What has your MBA done for you?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sonny_jr, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. sonny_jr

    sonny_jr New Member

    As I look around for a good MBA program, I often times ask myself what I would be doing after completion of an MBA. I am a BSLS grad and not in a business environment. I wonder how an MBA would assist me down the road? What kind of jobs can a person apply for if one has an MBA?

    I appreciate and welcome everyone's thoughts and opinions.

  2. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    For me the question has been, what can't you do?

    Good questions sonny_jr.

    The MBA has become the instinctive "edge" weapon of American culture.

    You generally complete the MBA to further your middle and executive business management objectives.

    The MBA is a masters-level degree meaning that at many colleges and universities, this qualifies you to teach students at or up to the bachelors-level. Some people in research or professional services feel that an MBA isn't a real academic degree. To compete in these fields you'll need either an MBA offering a 15 to 18 credit "specialization" or a graduate-level certificate. Around the particularily snobby you'll need to be able to demonstrate that your program required a thesis/defense and/or some form of capstone project.

    That is all the weaknesses I can think of right now.

    As far as what can you actually do???

    Anything. By design most MBA programs have heavy concentration of accounting, marketing, strategy, human resources, and economics. You need each of these competencies if you wish to start your own business or effectively run a business owned by someone else. Additionally most MBA prgrams allow you to specialize (gain those 15 to 18 credits mentioned above). Since specialization is how you create a niche and generate protected revenues, this is a good option to take. For me, I took a tech-MBA. I have all the core skills of a regular MBA (give or take my likes and dislikes) and a strong set of competencies in IT executive management. Luckily that's exactly where I'm going so my specialization is actually useful.

    Why would you need an MBA in a library environment?

    Even libraries have revenue models to be created, need marketing assistance, and want highly qualified staff. Since libraries deal in books, they deal in cash. Since they deal in cash you'll need accountancy. Since you need accountancy, you need someone to manage the strategic aims of the collected revenue.

    To be honest a MPA might be a better fit if you're going to remain in the non-profit environment. An MPA is a master of public administration degree designed to provide you with a specific set of knowledge relative to managing and supporting the needs of non-profit organizations including cities, states, localities, libraries, charities, etc.

    The MPA is to the public world what the MBA is to the private sector. (At least in theory).

    Therefore the moral of the story is...

    What do you want to do and Where do you want your degree to take you?

    That will be the best measure of your success both in a degree program and after the degree program in your working professional life.

    Hopefully this has been useful. I'm sure that there are dozens of other helpful degreeinfo denizens looking to help you over the next little while as you refine your thoughts on the matter.

  3. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    This question also depends heavily on your past work experience. Typically, an MBA doesn't help you get a different job, but gets you a higher level of job that you already have. If you are a plumber looking to do a career change into Wall-Street, an MBA will not help you. However, a experienced plumber with an MBA would probably find it much easier to move up in the construction or pipe-fitting industry, or start a successful business of their own.
  4. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    I agree edowave that the utility of a degree does depend to some extent on your previous field experience. We can see that when any recent grad tries to get a job. The question though is what is the difference? If you are a plumber just graduating with an MBA you won't list your plumbing experience on your resume. You will do the Education Resume. Or you will go to your plumbing boss and get him to write a letter about how much you did for the business itself (and not in the business either). Then you'd put the plumbing experience on the resume as a VP, executive, or co-owner (depending on what your personal experiences are).

    So yes, sonny_jr, it does depend on what you're going to be using your degree for and to some extent on what you've been doing. But that limitation is only a marketing limitation. A plumber with an MBA is not impossible. The real question is what's your goal?

    Let me try to answer that question for you.

    I see three goals of going back to school for an MBA:
    1. To change careers.
    2. To advance to management in your existing career.
    3. To keep your career going but to add options and depth to your academic experience.

    Most of us follow option 3 even when we think we're making a change or breaking into management all we are doing is giving ourselves options and breathing room. If your goal is to change careers, know that you will be starting off like any recent grad with limited direct experience and therefore not so great pay potential. If your goal is to advance an existing career, you'll maintain your experience quota while adding a academic twist. As a result you'll be getting some form of promotion and your experience and education certainly will help you there. Finally, if your goal is to simpl provide options and breathing room, you'll have the added advantage of maintaining your experience quota while adding the academic twist but without spending the human capital you've built into yourself. If anything, working at a lower level with a high degree increases the long-term value of your human capital making you more and more valuable. If you kept this up you would naturally rise into management simply because you are worth more to the company than your current position requires.

