Skip to comments.To MBA or not to MBA, that is MY question to YOU. (VANITY)
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?
Law degree is even better, if you want to be part of the ruling class.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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.
I have my PMP. :)
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!
” 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
... 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 ...
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
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?
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.
My personal opinion is, unless you’re going to a top 20 school (Darden, Duke, etc.), you’re wasting your time. However, if your company is paying for it, you may as well finish up.
Personally as a manager, I’m unimpressed with an MBA if it’s from a school like Strayer, DeVry, etc. I’m also unimpressed when I see a person goes straight from undergrad to graduate school.
Do both - finish the MBA courses and look into business opportunities. If the business opportunities don’t work out, you will be well served by having an MBA on your resume - employers love that sort of stuff although in a lot of cases it’s worthless in the real world and only valuable if one has inherent abilities beyond the class room environment.
In my 35 year career with my old employer, I only had one MBA manager who was smart and I respected. All the others I worked for were nothing but self serving idiots who rose thru the ranks via the "buddy system".......
A very smart guy once advised me that, in choosing your path, choose what you love.
If you are doing what you love, you will pour your enthusiasm into it (and anyone who pours his heart and soul into something is going to be much smarter, luckier, and happier in doing it than those who are only moderately interested).
Think of this as if you ALREADY HAD an MBA. Do a cost/benefit analysis.
This is what we did with our son when he entered Wharton.
Calculate what it will cost you do to this. Calculate what you will be expecting to increase in earnings over a 5 year period AFTER you graduate (you can get data from a variety of sources including the schools themselves and other MBA candidates). Decide whether there is somebody out there who will pay for you to get your MBA in exchange for some well-paid indentured servitude.
Then, you come up with the best option. Part of that option is your own personality and your goals. YOU are the biggest factor in this. Do you have an idea of what you want to DO with an MBA? Do you have a plan already? Are you doing this just as a resume enhancement or because ‘it’s the next thing to do’?
And an MBA from a place with a specific reputation makes a big, big, big difference in what kind of job you get offered. If you are starting your second year in an MBA program and you aren’t already getting offers, something is wrong.
In our own case, our son had an offer to pay for a Harvard MBA with a 3 yr contract at $125K. Despite the $150K price, he decided to go to Wharton and become a free agent. He not only matched his salary at a bigger company (not Wall Street, which is a $$$$$ only decision), stock options and a future of advancement in something interesting. And within 5 years he will have paid back his entire MBA costs and still be at those high end salary ranges.
It’s equal parts calculation and ambition/planning. Decide WHAT you want this for and that will rule out the bad options right away.
Hope this helps. This is a very exciting point in life. But be prepared for a whole lot of math....
You need to find yourself an “Executive MBA” program. These require years of job experience to get into, and have a much higher maturity level.
I own and run my business without having an MBA. Both my father and stepmother did the same for 30+ years each. They had 2 or 4 years of votech training. ANd, sure, they made good money; they did not live marginally.
I’ve always questioned the need for an MBA and what it teaches or what you get out of it.
I’ve also worked corporate for 14 years. I was considering the MBA after receiving my MSEE. So, I talked to colleagues who actually went through it, and they typically responded that they really didn’t find it was worth the money and effort. It was more of a ticket in certain corporate situations.
Regarding my own business, I haven’t found yet that any bank/investor or company I contracted with ever asked if I had an MBA or even cared about my educational background nor did they even check. What I see they care about is how much money you’re going to make for them and previous successes.’What have you done?’ is what gets you the business. As a starting point, they were interested in the fact that I had long experience in factory management and productivity improvements, both in technical fields and personnel management.
And, since we’re talking anonymously, I’ll tell you that payoffs are part of the negotiations. There will be plenty of folks on here unapproving of payoffs in business, but they do occur and you may encounter it. When I first encountered this, I asked my parents about it and to my surprise they told me that they encountered this also.
Working in corporate, I never saw this. But, I now see it occurs maybe not internally, but definitely externally between companies and really between individuals. Example,
‘you want that contract approved internally in 30 days instead of 120 days? $10k will do it.’
HK - it took you 10 years to figure out many of the profs were phoneys especially at Harvard? I would go back to Harvard and demand my money back (just kidding - sarcasm).
I have one from a state school. A lot of my finance professors had been engineers so they generally were not full of ***t.
To other posters - take a look at this educated man’s post. Please note he never uses the term “that being said.”
Somebody please tell me where the h*ll did that come from? I usually hear financial guys on the radio and other people posting on golfer web sites using the “that being said.”
It is the stupidest phrase. Another management or corporate buzz phrase is “circle back.” Thank God I do not have to hear c*ap like this each day except on a few phone calls.
If you want to climb a corporate ladder, get an MBA. Pointy haired bosses are impressed with shiny pieces of paper with lots of extra letters after your name.
If you want to really learn how business is done, take that money and buy a small kiosk in a shopping mall and run it for 2 years. You’ll learn more in that 2 years of small business ownership than you would in 20 years of MBA courses.
