Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
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Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
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Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
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Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
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Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
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Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
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Harvard | Mr. Army Intelligence Officer
GRE 334, GPA 3.97
Harvard | Ms. Data Analyst In Logistics
GRE 325, GPA 4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Comeback Story
GRE 313, GPA 2.9
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Green Financing
GRE 325, GPA 3.82
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Mr. Marine Combat Arms Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3

Why MBAs Are Just What Silicon Valley Needs

silicon-valley

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave the world something to Tweet about earlier this week when she said in a Quora interview that an MBA isn’t important in the tech industry.

Specifically, Sandberg – who is a Harvard Business School graduate – wrote:

“… MBAs are not necessary at Facebook and I don’t believe they are important for working in the tech industry.”

Well, I never!

As an MBA and Facebook alumnus who had a great career in tech,* I’m not going to just sit here and let her defame the beloved degree that keeps my self-esteem warm at night.

So, I hereby go on record as taking great exception to her words for three important reasons:

  1. I have a book coming out next year titled You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top Tier Business Schools,
  2. Contrived outrage is good for publicity (just ask those brats at Yale). And, most importantly…
  3. If she’s right, then my entire professional self-concept is a wretched, hollow fantasy.

To get clear on the message here, let’s look closely at Sandberg’s words:

“I don’t believe MBA <degrees> are important for working in the tech industry”

I guess I can understand an HBS alum saying something like this. But what if she had attended a really good program, like Dartmouth’s Tuck School? Perhaps she would consider the degree more than just résumé frippery for bankers, trust fund d-bags, and the next Jeffrey Skilling.

Truth is the tech industry needs business schools – especially HBS. Where else would it get business development people? From Peter Thiel’s kinder-preneurship camps? I don’t think so. One needs more than pleated khakis and a drab personality to do Business Development – one also needs a driver’s license!

Further, modern tech BD droids can’t just be the same ol’ Wall Street and McKinsey flunkies they were a few years ago. Today’s business development professionals requires specific skills, such as:

  • Taking good notes,
  • Saying “net-net” a lot, and…
  • Pretending that they’ve closed a deal when they get an NDA signed.

Guess where one acquires these critical skills? That’s right – business school. 

“… MBAs are not necessary at Facebook”

These words hurt my heart, but they do explain some of the experiences I had as a Facebook employee.

When interviewing for a job on the start-up’s sales team in 2007, I spoke with a young product manager, naturally dropping into conversation multiple times the fact that I had an Ivy League MBA. When done by HBS students and alumni this is called “dropping the H-bomb.” We didn’t have an equivalent at Dartmouth because “dropping the D-bomb” sounds creepy. (Also because when you tell a normal, non-MBA person that you go to Tuck, they generally say, “What the hell is a Tuck?”)

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