An MBA Trashes The Degree’s Value

by John A. Byrne on

3d-book-homeMariana Zanetti had been working as a product manager for Shell in Buenos Aires when her husband got a promotion to a new job in Madrid. One of her colleagues, a Harvard Business School graduate, suggested that the Argentine native go to business school for her MBA while in Spain.

She took his advice, enrolling in the one-year MBA program at Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School In Madrid. Zanetti borrowed money from her family to pay for the degree. And when she graduated in 2003, it took her a full year before landing a job as a product manager for a Spanish version of Home Depot at exactly the same salary she was earning three years earlier without the MBA.

For years, Zanetti says, she wanted to write the just published book but didn’t for fear that it would hurt her professional career which included stints as a product manager for Saint-Gobain and ResMed, a medical supplier. Now that she has left the corporate world, Zanetti says, she can tell the truth about the MBA degree.


Her take, in a self-published book called The MBA Bubble: It’s just not worth the investment. “There is an education bubble around these kind of degrees,” she says. “I don’t think they have much impact on people’s careers. There are exceptions of course in management consulting and investment banking where the MBA is always valued. But for the rest, it’s a nice-to-have degree. It’s not that it harmful to you, but every market expert I interviewed for the book says that what is needed today is specialized knowledge and skills and an MBA is generalist training.”

Zanetti, now 40 and living in France, says it’s not like the degree had no value. “I met wonderful people. I met brilliant professors. I learned some interesting business concepts that gave me a global vision about business. It just wasn’t worth the cost in time and money. I could have had both those things by staying in the marketplace. I had the same salary as everybody else doing the same job, working the same endless hours. MBAs get high salaries but the degree has nothing to do with it. I was hired because of my previous work experience at Shell.”

She is even advising people to apply to a top school, get an acceptance and then decline to go. Put the fact on your resume and Zanetti thinks it will have nearly the same value as going to an MBA program for two years. “It’s like being an Academy Award nominee instead of an Academy Award winner,” she writes. “But the difference between the two is mortgaging our future and accepting the risk of getting stuck with a monumental student loan.” When an employer asks why you didn’t go to Kellogg or Yale for your MBA, she advises, just tell them, “I preferred to use that time and money to develop strategic skills to benefit my employers’ competitive advantage…”


Of course, Zanetti’s complaint about the MBA is hardly new. It falls neatly into the growing genre of anti-higher education tirades that decry the rising costs of education and the lack of any guarantees. But what makes her MBA bashing somewhat different is that she has the degree from a prominent European business school and has decided to write a 232-page book trying to convince others to pass on the MBA, which has been the most successful degree in education in the last 60 to 70 years.

She believes that other business graduates would fess up to the same conclusion, if not for the fact that their views would endanger their careers. “There are few people criticizing MBA programs because it makes no sense to say anything bad against their brands,” Zanetti says. “I will not make a lot of friends with this book, but I won’t make enemies, either. People need to have this opinion.”

Her initial mistake, she says, was to blindly follow the advice of her Harvard MBA colleague instead of just getting a job when she moved to Europe with her husband. “I didn’t ask myself the right questions. Everyone was getting an MBA. Unfortunately, many people take the same position.”


Asked if she thinks her opinion would apply to MBAs from Harvard, Stanford and other elite business schools, Zanetti has no doubt. “The same would apply to Harvard or whatever school because Harvard is three times more expensive,” she insists. “The benefits would have cost much more. The arguments I make are against all business schools. The improvement is marginal. It breaks a tie if you’re competing with someone who doesn’t have the degree, but people who have scarce skills an employer needs will get the job over you.”

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  • IsItJustMe?

    Can any recruiters speak to her get accepted, decline, put it on your resume theory? Sounds foolish to me.

  • Joe

    “Her initial mistake, she says, was to blindly follow the advice of her Harvard MBA colleague instead of just getting a job when she moved to Europe with her husband. “I didn’t ask myself the right questions.” ”

    No, her initial mistake was blindly assuming that her personal mistake applies to the general population…and looking for a job in Spain…

  • K!-Mink

    @ John!
    The underlying reasons behind her bitterness will surely apply to any degree when one did not do the initial fit self-screening. I suspect she was misled by the fancy rankings (FT after all ranked IE in top10 for long, and article on HEC Montreal’s website celebrates their top ranking by Economist). I remember last year April IE came to make a presentation in Cameroon, I could tell by listening to their local new recruit in the room that the school wasn’t for the best. Same goes for my pre-MBA summer in Montreal where my friends pressed me hard to study at HEC, or McGill which in their thinking, were top100 schools. Having spent the summer exploring, I found that the Canadian job market is in niches, you have to be really good at networking to get a good job, not to mention a top one. Here comes my take on journalists as a whole: Is there a way to correlate your rankings with some kind of fit analysis? I mean, if you rank HEC Montreal for example ahead of say Columbia, and you know Montreal is a town for immigrants, is there a way to tell them hey, watch out, your degree won’t have internship opportunities, you may find a job but things aren’t quite easy? I see schools like EM-Lyon (France) or SDA Bocconi on top rankings and to me it looks like the ADS I watch on CNN (Invest in country X, the best in XYZ). In the real context though, less than 5 schools in Europe will truly answer to the job question. Some people only rely solely on Internet for their research, how can journalist profession come as a help and not a tool for schools to create confusion?

  • Dan

    Yea, this sounds like a woman who didn’t get what she wanted out of her degree, due to a lack of appropriate research, who now wants to apply a one size fits all logic to the whole degree. I stopped believing her when when she said an HBS degree costs 3x as much. Honestly speaking, there is a group of lower ranked schools for which this story rings true, however I don’t think you can compare her experience to what one gets when they choose to invest in a degree from a top 5-10 school. More likely than not, the same personality/intellectual traits that spawned this story are to blame for her lack of success.

  • Betsy Massar

    This is one woman’s opinion, and I’m not sure it’s that well-argued without reading a chapter or two of the book. So I am only commenting here based on the article and the comments below.

    I think there’s a danger in assuming that her experience (focus group of 1) is true for the hundreds of thousands of students who have embarked on and succeeded at MBA programs. I think her title, her subtitle, and her thesis are designed to get attention and sell books — and nothing wrong with that, but she is self-proclaimed and self published — so it’s just one voice out there, one voice assuming that most MBA students don’t make informed choices. I find that to be a stretch.

  • Socrates

    She tried to get a job in Spain: a country with 50% unemployment. Is anybody surprised she had a hard time?

  • TA

    I think this woman isn’t making any sense. You can’t over glorify MBA degrees yes she is right about that. However to say it adds “NO” value is a bit of a stretch. I’d like to know what her background was . What did she study in college, where did she go to college, what was her specific role at Shell, how much money and business was she handling on a day to day basis. There is a reason adcoms look at this stuff before admitting someone.
    See Top MBA’s are magnets for people who are a certain type. I believe its the people who don’t wanna be the extreme networker or the extreme nerdy physicist. Its for people who have a work hard play hard dynamic.
    I’m getting my MBA at a top 20 school (#1 in Texas- which gives it immense value in Texas because of the healthy economy here). I have an engineering degree from the same university and I have a job offer lined up with a top tier oilfield services companies consulting unit. I’m happy. I couldn’t ask for more. Maybe in another lifetime a princeton economics, harvard MBA , goldman sachs associate role would have interested me. Now it doesn’t. Value of life and even your income is based on several factors. Cost of living, quality of spouse, work mates , friends and most importantly your own individual journey.

  • Linda Abraham

    I haven’t read the book and am responding just based on the article, but anyone who applies to a professional graduate program solely because someone — even an HBS MBA — says it’s a good idea is making a mistake. That is not a good reason to spend thousands of dollars and one or two years of your life.

    Every MBA applicant should know what they want to do with the degree and have done the homework to feel that pursuing that goal is an investment that will pay off. If they don’t do this basic thinking and research, an MBA is likely to be a big and expensive mistake.

    Apparently it was for Zanetti. But as Betsy says, a focus group of 1 isn’t terribly compelling when compared to either the ROI results in the recent Forbes’ ranking or GMAC satisfaction surveys, which tell a very different story.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Linda, thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree with you, I applied to my MBA for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately most people in their twenties make their decision in the same way. My book is meant to solve that problem. The Business School sales message is everywhere, I think most MBA applicants should also take the time to consider the arguments of business school’s detractors to make a more
    informed decision about their higher education. When I enrolled the MBA program
    in 2001 I had not that possibility. As for the different story some statistics
    show, I have reasons to believe that not all that glitters is gold.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Betsy, thanks for your comment. I have had the exact level of success my business school “promised” to me. A few years after I graduated, I had the same salary level showed in the rankings statistics. But there is a lot of convincing evidence pointing to the fact that the MBA has nothing to do with it. I believe that that evidence is consistent and my experience only confirms this. I have no doubts that there are a lot of successful MBA graduates… but I have no doubts either that they
    would have been as successful regardless, no need of taking the debt. Just for information, I did not try to get a publisher in English, as it is not my main market, but the book is going to be publish in French in 2014 by Editions Maxima.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Socrates, I graduated 10 years ago, when the unemployement rate in Spain was lower than today’s unemployement rate in the US.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I have had the exact level of success I expected in my carrer when I pursued my MBA degree in terms of salary, position and international experience. I do not blame my school for my lack of success as I consider that I have been succesful. I state in my book that my MBA degree had nothing to do with my career outputs. It was difficult to find a job after graduation, but the MBA is not to blame. A few years later I had a high paying job in a big company, where I held a management position. The Business School is not to take credit for it either. Business Schools and their defenders have accustomed society to give them the credit when their graduates are successful and deny any responsibility if they are not. The truth is that they have an
    insignificant impact in their results, and they know it.

