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I'm finishing up a PhD in the biological sciences. However, I wish to enter the business world but do not have any experience. Should I continue my schooling and get an MBA or should I just try to get my foot in the corporate world? My goal is to be able to use the lessons of Manager Tools as a leader and not just listen to the podcasts and dream about being a manager. Getting an MBA is expensive and time consuming. Also, do any know of Management Training programs in reputable corporations that will allow me to fast track without the MBA or a BA in Business? Please advise.

Mark's picture

Get out and get working. An MBA would be virtually worthless for someone in your situation (unless it was a Top 10 school, which have different rules...but even those I would still recommend against).

And stop worrying about "fast track". There are no "fast track" programs that don't require results. There's a whole cast on this topic (to be released), but you just need to get a job and go to work and outperform everyone else.

RESULTS. Not programs.

Mark

bffranklin's picture

So when does an MBA make sense? I've also been struggling with trying to decide if an MBA is a worthwhile next step for me.

I'm finishing up my undergrad in June in business administration after dropping out the first time around. In the interim, I've racked up about 5 years of experience in information security, and a decent chunk of accomplishments as an individual contributor. I'm looking to make that initial leap into management sometime soon.

There's just as much bad, bad information out there about the importance of advanced education as there is about management. Do Mike, Mark, or the MT community have any wisdom that cuts to the heart of this particular issue? How do the rules change for top 10? And is that a strict top 10? What about #17 (Tepper)?

jhack's picture

I spent 9 years working before I went back, and I'm very glad I did. I had the perspective and experience to really make sense of what I was learning.

John

PS: I also chose a Master of Science in Management of Technology program, rather than an MBA. I wouldn't have known to do that without the real world experience.

bflynn's picture

[quote="bffranklin"]So when does an MBA make sense? I've also been struggling with trying to decide if an MBA is a worthwhile next step for me.
[/quote]

All else equal...

In my opinion, an MBA makes the most sense after 2-3 years in your first management job. Getting an MBA will not immediately "make you a manager". With 5 years of technical expertise, you'll come out of b-school as an technician who isn't thinking about technical things anymore. Business school will make you think in different terms. Trust me when I say that's a liability, not an asset. It would be far better for you to express your desire to manage to your boss, to work your butt off and get into a management position before school. Otherwise, the only jobs open to you are pretty much consulting or entry level "business technician" jobs.

So, you still want to do it? OK, then the most important part of school will be the recruiting pipeline at the end. The best recruiting pipelines come out of the top 15 schools...see Business Week for which ones those are. You don't have to go to Kellogg in Chicago, but once you drop into the third tier schools, the recruiting pipeline is much less valuable.

- Quit work and go to school full time.
- knock the ball out of the park with your grades
- Attend every extra curricular activity you can, with a focus on those that accomplish something.
- in short, do everything you can to make yourself most marketable to future recruiters.

My opinion - your mileage may vary.

Brian

ramiska's picture

[quote]I also chose a Master of Science in Management of Technology program, rather than an MBA[/quote]

Where did you find that program?

jhack's picture

Polytechnic University of NY (the now independent NYU Engineering school). The program is run out of their Hawthorne (Westchester) NY graduate center.

http://www.poly.edu/admissions/graduate/academics/programs/graduateprogr...

A number of other schools also offer this program...

John

ramiska's picture

From western CT, Westchester is reachable. I hadn't heard of such a program but it makes sense. Thanks.

US41's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Get out and get working. An MBA would be virtually worthless for someone in your situation (unless it was a Top 10 school, which have different rules...but even those I would still recommend against).

And stop worrying about "fast track". There are no "fast track" programs that don't require results. There's a whole cast on this topic (to be released), but you just need to get a job and go to work and outperform everyone else.

RESULTS. Not programs.

Mark[/quote]

Amen.

My MBA netted me a loss of family time for five years and huge amounts of stress. I also lost money - my salary increase over five years was not as great as the expense - and not directly attributable to the MBA.

However, listening to free podcasts, reading these forums, and reading every book on the reading list here increased my income dramatically and changed everything for me. I learned what results look like and how to show them to management, how to control my behavior better (and own it) and how to manage my career.

MBA = waste of time

The solution for a stalled technical career is here and in used books from Amazon.com, not in a college.

regas14's picture

US41 -

Perhaps you were just trying to make a splash, but I have to take exception to your statement:

MBA = Waste of Time

I disagree whole-heartedly. I gained a great deal from my MBA program. I learned from the professors, the materials and most of all from my classmates. My skills in the areas of critical thinking and situational analysis were challenged and expanded and my understanding of the linkages between business functions, policy decisions, implementation and results was enhanced.

Like you, I have found Manager Tools to be invaluable in helping me change my behaviors to better leverage those skills and understandings but it is not a replacement for the things I gained. Of course I believe someone could do the things I'm doing without an MBA just like there are good managers in the world who've never heard of Manager Tools.

