to CP (#6)

This would be in principle an option. The management is happy with me in this position (Team Leader of a Development Group) and I guess that do not want to look for somebody else and restart from scratch. This means than an internal change is very unlikely at the moment. Are these internal development schemes just a joke? Maybe it is easier to move people that do not have such high specialization. What do you suggest to trigger an internal move in this case? You do not have to give the impression that you do not like the position where the management sees you; on the other hand I do not let (possibly) others decide for my future.

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#8 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
09/06/2009 10:14

Blunt to Marilu' (#7)

I share you predicament and at being pigeon-holed into a position that your management feel they need you. But, you don't feel that you need to be doing that, so the path I would recommend is to talk to your manager, involve HR, and consider a structured career path to transition from your current role to your next role that you want to do. Maybe you will need to transition into one maybe two roles before you reach your desired role.

Don't use your age as a negative because someone of your academic calibre far outweighs alot of consultants, believe me, I know. The crux is you need to be more proactive in your career development. If your current employer does not respect your outlook then you need to consider your next move.

Good luck.

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#9 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
09/06/2009 10:22

anon to Blunt (#8)

This sounds exactly like me! With a PhD in Chem Eng and 7 years industrial experience in Pharma, I made the jump to consultancy...

Its very different and interesting but its too early to tell if I have made the right move (been here 8 months)

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#10 RE: Distance learning MBA after PhD
09/06/2009 10:32

Marilu' to anon (#9)

Hi Anon, where do you work then? Can you tell me more about your experience? it would be of great help. Thanks - Marilu'

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