The MBA: A Degree That’s Still Worth Lying About

by John A. Byrne on

Whoever said the MBA has lost its cache as a career-boosting degree apparently never told Rick Potter.

The chief operating officer aviation chief of a Canadian aviation company called ORNGE Air, Potter recently admitted to lying about having an MBA degree to impress potential investors.

The executive lied about the degree in a 2009 prospectus used to entice investors into buying $275 million of bonds so that his company could increase its fleet of new helicopters and airplanes. Potter asserts he agreed to claim an MBA he never earned because his then boss, the company’s chief executive officer, believed “it would look better in the prospectus if it was indicated I had completed this program.”

Some might consider Potter’s indiscretion a fib—rather than a big lie—because he didn’t claim a degree from the likes of a Harvard, Stanford or Wharton. Instead, Potter claimed he had, of all things, an online MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Potter fessed up to his lie in a statement sent to the Star newspaper in Canada. He said he had started taking courses years before at Heriot-Watt but never completed his work for the degree. Potter’s boss, Chris Mazza, has since lost his job.

“I provided inaccurate information yesterday,” Potter told the Star on Feb. 24. “To clarify, I was enrolled at Heriot-Watt (Edinburgh, Scotland) in the MBA program in the late 1990’s. My workload has precluded my ability to finish this program.”

Just goes to prove that a lot of people still see the value in having an MBA–even when it’s an online degree from a university with little prestige.

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