Why is the MBA important?

I got a question from blog reader on the importance of the MBA. It's a great question. Many of our job descriptions list the MBA as "preferred"; some may even list it as a requirement.

I'll give you my personal opinion on this. Keep in mind that I didn't write these job descriptions. If I wrote the job descriptions, they all wouldn't start with a question (seriously!). I can just tell you what I have observed through the recruiting process and via my own analysis of how well people do after they get here.

I believe that for many types of roles, an MBA is foundational. It gets people talking a common language and because an MBA curriculum will generally cover finance, marketing, stats, etc., a candidate with an MBA generally has the ability to think broadly about business decisions that they make relative to multiple moving parts. Keep in mind that the person telling you this has an undergraduate business degree and exactly 4 MBA classes under her belt (years ago with no immediate educational plans).

Also, MBA admissions does their own filtering process. A solid program is going to admit the best students they possibly can. Those programs with the best reputations have a broader pool of candidates to select from and a higher chance of getting the candidates they want. By selecting an MBA grad from a "top" program (I won't rehash my thoughts on what a "top" program means), you can be assured that that the person has a record of achievement, in the classroom, in business or both. That is definitely not to say that others without MBAs could not have achieved similar success. But when you think about how recruiters recruit; looking for pockets of greatness in the industry, MBA alumni are a solid pool to be fishing in. Think of MBA as a possible search term, not a knock-out criteria, when it comes to resumes.

An MBA degree also suggests something about the drive of the person that holds it. They either took 2-4 years off from their professional life to pursue higher education or they pursued it while working a full-time position. It's quite an accomplishment and I think that having an MBA really says a lot about the motivation and drive of the person that has it.

However, everything that is wonderful about an MBA is not exclusive to holders of the degree. Can you learn the same concepts through working? Yes. Can you exhibit drive and motivation without sitting in a challenging classroom situation? Yes. Can the right non-MBA holder do the same job as an MBA? Of course. I'm a big believer in "commensurate experience". The challenge for the resume reader is to be able to extrapolate that experience form the resume. The challenge for the job seeker is to communicate it. I probably don't have to mention Bill Gates' academic credentials. His experience speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, much to my dismay in fact, many job descriptions are written with the "ideal candidate" in mind. Back in my line recruiting days, when meeting with a hiring manager, I would do my best to get that "ideal candidate" out of their head and focus on where there's some flexibility. "So you say you want this, but what if I brought you this? Would you consider this kind of background?". Once you get them talking about where there's some flexibility they can snap out of their "ideal candidate" mindset and focus on finding someone who can do the job and possibly bring some different perspective to their team. It also helps them realize that they don't need to hire a mini-me. Not everyone needs to come via the same path they did.

So the short answer to why "MBA preferred" frequently appears in job descriptions? In my opinion, it's because we ask the hiring managers to write the job description before the recruiter has a chance to eradicate the concept of the "ideal candidate" from their minds. It's because having an MBA says something about the candidate that is positive and it takes more work to extract the potential for greatness from non-MBA resumes.

If I were a candidate applying for one of these positions, I'd take it as a challenge to show how "MBA preferred" should be rephrased as "Heather Hamilton preferred". And if I had an MBA, I would put it right at the top of my resume (not on the same line as your name please). Either way, you want to position yourself as THE person that can do the job.

As a recruiter, I can tell you that seeing "MBA preferred" on a job posting means I should be recruiting out of some MBA Alumni organizations so that I have a mix of MBA and non-MBA resumes to send to the hiring manager.


Comments (71)

  1. Hey Heather,

    I hope everything is going well! 🙂

    This is something I’ve often wondered about as well given that I’m much more of a "hands-on" learner and I’ve never really liked the theoretical classroom environment (it probably didn’t help that I generally had trouble with authority figures!).

    For me, a Uni. degree tends to prove more that one can follow instructions and go through a process, but isn’t necessarily a measure of intelligence/competence. I think you touched on this in one of your old entries about street smarts vs. book smarts.

    I never really considered an MBA to be an indicator of drive and accomplishment, but I definitely see where you’re coming from and it makes sense.  Maybe that’s a good enough reason for me to consider it more seriously! 😉

    I’m glad you also pointed out that if you don’t have the specific requirement that you should [still] try to prove yourself as "THE person that can do the job". I know I didn’t fit the "standard requirements" for my role, but I managed to position myself well and from what I can see they’re very pleased with their choice! 🙂

    Would you say the same thing applies to job postings that "require 5-10 years of experience"? I know many people in the tech sector laugh at these requirements because in many cases, the technology hasn’t even been around for 5 years! When asking for x yrs of experience, do you expect that or is that generally flexible as well?

