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MBA or not MBA? That is the question!

#1 MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
13/04/2005 16:55

Hello All! Having worked at one of the big IT consultancies for the past 6 years, I'm nbow considering doing an MBA at IESE because I feel I don't have any relevant externally recognised business skills or qualifications ('getting things done' doesn't really count) and I want to move away from IT and into the Marketing/Branding arena. What is the general consensus from the forum experts on needing an MBA to help make the change? It's a huge financial commitment especially when I'm being contacted by headhunters every 5 minutes but I don't feel I can make the change without it. Your thoughts are much appreciated

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#2 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 11:04


I have just finished an MBA and was hoping for a change of career direction. I thought the MBA might help, but was disappointed to find out that it doesn't really make a difference (same experience for a friend of mine who also thought she could move away from IT after having done an MBA). Luckily my employer paid for it. I would strongly advise you to investigate the benefits of an MBA up front (e.g. talk to a few people in HR during career events or so and find out if you could, theoretically get that job if you had done an MBA). If you decide to go for it, chose a highly rated one - that is important.

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#3 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 11:22


Thanks for the info. I'm currently stuck in a rut with very little career advice or stewardship. Moving internally can be very difficult. Although as consultants we're recruited to pick things up quickly, if you don't have the skills on your internal CV, senior managers don't want you on their teams. I've always had an interest in strategic marketing and want to inject a bit of right brain activity into my work but am not sure where to go to get it. I thought an MBA would give me the chance to refocus on this area and provide some options. Head-hunters call me up all the time but I don't feel I have anything substantial to offer apart from some common sense and a little structured thinking. Of course, I can spin my experience so it looks excellent but it’s the inner voice I need to satisfy somehow

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#4 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 14:36

Ben Laauwen

Not knowing your age, I do read that you seem to have a lack of self-confidence in your current abilities together with a desire to change your carreer path into marketing related consulting. an MBA is not going to help in solving either of them. It is one of the most overrated qualifications and has been for some years.

Maybe a job change to a smaller company or starting your own, could help you judge for yourself if you can handle an assignment. I have been independent for some 20 years and learn on the job. The internet is my eternal source of information, failing that, I buy a book on the subject. This is officially called Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

If your company does not look at you if it is not in your CV, than you work for the wrong company, probably one of those conservative large groups who cannot be seen to bring in a learner because of the rates they charge.

Take on a few interviews with your calling head hunters and tell them what you can do NOW, what you want to do in the future and how you plan to get there. More certificates will not help you at this stage. More interviews will give you some more confidence as you have to focus on selling yourself. The latter will make you feel better.

Good luck!

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#5 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 15:36


Ben makes a very goo point; if you don't believe you have the ability to make the change, an MBA won't help.... Do a bit of digging on Strategic Marketing, use your network and find out more of what the work involves. Armed with this information, you'll be able to better understand where your skills match those required - essential for interview questions - and you'll also know what skills you need to improve. Good luck!

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#6 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 17:04


Totally support what Ben and RL say, but would add that in marketing and branding you still need to bring both left and right brain qualities to any assignment you get. However you don't need an MBA for these (integrated) disciplines, but you do need to be multi-discplined in your knowledge and approach. As Ben points out, you can learn a lot from surfing the net and also keeping up to speed with the latest ideas by reading marketing/branding books & articles. I don't have an MBA but I do have a brand consultancy specialising in brand management and work with multinational clients. Just knowing your marketing/brand "stuff" and providing actionable solutions works for my clients. I can't see why it won't work for you.

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#7 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
14/04/2005 17:21


Hi CC,

I read your post with a great deal of interest!

I am planning to apply for a full time MBA program.

Since you said your MBA did not help you with a change of career direction, I would like to know if you did your MBA part time or full time? I have read that can make a considerable differance with employers. Which business school did you get your MBA from? What did you think of the courses and lecturers? Thanks for answering my question!


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#8 Reply to Tony
15/04/2005 10:27


Hi Tony, I did a part time MBA at Warwick University. My friend who is also struggling to make a change in her career did a full time MBA at Kingston Uni. So I can't say from my experience that it makes a difference. Some courses were really good, others not so good. It mainly depends on the lecturer. However, even with the courses that I wasn't really impressed with I still managed to learn quite a lot. Often you don't realise what you've learned until after you've finished the module and handed in your assignment.

From a job perspective I thought the value of the MBA was a bit of a disappointment. However, for me personally it was a great experience - I learned a lot and I am sure I will apply some of it in my next job.

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#9 reply to CC
15/04/2005 10:29


Sounds to me like you did your MBA part-time. You don't give enough information for anyone to take anything useful from your post. You didn't say where you did the MBA. Was it a top-ranked school?

Everyone knows that people that do part-time MBAs, in general, are trying to advance their career, while full-time MBAs are for career changers or people that want a bit of time-out to evaluate their options. Bit of a generalisation, but that's the way it is. That's what they are for.

Is it possible that you chose the wrong way or the wrong school to do yours and didn't make the most of the opportunity??? Had you obtained a full-time top-tier MBA you could have done anything afterwards.

Not trying to be rude. Just wondering why it didn't work for you.

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#10 Reply to Londoc
15/04/2005 11:18


Thanks for the info Mr./Ms. know-it-all. Excuse me for not contributing to this question as much as you think I should have.

I happened to be offered to do an MBA by my previous employer, indeed part time, and at that stage was only looking for career advancement and not necessarily a change of career. This was over in Holland, where I am from (this probably explains my ignorance on the subject). I recently moved to the UK and was hoping that my MBA would actually contribute something to my job search. I did the MBA at Warwick Uni which I believe is not a bad one at all. But I am sure you have your own opinion about that.

Btw - I am not trying to be rude...

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#11 Re: Reply to CC
15/04/2005 11:41


Thanks for what info?

Warwick is well-ranked in UK terms, but from what you are saying I guess it does not carry the prestige of some other institutions, or the part-time course is not a good choice for career-changers.

So you have actually managed to help, maybe not me but hopefully someone else.

That was my point. Saying 'I have an MBA' is a waste of everyone's time. Saying 'I have a part-time MBA from Warwick and it has helped me do this and this and this, or not helped in any way at all' is actually useful. It's a real life example.

That's all.

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#12 Re: MBA or not MBA? That is the question!
22/04/2005 16:26


Thanks for all the postings. FYI - I am 30 with 6 years IT consulting experience.

If an MBA is the most overrated business qualification, why is it more popular than ever and considered by all the top strats houses as a 'must have'? Surely 3 case studies per day for 12 months plus lectures and an interactive learning environment would be good for anybody's business knowledge???

I don't doubt you can be extremely successful without having an MBA but if you're stuck in a rut the size of the mariana trench and looking to change career direction and industry (which I am) with no relevant experience, you are much more likely to get your foot in the door if you have an MBA than if you don't. Also, from what I've seen so far, a lot of business opportunities come through personal contacts so doing an MBA with 200+ other students from across the globe is only going to enhance your network.

I did an undergraduate business degree at Uni. Since joining I haven't really used my studies at all. Having said that, I have learned a great deal of valuable and transferable stuff but what I have realised is that once you get higher up the food chain, it's your ability to talk about PBIT, WAC and ROIC etc ... that determines whether you progress up to the next level. They say the training is there but in reality it isn't and they'd much rather have you chargable and feeling unskilled than unchargable and developing skills - it hurts the financials!!!!

IT would be good to hear from a few more people who have done an MBA to find out the positive impact it has had on their careers.

PS - I'd love to start my own business. I'm still waiting for the killer idea. Snail Porridge Ice Cream anyone?

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