P&Q Editor John A. Byrne Answers Reader Questions About The MBA

BENEFITS OF AN MBA

 

Are MBAs becoming more valuable or less valuable in the business world?

More valuable, without a doubt. There are two very good reasons for this.

  1. The world and business has become more complex and more challenging. Having a deeper understanding of business and its core disciplines is, therefore, more critical to one’s success today than it had been. The MBA experience—and the people it will connect you to throughout your professional and personal life—will allow you to have more meaningful conversations on global business and economic issues throughout your career.
  2. The competition in industrialized countries for the best professional jobs is intense and will become more so in future years. The degree not only provides learning, knowledge and a network. It also is a signal to employers that you are serious about your career and what you want to achieve in life. So it gives you a significant advantage to both land a job and to be considered for promotion.

 

Why did you choose to do an MBA?

While I have never gotten an MBA degree, I have interviewed thousands of students and graduates who have made that decision over the past 30 years. There are quite a few reasons to pursue an MBA:

  1. You don’t like what you are doing and need the degree to transition into something else.
  2. You want to make more money.
  3. You don’t know enough about the basics of business and you are genuinely curious to know how the business world makes.
  4. You are interested in having a more meaningful and fulfilling professional career.
  5. You are keen to invest in yourself. The MBA is the ultimate investment in you. It’s a way to open your mind to new ideas and concepts, meet smart and ambitious people, make new enduring friends, and unlock many opportunities that would never be available to you without the degree.

In any case, we have published many stories about this on Poets&Quants – Covering all that matters in the business school world, with in-depth analysis of B-schools rankings and full-time MBA programs. Here is one that might be helpful from a person who made the decision to get an MBA:

THE OBVIOUS & NOT-SO-OBVIOUS REASONS TO GET AN MBA

 

Is MBA a good option for someone who is in software testing?

Only if you either want to get out of software testing. The vast majority of people who pursue an MBA use the degree to successfully switch careers and transition into something different. Some do what it called the MBA Triple Jump. That’s changing your discipline, your industry, and your geography all at once. Frankly, the MBA is just about the best way for a 20-something person to change direction, largely because of the experiential learning and internship opportunities that give you enough exposure to a new area to land a very different full-time job from the pre-MBA position you held.

The data on this is fascinating. We recently published a piece based on great research which shows that 78% of MBAs used the degree to switch industries, while 77% use it to switch functions (i.e.. going from engineering to marketing, or marketing to finance). Some 69% of MBAs did both at the same time. See it here:

MBAs Switching Careers At Massive Rates

And just for some fun reading, here’s our story on MBAs who have done the MBA Triple Jump:

The MBA Triple Jump: Using The Degree To Reinvent Yourself

 

Is it worthwhile to do MBA at 50?

Despite what a few naysayers are expressing, I would say the answer depends. At 50, you are too old to take advantage of the immediate employment opportunities that typically come to an MBA in his or her late 20s or early 30s. Most MBA-hiring employers want younger recruits with less full-time work experience than you obviously would have. In fact, you would not be able to get into most of the elite two-year programs. So that pretty much leaves you with a third-tier full-time MBA or an Executive MBA or online MBA opportunity.

Is it worthwhile? Only if you want the skills, knowledge and exposure to new thinking in business as well as the professional development that comes with an MBA today. All that you will certainly get and I would argue it would make you a better manager or leader, even if it would not immediately translate into a greater array of job opportunities. Depending on your existing background and industry experience, it’s possible that an MBA at this later stage of your working life would increase your opportunity for promotion and better assignments. But I still think it’s only worthwhile if you want the tools, knowledge and professional development first and foremost.

 

What are the biggest regrets of MBA students at top schools?

As it turns out, we have actually done research on this. We recently asked graduates from all the top schools to list their biggest regrets. Here’s what they told us:

The Class of 2017 Shares Their Biggest Regrets

The above is an immediate takeaway on regrets. It may, in fact, be more valuable to learn what MBAs who have been out of school 10 or more years feel about this. So you might be interested in this fascinating article based on an alumni survey of Harvard Business School MBA graduates:

Regrets? These Harvard MBAs Have Just A Few 13 Years Later

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.