Harvard Business School recently asked graduates of its MBA program whether the experience was worth it? Can you guess what every single one had to say?
If you think anyone had second thoughts about the big investment in time and money, think again. One after another answered in the affirmative, often saying it was 100% worth the money. After all, the responses appeared on the business school’s website posted by its PR staff.
Even so, the extended answers provide some valuable insights to people who are still on the fence. Here’s a sample of how HBS grads answered the perennial question: Is an MBA worth it?
‘I WAS ABLE TO THINK LONGER-TERM ABOUT MY CAREER AND MY LIFE’
I think my MBA was definitely worth it, and two reasons come to mind. First, HBS really helped me to reflect. I was able to learn how to better understand myself, how to trust myself, and get more into what makes a great leader. I was able to think longer-term not only about my career but also how I can have a wholesome life. Second, I met amazing people from whom I can learn, who can push me forward as they are always pushing themselves, and who I can call for advice. I made great friends from my MBA class and became part of a lifelong community. — Martin Hudak (MBA 2016), global strategy director at PepsiCo.
‘THE MBA ENDOWED ME WITH CRITICAL REASONING AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS’
I graduated from a liberal arts undergrad with a major in American Studies. Despite working in private equity for a few years pre-MBA, I felt I needed a proper business education. HBS provided me with the technical and qualitative skills necessary to advance my career in private equity. More importantly, HBS endowed me with the critical reasoning and communication skills to tackle any real-world case that I encounter (In this way, the value of the HBS MBA is less obvious). I have confidence knowing that, no matter what problems or situations I find myself in, I have the skillsets to figure it out and succeed. Finally, there is a difficult-to-quantify networking element that accrues to your benefit over time. The ability to leverage my sectionmates’ perspectives and wisdom has helped to advance my own personal and professional development. — Carl Culicchia (MBA 2016), Principal at SV Health Investors
‘IT GAVE ME THE BEST SHOT AT ACTUALLY STARTING MY OWN BUSINESS’
Absolutely. I tell people that all the time. That’s not to say all MBAs are worth it for all people. But for me the HBS MBA has given me the best shot at actually starting my own business and I know the alumni network will be invaluable when the time comes for me to do the next thing. Personally, I have friendships that will last a lifetime and that was surprising for me coming in a little older with a family. I have come away much more confident in myself, my life goals and a path to achieve them. I would also never take back the opportunity to have my kids exposed to life living at HBS. — Lindsay McCurren (MBA 2019), Founder and CEO of ReMana, Inc.
‘A CHANCE TO REFLECT AND BETTER UNDERSTAND MYSELF’
It was 100% worth it. For many of us, giving up two years of income is the largest cost of pursuing an MBA. From a professional standpoint, I am already seeing the benefits. The program gave me the chance to reflect and better understand myself. I can stand my own in a room with our senior partners and clients. Personally, the time to explore and meet new people and make lifelong friends will always be worth it. — Bhargav Srinivasan (MBA 2019), senior manager at Bain & Company
‘I LEARNED THE BUILDING BLOCK PRINCIPLES OF ANY COMPANY’
100%! I started at HBS with a strong technical background, but very little exposure to the business side of running a company and the venture ecosystem of running a startup. At HBS I learned the building block principles of any company as well as the specifics of entrepreneurship. While in school, I met my co-founder and we ran the early experiments of what would become AllSpice through many of the HBS programs– we built our first pitch deck for The New Venture Competition and our first advisor was from the Rock Accelerator! On the personal side, the MBA Program helped me confirm my choice of going into startups. Entrepreneurship is not just a career choice but a lifestyle one as well, and getting to try it while in school (a pretty “safe” space to try and fail) gave me the certainty that I wanted to commit to it after graduation, and for the long haul. — Valentina Toll Villagra (MBA 2020), CEO of allspice.io.
‘THE MBA AIDED MY PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND TAUGHT ME AN INVALUABLE AMOUNT ABOUT THE WORLD’
HBS was a transformative experience for me. Professionally, I pivoted my career from both an industry and geographic perspective. Personally, I made friends across the globe who have aided my personal development and taught me an invaluable amount about the world. — Zach Sarnoff (MBA 2018), global program manager at YouTube.