The MBA qualification is one of the most sought after in the world. Matthew Bellotti asks opinion leaders in the Business Education sector to share their experiences on the value, the return on investment and the challenges facing students on an MBA course.
Anyone applying to study a Masters of Business Administration, or MBA, as it is known around the world is embarking on a challenging, intensive journey. A program of rigorous training involving strategies, concepts, presentations, reporting and networking, both individually and within groups, to build business knowledge and leadership skills.
As Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, the CEO of the Singapore Institute of Management explains "Students acquire broader knowledge and deeper understanding of issues. They become superior analysts and problem solvers, excellent team players and effective communicators - skills that are required for senior level success in management."
Candidates considering MBA programs should be strong thinkers and capable of processing information both quantitatively and qualitatively, they should be analytical and strategic, possess leadership skills and perhaps most importantly be good communicators.
There are obvious benefits to attaining an MBA. When considering the return on investment (ROI) for an MBA qualification you naturally think of the career advancement and the accompanying increase in salary. However, it is also worth mentioning the higher levels of job satisfaction amongst MBA graduates. Plus, programs encourage networking between students, which will ultimately be of great benefit back in "the real world".
Mr Lee Kwok Cheong sums up the value that an MBA can add to a students’ CV "During one of our recent graduation ceremonies for the EMBA programme, about one third of the students mentioned they had recently been promoted. However, the career advancement is only possible because the students have been equipped with the tools needed to assume positions of greater responsibility. While positions and bigger pay checks are god, I feel the real ROI an MBA candidate should be looking for is the acquisition of the right combination of skills, knowledge and understanding that will help propel their careers forward."
"The management quality of graduates is what determines the real value of an MBA program"
Dr Helen Lange: MBA Program Director at U21Global
A sentiment echoed by Dr Helen Lange, MBA Program Director at U21Global. "MBA Study - whether through e-Learning or through campus based education should be concerned less about delivery and more about learning outcomes. The management quality of graduates is what determines the real value of an MBA program."
MBA’s are notoriously popular with recruiters. William W. Kooser, Associate Dean for Executive MBA Programs at the University of Chicago, believes there are two reasons for this "First, MBA graduates have many of the technical, analytical and strategic skills that employers are looking for. Second, they know that MBA programs are sources of great individual talent, regardless of the specific skills learned. Good students (and good potential employees) are found in top MBA programs - hence recruiters want to hire them".
Rumiko Anazawa from the International University of Japan agrees "(Recruiters) see hiring an MBA as a faster way of bringing in leaders for their company, rather than raising them internally".
An MNA can totally transform your career. So you need to study at a quality, respected institution. It is essential that you consider the curricula and teaching methods of each potential place of study before committing yourself to the program. Your decision should be based on what your ultimate career aims are as this degree is supposed to help you meet these goals.
There is no point applying to study an MBA before you have settled on a career path. With little time to change track once the program has begun you may find yourself going down an ultimately worthless route. There are literally millions of people studying MBAs; consultants, engineers, salesmen, web designers, analysts and many more from all areas of business. In a competitive marketplace your MBA needs to stand out and in turn make you stand out from the crowd.
"The only MBA worth having is a quality MBA" explains Dr Lange. "An MBA is worth nothing unless the graduates are better managers. The Best MBAs will be those that produce management graduates who can apply what they have learned immediately to the work place. Accreditations such as the European Foundation of Management Development (EFMD) - Certificate of Technology Enhanced Learning (CEL) are important, as they ensure credibility and quality."
Rumiko Anazawa also underlined the importance of accreditation and getting an MBA from a leading institution "Because such schools also provide networking opportunities in addition to good business education."
One of the other often understated benefits to studying for an MBA is the international aspect and integration with fellow business people from around the world. As there is no typical MBA candidate, you will find that any program of study will throw together a wide variety of people, with a range of experiences and opinions. In itself a strong benefit, both in terms of appreciating the needs of different audiences and markets, but in dealing with individuals who do not necessarily share your beliefs. No business can ever afford to be insular enough to believe they do not need international vision, and the MBA graduate is given firsthand exposure to different cultures and approaches to business.
"Good Students (and good potential employees) are found in top MBA programs - hence recruiters want to hire them"
William W. Kooser: Associate Dean for Executive MBA Programs at the University of Chicago
With the amount of dedication and sacrifices inherent in any MBA program it is little surprise that interest in studying online has grown so sharply. Of course there are positives and negatives with online delivery.
Dr Lange from U21Global, a world-leading online graduate school, explained "There are quite a few advantages, the most important of which are: Flexibility - Students do not have to follow a prescribed pattern and there is more scope for learning according to their preferred style. They can study when they have time, and consequently can better manage their time; Greater participation - In traditional education, the brightest students don’t always speak out, but in the online class, all do; and cost and immediate payback - Students are able to pursue a post-graduate education whilst still continuing their career."
However, Rumiko Anazawa is concerned that "by stripping a student of the campus experience programs may deprive them a major communication skills development chance"
William W. Koozer understands both arguments "Most top schools today realize that interaction is important and continue to include classroom based instruction in their programs - even if they also have a significant online component." As ever, the decision must be a personal one based on the needs of the candidate and the pressures of home and work life may dictate which method of study best suits the individual.
Rumiko Anazawa concluded our discussion with a final piece of advice "An MBA should be preparing to lead in their chosen field of business. Today’s business world issues cannot be solved by always taking the same approach. There is no standard formula for MBA recruitment, except to say those who are eager to excel, willing to stretch their own assumptions, and ready to lead in a diverse group situation are always attractive."
With generous thanks to:
Rumiko Anazawa: Public Relations Officer from the International University of Japan (IUJ). IUJ boasts a highly multi-cultural environment and the MBA program is run in an intensive, emersion situation with just 300 people from over 50 countries.
Mr Lee Kwok Cheong: CEO of Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (UB) Executive MBA program offered at SIM is in its 11th intake year and offers in-depth training and hands-on experience in complex team-management skills.
William W. Kooser: Associate Dean for Executive MBA Programs at the University of Chicago (Singapore) Graduate School of Business. No other business school faculty has been honoured more than Chicago GSB.
Dr Helen Lange: MBA Program Director at U21Global, a premier online graduate school providing quality higher education in the global marketplace through flexible eLearning delivery.