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To MBA or not to MBA, that is MY question to YOU. (VANITY)
Vanity ^ | 02-FEB-2010 | MikeUSAF

Posted on 02/07/2010 9:42:15 AM PST by TSgt

I believe FR is comprised of a large body of intelligent and successful people from various walks of life and educational backrounds. That said, I propose the following question for your guidance and would appreciate your feedback.

I'm 33, have Associates and Bachelor's degrees in Computer Science, 15 years of experience in my field, several premium industry certifications and 10 years of military service. I am currently an IT manager for a large pharmaceutical corporation and have a nice commensurate salary. All of my academic endeavors have been successful and I enjoy learning new things though I'm not a 4.0 student usually due to my professional workload. I have a variety of work experience in various industries including, government, transportation, energy and biotech. I have always received impeccable reviews and rapid promotions based on my work performance.

That said, my goal is to leave corporate America by the time I'm 40 and own my own business. I am currently pursuing my MBA at an AACSB accredited college at the behest of my current manager. The problem is, I hate it. I would rather spend time investigating business opportunities than writing papers for a managerial communication class. Most of my classmates are clueless 20 somethings who have never held a manager position or real job.

Should I stick with the MBA or stop now and use the next several years to learn how to be a successful entrepreneur?

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Education; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: business; mba; soulsearching
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Or should I just read this and be done with it?

1 posted on 02/07/2010 9:42:15 AM PST by TSgt
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Yes, get your MBA.

Law degree is even better, if you want to be part of the ruling class.

2 posted on 02/07/2010 9:43:33 AM PST by The KG9 Kid
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Do what you love and enjoy what you are doing. If that leads you down the path of continuing your MBA, great. A MBA used to mean a lot but these days, it is so common it doesn’t have the prestige it used to have. I completed mine in 2001 and found that things like PMP certifications and professional reputation take you a lot further.

3 posted on 02/07/2010 9:47:15 AM PST by mnehring
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May as well finish it will always serve you well either in your own start up, or in competition for corporate jobs. Think about applying for even internal jobs; there are a number of candidates; some with MBA some without.

I too worked in government, transportation, and biotech; difficult to transition [internal or external]- based soley on IT background and experience. MBA = Business + technology background is a good combination [still].

4 posted on 02/07/2010 9:49:03 AM PST by Swanks
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There are MBA programs with concentrations in Entrepreneurship. I’ve seen them offered af different universities (AACSB) around the country. Maybe the curriculum in that concentration would be more useful to you.

5 posted on 02/07/2010 9:49:21 AM PST by dawn53
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An MBA will further enhance your success as a business man, and will affect your ability to attract top notch people. Investors are more confident in a company lead by a hands on, experienced, leader with an MBA, as well.

My hat’s off to you for your achievements. Don’t stop.

6 posted on 02/07/2010 9:50:33 AM PST by papasmurf (sudo apt-get install U-S-Constitution)
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The MBA will teach you bad habits, especially if you want to own your own business.

Instead, take finance and investment courses. They will teach you tax laws, banking, investing, economics, accounting, etc. Those are the tools of business.

An MBA is how to get along within a corporation. I have never seen anyone use anything they learned from an MBA. An MBA is an extremely lightweight introduction to business. All flash, no substance; hence the term Mediocre But Arrogant.

7 posted on 02/07/2010 9:50:37 AM PST by CodeToad (If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable!)
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To: mnehring

Thank you!

I have my PMP. :)

8 posted on 02/07/2010 9:51:24 AM PST by TSgt (I long for Norman Rockwell's America.)
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Abolutely get your MBA. Be very grateful that your boss is not only supportive but is encouraging you.

There is a huge difference in opportunities and credibility (in the corporate world or if you start your business) if you have a Master’s degree vs only a 4 yr one. By the time you might realize this on your own, it will probably much more difficult for you to go back to school.

Now is the time to get your MBA. It’s hard to work and go to school, but it will be worth it.

Change your attitude, realizing that this is an important means to an end.

You sound like a hardworking, energetic person, so you can do it!

Good luck!