It really is too bad that you were left unsatisfied from your MBA program. Surely every program does not fit every student at every stage of their career. I tend to agree with the prevailing wisdom here that the degree holds very little meaning without "real" working experience.

Hey, if the MBA didn't pay dividends for you, at least you found Manager Tools.

gnattey's picture

OK - here is a comment - I agree with everything here, even the exception ... and no it is not that I am sitting on the fence.

[b]BLUF:[/b] My response is: It depends on what [i][u]you[/u][/i] want. Some people do not get much from the program they enrol in, and that is fine. I got an enormous amount from mine. If you are after an applied masters (one where you look to learn from your experience and apply that to a theoretical framework), then look for a combined programme. If you have no experience, or some results based on new career, then there is little point doing the applied style of course. IMHO: there is also little point doing other courses as well - You will hear many ideas and probably become more confused.

Also, research the learning style on offer - online, or Face-to-face. What works for you?

I have been giving a talk to prospective students for around 5 years as part of the information (sales) seminars for the Masters I completed 2 years ago. This is one of the most common questions. My response has been one of the main aspects (feedback from others) people have used to enrol, or not in the course I undertook. Thankfully the University (US=College??) has an open mind to me discouraging prospective students who may enrol for the wrong reasons - some may not be so liberal.

All learning is what [u][i]you[/i][/u] make of it. I am a subscriber to the life-long learning model and manager-tools forms large part of that at present (... and most likely well into the future 8) ). I have some great results from a technical career and observed that I was beginning to have more business-like conversations around why we should/should not do something. I was being run around by experienced mangers who could talk the talk. I enrolled in a masters program to learn the [i]ligua-franca[/i] of the environment I wished to be part of. This helped amazingly and now I can translate the benefit my sytematic approaches had and directly relate these to efficiency improvements and benefit to customers/shareholders.

That part paid off as it was during the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tech_wreck]tech wreck[/url] period when finding a job as an IT Project Manger was almost a fanciful exploit... and then there was Manager Tools :D which has and is giving me the day-to-day execution aspects of getting results (keep it up chaps)

In short get out there, get busy and just get on with it - your results will deliver far more than any course. Without results, it will just be another piece of paper on the wall :lol: If you want to chat further, feel free to drop a line, I'm happy to talk through my experience - after all, these courses are expensive and you need to consider potential ROI.

[i]Declaration of Interest:[/i] I completed the [url=http://www.mbt.unsw.edu.au/]Masters of Business and Technology (MBT)[/url] through the University of New South Wales here in Australia. I studied with both face-to-face and online models as during the program I moved states... changed jobs 4 times, and have two chidren - I even kept my sanity :wink: I am voluntary member of the almumni advisory committee

TomW's picture

The MBA is not a money printing press. By itself, it doesn't mean anything. For it to pay off, you have to DO something with it, which usually means changing jobs (either by changing companies or getting a promotion) or changing careers.

For example, a buddy of mine got his degree in architecture, then his MBA, now he's planning on being an architect for a living. The MBA will definitely help him, but until he's managing his own practice (something he told me does not want to do), he will never see the return on that investment.

It's also important to pick a reasonably respected school. If you pick a low-ranked school, you won't get the same respect that someone from Harvard or Wharton gets. Be careful with some of the online MBAs, which get almost no recognition at all.

If you don't do anything to make use of it, then the MBA would be a waste of a lot of time and effort. If you're willing to put in the effort and make some changes, then you could see huge returns.

ccleveland's picture

[b]Value of MBA:[/b] I, too, strongly disagree with US41’s generalization that an MBA is a waste of time. While it may not be valuable for everyone and all situations, it certainly can be a worthwhile pursuit.

I did not go to a top 10 school, and I am still working for the same company as when I started school, so recruitment wasn’t a factor. However, I can go through almost every course that I took and identify things that I have learned that have directly contributed to my performance and ability to achieve better results.

For example, I used many of the concepts I learned in business statistics to lead an organizational change that resulted in a [u]70%[/u] reduction in service cycle time. Without that knowledge, at best we would have taken much more time to achieve this level, at worst, the effort would have failed.

It seems to me that the value of designations, such as “MBA,” “PhD,” “PMP,” or “MCSE”, etc., is to provide to an individual the path to reach a goal. After reaching the end of that path, real success is measured by the results that can be attained because of the knowledge and experience gained by travelling the path.

[b]When to do an MBA?[/b] BLUF: It depends on you. The more you’re in a position to use what you’re learning, the better. Your ability to learn and retain will be directly affected by your past work experience and your ability to apply what you’re learning right away. There was a clear difference in my classes between those who went right from undgrad to MBA and those who had some work experience.

I started my MBA part-time after 7 years of work experience working as a project manager on small projects. From a work point-of-view, it would be a little better for me to be in a more senior position before starting my MBA. From a personal point-of-view, I wanted to complete my MBA before expanding my family by one more. (Nature didn’t wait on the MBA. We found out our third child was on the way, right after I started my first classes.)

Cheers,

CC