Is an MBA Worth It?

April 22, 2007 at 5:43 am 8 comments

Here is a question for you: Every year thousands and thousands of emerging business leaders attend Business School. Some do it for the network, some do it for the degree, and a few even attend school to learn a couple of new tricks. At the end of the day, is an MBA worth it?

Some say that business is more art than science requiring just as many soft skills (social interaction, leadership), that are near impossible to teach, as hard skills (finance, accounting). These detractors say that any hard skills needed are learned on the job and that a network can be built the old fashion way, and so an MBA is just plain useless. They go on to say that anyone who will make it in business will do so regardless of any three letter degree, and that formalized business training might even inhibit the creative juices.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who swear by the MBA. They point to the benefits of a strong network of contacts, a deeper understanding of core business skills, and the benefits of a prestigious degree. They understand that an MBA is not a pre-requisite for business success, but they argue that it is quiet helpful and increases ones odds significantly of “making it”.

I hear both sides of the equation and I wonder what you think…does an MBA increase the likelihood of success and is it a good investment?

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Entry filed under: Start-up.

So what to do we actually do? How would an MBA help you?

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christopher Spence  |  April 22, 2007 at 6:36 am

    In my opinion, it completely depends on the individual and opportunities that come available during their career path. I can’t vouch for MBA and the experience, but I can’t imagine the contacts and networking gained from it cannot be obtained in the same amount of time spent networking. 2 Years of hard core networking will generally yield you a lot of good contacts. But it comes down the individual; some individuals have a knack for business and adapt to be very successful. Some like to hear other people’s ideas can go out into the field and apply them. In the end a lot of it comes down to luck.

    LUCK – Where preparation meets opportunity.

    Reply
  • 2. Tom Powell  |  April 23, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    As a soon-to-be MBA student, I sure as hell hope it’s worth it! But I have definitely heard both sides of the issue argued and they both have merit. As Christopher said, it is dependant on an individuals situation and goals.

    One point to consider is that a vast majority of B-school students are career switchers using an MBA to catapult them into a new industry or profession without starting from the bottom.

    While an MBA may not be as much of a necessity as, say, a medical degree, in many (but certainly not all) cases, it can be highly beneficial. On the other hand, It seems that if you are interested in bootstrapping a small business, a b-school eduction might not be necessary: the 2 years and thousands of dollars would be better spent building the business, knowledge of the industry, and your network.

    Reply
  • 3. Ben  |  April 23, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    3 reasons to go to business school (in no particular order):
    1) education
    2) network
    3) resume enhancing degree

    Do you need an MBA to suceed in your career? Absolutely not. There is no one path to success. But depending on the individual and his/her situation these MBA-related value-propisitions are compelling, and in sometimes life changing. In my experience, I have met very few MBA grads who regret their decision to go to b-school – good sign I would say.

    Reply
  • 4. EP  |  April 24, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Chris,

    Thank you for your insightful take on the question. Networking is definitely a big component of going to Business School, but at the end of the day, meeting people can be done through various other cheaper alternatives.

    I wish you all the best with Lexan Systems, I am sure you will be very successful with or without an MBA.

    Tom,

    Thanks for reading and for your comment. I think you hit it on the head, it really depends on the person and their situation. Good luck next year in Business School and enjoy everything it has to offer.

    Ben,

    It seems like you are right, there is no way to predict the “right” road to success, as it can take many shapes and forms…but the fact that you rarely hear of someone who is disappointed with their 100k investment speaks volumes of the degree.

    Reply
  • 5. Ladi  |  April 26, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    Nice discussion topic. In my own opinion, One thing I’ve learnt about life is that there’s no “Right” way. There are many ways to reaching a destination, but that depends on the driver. Hmm, speaking of the “driver”, i’ll also add that another important factor is the person. If a person believes that he needs an MBA to move on to the next stage, then that’s fine. However, if he thinks he has all it takes without even going to school, that’s fine too. So i’ll say it all based on relativity.

    And now that I just decided to read everybody’s response at this time, it’s very surprising and encouraging that we are all thinking in the same line. WOW!

    Reply
  • 6. EP  |  April 26, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    HI Ladi,

    Thank you for your comment. It truly is amazing that pretty much everyone seems to agree that an MBA is not necessarily right for everyone. To each his own, as they say.

    Eli

    Reply
  • 7. Mohit Vaish  |  May 21, 2007 at 4:17 am

    Hi all,

    It appears that most readers are coming to a conclusion that it depends on the person if an MBA is useful or not, and, an MBA generally helps you building up the network.

    But there is one aspect we seem to be ignoring. MBA also means structured formal education. It equips an individual with some time tested tools, some methodologies built on others’ experience, and a formal way of dealing with situations. Everyone who goes for an MBA studies this. But how they use it after they graduate is something that depends on the individual style of management. In any case, they do have some tools and methods to deal with situations. A person without an MBA can also read and develop such an understanding, but the quality of that self learning will again vary from one situation to another.

    We have had many scientists without formal education, and we have had many who went to schools that provided ace education. We can find both kinds of scientists who did well and contributed to society and both kinds who maybe just ended up in something routine.

    The point I am driving across is that like all other degrees, an MBA does provide good education (and also networking opportunity, which is trivial in my personal opinion). How one uses these benefits, depends from person to person.

    good post and equally good comments!

    Mohit

    Reply
  • 8. EP  |  May 21, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Mohit,

    Thank you for adding a very interesting and important component to the conversation. I think you are right in that we overlooked discussing the relevance of the business skills learned in business school. And your second point too is critical, that at the end of the day, whatever is done with those skills is dependent on the individual.

    Thank you and good luck with all of your business endeavors.

    Eli

    Reply

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About

Exactly one year ago I set off on the most exciting journey of my life; I started Emerging Demographics Inc (the parent company of HireWorkers.com).

Along the way I was selected as one of the top 20 young entrepreneurs by BusinessWeek.com and the 21st coolest young entrepreneur by Inc. magazine. I have also appeared in ABC7, Telemundo, NPR, and been quoted in StaffingIndustry.com, WorkforceManagment.com, Entrepreneur Magazine, and various other publications.

Over the next few months I will recount some of the stories and lessons learned from building, developing and creating a business from scratch.

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