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hey Ian,

    Good to hear from you. I would tend to take the requirement for years of experience a little more literally, but ifyou are close, I would still apply. The challenge we recruiters have is that we get so many "aspirational" applications; people who really don’t meet the functional requirements of the position at all and are applying anyway. We also get the people who literally apply for hundreds of positions, as if they could be a fit for all of those positions.

    I don’t want to discourage people from applying if they are close to the requirements for the position. But people really need to look at the requirements and be honest with themselves about whether they match. I think you can be flexible on some things, but overall,you need tobe a pretty good match for the requirements. Wow, that is a wishy-washy answer. Let’s just say that you shold match most of the requirements and be close on some others.

  3. eR0CK says:

    Great post and goes well with my current educational goals.

    I’m a lot like Ian where I feel I learn best "on the job" and not from a $200 book.  I view the MBA as a door opener, nothing more, nothing less.  It’s a glorified undergraduate degree and it will open a few extra doors that an undergraduate degree won’t.

    A few of my coworkers criticized me for considering an MBA program.  Most of their reasons are "It’s only a piece of paper" and "It doesn’t prove anything" and I tell them they’re correct, but when your on the job hunt, an MBA puts you in a better "candidate bucket".

    With that said, I’m currently studying for the GMAT 🙂

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    eRock – I view it as more than a door opener. I don’t think it’s a glorified undergraduate degree or just apiece of paper (don’t listen to those co-workers…sounds like they are jealous of your drive). It’s a big accomplishment. It’s just not the only big accomplishmentout there that can make a difference to a potential employer.

    I want to be super clear on this. Successfully completing an MBA is a big deal. Those that do should be proud of themselves. It just doesn’t happen to be the only way to have a wildly successful marketing career.

    I don’t want the folks with the MBAs out there to feel that we don’t value it. I hope I’ve made it clear that we do. We value other things too.

  5. Bad_Brad says:

    I completed my MBA back in 2000.  I can remember in one of my MBA classes having a pretty spirited debate with a classmate of mine about this very topic – why get an MBA?  Being ever the young idealist at the time, I gave the very holistic answer of "you get an MBA in order to learn important business principles in such areas as accounting, marketing, finance, organizational behavior, operations, etc"  My classmate called that "hogwash" and argued that an MBA is nothing more than a signal.  It’s a signal to employers that I have a certain level of overall competence and drive.  Unless you are going into a very specialized role, your employer likely doesn’t care what you learned in your MBA program.  What they care about is that you are capable of applying yourself and learning.  The specific things that they want you to know – they will teach you.  They just want to know that they are not wasting their efforts in doing so.

    For what it’s worth, in retrospect, I would say that my classmate is right.

    Having said all of that, I do not regret the MBA at all.  I thoroughly enjoyed those two years of my life.  I was challenged by my classes but even moreso by my classmates.  It stretched me in a lot of ways.  And it absolutely opens doors that would otherwise not be there careerwise.  And the economic return has been outstanding as well.

  6. HeatherLeigh says:

    So Brad, have you had the opportunity to hire people and, if so, what’s your take on adding an MBA to the requirements of your job descriptions, given your background?

    Thanks for sharing that story…I kind of think that both you and your classmate are right. I think it’s easier for a company to teach you some of the specifics if you already have the foundational stuff. You make a great point about companies wanting to ensure some ROI on a hire.

  7. eR0CK says:

    I think Brad hit the nail on the head.

    I didn’t intend to take away the great accomplishment an MBA is, but I feel it’s more a door opener and a way to show employers you have the drive and motivation to learn more then anything else.

    My reason for pursuing an MBA is to make myself a better candidate for mid-level management.  I’ve also been interested in business since before I can remember!

  8. Bob Walters says:

    This post hit home for me. I had 25 years of solid business experience under my belt, with no MBA. I always said I had a "Street MBA" because I thought I’d already learned everything the MBA taught, only I was in the real world. Then I finally got the the point in my life where I could get my MBA in the evening. I took 2 classes a semester and went straight through, and received my MBA just last December. It is one of my prouder moments, and it is in the top line on my resume, and I can’t believe how much I really did learn…and I found I already did know a lot, so getting it was way easier for me with my experience.

    I think it rounded me out, it taught me how much I STILL don’t know (thats a funny thing about education), and helps me to get to the bottom line on things quicker.

    I’m sold, I think those who are interested should get a few years under their belt and get their MBA, they’ll be glad they did it.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    e-Rock, I totally agree.

