|Education and Training|
MBA: What is its true worth?
Job hunters with a new MBA need to understand that these three letters are not the keys to the corporate kingdom.
Many MBA graduates with little hard core business experience feel they can walk into top jobs and operate at a strategic level, but this is seldom the case.
Many people study for an MBA because they think it will allow them to leap frog into a senior position in a different field with a huge salary hike. But the reality is that sound experience is still the job seeker’s most appealing attribute, especially now that there are so many MBA graduates the competitive advantage of having one has diminished somewhat.
And it’s important to remember that not all MBAs are equal. Some of these qualifications are of a low quality and are nothing more than cash cow programmes for low grade educational institutions.
It means employers are far less impressed by an MBA than they were 10 years ago and people thinking about studying for an MBA need to think carefully about what it can do for their careers.
An MBA from a top quality institution can certainly add value by supplementing a more general or non commerce undergraduate qualification, however MBA graduates should have realistic expectations about what the degree will achieve in the short to medium term.
One of the biggest advantages of an MBA is the networking opportunities it provides.
Over a one to two year period, students are able to tap into the knowledge and expertise of their peers, many of whom bring years of corporate experience to the course, and build strong relationships with invaluable contacts that can help to broaden future careers prospects.
An alternative option for those wanting to further themselves with an MBA is to do an executive course (EMBA) which is now offered by several business schools in South Africa. These courses strive to make MBAs more action orientated so that student assignments have a practical link to the learners job. Companies are also more likely to fund employee post graduate learning if they know the course will impact positively and directly on their work.
The EMBA course is generally offered to more experienced candidates of 35+, eliminating the “wet behind the ears” corporate executive still searching for direction. This is an important aspect to the course as the co student calibre can add to the value one extracts from the course. Mature corporate executives will have direction, want direct benefit and will help to drive the course in a thought provoking and invigorating direction.
People should work for several years before considering the MBA.
Potential students will then know how they are going to use the qualification allowing them to ask directed questions and get the most out of the course.
It’s also worth working through the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council of Higher Education to see if the MBA you are considering has been granted full accreditation.
Debbie Goodman, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters (www.jhammer.co.za).