  • Dan

    Its all well and good for you to comment on your own experience getting an MBA from Instituto de Empresa (IE) , but to correlate that with an MBA from a top 5 school isn’t exactly an apples to apples comparison. For many people business school offers a chance to

    a)switch careers:
    -made easier through on campus recruiting, and courses in the subject they are interested in.

    b) widen their professional network:
    -you mention this can be done anywhere, but compared to the general population, at top 5 business school has a higher concentration of people who are (or will be) successful in their given industries, and who are also looking to widen their network. Furthermore the alumni network which is offered by many institutions can turn cold introductions into warm ones (which can make the difference between a job offer/business deal going through).

    I understand you did not find your MBA degree useful, but to painting the entire degree with a single brush lacks the nuances that are the hallmark of a valid argument.

    TLDR: Don’t assume your experience mirrors everyone else’s . There are many MBAs who credit their degree with a portion of their success. Just like they can’t say all MBAs are a good idea, you can’t say all MBAs are a bad idea.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    The statements in my book are not related to the brand of my business school. I believe that the quality of the programs in my school is comparable to the best business schools in the world, and I guess that’s why my Harvard colleague gave the advice to apply to that particular school. I do not think that I would have formed a different opinion about MBA programs if I attended a different business school, even Ivy Leagues. As for the rakings, they are the most effective marketing tool for the business school industry, but are often misunderstood by young people.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I do not assume that the general population will make my mistake (and I really hope they don’t!) I assume that I might not be the only one, because many people in their twenties do not have the elements to make that decision right, as I didn’t have them. I wrote my book for them. Anyone whose MBA enthusiasm survives my book should definetely enrol an MBA program… it has benefits that might be worth for some… while I think it is not worth for most.

  • Joe

    Mariana, welcome to the lion’s den of MBA’s and thank you for your contribution to this topic.

    I applaud you coming on this site and defending your point. I hope any
    ‘internet critique’ that you receive on this site or others is
    respectful and insightful. (Even though mine was tongue and cheek)

    You wrote above:

    ” A few years after I graduated, I had the same salary level showed in
    the rankings statistics. But there is a lot of convincing evidence
    pointing to the fact that the MBA has nothing to do with it. I believe
    that that evidence is consistent and my experience only confirms this.”

    Are you saying that people who driven towards top MBA programs are going to be successful no matter what? Because if so, I agree with you, but I would argue that the MBA can get you there faster, with more job security, and with more options.

    That is really the ultimate question; What came first? The successful applicant or the MBA program that made that person successful. My answer would be both.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    MBA programs have benefits, but in my opinion they are not worth the cost, so my statement is that there is NO DIFFERENTIAL value in pursuing an MBA degree. I graduated as an industrial engineer with the highest grades of my class. When I applied to the MBA, I held a position as a retail category manager for convenience stores at Shell. This criterion was key to get the admission letter at my business school, but this is also correlated with career success. I had already made my marks in the corporate world, and I am convinced that that was the most important factor for the success
    I got after graduation. I believe that my MBA had little impact. It helped me
    to get a job in a different country, but I would have had that benefit with the
    help of a career consultant for a fraction of the cost. I completely agree with
    you that life choices should be weighted in the decision of pursuing an MBA
    degree, and many people in their twenties do not have enough perspective to consider this deeply.

  • Dan

    The fact that you speak with such certainty (about something which will by its nature varies from individual to individual) really undermines your argument.

  • UpsetwithMBA

    I am a student at INSEAD, and it took me 2 months to realized what she realized, yes 2 months NOT 10 years. I strongly believe that an MBA is a commodity and in recent years (the last 5 years), the number of mba students exploded which will definitely affect the value of the degree.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I agree with you in a sense. I do believe that a top-tier American business school graduate is more likely to have much better career outputs than graduates from other schools. But in order to get in, an MBA applicant has to go through a highly competitive and demanding admission process. What is the real value that
    school is providing at that steep price but a quality stamp? As for the possibility of switching careers, that is a false promise of business schools… all of them. How do I know? The careers’ director of my school told me so; and Philip Delves Broughton says the same thing in his book about Harvard; and Christian Schraga says the same about Wharton in his blog. To change careers,
    you have to fight.
    The typical top MBA applicant has been usually surrounded of high-potential, driven professionals in his previous professional experience, and might be surrounded by the same kind of professionals all along his career, which was my case, so I don’t believe that the MBA network is exclusive.
    I do not affirm that I did not find my degree useful, but that MBA degrees are not worth the cost. There are exceptions to this claim, not only for management consulting or investment banking, and I talk about them in my book.
    I do not assume my experience mirrows everyone, but I am pretty sure that it will be helpful for some, not to make the same mistake I did.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Joe, thanks for your reply. I love tongue and cheek comments as they are sincere and give me the chance to explain my point 😉 I mean that MBA degrees have no influence in people’s careers. There are a lot of unsuccessful MBA graduates, even from Ivy Leagues, but you hardly hear from them. Josh Kaufman says in his book something like “if you are successful, they will hold you as a shiny example of the quality of their programs. If you go broke, you will get neither publicity nor help. Sorry for your luck.” I doubt that Josh Kaufman met many graduates from my particular school, but that was exactly my experience and the experience of many people I met from top business schools around the world. I do not believe that an MBA can get you there faster if it ballasts your personal finances for years with a negative ROI. It can open a first door for you, as it opened a door for me when I went to Spain.
    But there are much more cost-effective ways to do that. My answer to your question is that people going to business school had what it takes before taking the plunge, as some studies already prove it.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I took me 2 months also, but 10 years to speak up. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Dan

    1.You say you don’t think your experience mirrors every else’s but in the same breath you make very broad statements about the efficacy of the degree in general . With so few data points to work from, i don’t see how you can approach your conclusion with such certainty.

    2. Yes, career switching is hard, and you do have to fight, but the fact is an MBA makes that fight easier. Just because something is still hard does not mean its not comparatively better than the alternative. By allowing students to have pre/mid MBA internships and offering relevant coursework/extracurriculars, the business school environment makes career switching easier than it would otherwise be (again, not easy but EASIER).

    3. I agree that people should go into an MBA program with their eyes open and do all the relevant research, but I think your broad condemnation of the degree is far from accurate. Without actual ROI data, or any representative data (ie. more than 1-4 data points) you can’t convincingly make any of your claims with the level of certainty you seem to be displaying.

  • K!-Mink

    Mariana, you are making too big assumptions, perhaps they are true, but can you offer some data that can independently confirm your hypothesis? You are telling the young generation in Europe that the MBA story did not work for you which is true, presumably you represent the entire MBA experience at all the major schools, you sat in a class where career counselors would almost insult you and you assume that a top5 MBA isn’t different. Would your unique experience be inferable to all IE MBAs, to all 6-month, 1Y and 2Y MBAs? As a matter of fact and for my personal experience, I am in my 3rd month at Kellogg, I have seen over 200 companies come on campus, I have attended 15 company events on invitation, had coffee chat with representatives from more than 5 companies one on one basis, been introduced to others in many other offices and that’ not all, beyond that I am not recruiting for Banking where the boom is even more intense, nor am I from HSW where things presumably are more favorable.
    You have to do a better job to convince the average reader that MBA is just junk as you claim, that your success represents the average elite MBA success, you have to offer some verifiable data that leads to your conclusion and that should come from beyond you or the other person on this site that claims he has realized that from Insead.
    Sure an MBA isn’t for Zuckerberg, for most investment bankers it isn’t for salary purposes. A friend of mine at Essec Paris studied with a family member of Thierry Peugeot, that guy did not go there to look for a job he wanted to join the family (Peugeot) business. Which group are you representing and what data do you offer in support of your claims?
    Did you write genuinely to raise debate about facts or did you write to make more money over the heads of tax-embroiled European citizens? not to provoke here, just to ask for more sustaining facts.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Everything I state in my book is supported by studies and testimonies. I apologize if it seems that I present my statements with certainty, I don’t mean to be certain and that is why I am participating in this debate. However, I do make my affirmations with conviction.

  • Dan

    Unless your studies span the full spectrum of MBA degrees (including those from top 10 schools), they will not be able to support your assertions. Its fine to speak with conviction, but you should also strive to be as accurate as possible in the way you phrase things. To state unequivocally that MBA degrees have “no value” without support makes the rest of your argument hard to digest (aka present your proof before your conclusion).

    Good Luck with your book, I sincerely hope its as well researched and supported as you claim.

  • K!-Mink

    Great, does your experience speak to the entire Insead class experience though?
    Did you evaluate your fit with Insead or did you like may other applicants follow the trend with hiring a consultant to polish your fit just to realize this wasn’t for you and conclude it isn’t for the entire population? After all education at all isn’t useful, let’s all be entrepreneurs, companies will manage themselves, no need for educated managers, an MBA can’t create a Facebook, there is no value in it. I’ve been through moments when the intensity of classes is that which can deter the less persuaded mates, some classes become truly quant heavy, MBA goes beyond engineering by asking you to force your thinking in the fundamentals that you always assumed to be true, were you ready for that type of experience or did you just read about partying and recruiting? Did you follow the guts that said MBAs don’t get any education they just drink and get to realize on campus that things aren’t really that good. Insead is far from Paris, can’t party every night, classes are intense, competition is hard everyone wants to get into consulting…

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi K!-Mink. There are a lot of studies showing that MBA graduates earn higher salaries than non-MBA or that they are more succesful. I do not doubt they do, that was my case too. I do not believe that my success represents the average MBA success at all. In fact, I believe that average top-tier American MBA graduates are likely to have a higher level of success, but it is not the school that gave them that; instead, that’s why they were admitted to those schools in the first place, because they had what it takes to get there.
    If you lead a study among Ferrari owners, you will surely prove that there is also correlation between higher incomes and the Ferrari, but the Ferrari is not the cause of their wealth. If you prove that among succesful people there is no correlation between the MBA and their success, the causality is excluded. There are several studies that prove so, as one of the Academy of management and learning education led in 2002.
    I am glad to know that you are getting such an amazing value from your MBA experience at Kellogg. If you are happy, my point is not to convince you that you should not be. My point is only to avoid other people to make the same mistake I did.
    I don’t think I will make millions with my book, but it flatters me that you think I will. I really wrote this to help people to make a more informed decision and avoid a costly mistake I made.
    As for the things you tell, that is not going to be your case and I am happy for you.

