MBAs Think They Can Change Biz For Better

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MBAs Think They Can Change Business For the Better

 
It has been five years since Bear Stearns imploded, the opening salvo of a near death spiral in the global financial system. Since then, banks have cleaned up their balance sheets; companies have hoarded cash; and government has added new mandates and regulations. Of course, MBAs have emerged as the public’s favorite whipping boys.

The economic meltdown – and the lost wealth, flat growth, and uncertainty it left behind – has also left its mark on the next generation of MBAs, who entered the job market as it caved in. This week, Access MBA, a global resource that assists students and business schools, published a survey on the role of MBA programs in the wake of the crisis. Surveying over 2000 prospective, current, and former students in 57 countries, Access MBA compiled some intriguing observations:

  • 62% of respondents believe business schools have “significant responsibility” to address the economic crisis.
  • 64% agree that schools should actively encourage involving students in hands-on projects in the field to provide real world experience.
  • 53% agree that programs should research and develop sustainable business practices.
  • 35% answered that schools should concentrate on business ethics.
  • 80% of graduates and current students found that their business school adequately addressed the roots and consequences of the recession.

This lack of enthusiasm for ethics certainly stood out. However, it likely stems from a perception that ethics don’t translate to the bottom line. However, Jessica Smith, IESE’s Associate Director for MBA Admissions, notes that ethics still have a place in an MBA program: “Business ethics do not need to be a separate course, but should be incorporated into the curriculum.”

Finally, the study ends on an upbeat note. According to alumni surveyed, 95% believed their MBA education prepared them to respond to future recessions and improve their companies’ practices. Who knows, maybe that education will help businesses bounce back faster from the next economic freefall.

Source: Business Because

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Why Women Should Skip Business School

 
This week, Laura Hemphill, a Lehman Brothers alum-turned-novelist, lobbed a grenade into the gender- and-education fault line. In her essay entitled “Why Women Should Skip Business School,” which was published by The New Yorker, Hemphill argues that it is financially wiser for women to forego business school in favor of building their careers and learning scarce skills. And she backs up her premise with some cogent arguments. Here are some highlights from her piece:

  • You Can Succeed Without An MBA: “Unlike medical school or law school, business school isn’t a requirement for a business career. Many successful C.E.O.s don’t hold M.B.A.s: Marissa Mayer, of Yahoo; Jeff Bezos, of Amazon.com; Ginni Rometty, of I.B.M. On Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, business school is often stigmatized as a booze-addled vacation; Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist, famously observed that business-school graduates’ interest in a sector is a leading indicator of a bubble.”
  • Elite Students Don’t Need The Degree: “…the average incoming Harvard Business School student needs the degree the least, given the qualifications required to be accepted in the first place. Arguably, it’s the qualities that get a candidate admitted to Harvard in the first place that insure her success after graduation, rather than the degree itself. Meanwhile, an M.B.A. isn’t always worth its steep financial cost. Including tuition, room, and board, a Harvard M.B.A. today costs more than a hundred and eighty thousand dollars—and that’s before lost wages.”
  • An MBA Only Delivers A Temporary Advantage To Women: “The uncomfortable truth is that women in business are more likely than men to drop out of the workforce or have their careers interrupted a decade after earning their M.B.A.s, because of family considerations. According to a Harvard study of graduates of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a decade after earning their M.B.A.s, women were twenty-two per cent more likely than men to have experienced at least one career interruption. Thirteen per cent of women weren’t working, compared to one per cent of men. And even if women’s careers weren’t interrupted when they had children, they were certainly affected: the study also found that “M.B.A. mothers seem to actively choose jobs that are family friendly and avoid jobs with long hours and greater career advancement possibilities.”
  • It Takes Away Two Precious Years: “…isn’t the most important thing for a woman to work as hard as she can and advance as far as possible while she’s still in her twenties and her life is as uncomplicated as it’s going to get? That way, by the time she’s a decade or so along, she’ll have more savings, more job experience, and more bargaining power—all of which translate into more options.”
  • There Are Alternatives To The MBA: “Consider other uses of those two years. Instead of relying on an M.B.A. to boost her skill set, a woman could teach herself a hard skill like programming or Chinese, or she could start her own business. If she’s working in Silicon Valley, on Wall Street, or another industry where many are promoted without M.B.A.s, she could stay put and continue to rise. And if she doesn’t have a better use for those two years now but thinks she might later on, why not preserve that option?”

Her essay certainly taps into the culture and gender wars. What are your thoughts? Are women better off bypassing an MBA as Hemphill suggests? Feel free to share your thoughts in Comments below.

Source: The New Yorker