    Bob – great comment. We have a marketing VP here that will tell you that working at Microsoft is it’s own MBA. I’m 99% sure she wasn’t referring to what it does for your resume but what you describe as the “street MBA”.

    I took 4 MBA classes as a graduate student at large at a small Jesuit university (I don’t have a religious affiliation but this is how I heard other people describe it). They have a program where you could take 4 classes as a grad student at-large and if you got all “A” s they would admit you without you having to take the GMAT. I took my 4 classes and then made a career change that kept me from pursuing it further. What I found when taking those classes is that having a little context (from having been in the working world for about 5 years) really helped. It was a different experience than my undergrad business classes. There was obviously a maturity level difference too, what with having to pay bills and all that. I’m a big fan of executive MBA programs.

  10. RJD says:

    I think one thing you get from an MBA program is exposure to ideas and practices outside whatever it is you’re doing.  The theory being you might see something in another industry that can give you a competitive advantage in your own.  You can’t really "think outside the box" (ugh) untill you’ve been outside the box and poked around a little.  MBA programs get you outisde your box and poking around.

  11. That was a great comment by Bob Walters! I especially liked the "Street MBA" thing! 🙂

    He also brought up the great point of getting some experience before an MBA. Not only will it probably make your MBA easier as he mentioned, but then you’ll be able to get more out of it.

    I know a few students who did their MBA right after their undergrad because they didn’t know what else to do with themselves. Not sure how smart/valuable that is…

  12. Bad_Brad says:

    Heather – yes I have been involved in the hiring process, both as an interviewer and as a hiring manager for one MBA level position.  In the place where I was hiring for the MBA position (rural Kansas), the MBA requirement was actually a pretty tough hurdle.  I fought with corporate HR over that requirement, with no success.  As a result, my position was vacant for almost a year and I fairly quickly became burnt out trying to cover two jobs to the best of my ability.  I think that also had the effect of actually lowering my expectations a bit – when an MBA who met the criteria I was looking for finally did come knocking, I think I was so relieved to have a real candidate that I maybe let my guard down a bit.  I just wanted to fill the stinking position!

    I liken the MBA to being able to pass the combines in the NFL draft.  Having the MBA proves you meet some minimum level of capability (sort of like NFL players have to have some minimum level of speed / strength for their specific position).  However, simply having an MBA does not guarantee that you have the soft skills needed to succeed in business – communication, leadership, and so forth, just as an NFL prospect having speed or strength does not necessarily mean that he is fundamentally a good football player.  There has to be a balance there.

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    RJD – did you just say what I think you did? Makes me want to say something about "web 2.0". : )

    Ian – that can be a challenge for the graudate because they are competing for jobs with other people that got an MBA and had previous experience. I would not recommend getting an MBA right out of undergrad. Must get some experience first.

    Bad-Brad – wow, that is a cautionary tale! Good comparison to the combine. I get whatyou are saying. It’s really a proof factor of what skills lie beneath. It’s also how I think about recruiting candidates that come out of certain companies. I think I talked about this with regard to McKinsey before. If you hire someone from McKinsey who actually made it there for a couple of years, chances are you have a real great candidate. The previous experience or MBA acts as it’s own filter.

  14. MBA’s and MBA’s

    In highly technical areas like statistics, advanced production planning, etc. the degree is clearly important and a bona fide requirement.

    In other areas, like heavy sales management, aspects of advertsing (esp. messaging and creative) PR, HR, etc. it may be pure credentialism and meaningless to success or failure on the job.

    I have employed MBA’s with lower skills than non-college grads; its really subject oriented.

    How’s that for wishy-washy ?

  15. Wine-Oh says:

    For me my MBA experience was a combo of personal and general frustration with my career. Personal because I would be the last likely person to get an MBA. I have to work 10x harder than the normal person because of a learning disability. Its also personal because I wanted to prove to others that I could earn one. I had some skeptics out there and that fueled me to do well.

    On the professioanl level I wanted the MBA to change career paths and use it to separate myself from the competition. I did an executive MBA and was working full time while in school. Interviewing was a challenge because companies said "come back when you are done."

    The classes i took went beyond finace and accounting (2 of my least favorites by the way). Instead it focused on Project Management, marketing, and other things relevant to todays working world. Everyone in my program was different from one another, which made it that much more interesting.

    I did end up landing my dream job a week before finishing school. I dont think I would have gotten the job had it not been for the MBA and my work background.

    Oh and E Rock, it didnt require GMAT’s as I had over 8 years of work experience. THe GMATs push the application process off for a year for most applicants.