  5. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    Ha...I've got a good one!

    The real question is what have you done for your MBA?

    (I thought that was funny, sorry).

  6. rabbuhl

    rabbuhl New Member

    The Graduate Management Admission Council has a site which is designed to answer questions about MBA careers.

    TopMBA also has a section called MBA Careers.
  7. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member


    Abner :)
  8. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    On a more serious and personal note...

    My MBA has provided me with some really neat experiences.

    First, I got to teach at a local ACCSB college for a while before being drafted back into the private workforce. Second, I got about a 30K raise upon rehire. Third, I now have yet another nice piece of paper to stick on my wall in a few weeks (when I feel comfortable in my new position).

    To keep with the context of the question though, I'm something of a special case, your results may vary.

    I'm a "natural" teacher who thrives on the interaction between myself and smart attentive students. I've taught for many years (like 10 or 15) in my religous organization and so I bring a good knowledge of learners into my teaching. I was rehired by a previous employer who knew my expertise and appreciated my new credentials. Finally, I was a late bloomer when it came to credentialism but I hope to be one of the most wonderfully credentialled people in the country as soon as possible.
  9. JoAnnP38

    JoAnnP38 Member

    Okay, I'm sure that an MBA can be nothing but beneficial for most anyone; however, what about for a mid-career, recent manager that has a gift for putting her foot in her mouth? After having been promoted to Manager of Software Development, I'm finding that my best form of communication is written, and its even more effective if no one knows it was written by me. Unfortunately, I have a penchant for putting my foot in my mouth or stating the obvious when communicating verbally. Will an MBA teach me to keep my mouth shut? :)
  10. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    We're all in the same boat there!!!

    No, JoAnnP38, the MBA isn't a silver bullet. It can't cure cancer or stop the bubonic plague. I'm simply responding to the requests of my fellow learners by providing evidence by narcissism.

    I would say though, that the best managers and leaders often step outside of cultural norms on occassion when trying to communicate. Sticking your foot in your mouth is a human experience and while temporarily embarrasing won't generally damage your future potential for happiness and fulfillment.

    About the specific topic though, my MBA ingrained in me that if I didn't want to stick my foot in my mouth I should have everything I write double and triple checked by independant observers (perhaps husband/wife or boy/girl-friend). Personally, I don't care. I want to be that bull in the china shop which everyone else has to duck around. I believe that being outspoken is a gift and if on the odd chance I'm wrong about one of my damning phrases or critical analysis we'll there's no time like the present to apologize and move forward.

    I'm in a unique situation though when it comes to that though. I only want to work for a company for a maximum of two years. I believe I'm building breadth of experience with each new position I accept. If you're looking for long-term job security you'll need to be a tad more political. The MBA can teach you politics.

    I wouldn't just recommend the MBA to just anyone though.

    I'd start for your case by recommending you take some graduate HR courses followed up with a few organizational development/leadership courses.

    I'm sure you're good at what you do. Most likely you have so much value that your occassional (sp?) "foot in the mouth" episode doesn't detract from your human capitol too much. You've got a plesant blogging tone and don't come across like myself (as a bull in a china shop who's a little insensitive, arrogant, and far too technical for the common ox). You should be fine.

    After these courses (particularily the OL/OD ones), you should put yourself in as many potentially embarrising situations as you can think of and I'd bet that you'll do much better.

    Knowing the tone of some of the posters on this forum, I'm not sure that you were asking a serious question/posing a serious concern but having not seen your posts, I thought you should be answered. Especially given I fight with footinmymouthis syndrom on a daily basis.

    You know what I did once (as an aside)? I was meeting with a client who was an underling at this particular firm. We were discussing how much of a genius the head of this company was. I made the mistake of saying that I was surprised by she intelligence and compassion she displayed during the company's public response to the 911 tragidies (sp). The underling dutifully asked me "Why were you surprised?" and by that point I was backed into a corner and responded bluntly "Because when I first met her, I thought she was somewhat stupid." The aid looked at me in horror and changed the subject.

    Needless to say, I'm still waiting on that comment to come back and bite me. That has been seven or eight years now and three firms ago but I'm sure that she has contacts everywhere who will hunt me down and throttle me for even thinking that.

