Is an MBA the right choice for you?

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Thinking about applying for an MBA? An MBA will add a serious professional edge to your CV and will likely have a demonstrable impact on your career if you choose the right programme for the right reasons. However, it’s a very significant undertaking in terms of time and money and not everyone is in a position to make a success of it. So let’s look at the benefits, in general terms, of an MBA programme, and if it would be right for you.

An MBA sends a signal to recruiters about you and your career

An MBA is not a mandatory certification that you need in order to practice within a certain field. I’s not a credential that you have to have. Indeed there are many, many people working at the highest level in all sectors that have no MBA, so don’t think it’s a solution that bypasses hard work or natural aptitude for a particular area. Its a fact that an MBA is far more applicable to some sectors than it is to others. That’s what you need to consider when you’re looking at whether its a worthwhile investment for you. But, completing an MBA does send a signal: you’re serious about both your own professional development and the level at which you wish to operate. So think about the jobs you want. How are MBA’s perceived in those markets? Check out business leaders in these areas and see how prevalent MBAs are. Would your chance of working in this sector change if you had an MBA? Is there a particular MBA course that has a strong track record in this area?

An MBA provides you with practical skills

It’s not just the interpretation of management and leadership that has transformed over recent years, the field of management education has also changed considerably. MBA programmes of the past were almost exclusively finance and operations based, with little on the leadership theory side, which made them distinctly irrelevant for a great many sectors. They have thankfully evolved and a top MBA programme, such as those listed in our article here, focus on key elements such as strategy, organisational behaviour and leadership. The hard skills of finance, logistics and accounting elements , of course, remain part of the MBA experience but they are no longer the guiding principles as to how an MBA’s course content should be judged.

MBA programmes now realise that their students, who successfully complete their programmes, will learn so much through leading and managing others that their career trajectories will outgrow the purely practical elements of the course. Delivering on a management or executive level will require so much more, which is why leading MBA courses now focus heavily on elements such as international best practice, interpersonal dynamics and leadership. Obviously due to the lack of practical definitions when it comes to areas such as these-learning has taken on a more experiential shape, which has made for more engaging and rewarding MBA programmes in the vast majority of cases.

Access to a great network

One of the best reasons for an MBA, or indeed any good course, is the people you meet on both the staff and student level. As an MBA student, you can often learn as much from your peer group on the course as you do from lectures, so try and build relationships on the course, or if you’re shopping around for an MBA try and find out who’s on their alumni network and are there people relevant to your sector etc? Of course, with the amount of MBA courses currently available (full-time, part-time and even through blended or distance learning) there will be different levels and standards of alumni networks to plug into, so consider that when choosing what course you wish to pursue.

But make sure you’re ready for the workload

Any MBA programme requires a large degree of hard work; a leading MBA programme, particularly a full-time one, requires a remarkable amount of application and focus. The first half of a two-year programme, or the first two thirds of a full time programme, places the heaviest demands. The reasons for this are that the most functional and academic elements of the course are generally inculcated at this stage, plus aspects such as teamwork, leadership, good communication, economics and sector based macro-economics. If you’re merging this with a full time job, particularly a senior role, then it can be even more challenging as most programmes emphasise the need for good time management and organisation and how to manage it. However, if you have successfully built a career and have the drive to take it to the next level then you will be able to- meet the demands of the MBA and remember that while the workload can be tough, the rewards can indeed be worth it.


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