    To sum up…. an MBA is a personal thing and means different things to different people. (ie how you use it, your motivation for wanting one, etc…)

  16. Allan Peretz says:

    Having been through the experience 8 years ago, there are two benefits of the MBA that have been largely overlooked in this discussion:

    1.  You learn *a lot* from your classmates.  Most MBA programs devote a significant part of their curriculum to team case studies or business simulations.  I worked on teams that included CFOs, food scientists, advertising execs, etc., and often learned more than I did in the formal classroom bit.  As with any other pursuit,  the value you get is determined by your effort and attitude.

    2.  The relationships you build can be valuable for life.  MBA candidates know the power of networking and tend to have very strong networks after graduation.  At this point in my career, my personal "MBA address book" includes mid-senior level managers from a good chunk of the Fortune 50 and many, many small companies and startups.  This is a tremendous resource.

    For those considering MBAs, you should also know that the "feel" of a good MBA program is very different from undergrad.  Learning is often student led with professors only facilitating.  This is natural given the experience that you and your classmates will have upon entering-  which in some cases, surpasses those who are paid to "teach" you. 🙂

  17. RJD says:

    Yes I said that, and in a public forum for all to see for all eternity.  It’s a toke of shame I’ll wear for the rest of my life.  Might even be engraved on my tombstone.

    Having said that, my glorious insight comes from someone with an M.S.  In molecular biology.  So I have deep insight into this topic.

  18. crawdad13 says:

    Wow!!!  I’m so happy to see the response this topic has received.  I was worried that I was the only person that cared about this.

    I have a few thoughts to add to the discourse.

    1.  Heather’s original post on this topic should be re-printed in every newspaper in America on Sunday in their employment section.  It should, and probably will, be re-constituted or at least quoted, by every business school in the country.  When I suggested this topic, it was because I knew that Heather would be one of the few people in the recruiting world who would actually give this some serious thought and talk about the pros and cons, not just give a canned response.  WAY TO GO HEATHER!!!  You hit this one out of the park.

    2.   As to the whole street smarts vs. book smarts debate, I think we all know people who are exceptionally smart in certain areas and still, somehow, have trouble tying their own shoelaces.  In my opinion, one can’t be too well educated, but one can be, and many are, too narrowly educated.

    Having said all that …I’ll bet you’ll never hear Bill Gates, Bill Joy, Steve Jobs, David Filo, Jerry Yang, Warren Buffet or Craig Newmark ever say, "Jeez, I wish I wasn’t so darn Book-Smart."

    3. (This is a long one so bear with me) As I understand it, most people here seem to agree that there are some inherent advantages to having gotten an MBA.  I wouldn’t say that I have a “Street MBA” but I can confidently assert that I know more about how to start and run a business than anyone who goes straight from undergrad to business school, no matter how smart they are and no matter where they went to school.

    Therefore, what I want to know is this:  Using the most prevalent argument offered here, that an MBA is a signal to companies that you have a certain set of basic skills, that you can speak the language and that you care about learning and adding knowledge to talent, how is it possible that there are so many companies that REQUIRE an MBA rather than just saying that they require a certain amount of experience developing the skills needed for the position and ANY advanced degree.  Not to be overly harsh, but I think having an MBA as a requirement is retarded.  

    I refuse to believe that my experience as a Senior Market Manager for a company with $14 Billion in annual revenues, where I had 81 people in 14 states on my team and developing several completely new concepts in a very short time period that resulted in more than $80 Million in net- new revenue in our first year didn’t prepare me to be a mid-level marketing manager at pretty much any technology company.  But I did all that before I was 27, so I went out and founded, funded, built, marketed, managed and sold three technology related companies.  I still wasn’t ready to go back to work for a large company so I started consulting and provided viability analysis, business case, life-cycle planning, product development and consulting services to 26 early-stage start-ups through a private investment group for whom I have worked for several years.  In the middle of all this, I spent 14 months (I would have stayed forever but the VC’s got involved and took the company in a different direction) VP for small software company where my operational oversight included strategy, research, branding, marketing, message development, opportunity targeting and tracking, product development, business development, resource forecasting, budgeting, outside vendor relationship activities and profit and loss.

    After all of this, I believe that I have learned the finance, product, program, brand and risk management that I would have learned as a business school student.  Further, I am a six-sigma green belt and an outstanding project manager.

    Stuff I would have learned in Business School that I wish I knew more about are related to manufacturing and supply-chain management, but as a marketer I’m not sure when I would apply that knowledge.

