MBA: Benefits of a management degree
In the last article, our mentor identified important points to keep in mind before planning to pursue a management degree. In this article, the conversation regarding MBA continues wherein, he talks about the benefits of a management degree and why companies prefer MBAs.
By Dwijendra Srivastava | Chief Mentor | IMS, Rajasthan Region
What does an MBA programme give you in general?
- A holistic perspective of the business
An MBA programme exposes you to case studies of different kinds of corporations from around the world. You’ll learn valuable and practical business lessons from organisations you might otherwise never encounter. More importantly, you learn all aspects of the business like finance, marketing, HR, operations etc, which help you to look at overall organisational goals and how the decisions of one department will impact the other departments.
During an MBA programme, you get to meet a lot of people and learn from them. You are surrounded by professors, faculty, batchmates and industry professionals. Internships, which are an integral required component of most MBA programmes, are a way to get a foot in the door of companies and industries you are interested in. And above all, you are able to connect with the alumni of the college. So go ahead and do a lot of networking.
- Career advancement and increased opportunities
In most cases, if the MBA programme is pursued after a brief work experience it helps in shifting from one industry to another and even from one functional area to another. Also, it has been observed that a good MBA programme helps to develop relevant skill sets, gain more reasoning abilities and confidence, and therefore helps you advance in your own career.
- Practical learning
Most of the good B-Schools across the globe have a case study and internship-based pedagogy. This helps you understand real business issues and how to tackle them. One of the main reasons why MBAs are preferred is because of their ability to troubleshoot critical problems, an ability gained from the practical learning methodology during their programme.
- Learning from top executives and successful leaders
Imagine what you would learn if Nandan Nilekani, Indra Nooyi, Mukesh Ambani or other successful leaders like them come and share their experiences with you! One of the best things about these leaders and business executives is that they love to visit B-schools and give guest lectures. These talks are an amazing way to gain insights and advice from people who’ve already done what you want to do. It also takes you away from the mundane theoretical bookish knowledge and makes the learning more interactive and interesting. The value added from these sessions is massive.
- Team work
In the real business world you are expected to work with teams. Management, per se, is a lot about teamwork and collaboration. Most of the courses in MBA programmes include group projects, and you will have several opportunities to master the art of team building. Even if you’re not assigned group work, you may still seek out opportunities to collaborate with your peers. Knowing how to bring people together will be extremely helpful in grooming you into a successful business leader.
- Liberal thinking
Planning, strategising, rationalising, alternative thinking and taking the long view are core to being a successful manager. A good MBA programme helps you develop business related reasoning and the ability to correlate things. It provides you greater breadth as well as depth in creating plans and analysing issues.
- Provides more credibility to your candidature
I am so very tempted to not include this point because it is highly misunderstood by many. So I will mention this as an outcome of your completing the MBA programme, but with a rider. Being an MBA certainly provides more strength to your resume and hence your candidature for a job, but it is not the only thing. Whatever you’ve gained from your MBA programme is far more critical; more importantly, whether you are able to demonstrate that during your interview or not differentiates you from other candidates. Another very important point is once you’ve completed your MBA programme, the expectations that the interviewers and companies have from you are much higher than those from a non-MBA graduate.
Why companies prefer MBAs
According to the B-Schools that educate them and employers who hire them, MBA grads are sought after for their ability to think critically, deal with ambiguity and solve complex problems. In the broadest sense, the MBA degree represents a way of thinking and not just a set of financial skills and business knowledge. An MBA grad is typically expected to be a strategic thinker who takes an analytical approach.
For example, operations managers who have risen through the company’s ranks are experts at getting things done, but MBA grads from the outside can bring a fresh perspective, like figuring out how to improve key business processes, such as filling catalogue orders.
Companies primarily prefer MBAs because they are –
Professional trouble shooters
MBAs are professionally trained in problem solving. They know how to frame problems, ask relevant questions, collect data and come up with multiple solutions. They have developed the ability to deal with ambiguity and introduce changes that help the company compete in the market.
Trained critical thinkers
An MBA grad can evaluate a company by looking at its financials. But that’s not why employers want them. They also ask if the numbers make sense in terms of other realities. The process of earning the degree, which relies heavily on the case-study approach and requires students to evaluate business dilemmas and formulate the best plan of action, teaches them to think critically.
To wrap up, I will go back and ask the same question again –
‘Does an MBA help?’
And after all the details I spoke of, I will answer the question in the same way as I did for the first time to a student in 1997 –
But now I know that it doesn’t sound subjective or vague to you anymore.
All the best!
The author is an alumnus of XLRI Jamshedpur, and Chief Mentor, Rajasthan Region at IMS Learning Resources. He has mentored and guided over 15,000 students to find successful career paths.