9 posted on 02/07/2010 9:53:06 AM PST by SmartInsight (Scott Brown for President 2012)
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To: papasmurf

” Investors are more confident in a company lead by a hands on, experienced, leader with an MBA, as well.”

As a consultant, I’ve worked with a number of very large investment houses and none could care less about an MBA. Many people coming to venture firms usually went out of their to get an MBA thinking it would make them look educated, only to find they would be asked exactly what did the MBA provide. There was never an answer. Your personal education means nothing. They want to see accomplishments and capabilities in your ideas: Cash flow, market share, potential dominance, contracts, not MBA or PhD. Many in the investment business have little or no formal education. Want to impress a venture firm? Show some intelligence and a sound idea completely thought through and not some half baked, lame-brained idea with your MBA stapled to it. Those are a dime a dozen.

10 posted on 02/07/2010 9:56:30 AM PST by CodeToad (If it weren't for physics and law enforcement I'd be unstoppable!)
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Hi Mike. Listen, the best advise depends on a lot of variables. How far are you into the program? If you only have 2 or 3 classes to go, it’s a moot point - do it. I am a 46 year old in financial services. I have a BS in Economics, MBA in Finance. I earned the MBA in 1992 when I was 29 years old. That being said, an MBA is really more of ticket to be considered for higher managerial positions. What you stated is that you want to quit your job and work for yourself. In that regard, the only real use of the MBA would be for marketing your services (people like to see initials after a name like J.D., MBA, CPA, etc when hiring your company to do whatever it is you will do).

In grad school it was told to me (mind you I had a managerial job while I was going to grad school) that I wouldn’t use anything learned from the MBA until 10 years down the road. Now that may have been only in my industry (finance) but I think it’s pretty applicable across the board.

So, continue if you only have a little time left, or as a security net in case you need to re-enter the work world, or if you think it will enhance the marketing of your endeavors after you quit and start your own company. Otherwise, save your money and time!

11 posted on 02/07/2010 10:02:25 AM PST by raymcc ((How did our country become a bastion of uneducated, ignorant individuals??))
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Slodge through the MBA; because if you don’t, you will invariably look back with regret and second guess your decision whenever one of your business ventures invariably throws you a curve-ball.


12 posted on 02/07/2010 10:02:57 AM PST by DoctorBulldog
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To: CodeToad

100% correct. I have an MBA and it is just another bit of evidence for the current crop of kid managers to allege that you are over qualified so that they can discriminate on your age.

If you are approaching 40, then you are going to be about 10 years older than most of the current corporate employees and you pose a distinct threat to them. Once you leave corporate, you had better have your own gig going, because that MBA and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry institution in this country has been pumping out MBA programs the last 10 years. It used to be valuable, any more, there are tens of thousands of peachy faced grads coming out with MBA’s that they can hire for 1/3 of what you would need. Calculate that into your objective function.

13 posted on 02/07/2010 10:03:23 AM PST by Concho
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I work for a Graduate School and am the dean’s assistant on all academic matters. If you were a friend/student asking what I thought, this is what I would say.

One - Sit down with your supervisor and find out what exactly the benefits are to the company and you long term. Your supervisor may think you would be a great employee to pull/push up the ladder but you need the 3 magic letters on your resume. It may have to do with selling your company to prospective clients. Self-motivation is a huge part of Graduate School and it looks like you need a bigger picture.
No one should EVER go to Graduate School for the sake of going to Graduate School.

Two - Talk to the school you are attending and look at any other AACSB programs around to see if there are professional/executive cohorts. These groups tend to be older, have business experience, and may be a better fit. Graduate School is as much about your classmates as it is the materials.

Three - As goofy as it sounds, take your emotions out of it as much as possible. You seem frustrated with the kids’ ignorance. I was in this boat in a couple of classes when I finished up my master’s. At the end of my degree I ended up saving papers as things like “Two to go” “This is It” “One semester after this one.” It reminded be that if I focused I’d be done and I wouldn’t have to put up with the silliness much longer. That eased my frustration.

Good Luck with your decision.

14 posted on 02/07/2010 10:05:43 AM PST by PrincessB ("if government X-rays are anything like the photos the DMV takes for your license, count me out" A.)
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To: raymcc

Thanks Ray for your reply and advice!

