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6 Things You Need To Know About a Strategy MBA

Entrepreneurs and leaders looking to lead a company need to understand what makes a business successful – and what makes it a failure. The strategy MBA is becoming an increasingly popular choice among business students interested in becoming effective and creative leaders.

Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently wrote an article discussing six things experts say applicants should know when it comes to a strategy MBA.

“If you know strategy inside and out, have studied the mistakes of businesspeople who have come before you, you’re better able to be in a position to provide thought leadership inside and outside of your company,” says Misha Kaura, the CEO of Darlinghurst Enterprises, tells US News.

A strategy MBA can be helpful in teaching students how to make management decisions that improve a company’s performance, Kowarski says. “Unlike a technical MBA concentration that aims to develop expertise in a particular aspect of business, such as marketing or finance, a strategy MBA concentration requires a mastery of business theory about what factors influence a company’s success or failure,” she says.

Rob Weiler, associate dean of the full-time MBA program at Anderson

Strategy MBA Can Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Kowarski reports that strategy MBA courses tend to focus on case studies. In these courses, students discuss management decisions that real companies made and build business philosophies in response.

“These courses give students conceptual frameworks they can use to analyze a company’s viability and assess business competitors,” Kowarski says. “Students also learn how to find the information they need to make prudent executive decisions.”

Rob Weiler is associate dean of UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. Weiler tells US News that specializations, like a strategy MBA, can add a competitive edge.

“The specializations really provide structure and a road map to students, so they’re able to walk out of here and signal to the job market that they’ve acquired a certain set of skills and can transfer that knowledge to the job,” Weiler says.

A Versatile Degree

A strategy specialization makes students marketable in a variety of jobs. Students who graduate with a strategy specialization can develop into consulting roles, strategy roles, and c-Suite executives.

“Though some seem to see strategy as a major for aspiring management consultants, it is probably just as useful for entrepreneurs as well,” Kaura tells US News.

Lydia Price is associate dean and MBA director at CEIBS, which ranks highly in strategy. Price tells Top MBA that a strategy MBA can offer students a variety of skills.

“Key lessons would include: industry and environmental analysis, internal analysis and competitive advantage, organizational structure, design and alignment, market evolution and dynamics; in addition to many specialized topics for specific industries, world regions or stages of market development,” Price says. “Strategy draws upon all of the business and market fundamentals, so it is important that a specialized strategy curriculum also includes a solid grounding in topics such as economics, accounting, finance, marketing, organizations, and operations.”

Attend a School with an Accomplished Student Body

Like many other concentrations, the stronger the student body, the more connections you can make. For a strategy specialization, experts say it’s helpful to attend a school where your classmates are accomplished leaders from diverse industries.

Bruce Bachenheimer is a clinical professor of management at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. He tells US News that a school’s student network is just as important as its reputation.

“While the school’s reputation, ranking and accreditation are obviously extremely important, applicants frequently do not consider just about how vital their peers will be in preparing them for a career in corporate strategy,” he says.

More important to note, accomplished peers can add vital insight to classroom discussions, Bachenheimer tells US News.

Participate in Strategy Competitions

Michael Davis is a finance industry executive who received his MBA degree from INSEAD Business School in 2010.

He tells US News that participating in strategy competitions as an MBA student is a compelling way for students to build their resumes. Not only do they enable students to compete against one another, but simulate what it’s like to do strategy work for real companies.

Strategy MBAs Pay Off

The strategy MBA is yet another MBA specialization that offers high pay for graduates.

According to PayScale data of December 2017, management consultants and senior strategy managers with a strategy MBA, made on average six-figure salaries.

In a 2016 US News article, strategy MBAs had the highest salary potential among MBA concentrations. US News reports that strategy MBAs can expect early career pay to be around $96,200 with midcareer pay averaging at $149,000.

Business strategy is essential for business success

Business strategy is a key component to achieving business success, experts say. With a strategy MBA, graduates can tackle ambitious goals with knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Davis says business strategy can make the difference between a successful startup and a failed startup.

“The idea is such a small percentage of all the ingredients,” Davis tells US News. “It’s really about the strategy and the execution on that strategy.”

Sources: US News, Top MBA, US News

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