  • sali

    the MBA is an american product and much much more valuable in the US business culture than in europe. european mbas including insead are clearly waste of time and money.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    There is a study of the Academy of Management Learning and Education that proves that there is no correlation between success (or failure) and MBAs, which excludes the MBA as the cause of any career’s output. It includes top tier American business schools. This study was led in 2002 and Josh Kaufman already mentioned it in his book Personal MBA.
    Thank you for your good wishes about my book, and I do believe it is well researched.

  • UpsetwithMBA

    No, it does not speak to the entire class, but I assure you there is a significant number of classmates feel the same frustration and disappointment but it is too late and just move on. If I go back in time, i won’t be doing the mba or if needed do it in US with two year format.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I do not believe that is accurate. In France, an MBA from HEC or INSEAD has much more weight than a top-tier American MBA. And I have heard people who graduated at top-tier American business schools stating the same arguments I present in my book. I believe that the discussion about the brand of the “product” is almost irrelevant.

  • FrenchManager

    in france, the real valuable degree is the Master of Management from HEC. they refer to it as H in the alumni category. Most of french business and government elite know and highly regard the HEC master of management. MBA is second place for HEC. Insead is known within certain cycles of consultants in france but many french people do not really regard insead as even close to HEC let alone comparable to it.

  • PQReader

    the problem with insead is its admission rate near to 40 or 45 %. it deteriorates their degree.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I really don’t think that Insead or any other European business school has any problem with the quality of their programs or their graduates. I think that the value proposition of all business schools is not really demanded by the market, and many graduates soon realize that they have mortgage their future for no return.

  • HJTR400

    I agree, and for this reason, it worth mentioning that the executive education short courses generate the majority of the revenue at many top european schools. I believe business schools like insead is better for executive education not for a university degree. if someone wants a degree he/she should go to a well known and prestigious university.

  • Dan

    I looked over the study you referenced, and as one would expect there were a couple of problems (some are below)

    1. There wasn’t enough data, as many of the researchers referenced in the paper admitted (a fact admitted by Pfeffer (one of the major authors referenced))

    2. Most of the referenced studies didn’t exclude outliers (ex. people who went to schools which were barely accredited)

    3. Many of the referenced data/studies were done in the 70s

    I don’t want to rain on the data parade, but the data used has to be robust. Ancient studies which don’t compensate for simple things like outliers aren’t really that convincing.

  • Junzi Wei

    There are some facts can’t be seen behind the numbers and objective researches. It’s great that someone come out sharing a different perspective.

    I didn’t have a chance to read your book, however, my gut feeling is your statement will be more convincing if you have a H/S/W MBA or at least a MBA from LBS/INSEAD/IMD. IE MBA in 2003? I don’t doubt your undergrad education and career success up to the point when you apply to IE MBA but I really doubt whether you did you due diligence right. You might write a better book with a title “The importance for due diligence on MBA program before you accept an offer” with a sub-title “I ruined my career by not doing it right”.

  • Jonny

    Mariana, kudos to you for speaking your mind.

    Someone once told me, “top business schools don’t make great business leaders – they admit them”. I have found this to be true. I went to a top 15 school, and graduated almost 10 years ago. I have found success, and I *do* believe my MBA was instrumental, but it was largely because I was a humanities undergrad in an IT consulting role and trying to break into the “real” business world. Many people will not benefit the same way. In fact, most won’t. I have seen this among my ex-classmates, some of whom are doing quite well, but most are in jobs they didn’t really *need* an MBA to get into. Successful, no doubt, but it wasn’t the MBA that got them there.

    As you allude to, the cost of an MBA is critical to the decision calculus of whether to attend. When I went, business school was about $25,000/yr. It was pretty hard *NOT* to have it be a good decision. I graduated with $70K in debt, all in, but the monthly $500 I pay in student loans is outweighed by the benefits I still reap. Now, business schools seem to have taken any surplus value for themselves by raising tuition to the point that anyone not going into banking/consulting and staying there has a suspect business proposition on his hands. Business schools have become multiple times more expensive, but salaries have not multiplied in the same way, and schools aren’t adding multiples more “learning value” than they used to. The degree has just become a worse value proposition than it used to be.

    I do informational interviews for MBA candidates all the time. I do not work in banking on strategy consulting. These students want to get into my field, marketing. And at times I look at them and think, “how good a decision-maker can you be if you’re sitting here in front of me hoping to pay off the kinds of loans you’re probably racking up with the kind of post-MBA job this industry can offer you.”

    Again, well done.

  • Rufus

    There are both good and bad reasons to get an MBA. Unlike say a medical degree or a Phd in computer science, most of the value of the MBA hinges upon the school one attends and his pre-MBA work experience. I have friends at virtually all the top 10 MBA programs, and the only ones who regret it (a very small minority) are those who had unrealistic career goals going in and hence were unable to get the job they wanted. B-school, like any other human experience, has its ups and downs. However, virtually every empirical study shows that attending a top b-school has major long-term benefits on one’s earning power and career trajectory. For many, going to a school such as HBS is a life changing experience, professionally and personally.
    An MBA from a top school will always be a coveted degree. Every job placement data only corroborates this fact.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Thank you! That is exactly the point of my book. I believe that there is a bubble around higher business degrees and MBAs are not worth the cost, not that they do not provide some benefits. Since I graduated, tuition has more than doubled in many schools, and I think that even a that moment, many people just like me did not need the degree to succeed. Of course, many of my MBA classmates have done very well too, but as they were already smart, driven and had proved an interesting professional experience, I believe that the degree had a marginal influence in their careers. Thanks again for your support

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I think that having doubts is ok and I understand. If I were applying to H/S/W I would have doubts too… but what if what I say in my book applies also to H/S/W and just for being pretentious someone ingnores it and makes a huge expensive mistake? There are people who graduated from H/S/W that are already saying loud the same things I say.
    By the way, I do not think that I ruined my career, as it has been pretty successful to my eyes. I think I spent a furtune on a degree I did not need. And I just don’t think that a degree from H/W/S would have changed my mind on this regard.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I have reasons to believe that there are much more people who regret it than the ones who speak up, even if I recognize that there are a lot of people happy with the degree, and that is great!. You can see the kind of unconfortable replies I get here , questioning if I have been successful enough or not, as an example of what retractors would have to go through. Most people, even agreeing with me, will just not bother to get into the heat, it makes no sense for them.

  • Scorbut

    Got accepted to Wharton and declined. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision but I truly think after a certain age (say 26) MBAs are more for people who lack confidence. They want to add this on CV to build confidence. I know it because I was like that. When I realzed it, I chose not to go, to go out of my comfort zone. I still think it was the right choice.

  • MBAisWorthless

    MBA is waste of time and money. The salaries are declining, just look at the latest reports of the GMAC to notice how many people getting the degree. It is no longer the ninties or eities, nowadays there is a tremendous supply for MBAs. and the fact that you can earn the degree in many different ways (part time, evening, global, collaborative,..etc) tell that the full time mode is in decline. Duke alone deliver its MBA in five formats!

  • Mariana Zanetti

    That is exactly one of the points of my book. Many people (not all of them, of course) enrol these programs only because they do not trust their own posibilities to succeed and the “brand” gives them the power they think they don’t have. That’s why many are such defenders of the degree: they feel that if the degree is devalued, it is their own value that is in question. I was also insecure when I was in my twenties, but not everyone is aware of that fact.

  • RealistcMAN

    these days there is roughly 130000 MBA students (GMAC report) all in an accredited programs. The hires of the top consultants (Mckinsey, Bain, BCG, ) are roughly 1000 to 1500 per year (topmba dot com report), and the hires of top private equity and investment banks and other elite financial institutions are roughly 500 to 1000 per year. if you look at these figures, you will notice how the prospective applicant can be easily trapped. the prospective student of an mba program should consider that the elite jobs are EXCEPTIONAL and absolutely not the default in every single school including Harvard, Stanford and wharton. Therefore, the student would be so naive if his aim out of the mba is to join any of these elite firms. any students should clearly notice that ALL the hired mba graduates by any elite employers is merely because of the previous experience. I see this in many top schools, Bain ex going to Mckinsey, Mckinsey ex going to Bain, KKR to Blackstone, Goldmann Sachs to UBS, brclays to Numora ..etc..they just pass the mba as “gas station” and educational vacation. The schools play this very well, for instance, INSEAD takes something around 50% of its class from Mckinsey, Bain, BCG, and of course those companies choose it because it is shorter and cheaper and customized to their requirement for the international offices and because their employees already got educated at excellent universities on the undergraduate level. The problem happens when the other “in delusion” students enroll thinking that they will be joining any of those elite companies but in fact they just increase the revenue for the school. From an academic point view, we all know that the content of any MBA is really basic and “high school” math level (for this reason many top schools accept some students without an undergraduate degree), therefore, my advice for prospective applicants, if you are not ALREADY employed by an elite employer, then it is better to pursue another worthy learning degree, be specialized, dig in deep in a very specific scientific discipline and you will be OK. a business degree is not safe (read about the financial crisis and lehman brothers employees).