    The things they can’t teach you are how to be an engaging and dynamic public speaker, how to think creatively, strategically, and sociologically, without the need for a database query or a focus group.

    At the end of the day, I have MBA envy. Had I known 15 years ago that I would be a businessperson rather than running political campaigns I might have gone to law school or business school instead of an Political Management program. However, the reason that I am jealous of MBA’s are there are thousands of people out there, like me, who are automatically excluded from many career paths because we don’t have three letters on our résumé.  It has absolutely nothing to do with our qualifications, experience and expertise, past performance or ability.  It does nothing to identify the best candidate for the position; it is simply blind bias and only serves the ego of those with MBA’s.  

    I don’t disagree with whoever said earlier that, “In highly technical areas like statistics, advanced production planning, etc. the degree is clearly important and a bona fide requirement.”  However, I have never considered a job like that for myself and there is no evidence that I would have been more successful in the career path I HAVE chosen had I gotten an MBA.

    In the end (and I know it is about time)  Bill Gates couldn’t get half of the jobs that I have had…and certainly nothing in marketing, strategy, product or program management at Microsoft, he doesn’t have the requisite education (unless you count Honorary degrees.) so he should probably be excluded.

    But I’m not bitter…

  19. HeatherLeigh says:

    Martin – I support your wishy-washy-ness. I have interviewed some graduates from "top" MBA programs that really shocked me.

    Wine-Oh – I mostly just like hearing you say you have your dream job. Warms a recruiter’s heart (even though it’s  not at Microsoft). Yeah, recruiters have hearts….what did you think?

    Allan – I wonder if all programs are like that.

    RJD – let it not be said that ANY of us are experts. I have frequently teased hiring managers that ask for MBA candidates saying with my undergrad degree, I am not sure I am smart enough to interview them. Kind of gets my point across, I think. Perhaps with your degree, you can discuss the cell structure of the the box so we know what the thing we are supposed to think outside of looks like under a microscope.

    Darren (crawdad13) – I don’t think you are bitter but you are funny. And way too generous (but thanks for your nice words about the post). So I can answer your "why don’t they just ask for…"question. The answer is laziness. It is a lot easier to look on a resume and determine someone has an MBA than to dig in and detrermine all that other stuff. In defense of the hiring managers, though, they are just putting "preferred" and many MBAs aren’t too interested in a position that they feel will not take advantage of their degree. It’s a way for them to get people with and without the MBA to apply. For those that are sticklers for the MBA, it is simply easier to ask for the MBA than all that other stuff. And that whole "ideal candidate thing". What do other people have to say about that?

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh and thanks for the topic, Darren!

  21. Wine-Oh says:

    It really is my dream job with alot of great potential for growth. Just launched a huge project and have 3 more in the hopper.

    You know first hand Heather how I tried and tried to get into the mothership, err I mean Microsoft (just kidding). Also Heather really does forward on resumes to her counterparts.  Maybe something else will happen down the road. Who knows. But for now I am happy. The MBA definitely helped. I even was interviewed about the MBA experience. Remind me Heather to send you the link as you know who I am. My name is in it and still wish to remain anonymous on here.

    The MBA discussion is great. I am actually meeting with someone on Saturday who got into the program I did and he has a lot of questions about it and career path, etc. Should be interesting.

  22. crawdad13 says:

    Ideal candidate:

    well the ideal candidate has a Harvard MBA…that’s a given..ummm, no… wait!

    The perfect or ideal candidate isn’t there.  Get over it.

    Actually, My criteria for the ideal candidate is pretty simple.  When I hire I look for somebody way smarter than the job requires him or her to be and most importantly someone who will do whatever the job requires, for as long as it takes to get it done, then go home and probably do some more just for fun.

    In other words, the ideal candidate is someone who has a job that he or she believes is the perfect job for them.  You never have to motivate someone to do their dream job, you never have to worry about them giving it their all and you don’t have to micro-manage.

    It is so much fun to work with someone who takes ownership of the position..they feel they are the president of whatever it is they do, They know more about what they do than I do, and they have a desire to always be the most informed person in the room.  

    I also love people who can explain why they make the decisions that they do.  I don’t want to look over anyone’s shoulder, but if I don’t understand something and have to ask, I want there to be a solid methodology for everything, even it isn’t the way that I would have done it.

    In short, I want a super smart, ambitious person with an ego, who I can shower praise upon and someone who makes everyone around them want to raise the level of their game so they can keep up.

    Smart people will learn the details they have to, regardless of the job.

