So, you have a good job, you might have a degree or even a post-graduate qualification. Why would you stop what you are doing and opt for the expense and time commitment of an MBA?
Apart from answering that you don’t have to stop what you are doing as MBAs can run alongside work, the best way I can articulate the value of doing an MBA is that it gives you understanding and vision to expand your view to take more strategic responsibility. It delivers a broad base of knowledge, with insights right the way across the business, which empowers graduates to be proactive in taking actions, versus just being reactive and on the back foot.
The pandemic has caused many business leaders to have to pivot overnight, heading in new directions that were nowhere near the business plan even 3 months before. In an incredibly challenging time, leaders of those companies were required to know enough about their businesses to make the best decisions confidently and quickly in ever changing circumstances.
Think about it this way, if you are driving a car at 50km an hour and your headlights only go 10 meters in front of you, you have very little time to react to the road ahead. Having an MBA is like having really powerful headlights. It delivers a far better capability to see the twists and turns that are coming, judge possible disruptions and take advantage of long-range opportunities.
The requirements of running a business
Being a good business leader requires a wide and varied skillset so you are in a position to ask the right questions, understand data and results you are presented with.
An MBA is designed with this in mind. It allows people to step out of their educated specialty and to have the skills to be able to move across the different business domains like strategy, accounting, product development, logistics and HR, with enough understanding to add value. You need to know enough to ask the right questions to gather the correct information to make decisions.
For example, with no experience in the area, how can you know what should be front of mind for the marketing team regarding the customer base? And key challenges they may have in building market share or reaching new audiences? Similarly, if you look at the finance function, how can you source and lead a pitch for more funds to build your business if you are not comfortable with business accounts? As a senior or aspiring leader who will ultimately be held accountable, how do you know whether the business is making any money or not or if there are problems in the way money is being managed within your company?
You will always need a good team and the value of having a strong group of experts around you to talk to and bounce ideas around with is immeasurable. But as a leader, it will be your responsibility to be able to connect with your business and empower your teams to be the best they can be. And ultimately, make the big strategic decisions that are necessary to thrive in a changing global market.
Written by James Berry, Director of the UCL MBA