  • Mariana Zanetti


  • sami

    can’t agree more! great!! if im not mistaken, both ceos of mckinsey and bcg dont have mbas, they did phd in oxford i guess!

  • Orange1

    One of the best posts I have ever read on this site.

  • Renault

    Nope, although similar prior experience certainly does help.

    Most non-sponsored MBB associates are career changers. Most IBD associates are career changers.

    Your point rings true for pretty much all “fancy” finance jobs (basically anything on the buyside, e.g. PE, HF, etc.), but everyone already knows that going in. For vanilla finance jobs, however, you do not need to have been an analyst once upon a time. (Hell, most former IBD analysts would probably see it as a huge failure to have to go back to banking after getting an MBA.)

  • Renault

    Barton (McKinsey) was a Rhodes Scholar and did not get an MBA. Lesser (BCG) was a Baker Scholar at HBS. Bechek (Bain) also went to HBS.

  • GrmanManager

    may be he meant the former ceo and current chairman Hans-Paul Burkner of bcg, yes he did his DPhil in Oxford.

  • egsc

    The author can certainly argue her point, and I think that if you have the right job BEFORE an MBA it is certainly true that the value-add is minimal, but (and I can attest to this, as I am a prime example) I cannot fathom reaching a F50 executive rotational program with my background/undergrad (never mind top-tier banking or MBB) without a prestige degree. For better or worse, it is the basic measurement of qualification (in the US, especially). Now, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, but they are just that – exceptions.

    Now I’ll give you the best line I’ve ever heard from my boss:

    ‘Give me facts & data – if we’re going to use opinions, we’re going to use mine’

  • egsc

    Ridiculous statement. How many in the levels below him have MBA’s, what’s the percentage of MBA’s in MBB? I think you’d see a difference.

  • egsc

    Finally, some reason. Not to mention the fact that the GMAC’s numbers aren’t wholly applicable. Everyone knows a top MBA is the only kind worth it, anything below isn’t. You’re giving GMAC’s TOTAL MBA numbers, not to mention Renault hit it on the head.

  • JC

    Solid post bro.

    One thing I want to add is that prospective MBA students really need to do their research and look for signs of RealisticMAN’s hypothesis at their targeted schools. Really dig in, and determine whether or not an institution plays a large role in getting their students the “elite jobs”.

    Unfortunately, I think it’s tough to extract this information without either 1) knowing a current/past student well, or 2) gaining admission.

  • Rufus

    It is true that mba tuition hikes has not caught up with inflation nor median post-MBA salaries. However, it is dangerous to lump all MBA programs together and make a blanket assertion that “there is a bubble around higher business degrees and MBAs are not worth the cost.”
    As I said in my previous post, whether or not an MBA is worth it hinges upon the school attended, one’s pre-MBA professional situation, career goals, and post-MBA results. There are people who leave solid jobs for a mediocre business school with a questionable ROI and graduate with a job that paid just as much as their previous job, with massive student loans to boot. For such a person (and from what I read, this applies to your situation), the MBA probably did not do much for them. But there are MANY others who got into elite schools (M7+INSEAD+LBS) and used the resources to transition into say banking, strategy consulting, tech, investment management, etc., and literally doubled their earning power. Furthermore, the prestige and network of their school lasts a lifetime, and they are continually reaping the benefits of that.
    Finally, if the MBA is such a giant “bubble,” why have applications to the top programs increased this year, rather than decrease? The number of GMAT takers also keeps increasing as well. Now, you will probably retort that it’s a bubble precisely because applications keep going up, but that’s not the right way to look at it. A bubble occurs when people flock into an asset or product that has questionable value and rapidly diminishing returns. Do you really believe that an MBA from HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, MIT, Kellogg, Columbia, etc., offers “questionable” value in today’s highly competitive economy? If so, why do top recruiters from virtually every industry flock to these schools every year? Why do some of the most accomplished young professionals from all over the world bust their butts off to get into these schools?
    To put it bluntly, I think your view was unfortunately shaped by your poor decision making and the fact that you attended a mediocre school with questionable ROI. Either way, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I deeply believe that HBS, Stanford and other top-tier business schools’ graduates have amazing and outstanding career outputs, and I will agree that those business education brands are the most prestigious in the world. Instead, I think that the schools themselves have little to do with those outputs. They do not add too much value. Their main hability is just to attrack the most brillant professionals in the world and put them a label, taking the credit for their success. I will not fight the pedigree war and I will recognize that European schools have a slightly lower capacity to seduce that kind of high-potential professionals, but they have the same insignificant power to influence people’s careers. I do not believe that my diferential career results would have been in any way different if I attended one of those top-tier American schools. In my opinion, the value added by the whole Business Education Industry is absolutly questionable.
    Thanks for your good wishes.

  • K!-Mink

    Can’t agree more Renault, there is a true side in RealistcMAN point, but that overspreads it to the entire MBA population, most top school would send around 40% of their class to Finance and Consulting, yet there is around 60% that go elsewhere and who make a living out of this. The truth is life does not have a single path, who knew Armstrong will be such a great musician, the same critics that play here would play elsewhere. As for basic high school math, I am a bit biased in thinking that all things maths s not necessarily the world we want, do MBAs use the quantity of maths necessary to analyse and solve business problems? potentially yes! Interestingly there is a big difference between being analytical and being quantitative, while the second plays well with engineering, the first is the most sought skill to solve problems.
    I like the mBA type class interaction.
    I the book above was written to have candidates rethink before applying, then it did a great job. but simply identifying MBA as being the problem behind Lehman Brothers or else, simply assuming the author cold do same without MBA does not apply to everybody else. That’s why the people crafting rankings, the journalists interpreting marketing data from business schools are misleading. Hence the need for a complementary type of journalism that helps people understand why MBA isn’t the ONLY degree to success as opposed to the author blank conclusion that MBA isn’t A degree to success.

  • business insider

    Question is not so much what you make but how much ROI are you getting out of it, specially if you are not in the top 10 business schools.

  • Rufus

    If you are doing well professionally and happy with your current state, then more power to you. But who knows. Perhaps Wharton would have opened doors for you that you may not have known about and introduced you to the right people. Also it’s insanely fun!

  • Rufus

    Although we’ll never know, I’m pretty confident that you would not have written this book if you had gone to say HBS, Stanford, Wharton, etc.

  • Jonny

    Posting again after reading some comments. Really interesting discussion here.

    Many of the arguments being thrown at Mariana amount to “you’re overgeneralizing; you can’t apply your experience to every MBA experience.” To be fair to her, I think she’s appropriately – and repeatedly – expressed that she does not pretend that her experience is applicable to everyone equally, regardless of his circumstances. *Obviously* individual factors play a role – a Harvard degree is different than a Florida State degree, a banking job is different than a back-office finance job, getting a scholarship or having your parents pay is different than paying full price with student loans. *Obviously* any statement made could be countered with some form of “but that’s not completely true for everybody.”

    This is not a discussion about the laws of physics. We don’t live in a Petri dish. Of course individual circumstances influence outcome. But that’s not the point. The point Mariana is making is whether – on balance – the MBA degree has gotten to a point where its added-value to MBA candidates is suspect. She is not saying that 100% of the time it will be 100% useless. That’s your invalid interpretation of what she’s saying. Saying “well I went to this school and it’s still a good school” or “well my parents are paying my way so it’s not a bad investment for me” doesn’t invalidate the points she’s making. This is a discussion about general observations that must be adapted to your experience. In other words, life.

  • Mark Stephens

    The best investment in an MBA is to attend part time with your employer footing the bill. You can apply what you learn as you learn. Your financial investment is minimal. This was my experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my MBA experience and continue to apply lessons learned daily. My MBA experience is a platform upon which I continue to build through application and self study. I am able to view organizations holistically and provide more value cross functionally than most of my coworkers. Education is what you make of it. If you go into education seeking it to make something of you then you are truly uneducated.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    For those interested in analysing the ROI of their education investment, there is a calculator in the website of the book:

  • Andrew

    This calculator is asking for impossible calculations to be made. How in the world is someone to control for what came from the MBA and what didn’t. The most one can ever hope to accurately state is what their salary is.Maybe the MBA is the cause, maybe it isn’t. For example, you’re not in your bosses mind when he decides to offer you a raise, or in the mind of a hiring manager when they hire you.

  • ReduceGov

    This article goes to show you that it is not having an MBA that counts. It is what you do with it. An MBA has value when you make it valuable. Tell me how much the MBA is worth when a person fails to brush his or her teeth before an interview with a company or client.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Andrew, I understand your point; to estimate future outcomes is not an easy task. However, as the cost of MBA programs is really significant, before engaging in such a risky investment I think most MBA applicants should try to estimate the ROI of their investment. This calculator tool is meant to help, but I agree that the difficult part is to predict the future. The business school industry proposes the salary statistics to solve this problem, but I think that those statistics are a poor tool to predict the differential value the MBA degree adds. I propose in my book to make some research within your target industry to have a better idea of what those outcomes will be, and then use the calculator to see if it is really worth. But if it is not helpful to you, just ignore it. The future is not described by any mathematical equation.

  • t4thecanuck

    I think something we’d all agree is that the MBA is a networking tool. Programs offer students the opportunity to meet like-minded, career oriented folks from all over the world. That’s absolutely priceless in the short and long term, personal and professional.

  • CD

    She got an MBA now she’s writing a book about it which will probably sell well, all of which she could not do without the MBA. This book is some form of irony.

  • Doc Shoe

    The MBA “credential” today is not the guarantee of career success it was 25-30 years ago. In today’s business world, it’s all about performance. If the MBA is used to gain business skills that enhance performance, then it’s worth the cost. The MBA degree as with any educational attainment, multiplies options and opportunities.