  23. HeatherLeigh says:

    It’s funny that you mention the type of people that will go home and do more of their job at home because they love it so much. I was just having a conversation with someone about those types of people. I know I have had too much caffeine today because I can’t recall who I was having that conversation with but it was within the last couple of days. What I said was that when I find people like that, my only question to them is "Can we buy you a couch for your office?".

    I’m all for work-life balance but there are people out there that are so jazzed (did i just say that?) about their jobs that they WANT to do them outside of core work hours. I say more power to you!

    I enjoy my work-life balance but I will admit that from time-to-time, there are some projects that I’m happy to work on outside of regular hours. I always want to have some of those kinds of projects gong on.

  24. Simone says:

    "It gets people talking a common language"

    Isn’t this one of Microsoft’s major problems? Common usage of language is one of the root causes of group think. There’s nothing wrong with a company desiring well-educated workers, but the more precise the education the more likely it is that they’ll be insulated from other departments.

  25. HeatherLeigh says:

    Simone, you seem to be the expert on all of our "major problems"…so why don’t you tell me?

    There’s nothing wrong with people having a common understanding and taxonomy when it comes to marketing principals. I don’t see that as a problem at all.

  26. Martin says:

    Funny how MBA has become (forgive this) a 3-letter swear word to some people.  The term has tons of connotations – for some, it implies drive and a broad business base.  For others, it implies people who don’t know how to learn on their own, and who prefer to gain stock answers from knowledge generally more applicable to a previous business cycle.

    I think several of the comments here hit on what’s actual: like anything, an MBA is only as good as the person who’s holding it.  It’s another tool, just like coming out of undergrad and getting into a small, high-growth company where you learn by doing.  Or like being a motivated dreamer who doesn’t even have an undergrad degree (Gates & Allen, Dell, Ellison, Branson, umm – Geffen, Jobs, Kerkorian, …).  I know, but somebody was bound to bring up that last point in this thread, and I’ve alwasy found it interesting how many MBAs those dreamers feed.

    I’ve never put a ton of stock into seeing the letter MBA on a resume – I look at their experience, and see if I see signs for a dreamer who can implement.  If they have an MBA on top of that, not a bad thing, but not "preferred".

    Oh, last note: My father was an BS/ MS/ PhD in business finance, and was dean of faculty for a well known businees-oriented university outside of Boston.  He described his degrees as ("Bull-s*#t, More-s*#t, Piled high & Deep").  He always told me he regretted focusing on business so much in his studies, and made all of his students read at least one work of literature per semester.

  27. HeatherLeigh says:

    Martin – your dad sounds cool.

  28. crawdad13 says:

    Hey folks, Darren Cox here again,

    I think as Heather suggests, taxonomy is the root of this whole discussion.  What I think is lacking is a common taxonomic translation from MBA to equivalent experience and education.

    I looked up the definition of taxonomy and one of the most straightforward definitions that I found (about.com) had to do with Web taxonomy but it can be applied to this discussion too:

    Definition: A taxonomy is a classification scheme for a web site’s content. It specifies categories to which any individual piece of content may belong and may also define the logical relationships between categories.

    Examples: A taxonomy for a news site might specify that all movie reviews belong to the category ‘Movies’ and all content in ‘Movies’, might belong to the larger category ‘Arts’, which would also include sub-categories like ‘Books’, ‘Music’, and ‘Theatre.’

    In the case of this discussion the taxonomy we are talking about has to do with a common business language and characteristics.  In this case, we all must agree that there are important commonalities that must be understood in order for certain disciplines(product management, product development, marketing, accounting, Human Resources…) to be able to understand one another.  

    In order for businesses to function, we must all have the same basic understanding of certain finacial terms like profit margin, product life-cycle, fixed and variable costs etc.  We begin to disagree when we start talking about issues where terms and functions may mean very different things to different people.

    It is completely understandable for a company to want to hire people who they believe have a certain basic understanding of the language that is spoken within their industry.  My argument has been that there is more than one way to gain access to the neccesary terms and conditions of that common language.  

    An MBA is only one way to learn how to speak the "business" language and, as pretty much everyone here agrees, there is no MBA program that can give you the full context for those terms in a real world setting.  Conversely, a singular experience, outside an MBA program, will usually not provide the breadth of knowledge, that a formal program can provide.

    I think most people with an MBA believe that the formal education PLUS experience is the only way to gain the full benefit from either.  With that said, I also believe that in order to be great at many jobs, it is not neccesary to have gained one’s knowledge through formal classwork and projects.  If, like me, one can gain many different perspectives in a multitude of disciplines (finance, organizational leadership, risk mitigation, strategic development, product and program management and various marketing priciples), it may not be neccesary sit in a classroom to realize the small incremental benefit that I might get.