    Anyway, for what it's worth!
  11. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Like Jmetro said, I don't know if this was a joking post or not, but I'll assume it's real.

    When I was promoted to a supervisor's position at the tender age of 24, I was thrust into leading 9 personnel directly and operational command of up to 24 personnel. Man was I in over my head. I was the 2nd or 3rd youngest member of my department at the time, with the average age hovering at about 35 or 36 years old. Everything I did was scrutinized, ridiculed or analyzed for ulterior motives by guys who weren’t moving up, didn’t want to move up and distrusted or outright disliked anyone who did move up. Everything I ever said as a line officer was distorted, perverted then spat back at me for a while. I learned something about foot in mouth disease. Additionally I learned something about being the boss, it isn’t fun. Someone who makes management look easy either doesn’t care about what they do, is too egotistical to realize what their doing or is really good at it, which as you may have guessed is a learned trait.

    This brings me back to your post, leaders are not born, they are made, then they continually develop. Maturity does not come with age, which I have learned the hard way in my personal shock at watching someone like a retired Navy vet, father of four and seasoned police officer, spit, whine and moan like a 3 year old about mandatory overtime. At times, in my state of shock, I have redressed these shortcomings in a manner with sarcastic remarks and biting comments. As you may have guessed, I usually ended up regretting my comments, at least at a personal level.

    Later I discovered the benefits of note taking. Not only is note taking great for conducting reviews, etc. in the future, but it lets me get these irritations off of my chest in any kind of language I so see fit. Naturally nobody sees these notes and often they are discarded, only used for my personal psychological benefit. As such my foot in mouth disease has almost been completely cured (almost). I still have a lot to learn about leadership, but I have read up quite a bit on the topic, usually looking to U.S. Presidents and their life stories, struggles and adaptations to the office. For example the letter writing technique (note taking) that I use is from Abraham Lincoln.

    This brings me to your question about does being an MBA cure you of foot in mouth disease? I’m not an MBA but I would guess it’s safe to say no. Leadership skills may reduce your ailment however. Look to something like a Masters in Leadership or an MBA in Leadership……like St. Joe’s (www.sjcme.edu) or some other MBA with an Organizational Leadership emphasis. Of course that isn’t enough in of itself, you MUST keep researching and practicing the skills that a leader needs. It’s a diminishing trait that must be continually fortified. It took me a while to realize that leadership skills can diminish, but if you believe they cannot, can you imagine someone like Andrew Jackson, great as he was, being President today?
  12. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    While I understand and agree with some of the points made by previous posters in response to this question, let me vary a little bit from their perspectives. . .

    . . . exposure to business classes and/or training CAN help.

    I took a few business-related classes back in community college, then took forever to get back to working on my degree. When I did go back to the process, it was largely driven by frustration with situations in my day job, some of which were partly self-created.

    When I did get back to working on my degree, I ran through some of the basic business-topic exams such as Marketing, Management, etc. While I did well on much of this based on what I'd learned in the past 15+ years of employment, I also gained the ability to view things from more of a business perspective. This was a big help, as my personal frustration had clouded my judgment and kept me from communicating effectively. After the business coursework, I was able to formulate responses in difficult situations that would have eluded me prior.

    So the long and short of it is, business classes can help. I don't know if an MBA is the answer-- it sounds like overkill. You might also find less-expensive one-day communication/management seminars useful in this regard.
  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

  14. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    I read that article too with some interest this morning...

    I must take exception though to the discussion because it is a straw-man argument. The point of business school isn't to make a person a leader. The respondents are accurate in a technical sense in saying that an MBA (by itself) doesn't "prepare managers for real-life challenges". The respondents unfortunately are being mis-led by the question to think there is some kind of dichotomy between grad-school education and hard-knocks education. They are in essence being forced to frame the discussion as follows:
    Is an MBA a manager or is a manager a manager?

    The article's conclusions are correct, that understanding that hard-work, dedication, expertise, and ethics are essential characteristics of a manager that when combined with an MBA can help produce a good leader or manager.


    I think we need to take a step back and talk about the big picture.

    What is the point of education?

    Over the last several years education has become synonymous with training in that companies send their employees back to school to become better versed in one aspect or another of that employee's current or future job function. Makes sense, right?

