The big question.
Why bother doing an MBA? An MBA is a significant investment, and if you also consider the opportunity cost of your time off the job market it might be quite intimidating. Furthermore, with the increasing wealth of online information, you may even question the value-add of an MBA. Yet, is this so simple to conclude?
One argument for doing an MBA may be that an MBA is delivered by great lecturers and professors who stimulate elegant discussions on how the world works, sometimes by simply giving their opinion on recent news. These individuals can provide the trigger that sparks curiosity and sometimes even a heated discussion. This environment is irreplaceable and as an added bonus comes with inspirational guest speakers and people from industry who have achieved success and are willing to share their experiences. However, we will focus on 6, more subjective and less common aspects behind, why bother doing an MBA?
Reputation is among the first factors which comes to mind for, why bother doing an MBA? Everyone has heard of the “Ivy League”, "Russell Group", and “Triple Crown” business schools whose credibility is supported by a plethora of MBA league ranking tables such as Economist and FT. Thus, undoubtedly, choosing the right MBA will definitely bring a certain amount of prestige to your CV and open otherwise locked doors.
As those who have done an MBA will know, one of the most important and valuable benefits is the community you join, the scale of which varies depending on your perception and networking abilities. Remember, by starting an MBA program you are becoming part of a worldwide community of people who decided to pursue this education. They have also sacrificed their salary for a couple of years and recognized their desire to accelerate their career trajectory. There is a powerful element of unification because only another MBA can truly understand the experience. When choosing a program, consider the school you are joining and its' scale, what other societies it houses, its hubs abroad, and career centres, as they all extend the network further, for life.
An MBA is a testament not only to one’s academic abilities, but of one’s ability to bounce back, to achieve their dreams, to pursue their goals, and to collaborate with people from all around the world. Having an “MBA” stamp might boost one's confidence, but mostly it will remind you that no matter what, you can perform and bounce back from challenging situations, and that you have people around you who are in the same situation. It will also demonstrate this to your employers and recruiters, many of whom recognize that an MBA is about change, dealing with uncertainty, adaptability, and ability to build community.
4. A mini-retirement, and a time to reflect
Thus far, you have probably worked your entire life and you will have plenty of time to work even more. Maybe you are an entrepreneur or a successful professional in your area. You might be aiming to bring new knowledge and contacts to your company or you may be curious about exploring another industry. So, what better way than immersing yourself into an environment of professionals driven by the same desires as yourself? An MBA is a great time to step back and reflect on your values, your life, and your career aspirations, because the more these elements are in alignment, the more successful you are going to be. Plus, it’s always better when you have a community of people around you, who support you, give you feedback and have a different pace than your own. It will drive you to take that next step that you may have been postponing.
5. Make the jump to another position, industry or location
This is the legendary triple jump, and yes if properly exploited an MBA is a great opportunity to accomplish this. The entire academic MBA program is built around exposing students to many different subject matters in order to develop a greater business perspective. Many MBA programs also provide career support and coaching which will help you answer deeper questions. However, do not expect miracles to happen. It is the hard work you put into networking, self reflection, and developing the ability to understand businesses that will booster your career prospects. An MBA only widens the horizon. It is the hard work from your side which will lead you to the next level..
6. Acquiring a different perspective
Finally, let’s get back to the enormous amount of information online. Is it the same to interpret information from your own experience, or in a (chat) room with experienced professionals from different backgrounds and geographies? No. Studying an MBA is like being in a war room every day, discussing, arguing, exchanging perspectives and experience, and ultimately learning that there is no ultimate right answer and that everything is a matter of context. What is most valuable in this is the ability to consider that context and different perspectives through having daily discussions with your MBA peers. Peers is the key word as there are no titles here or formal authority as in corporate environments, instead you are all equal. You will find that this will harden your EQ abilities and resilience, though often at the expense of your ego.
Above all, earning an MBA is hard work, not only academically, but also psychologically. So, like everything the answer to the question, why bother doing an MBA?, is very individual. However in my opinion, an MBA provides a life-changing opportunity to the people who have chosen wisely and are willing to put in the effort.
Guest Writer: Radko Diev
Warwick Business School MBA 2019
Radko is a business development and operations executive with more than a decade of experience in leading market expansions across CEE Europe totaling more than £40 million of investments.