    In short, (maybe I should have started with this) this was never meant to be an argument about WHY experience and real-world learning is BETTER than than an MBA, rather it was born out of my curiosity about why one seems to be preferred over the other.

    (Now I can talk about something I have actually studied extensively when I got my Masters in Organizational Leadership)

    As to "Groupthink"

    This blog is a perfect example of why it is not applicable in this discussion.  According to Irving Janis, the most recognized expert in the study of Groupthink there are many ways to avoid this organzational affliction.

    According to Irving Janis, decision making groups are not necessarily doomed to groupthink. He also claims that there are several ways to prevent it. Janis devised seven ways of preventing groupthink (209-15):

    1. Leaders should assign each member the role of “critical evaluator”. This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts. ( I feel like I can express my views on topics without the fear of retribution)

    2. Higher-ups should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group. (In this type of a blog community there aren’t really Higher-ups and Heather’s opinion in this specific instance doesn’t count since she isn’t making a case for one side or the other)

    3. The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem. (Each of us is an independent group)

    4. All effective alternatives should be examined. (ummm. isn’t that what we are doing here?)

    5. Each member should discuss the group’s ideas with trusted people outside of the group. The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts.  (I will go ahead and officially appoint all of you outside experts so that we can continue to to question and discuss this with each other.  I don’t personally know Heather, Martin Snyder, Wine-oh, Allen Peretz or anyone else who posts here, but based on there past posts, I know that they don’t all work for Microsoft and none pretends to be speaking for an organziation.  I don’t know about the whole "trusted people" thing, but I respect everyone’s opinion and their right to it.)

    7. At least one group member should be assigned the role of devil’s advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting. (I think, in this case, Simone can be the offical Devil’s Advocate)

    Check out this page to learn more about Groupthink:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

  29. crawdad13 says:

    I think we ( me more than anyone else) have beaten this MBA thing to death.  

    Heather mentioned a while back that she has a whole bunch of business books on her bedside table that she hasn’t gotten ’round to reading.  So here is my question,  If you were going to recommend books that have actually made a difference, have influenced your career or changed the the way you think about your business, what are they.

    For me:

    Good to Great (Jim Collins)

    Rules For Revolutionaries (Guy Kawasaki)

    The One Thing You Need To Know – About Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success (Marcus Buckingham)

    Do What You Are (Paul Tieger & Barbara Baron-Tieger)

  30. HeatherLeigh says:

    As for #7, Simone’s played that role out. Let’s assign it to someone else, shall we? : ) Seriously, I’m all for a devil’s advocate that takes a reasoned approach, not one with the knee jerk "you are Microsoft….you are bad" perspective. I love it when people disagree with me but they need to have an actual reason.  

    I like your take on all of this Darren. I get as much out of this blog as you guys do, if not more, just by reading your comments. They also force me to think about things in different ways. All good stuff.

    I’m going to have to think about the business book question. Either that or the next book to fall off my night stand as I grab for the alarm clock is my pick : )

  31. Preston says:

    I was thinking of getting my MBA but then I heard that Business Majors and MBAs were simply made up and that it doesn’t matter what you learn while getting an MBA because if you go to work for a company, they’re going to tell you to forget all the things you learned and teach you to do things their way.  Was that your experience when you got the job at Microsoft?  Did you get your 4 MBAs just for the pieces of paper?  I’m sincerely asking, I’m not trying to insult you.  

    One more q: In your opinion, would an MBA be more important to someone who wanted to work for a company or for someone wanting to start their own business?

  32. HeatherLeigh says:

    Preston, I took 4 MBA level classes, not 4 MBAs. I have an undergrad and business and it did matter. I think the conversation above explains my thoughts on this. It does matter but it’s not everything.

    MBA could be important to either someone joining a company or starting their own business. It depends onthe person and their background.

  33. Simone says:

    Heather, you have pegged me as a Microsoft hater several times. This is far from the truth. I like the place so much that I bought ~10,000 shares of it’s stock when it hit the floor last year.

    As far as MBAs go, keep an eye out for them. Most are sharks and are horrible team players. Treat the good ones like gems. Avoid the ones who seem like they’re on coke, even when they’re not. This should be easy if you’re a good judge of character.

  34. HeatherLeigh says:

    Thanks for the advice. I’d rather judge peoples fit for roles at Microsoft on an individual basis. I’ll be sure to avoid anyone who seems like they are on coke.