I’m only on class #3 of many towards my MBA. My wife has her PharmD and we are both financially conservative DINKS so we aren’t hurting for money (thankfully in this economy).

We come from humble backgrounds and are far from lazy but don’t want to waste time and money if we could invest it elsewhere.

15 posted on 02/07/2010 10:06:21 AM PST by TSgt (I long for Norman Rockwell's America.)
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Do a cost analysis. How much longer do you intend to work and how much will you make in that time? Divide that by how much will the MBA cost, not just tuition but incidental and peripheral/ misc costs/ opportunity costs. Sit down with a calculator, I’ve been thinking about the same thing. I’m 46 and thought about an MBA but I’m still not sure.

16 posted on 02/07/2010 10:06:37 AM PST by rbosque (11 year Freeper! Combat Economist.)
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... I’m an old guy (76), been tracking Free Republic since 1996, mechanical engineer from Rice, Harvard MBA, first 10 years in industry, then mgmt consultant as hk ball and associates from 1968 until now ...

... I’d finish your MBA because you will learn things there that you can’t learn any other way, but ...

... the most important thing I learned had to do with how phoney those professors were ... it took me ten years to fully realize it, but much of what they taught are the very things we are fighting here on Free Republic today ...

... in short, get an MBA, know thine enemy ...

... of course, you’ll learn alot of good stuff too, but your Freep buddies will provide you with the filters you need with which to discern the right from the wrong ...

hk ball

17 posted on 02/07/2010 10:07:34 AM PST by HK Ball
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Absolutely complete youe MBA.

Talk to the MBA Advisor at your school, see if there is a way to get into classes with more grownups. They may have an “Execcutive” program that are weekend intesive.

The MBA is valuable if you look to change jobs before you start your own firm. It also makes it easier to rise within your current company. It will also make your bussiness plan look stornger when you look for bankfinancing or investors.

Seek out the grown-ups in class, you will learn as much from them (and they fromyou) as you will from the professor.

Also pay close attention to the HR/subordinate management classes as this will land in your lap when you become an small bizman
Good Luck

18 posted on 02/07/2010 10:11:38 AM PST by lack-of-trust
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If you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, exactly what kind of entrepreneur will that be?

Will you buy businesses and turn them around or are you someone better suited at building them up from scratch?

Or are you a good hands-on manager who is better suited at maintaining stability?

The question about the MBA is really secondary to those questions. Running a business is usually more of a hands-on endeavor, but an MBA degree can be valuable in helping you get to such a position.

As you know, some entrepreneurs first rise to management inside a larger company (an MBA would certainly help there) and others are wild-catters who start or buy something small and grow it either internally or by acquisition.

BTW, I am an MBA (top of my class at a top state school) and, as an investment banker, worked with many entrepreneurial sorts who grew by acquisition. I have also done a goodly amount of venture capital financing and have had the opportunity to study good and bad start-ups as well as mezzanine ventures.

As a final note, your personality type plays a big part in the path you will take. Turnaround specialists are usually not good at (nor interested in) day-to-day management. And start-up guys usually leave their companies once a certain size is reached.

Bottom line: what kind of entrepreneur are you?

19 posted on 02/07/2010 10:20:16 AM PST by SonOfDarkSkies (Luk 12:34 -- For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.)
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An MBA has traditionally been a ticket to upper management. The MBA scene has changed much in the last 10 to 15 years with so many schools offering MBAs. If you were looking for a new corporate opportunity, an MBA in a prestigious school provides many contacts. In your current position, an MBA seems like it would be helpful to move higher in your organization. If you are not aspiring to a higher corporate position in your current or next organization, an MBA may not be particularly beneficial. A number of MBA programs have entrepreneurship tracks but I am not sure about the benefit of these tracks. In my university, entrepreneurship education can be taken outside of a degree program so you do not need to be part of an MBA program.

Part of your decision depends on the cost to finish your program. If you are close to the finish line, the cost is relatively low so you should finish. If you are not close, you should think about your aspirations to higher level management.

20 posted on 02/07/2010 10:23:22 AM PST by businessprofessor
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