  • Andrew

    Hi Mariana,

    Just for our (readers) own edification, how did you perform that calculation yourself. Your book states that the MBA isn’t worth it, so I was wondering how you made the calculation that separated gains from the MBA from gains from just being qualified. I’ve been wracking my brain, and I just can’t seem to think of a way to do it on a case by case basis. I know for yourself, you said you came out of the MBA with a job which paid similarly to what you were making before, but you also said the MBA helped you get your first job after your move. In that kind of scenario, how do you separate whether or not the MBA was the door opener or your skills. And in the long run the problem seems even more complicated. If the MBA played a big role in you getting the job, but your skills got you promoted after you got in (as is often the case), do you then attribute some of that cash gain to the MBA (since its what put you in the position to be promoted)? Just some food for thought.



  • Siamak Moshiri

    I am also an MBA graduate from a top Canada business school, graduated in 2008 in the midst of financial crisis and world recession. I agree mostly withe the author of “The MBA Bubble”. I believe the mass number of MBA graduates in 2000’s devalued the degree to some great extent in the eye of employers. Most employers these days don’t see MBA as n strategic degree anymore for a new hire.

  • Siamak Moshiri

    Most Business schools calculate precisely how much to sell their MBA program and then put a price tag on it with a margin considering their ranking and prestige/brand. I am not also convinced many applicants preciously calculate the cost is worth the investment, that’s the question and message of the book: “The MBA Bubble”…. “Making a life, Making a living”, by Mark Albion, is a good reading….

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Well, you have a point there… 😉

  • disqus_hdjL6GFhAR


    As a recent IE MBA alum I couldn’t disagree with you. It is not about the degree and school name so much to say the least, but more about the aspiration and ambition young students, seasoned managers and entrepreneurs share across the world for themselves. While your choices and experience may have led you to “share” or rather “prevent” others from doing the mistake, I would strongly suggest you to provide outstanding data to make such a bold statement and refrain from passing a judgement on decisions of students and graduates who chose to pursue a MBA degree based on due diligence, self awareness, and immense benefits (both tangible and intangible) in the short, medium and long term.

  • Bob

    MBA =cash cow for business schools to build and expand on alumni relations .The degree is worthless.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Andrew, if I had performed this calculation, I would not have written this book! I state that an MBA is not worth the cost for many people, not for everybody. In my case, I consider that my MBA opened a door for me, but I could have opened the same door by hiring a career consultant or a placement service for 10 times a lower cost. I consider that the MBA itself did not add any differential in my income, but I admit that this is hypothetical; I cannot know for sure that it really didn’t. I base this conclusion in the fact that I observed in each professional experience I had after I graduated that everyone doing the same job as me had the same level of salary I had, whether or not they held an MBA degree, and MBA graduates were a minority. But let’s assume that it is not the case for everyone and that someone can get a 50% income increase after graduation compared to pre-MBA wage (you can use statistics and ask market experts or people already working in the industry of your choice to estimate this). If that same person stayed in the market those 2 years instead of pursuing its MBA and changed companies, she might have negotiated an increase of 20-25% raise, which is usually attainable when changing companies. So you only would get a 25-30% differential by getting an MBA.
    This is a “futuristic” exercise, not an exact science. When I worked in marketing, I used the “digital oscillatory technique” to estimate
    future sales… which means that you write some numbers on a blackboard, and then you shake your thumb in front of them until you have the feeling that you found the right answer… just kidding… ask people who know the market where you want develop your career.

  • Norbert Weiner

    I’d like the author to comment on an idea other posters have mentioned: attending a part-time or executive full-time MBA program vs. the traditional full-time MBA program. Several top schools offer these programs, so one could still get a top brand. A student also doesn’t have to give up their salary or career momentum, but career pivots maybe harder outside of a traditional program and the network is different (but many programs offer opportunities to also network with the traditional full-time mbas).

    Mariana, does your assertion also apply to part-time or executive full-time MBA programs (independent of employer sponsorship)? Thanks

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I am sorry, I speak English as a sencond language and I might be getting this message wrong. I am not sure if you are affirming that you agree with me or that you don’t agree with me.
    As for the evidence, everything I state in the book is supported by a profound research, studies and interviews. I have already mentioned those studies earlier in this discussion. I do not intend to convince people that they should not get an MBA, I just invite them to ask themselves the questions I did not ask myself. If after reading my book their MBA enthusiasm is still on top, I advice them to enrol the program.
    IE is a great school, John decided to reveal the name of the school in this story, which is not a secret, but I do not use my arguments against my school neither I mention the school in the book. As fot the story I tell about the career’s director, I’ve heard similar stories from graduates of the most prestigious schools in the world; none of them consider their students as customers.
    If you are getting an amazing value from the school, I am really happy for you. I wrote this book because I think that unfortunately not all MBA students do and I want to prevent them from making the mistake I made.

  • zartan

    I’m guessing you are not an MBA

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Norbert, here is my opinion: If an MBA is valued in your company to climb the corporate ladder (and if you’re sure that climbing is what you really want); or you consider, after a detailed analysis that goes further than the promotional leaflets of business schools, that the MBA will give you a competitive advantage for future moves, a part time program might be a much more profitable choice (or at least less ruinous if the move does not turn out well). I’m sorry, I am not an expert in the labor market for all industries so I cannot tell if the degree is going to make a difference or not for you or if the choice on a full time / part time will influence employers. I do not have all the answers, I only propose the questions. My main argument against MBAs is the cost (even if there are a few others), so if your employer pays for your master and you are willing to give away your spare time for a while, I have nothing against getting that nice-to-have degree.

  • Andrew

    Just a comment on the math above. If we take as a given that one can get a 25% raise by switching companies (which seems high), as you mentioned we are still left with a 20-25% increase. Given the fact that this percentage increase will be compounded over time with future raises, couldn’t one say that the degree did in fact pay off?

  • Mariana Zanetti

    The calculator takes into account the value of money over time. My experience shows me that a 20% raise by changing companies is pretty normal, but I admit that I have not studies to prove that it is average. I changed companies in the same industry twice in my life. The first time I got 100% raise + company car. The second time I got almost 60% raise. That might not be the rull, but I do believe that 20-25% is pretty reasonable.

  • Andrew

    I think your experience is WAY above the norm haha. If only that could be the way it usually works. In most cases a 20-25% raise is a little large from anecdotal evidence (of course this varies based on seniority and line of work). However I was speaking of an increase which is independent of the time value of money. For example if person A is making 80k (non bschool) and person B is making 96k (bschool) then assuming a growth of about 20% every 3 years (which may be unrealistic) over a 30 year time horizon the difference in total income should be more than the cost of a bschool education. The above math should be easy to replicate (number choice explanation is below)

    80k- person who just worked for the ensuing 2 year
    96k-20% higher than the previous person
    20% average 3 year income growth

  • Mariana Zanetti

    The calculator takes into account an yearly average salary increase for an MBA graduate, and estimates that MBA professional outperforms the statistics. The criteria is described in the site.

  • Norbert Weiner

    Thanks for being so responsive. I just started Yale’s program and received a partial scholarship. The dollar and time commitment is substantial but I do think it will make a difference in my career, though the future benefit is hard to quantify. I work in finance and recently switched jobs, increasing my total compensation (salary + bonus) 25%-33% depending on how I account for certain items. I’m not sure how much the MBA helped though.

    Good luck with the book!

  • Matt Cunningham

    I think Mariana makes some good points in this article. In particular the fact that previous work experience and the skills of the individual are valued more than the degree itself. However, I think most people who have done their research would agree with that.

    There are a few points that I think should be made though. The first is that I don’t think you can compare IE to Harvard/Stanford/Wharton. I don’t want to knock IE, but I don’t think it’s in the same league as the top brand names in the United States.

    Second, there is the matter of IE being a one year program instead of two. One of the major strengths of 2 year programs is that summer internships allow “prestige” employers in the United States a chance to try you out risk free. This is important because there is valid statistical evidence that the majority of associates hires at top consulting firms and banks are career switchers. The internship is an enormous competitive advantage for the US MBA over the European 1-year programs.

    Third, I think Mariana would probably agree that she wasn’t focused on getting to a specific goal through her MBA. If she had been focused on becoming an associate with an energy group at a Spanish investment bank, I have a really tough time believing she wouldn’t have been able to land an interview. That interview would have been nearly impossible sans MBA though.

    Fourth, the anecdotal evidence is strongly in favor of top MBAs. Anyone who browses linkedin profiles for a few hours can see that the MBA is a strong value add. The reason for this is simple, to my mind. There are certain programs, IB associate, MC associate, and literally dozens of “MBA development” programs at F500s that ONLY recruit from MBA programs. If you want access to any of those jobs, an MBA is a must.

    5th. Brand matters. It is not the end all be all. It does not outweigh job performance or skillset, it does not guarantee success. However, it can make a huge difference at crucial points. Having the brand of MIT/Harvard/Columbia/Stanford etc… on your resume is really important in a world where information overload is real. Having a strong brand can make you stand out in a pile of other great resumes.

    In summary, I think there is strong evidence to overcome if you want to argue that a top MBA isn’t worth getting.

  • C

    IE MBA 10 years ago probably cost you only Euro 30,000 or even less…considering the price today is Euro 60,000 for full time and Euro 40,000 for global MBA and just slightly more for exec MBA. You said you have made your mark in the corporate world, I assumed you were earning at least US$150,000 a year, perhaps a bit less like US$100,000 adjusting it back to 10 years ago.

    There are plenty of factors that could affect a job opportunity, the salary that comes with it and the prestige of the company of a job was offered to you after your MBA. The micro macro environments in business world today, changes so fast (I would assume the same 10 or 20 days ago), that nothing is predictable anymore.