This is harsh, but unless you are going to a top 20 school (USNews), there is little economic reason to get a MBA. If your employer pays for a non-top 20 MBA, go ahead and take it if you want to stay at that company for an additional 10 years or until retirement.
I have a BSME, several patents at big name IT companies, and a MBA from the #7 school at the time. When I interviewed to go to Wall Street as a high-tech analyst, the following question was asked more than once:
“If you are so smart, why didn’t you go to HBS? (Harvard Business School)” It was a serious question.
I ended up getting a great job for 5 years that really propelled my career, but I sure do remember the sting of that question.
BTW, the reason that a HBS, Wharton or Stanford MBA is so valued is not the course material, but rather the tight screen on the admission side. It is evidence that you have made some very difficult cuts and are less likely to fail in your job-to-be. And, before I get flamed, there are many HBS graduates that have served prison sentences. Milken was a Wharton grad, BTW.
Yeah, get your MBA. I picked mine up 30 years ago when corporate America really didn’t know what an MBA was. I never really used it in an organization, but it did help me as an entrepreneur, and it other areas that I would never have expected. I was remarkably clever, and managed to graduate from both of my degree programs directly into recessions. Genius!
Well, since it appeared I was going to poor no matter what my educational qualifications, I decided to drive airliners around. I was absolutely amazed at the number of cockpit jobs (yes, it was the start of deregulation), that were thrown at me. It wasn’t because of my aeronautical credentials, which were minimal. It was that MBA that got me into the cockpits, and it kept happening through my whole career. Go figure!
One of the great benefits to that MBA degree is that I ordered my fiscal affairs far differently than the rest of my aeronautical brethren (generally a profligate lot). Even after I retired, I was left in a financially comfortable condition. This is the exception for most airline pilots these days. As you are obviously aware, corporate America is no longer what it once was. When I graduated, MBA’s wouldn’t touch being on their own with a ten foot pole. No more. Entrepreneurialism is the wave of the immediate future. No more broken promises from an corporate organization that you really can’t control anyway.
I’ve always been an entrepreneur on the side, and I’m full time now. My children are being raised in that tribe as well, but that is another story. :-)
Finish your MBA. You will learn a lot about finance and marketing that will help you later on when you own your own business.
Failing that, I'll sell you mine. I'm 60 years-old and won't need it much anymore.
Finance: cash flow, the life-blood of business
Marketing: how to create and manage brands and demand
Cost accounting: What is your break-even volume?
Financial accounting: matching revenues and expenses
Business Law: UCC and contract law basics
Quantitative analysis for business, including statistics
I was continually amazed, as I completed the equivalent of an MBA in finance and a master of accounting degree all at night school, at how much of my course work I was able to apply directly to my day job in corporate financial analysis at a Fortune 50 company.
Most of the students were younger than I was and I ran circles around them and got the most out of the professor (who had a day job) by reading ahead and doing all assignment in advance of class. I got out of it what I put into it, which was a lot!
I survived 120,000 layoffs over 10 years at one company due, in part, to having both my CPA and masters degree and being able to draw on a wide range of skills to adapt to what was needed at the time.
Totally agree with you comments. Ever clown college out there has an MBA program and every 27 year old graduate will work far cheaper than a 40 year old.
I always say, “College is what you did when you were 20, so what have you done since?”
If I were to put out a req for a project manager right now I would probably get back not less than 1,000 resumes, of which 250 will have an MBA or other worthless Master’s degree and 750 will have a PMP, also known as a 12 week wonder course.
Have you tried this?
In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will.
Non-Sequitur MBA, PMP, PMI-RMP
“As a PMP I can tell you that you have underestimated the difficulty of obtaining this accreditation.”
I have it, too, so I know, and it was pathetically easy to earn. The PMI is about making money and it shows. It seems many who have a PMP consider it a major accomplishment...which tells a lot about those who covet it. It is a wimpy certification for underachievers. I was a director over a $5 million/year PMO consulting office and found it to be a complete joke. You cant even put 10 PMPs in a room and get the same answer twice, and just because a person has a PMP does not mean they actually understand project management much less the engineering principles of which they are managing. I found the average PMP to be a non-engineer that wanted to be a manager, hence the 12-week wonder comment. Try getting an engineering degree and being a professional engineer of at least 10 years experience before becoming a project manager and that PMP will look like a useless joke designed for non-engineers that want to be project managers right out of college. Of course, to executive managers the PMI has sold them on the idea that the PMP is a great certification of major proportions. Hell, I sold execs on it as a consultant; made a ton of money with it, too. There is nothing more dangerous to an organization than an otherwise unqualified and inexperienced individual with a PMP that now feels empowered to enforce their bad decisions.
“Non-Sequitur MBA, PMP, PMI-RMP
Well that explains your extreme ignorance and arrogance not to mention your far left-wing tendencies.
And your reply says a lot about you as well.
A credential doesn’t make a good project manager however at the very least it identifies that you have a fundamental understanding of a specific body of knowledge. That said, I’ve hired 3 project managers over the past year and only one of them had their PMP.
The PMI has done a great job marketing the accreditation however one still has to put forth the effort to obtain it and must back it up with experience that is auditable.