    Well it hasn't always been this way and even in the case of training camps and other specialized forms of study (like my MBA case studies that I was put through), the educational process can only do so much for building actual real-world experience. Traditionally, education has been the distillation of rules about the world around us into cohesive theories which are taught to our children who expand upon the theories as they mature and become "experienced in things of the world". Therefore the point of education while there may be some truth to the idea that the point is to produce cogs in the wheel of industry, in reality is to expose youth to the topic of consideration, give them an understanding of the basic theories that govern the subject, caution them about things that will burn them, and then hope that they do well...

    In a nutshell, education is a microcosm of the learning/teaching processes in use by every culture at all times in Earth's history. The point of education is to broaden horizons, flesh out understandings, and add just a little more value to the mass of human capital that is being accumulated by the student.

    So let's apply this to the MBA:

    Is the MBA supposed to magically turn out leaders? No. That is not the function of the MBA and it never has been.

    So what is the MBA supposed to do? Expose the student to a certain degree of competency to a wide variety of business management topics, from accountancy, to operations management, to human resources, to marketing, and on (in my case) to specialize in IT management. There could be hundreds of different topics of specialization and thousands of formulations of an MBA program. Each type of MBA would be chosen by students who wish to gain additional skillsets in ABC or CEQ or XYZ.

    Thus the point of the MBA isn't to graduate perfect managers and leaders but to help cultivate the thinking of a manager by teaching the rules and leading theories of leadership, combined with case studies to help the learner actually implement the rules eventually in the real-world, and a healthy fear of doing something stupid. After that point, the MBA is useless.

    Some say that the MBA provides opportunities for contacts in the "big boy's club" and can put you in a whole different circle of friends...

    That may be true, but those of us who choose distance learning may very well be short-changing this aspect of our education. Personally, I think that finishing the program on my own schedule (asynchronous format), at a reasonable cost (much lower than B&M), without the need to interface with any other people except my dissertation board, mentor, instructors, and the occassional (sp) student that I choose to help greatly outweighs the usefulness of shaking hands with one of my peers. I don't use contacts to further my career because I'm man enough to do it on my own...

    Sorry. That just slipped out. And on a Sunday too?

    What I meant to say is that I feel dishonest in cultivating contacts for the purpose of making money. I believe the friendship should be honest, open, and given with no ulterior motives other than that of being a friend. If I knew that the President of the US was taking an MBA course with me, wouldn't that change my tune? Not really. If I saw him in person and could get around his ten-ton bodyguards, I'd shake his hand and then go back to life as normal. What if I met a guy who wanted to start a school, business, or <INSERT MONEY-MAKING VENTURE HERE> with me? I'm not sure that would change my tune either. Either he'd want to do the business or not, I can't see how meeting a person in person makes that much of a difference.

    If it does make a difference, then you must be a salesman at heart and I have a hard time with salesmen.

    Anyway, back to topic...

    The point of an MBA program is to graduate people who may become great leaders or managers in the future as their strength and intelligence and experience grows. The MBA can also be used to validate the experiences and intelligence and strength of a person like Bill Gates or myself (though I'm no where in the same financial success class as he is, I'm a self-starter with a good imagination and excellent critical thinking skills) who are or are trying to become great leaders and managers.

    It's a good article with some excellent criticisms of some common thinking about education but for those of you who were just hoping to see an article telling you to take the plunge into MBA studies I can say this...

    The MBA won't make you rich. It won't clean your bathroom floor. You will have to do both of those things yourself. The MBA has as many variations on the theme of business as you can imagine. I'm certain there is an aspect of business administration that you are interested in strengthening your hand in. An MBA will be good for that.

  15. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    I originally embarked on the MBA journey to enhance my career credentials in the restaurant management field - but I fell in love with the classroom and rekindled my dream of teaching.

    I now teach full-time at a community college, do some adjunct work on the side, and now working on the PhD thingy...

  16. jmetro

    jmetro New Member

    I did that exact same thing too...

    I took the MBA program to enhance my consulting credentials. I too found that I loved the classroom and retired from consulting. Unfortunately my retirement was cut short by a previous employer who needed my help on a project. Now I'm back in consulting again but have adjunct status at one nationally accredited college in the local area.

    I think that anyone who takes the MBA will find that their options are quite expanded.

  17. CargoJon

    CargoJon New Member

    What about running the risk that you over-qualify yourself for your position? Obviously the company should promote you...but if they don't?

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