    One thing for sure is that the ”people in their twenties who do not know enough to make a decision” that you have used as the main weapon to defend your arguments is definitely not a valid one. Many people in their twenties, know what they want. Not everyone wants to do a MBA, but I hope for those who do not know what they want, they don’t come across this article (or your book) because it is very misleading.

    One last point, not everyone who takes a MBA to climb the corporate world. Do not mislead those who have the potential and have calculated well the ROI, to have a different image of what a MBA is. It is your book, and furthermore it is self-published (it is like a blog post, printed on paper, bound in a hard cover), you have all the rights to say and write what you want. I guess you didnt receive good feedback here or on Linkedin (or any other site I believe) because 1/this article is poorly written (one sided), 2/there are so many people (including those in their twenties) have taken a MBA path and benefit from it and feel that your ‘research’ / ‘testimonial’ / ‘data collection’ are so ‘personal’.

    Really should consider changing the title of the book like one of the gentlemen suggested..The book ‘What they teach you in Harvard Business School’ is definitely better written, and fairly debated, compared to what we have here in this article.

    Also, the reputation damage that you have caused IE business school, is definitely not a nice thing to do.

  • C

    The whole debate sits on the ROI, salary, money, increment after MBA, which is kinda depressing because many people take a MBA to learn new stuff, to be able to look at the business from different perspectives, to increase exposures, etc Plenty of reasons.

    In my view, the problem with Ms Zanetti is that she probably already know all the things a MBA teaches before her MBA, thats why she was/is disappointed with the value that comes with it. Then it is really her own fault for listening to the HBS friend or the coffee friend who told her she should spend a year doing a MBA at IE. By the way, salary is Spain is relatively lower than most West Eu countries, therefore unless she is comparing the career opportunity before and after the MBA on an apple-to-apple basis, then there is really no point of this debate.

  • C

    You really shouldnt think most people in their twenties are insecure like you.. I think you should put a subtitle ‘Only for young people in their twenties who are insecure like me…’

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Hi Matt; I do not compare IE with HBS. IE is an amazing school, however I don’t question the power of the Harvard brand. But things are not equal in terms of tuition fees or in terms of competition to get in. Someone who gets into Harvard has proved an outstanding potential. Does that person really need to mortgage her future and be forced into the ‘Harvard formula’ for a few decades (which often requires 90-hour-work weeks for life)? If that person had a real self confidence, would she really mortgage her future to get the Harvard brand in her resume? Note that these are questions, not answers. That is what my book is about. In my opinion, people going into debt to go to schools as Harvard have less career choices, even if the Harvard brand attracts the most prestigious employers in the world. If those career options are what they want, that’s great! I agree with you, there are still professional paths where a top MBA is highly expected. But the market for ambitious professionals is not limited to those options. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that a many people do not really know this. I do not question the brand but the differential value added by the product, which I think is almost non existent (with the exceptions that you mention). In my opinion, the amazing benefits of going to Harvard are not justified by its personal and financial costs, given that the Harvard candidate has already proved that he has what it takes when he was admitted. As for IE, it offers one of the best ROIs of the top ranked schools. The quality of the program is really high and the brand is highly recognized in Europe… but that is not my point. My point is that I think that the MBA itself as a product adds little value, and the brands only fix their prices based on the perceptions they have build through the last decades.
    I think you are mistaken in one point: I knew exactly what I wanted when I pursued my MBA. I was driven, ambitious, and I wanted to have an international successful career.What I did not know is how specifically the MBA would contribute to that goal. I took for granted that it would have a positive impact in my career. I finally met my professional goals, but I didn’t really need the MBA or the debt with my family or the year off, and I didn’t know it. I think that there are a lot of people in their twenties, even going to Harvard, who do not know why they are doing their
    MBA, thinking they are going to find themselves at business school. I wrote my
    book for them, not to convince those that are happy with their choices that they should not be.

  • B_P_G

    That’s how I’m doing mine. I see it as a risk abatement strategy. They pay for most of it, I keep my job, and if I get anything out of it I come out ahead. With that said, though the school I go to is considered to be pretty good, McKinsey and the like aren’t recruiting there. So I’ve basically sold off whatever potential I had to make real money for the modest price of about $300K (in tuition and two years salary). If my employer wasn’t footing the bill then the equation would change significantly.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I agree, many people in their twenties know what they want. Many don’t. I wrote my book for them. Many know what they want, but do not know the most cost-effective ways to get it, which was my case. I wrote my book for them.

    This article is not a blog post I wrote but a journalistic piece.

    I tried to minimize the damage on the IE business school’s reputation. I don’t think it is deserved more than what deserves the whole business education industry. In fact, in the latest hours, I received tens of messages from graduates of the most prestigious schools in the world saying that they agree with my statements. I took in consideration how my statements would affect IE before I decided to write my book. I do not use IE’s name in my book. IE’s professors are within the most brillant people I met in my life. My classmates are great people and brillant professionals. But when I weighted the facts, I felt more sorry for the people that are getting huge debts they don’t really need. I would have loved that someone would have written a book like this when I was making my decision. Those who value the MBA will not change their minds with my book, because that is not my goal. My goal is to avoid that people regret it as I did.

  • B_P_G

    You’re correct that the three letters don’t mean what they used to. Same deal with JDs. Or engineering degrees for that matter. That Duke thing is interesting to me though. If the top tier schools start diluting their brand names then this whole thing is going to break down. May as well just recruit people based on their GMAT score. Somebody doing an abbreviated distance MBA at Duke is not getting the same experience as they would in the traditional program. Are employers going to treat it the same? Is the name on the diploma really worth that much?

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I agree, it is my fault and nobody else’s. It is certainly not the fault of my school. But I had not enough information to make my decision, and my book is meant to make that easier to other people.
    In fact, if there is something I do not regret about my MBA is the learning experience itself. Some professors let me open mouthed. But I state that most of that knowledge did not have a practical application in the short term, and I think it is not wise to pay a fortune to have knowledge for the long term. When I graduated, Facebook, twitter, the Iphone or youtube didn’t exist. Many of the marketing and information concepts I learnt at school are obsolete, and that is not my school’s fault. The world has changed, but the industry of business education has not and has raised its fees more than 60% since 2005. It is the whole industry that is in question.

  • RealisticMAN

    Thank you for your insight. However, I am sorry to disagree in certain point, you said ” There are certain programs, IB associate, MC associate, and literally dozens of “MBA development” programs at F500s that ONLY recruit from MBA programs. If you want access to any of those jobs, an MBA is a must.”…. That is not accurate. there is NO single career website of any MC or IB or Leadership Program that said ONLY MBA apply! in fact, Mckinsey, Bain, BCG, and many banks and corporations accept MSs and PhDs for associate positions. I know personally the managing director of Mckinsey in an asian country who did his MS in MIT in operational research (He is 36 old). Batron of Mckinsey is PhD from Oxford, BCG chairman is PhD from Oxford (in Oxford they call it DPhil…fancy thing :)). If you look carefully into many top MBA holders you will notice that they have a strong degrees from strong universities before the MBA! and so my point is doing an advanced scientific degree would be safer than an MBA, you will be qualified to apply for top consultant or banks if you want, and more than that, you will be having many opportunities if you couldn’t UNLIKE the MBA which really can be substituted by many ways (executive MBAs, shorter executive courses, special training..etc). and this why I really encourage young people with strong academic foundation to pursue scientific studies instead of business degrees..

  • SimoneTT

    sorry I fogot the names, but There is a similar story with european guy who dropped from Harvard MBA and wrote a book about his experience there and why he dropped! and yes he made a fortune! life isn’t linear experience :)

  • Dan

    1. Many of the MCs and IBs hold positions open for Bschool candidates, and there are quite a few which have job postings geared specifically to MBA candidates. That isn’t to say that there are no openings for candidates with other degrees, it IS to say that there are more openings geared towards MBA students than for other professional degrees.

    2.I don’t think anyone is arguing a hard sciences degree isn’t useful (because that would be ridiculous), what IS at issue however is the usefulness of an MBA (more specifically from a top school). Can one get into MBB–GS/JPM/MS with a hard sciences degree….DEFINITELY, but for many management rotation programs MBA students are ACTIVELY recruited to a greater degree.

    I guess that is the distinction I would make.An MBA from a top 5-10 school puts you in a position to experience more active recruiting from certain industries in comparison to a hard sciences degree (which while extremely useful is actively recruited in fewer circles).

  • rami

    nowadays and onward the hard science is better. the question is: which degree is safer? hard science or MBA? which one offers broader opportunities inside and outside the business world? I guess it is the hard science specially from top university. The fact you mentioned was 6 to 10 years ago but now as many mentioned the number of mba candidates is just unbelievable and certainly will have its impact in the near future. plus the world of businesses is changing and becoming very specialized..

  • RENEgade

    Some outstanding points are made regarding this topic. One of the most valuable benefits associated with an MBA is the professional network and affiliation doors it can open. While Top Tier programs do an excellent job in this area, programs with a lesser cache simply do not. Some boast high alumni numbers which are misleading. Unless these individuals are in senior decision making roles and source talent from their respective schools, the overall number does not matter. I think in the case of the author’s school, this rings true.

    As with any graduate degree, employment and wage enhancement are not guaranteed. Moreover, holding an MBA does not equate into real life, hands on experience and certainly does not qualify one to succeed in a leadership position that typically garner higher salaries. I know many people who have invested in MBAs with stagnant careers and other without who have achieved great success. In the end, everyone has a different story. It is important that MBA students have realistic expectations.

    I believe it is important not to lump all MBA programs together. The top labels, although overpriced, likely meet or exceed student expectations primarily due to their deep networks and brand appeal, ultimately delivering a positive ROI. The lesser tier programs, especially bargain level are likely to have a much reduced return on investment. Higher Education has morphed into big business, this especially holds true of B-Schools offering a variety of degrees and programs. It is critical to determine what is propaganda verses indisputable facts. Again, in the case of the school attended by the author, propaganda seems to be robust. But do not accept my word for it, conduct your own due diligence as with all matters.

