In good times and bad
It keeps shining like gold. On the outside, it shines as a medal of accomplishment. However, its glitter sparks the transformation within. It ignites leadership growth, fine-tunes the strategic mindset and polishes business skills.
What is the value of the MBA degree? What makes the MBA experience unique and life-changing? In a dynamic world, how does the degree boost your progression and turn you into a better version of yourself?
Transitioning from a specialist to a generalist
The MBA is the optimal degree for business professionals who want to transition from specialised roles into broader managerial, business leadership positions. For instance, you could work in manufacturing and be in charge of engineering quality control. If you want to move to a more administrative role, a general management degree like an MBA will really provide that overview of how a firm is run and how the different roles come together. This is possible because participants get a grounding in the key business areas and gain an integrated view of business that enables them to be effective general managers across different disciplines.
Gaining a competitive edge
Obtaining an MBA degree will improve your career progression prospects and your credibility at the workplace, and you will enjoy greater confidence in your abilities. In addition, you will gain transferable skills (hard and soft) that are applicable across many industries. Besides, the strategic thinking skills you learn during the MBA experience will help you not only in your business endeavours, but also in your personal life. Also, let’s not forget better time management skills. This list can go on forever…
“The tool kits you come out with help you structure your thinking in a different way than a non-MBA would,” Mangesh Wadegaonkar, who got his MBA from Cornell University (US), told the Washington Post. “You might achieve the same results, but the person with the MBA will do it more efficiently and faster.”
Expanding your business leadership skills
The MBA is above all a degree for leaders. Business schools are looking for applicants who can demonstrate their leadership potential. Aspirants are typically required to have several years of working experience. However, admissions officers often stress that more important than the length of the experience is the applicants’ ability to demonstrate maturity and be able to engage and manage people.
That is why the criticism levelled at business schools that leadership cannot be taught is out of place. Business schools don’t try to turn applicants with no leadership potential into leaders. They seek out those who have already shown such qualities and challenge them to become better versions of themselves. So, how do schools accomplish this? Typically, they teach the theories behind leadership and then provide the environment to put those theories to the test. MBA participants examine the topic from many different angles and learn about the complex responsibilities (legal, ethical, and economic) facing business leaders today.
Fuelling your entrepreneurship
At business school, you can learn how to turn a fledgling business into a strong, enduring company. Some entrepreneurship courses lead participants from idea generation all the way to implementation and commercialisation, while using the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Business schools around the world have different ways of igniting the entrepreneurship spark among MBA participants, but the approach of IMD (Switzerland) is undoubtedly among the most eye-catching. Every year IMD selects start-ups that have the potential of working well with its MBA and EMBA participants. The students work with the start-up executives to build a viable business model and then pitch it to investors in Silicon Valley. The competition is one of the oldest awards for young companies in Switzerland. It offers valuable learning experience for the MBA and EMBA participants, while helping the start-ups take off.
Expanding your network
An old adage states that who you know is as important as what you know. When choosing to pursue an MBA, perhaps one of the most vital aspects that aspirants need to consider is the networking opportunities that they will have access to. The MBA degree is unparalleled in its ability to build strong connections that often last a lifetime. Business professionals have access not only to their fellow students, but also to their professors and the alumni network. Besides, the internationalisation of the MBA degree means that your network is truly global. MBA alumnus Eliran Ben David told the Financial Times:
“Doing an MBA connects you all of a sudden with people from different backgrounds — it helps to build a network that is very diverse. Knowing I have someone in every country in the world almost, to reach out to, is amazing.”
Gaining a global mindset
Internationalisation does not stop with the diversity in the classroom. Some business schools have multiple locations across the world. INSEAD, which brands itself “the business school for the world”, has three campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and more than 80 different nationalities in the classroom.
This diversity is not an end in itself, but serves a very specific purpose. Professionals who have the opportunity to study in different countries and experience the different perspectives of their classmates gain invaluable insights into the complexities of business in an international setting. After graduating, they are comfortable interacting in diverse communities and are able to do business anywhere in the world.
How does the MBA hold up in times of crisis?
With the world still battling the Covid-19 pandemic, MBA aspirants will be forgiven for wondering if the MBA degree is a valuable asset to have in a post-pandemic world. The 2008 financial crisis may provide some clarity: Graduates from the MBA classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012 entered the job market amid a global restructuring, with layoffs everywhere. Most had no difficulty finding work after graduating, even if the search took a little longer than usual, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek poll of 15,050 MBA alumni in 2018.
The global economy shrank 4.3% in 2020 but MBA participants had the unique chance to learn many lessons from the current pandemic and apply them, immediately or later – depending on the format of the programme – in their jobs. At business school, you will have access to some of the most established business minds in the world with whom you can analyse and discuss the consequences of the crisis as it unfolds.
Anke Dassler, who obtained her MBA degree from ESMT Berlin in 2008, months before the start of the global financial crisis, said in a recent interview published in the business school’s blog that current and prospective students should think long term.
“When you do an MBA, you see a lot of cases of when companies struggle. We had lots of masterclasses with C-suite level executives from German companies, who talked about how they failed, and what it felt like. If you have a lot of this, it puts things in perspective.”
The MBA degree has proven its worth both in good and bad times. That’s why it remains the gold standard in business education.