  • Dan

    1.Its impossible to make a blanket statement about which degree is “better” without person specific details. Hard science degrees are not applicable to all industries (much in the way that MBA are also not directly applicable to every industry).

    2. I don’t think using the full universe of MBA graduates is a good way to determine whether or not the degree is worth it to a specific person. Especially given the fact that a degree from an unaccredited school would be included in the same analysis as a degree from a well regarded top school.

    3. I will say pairing an MBA with a hard math/science degree would be the best of both worlds (ex. MIT’s LGO program)

  • RunMG

    Can you go into more detail regarding your disappointment with INSEAD?


    lets say: MS in Engineering or Physics vs MBA ..both from MIT for example! which one is better and gives broader choices..? (broader in all fields of life..public..private..for profit..not for profit..consultant..entrepreneur… academia..etc..) … to make it simple: lets assume the student in both cases: 25 to 26 Ys old, 2 to 3 Ys we.. with the most common good in the job..and earn money..

  • SuperUpset

    I attended LBS, my friend attended Kellogg, and we are all disappointed 2 months into our MBA.

  • Dan

    Your thought experiment doesn’t really relate to real life decision making. A person who goes into a $100K+ degree program, or spends a year+ of their life on something without any clear goals (actual goals not just “do good in the job”, I mean goals with regards to what they want to accomplish) shouldn’t be attending either. The answer to all the industries you mention (all of which are too broad to have a one size fits all answer) is “it depends”.


    If i’m running a non-profit geared towards providing food to poor children in the developing world, and I have limited resources and no business structure to speak of…why would I hire a Physics Grad from MIT over an MBA with courses geared towards the non-profit arena.

    Conversely, If i’m running a non-profit geared towards heightening the global interest in Physics and I already have a pretty well thought out management structure….why wouldn’t I hire a physics MS student from MIT?

    Both are non-profits, but they lead to different answers. I think people need to shy away from this one size fits all mentality. In some arenas an MBA is better, in others an MS is better. It all depends on the person. To say either is useless in broad terms ignores all the nuances that should be involved in a persons decision to attain either.

  • LIMA

    the MBA is NOT academic degree, it is a professional degree, kind of advanced training with very basic knowledge! it can be earned by many ways, the best way though is through life experiences NOT through classes.

  • Dan

    1.I’m not sure what you mean by not an academic degree, so i’m going to leave that one alone

    2.Again whats best for someone varies. It depends on what you want to accomplish and what time frame your working with (among other factors). Just because “life experience” (your definition) is the preferred method of learning for you, doesn’t mean the same is true for everyone.

  • 1 year MBA

    She took his advice, enrolling in the one-year MBA program at Instituto de Empresa (IE) Business School In Madrid

    I don’t know how you can possibly get an MBA in one year?!?!?!!? My guess is prospective
    employers thought the same……

  • Mariana Zanetti

    In fact, after I got a job, my salary almost doubled in the three years that followed. If an MBA had anything to do with any career output, the 1 year MBA at IE would have the best ROI of the whole MBA spectrum. But that is not my point. My point is that MBAs are not the cause of any career output. B-schools just take the credit for the succcess of the driven and ambitious professionals they admit, and deny any responsability if they are in trouble.

  • Himanshu

    I read this article and to be frank I have close to 10 yrs of experience working on IT field in a technology which has gone obsolete but still clinging on it because of its penetration. The point is that if I ever opt to go to MBA it will be solely to try and change my career path or atleast get a push-up.

    A very interesting point to be pondered over is how do the B-Schools price their degree at such an exorbitant price ? Its not as if they are investing a lot of money which is required in other disciplines like say Engg or Medical exams

  • Ray

    I agree with the author, plus the MBA graduate is considered by many companies as overqualified or high risk. Reading and being curious are the real assets!

  • BusinessGURU

    I believe MBA is good for people in their mid twenties with no more than 3 years experience. But the current prices of many MBAs are very expansive and unjustifiable, any good mba program should not exceed $20K per year! otherwise it is just ridiculous.

  • malkovich

    Socrates – completely owned. What a disgrace to the name; seems “Socrates” can’t even read the second paragraph and see that the author graduated in 2003. Amazing how bigots like Socrates and Joe turn this into a Spain-bash.

    Leaving them aside, the author’s main shortcoming is the sample size of one. To her credit, there’s something to be said about the cost-benefit situation with business school. I’m attending a top-ranked program on a fairly generous merit scholarship, and I’ve been strongly questioning the financial wisdom of my decision. I can’t recommend business school at all – any business school – at the full price tag, unless the candidate were earning less than $75k pre-MBA.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I do not use my case (sample size of one) to generalize, I present consitent pieces of evidence in my book and I support those statements with my experience and many other MBA graduates’, even from top tier business schools.
    We agree on the fact that B-school is not always a wise financial decision. Thanks for your comment.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    You might be right, I might have done my MBA three years earlier instead of changing companies right away and getting a 100% salary increase + a company car as I did… that way, if I had that career evolution after the MBA instead of before, I would have fit the statistics and the whole business education industry would have applauded my case… My point is that CORRELATION does not imply CAUSATION. I really believe that the MBA had very little to do with any of my career outputs. Statistics show what they swhow, but the MBA is not the cause of those outputs. We as a society have some deep unanalized beliefs about education that we are taking the wrong conclusions and paying any price, and everybody is still doing it. That will not last forever. I don’t think that the reality in the US challenges this conclusion, as the main studies proving this took into account mainly the American market.

  • Dan

    I still would like to point out that most of the studies you’ve mentioned have
    used the entire universe of MBAs to come to their conclusions (including schools which barely have accreditation). Additionally in the one study you mentioned the researchers themselves said they didn’t have enough data to come to a robust conclusion.

    My main point is that you can’t say the MBA in itself is not worth it because not all MBAs are created equal, and not every student comes to an MBA at the same point in there career. Stop trying to turn a fact about a specific group of MBAs/Applicants into a fact about the entire degree. For some people you’re right, for others you couldn’t be more wrong. I think what is causing a lot of the disagreement in this discussion is your contention that your idea applys to all MBAs for all people. Simple words like “many” or “often times” before you says “MBAs are not worth it” would make your argument more sound. Don’t argue more than you can prove.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    I do not think that my statements apply to all MBAs or to all MBA’s applicants at all. Again, I apologize if I give the impression of trying to impose my vision, because that is not my point AT ALL. I just would like that anyone taking the irreversible decision of going into 150k in debt in order to get an MBA take into account my arguments. If they do, but think that they are not valid, I will be happy. If it is your case and you don’t find them convincing, it probably means that you have made a great decision by pursuing an MBA, which is REALLY GREAT! I mean it. There are lots of people really happy with their degrees, I do not try to change that, but to challenge a little bit some commons beliefs to make sure that they are making an informed decision.

  • PS

    It is what you make of it. There are lots of opportunities that get opened up during and after the MBA but if you don’t out the hard work in to leverage them, they are going to pass you by.
    But one thing is for sure, the MBA degree without effort is not worth it. And MBA degree with some effort is maybe worth it. But an MBA degree from a top school with the right type and lots of hard work is definitely worth every penny.

  • Farrukh Mushtaq

    “If you lead a study among Ferrari owners, you will surely prove that there is also correlation between higher incomes and the Ferrari, but the Ferrari is not the cause of their wealth.”. Isn’t that like saying that all good undergrad colleges or high schools (and you can continue regressing down the chain) take the most talented students and thus aren’t adding value? Why wouldn’t it be useful for those “who have what it takes” to double down on their skills, grow their talents in tandem with others at the same level, and have access to the tremendous resources – recruiting access, academics, peer learning, and more – that an MBA program can offer?

  • JL

    I am an IE graduate and I couldn’t agree more!!!!!

  • Mariana Zanetti

    First: the 100k in tuition + ~150k in opportunity cost are not worth those benefits you mention.
    Second:The MBA learning experience is amazing, but it has no real impact in people’s careers. If you take a brillant professional and isolate him or her from the market for two years, your are depriving him of what has more value in today’s envirement: Real world experience. The world changes at a mad pace nowadays while the MBA learning experience was created 100 years ago for a predictible world, where the past served better to predict the future (the case method). The world do not work like that anymore.
    Third: I believe that the “tremendous ressources” are overrated. There are much more cost-effective ways to get those benefits while the MBA (even top-tier’s) have a negative ROI nowadays (except for management consulting or investment banking)
    While bachelor’s degrees are still a requirement for most jobs, the MBA is a pretty optional degree.
    I am not trying to impose my vision. I believe it is great if someone is happy with the MBA experience. But many people will regret it just as I did. They should take into account the detractor’s arguments before going into 200k in debt. The decision of enrolling an MBA program is one of the most irreversible decisions in life.

  • Mariana Zanetti

    Thanks for sharing your story. I do not think it is fair to point to IE, as people from other top schools, even Ivy leagues’, are admitting that they feel the same. After reading what other detractors all around the world (even from top tier American b-schools) wrote about this, I am convinced that my statements apply to the whole business education industry and not only to my experience in a particular school.

  • ProWORK

    Whether or not an MBA is worthless, I believe, is really up to the individual. Let’s face it, an MBA is not a certification or a qualification to be a business professional. You don’t need any qualifications to be in business…and many who don’t have an MBA do famously well in business. So, that structural element alone tells you…there are no guarantees with an MBA. But what an MBA is, I believe, is the edge you give yourself to be an outstanding business professional, but that means hard work….everyday. What this means is that you can’t expect your MBA to pull opportunities and wealth….that weight rests with you. If you don’t have this expectation or mindset going into an MBA….if your mindset is that your MBA will land you $$$ and great jobs…then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I believe that’s the point Mariana is trying to make….that you need to think about whether you’re the type to really benefit from an MBA. Put it another way….whether you’re the type who will proactively monetize your MBA. I earned my MBA in ’06 from an elite school in Canada. In my batch, there are some who are extremely disappointed, and some who have already made a fortune. All depends on who you are and what you’re prepared to do with your MBA.

  • MrMM 2

    IE Grad 2013. It was a waste of money and time…

    I recommend not doing an MBA at all… but if you want to do so, dont go to European B-schools ( specially IE).

  • Bizzarelife

    Mariana, I see that you are commenting on this site. I have a question for you.
    I have met several MBA grads that managed to save for their degree, apply for scholarships, and some even got fellowships. Granted, this is not really the norm, and it is hard to get that kind of financial help from outside sources (especialy for a grad degree). Still, I wonder if maybe the financial aspect was not fully fleshed out?
    I have not read your book, so I ask you, did you reveal the advice that these “market experts” are giving to people who have worked in one industry for many years and now have decided to switch careers? This is what I want to do, and I can tell you, simply picking up some books and telling them you applied for your MBA is NOT the way to go. I have interviewed at least a dozen professionals in the arena that I want to work in, and they have all told me that they would prefer an MBA with an internship at their respective firms. Again, I realize you are doing your best not to generalize, but I do feel that this books might dissuade those that are younger and imppressionable to choose a path that will not work for them.
    I do applaud your effort to reveal what is behind the ruby curtain of dissatisfied B-school customers. I had a colleague who was an HBS grad, and she really did not enjoy the experience. It is what you make of it, and it you are not ready or prepared, it will not be the way forward.

  • Janella

    I’m sorry, but I agree with Rufus on this one. No offense to you or your hard work, you should be commended for exploring a different side here. HOWEVER, IE is NOT the same as the top tier schools in the United States. Ask any employer. It just is not.
    Does this mean a top tier grad will get a great job, find happiness, and find the yellow brick road? NO. Still, this is a great deal of generalization for one person. The employement stats and career services offices are primary factors every B-school applicant needs to consider.
    I think this brings up a good point – some of these schools tend to recruit at a much-younger level. I think you might have a point in that – those persons do not ask the right questions about a school’s specialization, it’s employment stats, etc. I think your book could help in this scenario.

  • Guest

    This is where I agree 100%.

    I know someone who is well into his 30s, and he is in his second year at Wharton. He was miserable in his old job, and KNEW he needed the network to achieve his ultimate career goals. At that point, just reading a book or getting the career experience in “some other way” just is NOT enough. He needed that network, those doors to be opened. He just was not sure how to do it any other way.

    Well, let’s see, how did he go about it? Well, he immersed himself in the culture, and MET people. Did well in classes, and networked his proverbial behind off. Now, he is working at a fulfilling internship. His future looks good, and he is glad he did it.
    The author states this is not for everyone. I agree with her. I think if you want to apply to MBA school, you have to ask yourself – WHY? That is the number one question you will be asked in essays, interviews, etc. etc. If you cannot come up with a palpable answer to this question, and think of ways to maximize your investment while in school, then you simply cannot go.
    ALSO, I am curious as to whether the subject of internships and career development have come into play? It’s a common fact that one year programs are not nearly as strong as two year programs in relation to internships. Internships are REALLY important for those persons looking to get a leg up, maximize new skills, and possibly change careers. One year programs and executive programs are typically (not always) for those that want to stay in their current job, and need the degree for a managerial or higher-level position. You cannot rely on it for your job search or security.

    I think the real lesson here is ultimately choice and selection. Sound choices lead to much better chances of success. Better reason to apply WHEN YOU ARE READY! Career service and admissions staff from all schools will tell you this. They have their reasons for saying so, and they are quite firm.

  • Angelica Meyers

    OK, let me ask you something.
    If you had a candidate that took an interest in marketing, but had worked in a field completely different from that up until that point, what would be your recommendation for them? How would they get the experience needed to work in the marketing field WITHOUT having to take a massive pay cut? Would you recommend they work as an intern in addition to their regular job? Should they take a degree that is cheaper but has a specialization in Marketing? Is that not an MBA?
    I’m definitely understanding your point, but I want to get a fix on what your recommendations would ultimately be. For many, forming a bridge between what they do now and what they want to do is really difficult. This can be the case especially if they are in their late 20s and early 30s. The time for working at a lower-paying position is over. Yes, they will have loans, but many folks feel it is faster and a little bit more beneficial to have that degree. There is no arguing that it will open some kind of doors that they would not otherwise have. I sincerely doubt you would get a Chief Marketing Officer to sit down to lunch with you if you were just a layperson with no degree. Or, I seriously doubt you could find a top marketing guru to take the time to mentor you and show you the ropes if you were just a layperson. These are exactly the kind of initiatives offered at Berkeley Haas. They have one of the best marketing programs, aside from Kellogg.

  • Angelica Meyers


    What your book NEEDS to provide is some solid suggestions and or evidence of how to perform a career switch or succeed WITHOUT the MBA. Do you recommend a specialization certificate, lesser degree program, etc.? If so, WHERE? How?
    What the folks you have interviewed have said is very interesting. What you need to find is folks who did not go to the top level business schools, and still did exactly what they wanted. Was it harder? How did they do it? Did they still get the networking and skills in some other way? HOW?
    If some meat is put into this research, and some solid alternative methods are produced, then I think I can see your point. I have not read this book, so I do apologize if those items are already in there.

  • Angelica Meyers


    I agree on this. I think solid research and then suggestions on how to move forward would really boost the credibility of this book.
    If anyone says something does not work, then the SOLID reason of WHY must be presented. We have sweeping claims, thoughts, and some anecdotal sentiments. If the career services section of these schools is really that awful, then WHAT did some folks do to boost their own professional lives without the MBA? Even where I work, it is quintessential that a person has an MBA or graduate degree. It does not have to be top-tier, but upper-level education is required. I have worked in multiple industries across the United States, and every single company I worked for required a grad degree. Not a single executive was without one. I even worked in the film studios in Los Angeles, and I have to tell you that all the upper level exes have gone to some kind of grad school (mostly UCLA/Wharton/top tier).

  • Angelica Meyers

    Texas is truly a great state for education as well as work. I have a great friend that lives there, and she is thrilled by the new job she has acquired.

    Great to hear a good story. Good luck!

  • chamesou


    I was wondering if instead of “Why Getting an MBA Degree Is a
    Bad Idea” you really meant this: “Above a certain cost, MBA is a Bad Idea”. I think that is it all the more true than some employers actually do pay for the cost of the degree for their employees. In those cases, I would thing the only “cost” would be the cost of dropping the workplace environment for a full-time MBA. But that soft cost disappears if one pursues the MBA part-time i.e. still keeping the job.
    I am interested in your thoughts

  • JohnAByrne

    I don’t think that getting an MBA is a bad idea. The research suggests otherwise, whether you get it full-time, part-time or as an executive MBA. One of the more surprising aspects of the research is that it shows that you don’t even have to go to a highly ranked schools (top 50, let’s say) to realize the benefits of the degree. I do think it is especially rewarding for people who can leverage it in a current job to make a bigger contribution at work. So online and part-time MBA degrees can make you a much more effective contributor at work.

  • chamesou

    And that was exactly my personal situation. I really believe that there is a huge confusion in all this debate, especially because of the title of the book, which tends to suggest that an MBA is a Bad Idea No Matter What, when in fact the idea that Mariana wanted to convey is: “Why Spending $100 000 on An MBA Could Be a Very Bad Idea”. She almost alludes to an MBA being a bad idea, even if you got it for free!

  • toufic

    Marianna, for god’s sake just go get a life. You are generalizing a single experience… Have you ever asked yourself if your incompetence had anything to do with your failure to achieve your goals??

  • MrMM 2


    I just wanted to add that my experience at an educational level was not a bad one. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world which amplified my vision and gave me the ability to understand a problem from a variety of different angles.

    My concern has to do with purely financials and getting a job… I’m an IE 2013 graduate who cannot still get a job… Before IE I had 7 years’
    experience working on fortune 100 companies… I went to IE because I wanted to push a little further my carrier while also understanding the European company approach ( I have only worked in American companies). I already had the job I wanted at the company I wanted but thought it would be wise to broad my business view by going to B School to get an MBA. 1 year after graduation I can tell you it was not the smartest choice. I am not only unemployed but also have a debt to pay and my family is supporting me for a living. What a nice story for an MBA graduate… quite sure not what I expected before entering to B School. This is the kind of story you are not going to read in their promotional brochures… My mistake was risking my career for an illusion that was built when they sold me the program.

    However, I did had a great time at IE and think it was an
    experience that changed my life forever… but when it comes to pure financial rationales’ what’s the return on the program? My B School promised me networking (alumni does not even answer emails unless you know them personally), placement (yes sure, no job after an year and the career services does not even bother, it is always up to you to get a job and if you don’t it is because you are not doing things the right way), a job center with job postings from all around th world ( Fake postings I would call it :only people who went to IE know how bad it is…) and an 6 figures salary… None of these happened.

    So, is it worth it? Is it worth to risk your career and go into debt for a “promise” of a better future?

    Would my 60,000 Euros have been better spent on traveling
    around the world? Unless I would have known what to expect after my sabbath year…

    Or may be buying an apartment ( in my city you can get small
    apartments for 100 k USD)?

    It seems to me that MBAs are a nice programs but only if
    they deliver what they promise which, in many cases, they don’t.

    The saddest part is that many people won’t tell you these kind of stories in order not to trash their degrees which in turns reinforces the “success” MBA lie.

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