  35. crawdad13 says:

    I’m on Diet Coke, (not sure if you can tell just by looking at me) does that mean I can’t get a job at Microsoft?

    Crap!!!  Thanks alot Simone.

  36. crawdad13 says:

    must be nice to have $210k laying around the house to buy all that MSFT stock at its lowest point

  37. HeatherLeigh says:

    All that stock and a Zune, don’t you know. Yet still anonymous.

    For what it’s worth, I am on diet coke as well (and 2 lattes….I’ll tell you guys about my free latte sitch soon), so I am probably not the best person to be judging talent this afternoon.

  38. Tawal says:

    Great discussion! I am contemplating taking the MBA next year and I found this most interesting. I consider myself a member of the "street MBA" gang. I come from a non-profit background and for the past 5 years I have been tackling the problem of bridging the digital divide and the related issue of using technology to improve access to education in rural communities where (typically) less than half the adult population can read with understanding. I am based in Sub-Saharan Africa (Zimbabwe).

    My undergraduate degree in business and my drive and initiative have thus far been enough for me to be a change agent in the communities where I work. I have always argued that starting and sustaining a non-profit under the conditions here has given me all the soft skills that one would need to be a success in any part of the world. People live on less than $1 a day, and there is virtually no external donor support because of the country ‘s political isolation. Yet the organizations that I have founded have positively impacted the lives of many.

    Because of the success of our project, we have been planning to expand regionally to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that we now have to attract multi-lateral donor support. The problem is that we lack "credibility" (our success trail does not qualify us enough!) and its been a battle trying to mobilize international support for our work. At the suggestion of some colleagues, I have begun to see the MBA as way of gaining credibility and getting my foot in the door of our prospective funders. My street skills should do the rest once I gain access!

    My perspective is that the MBA will neither take away my drive nor my initiative and the networks I will develop will certainly be useful along the way. Further, I am certain to acquire new knowledge! I am certainly going for it!

    Would I hire an MBA? Not solely because the candidate has those 3 letters. I would also consider soft skills like leadership, communication, creativity and an ability to learn. Would I hire a person with the soft skills but no MBA? Certainly!

  39. KW says:

    wow! lots of discussions on this topic. Personally, I do think MBA is helpful in a career. It does not guarantee a job but it helps you to see a broader view on certain subjects, learn about other industries (imaging learning abt cement manufacturing and waste management) and network a bit. Like Heather and many other folks here, I have completed 6 MBA classes but had to stop due to company relocating me 10,000 miles away from my home. May be one day I will go back to school again.

  40. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, Darren gets the credit for bringing it up.

    I think I have decided not to go back. I think if I go back, it will be for personal gratification and then I may study something less practical that really interests me.

  41. Simone says:

    Why didn’t you say you were considering going back to school for your MBA? I was wrong. For what you do, it would be highly advisable that you get the piece of paper. You of all people should know what it translates to in terms of pay. It will make you even more attractive (nice photo!) to future employers.

  42. Jordan Sorensen says:

    I find it very interesting to read your opinion of the importance of an MBA. As a current college student I have found several suggestions from what i feel are reliable sources. Option A) is to get at least an MBA and focus on one particular field throughout school, using your newly learned skills to find a great job after an MBA. Option B) is to go straight into the workforce as quickly as possible to gain experience in your desired field so you can work towards a better job in the future. You would think that more people would be suggesting  that I stick with school but i have been getting several suggestions to hit the workforce. This has been bothering me as I get closer towards graduation and have to really think about these things. Obviously you have been successful without and MBA, but your blog helped me realize the importance of being able to fulfill the basic requirement for most management jobs today. Just being included in the MBA alumni pools can help you get an edge when applying for a job.

  43. Darren Cox says:

    Wow, Jordan…read all of the comments from everyone!

    I am the biggest supporter of Higher Education that I know, but I am not sure if I have ever heard anyone, EVER, suggest that it is a good idea to go straight from undergraduate to an MBA program.  It just doesn’t make sense!

    When studying for different classes in business school it is almost impossible to get the full benefit from what is being taught without some context.

    The only people that think it is a good idea to go straight to an MBA program are thise who did so themselves.  These are the same people who voted for Nixon and G.W.B twice and now lie about it.

    Obviously there are people who have been successful without an MBA.  In fact more ultra successfull people are without MBA’s than are IN the MBA fraternity.  You have to play the averages though; If you want to be a multimillionaire, then get an MBA.  If you want to be Bill Gates then don’t get an MBA and just start working right now

    If you go this route, you are banking on being the one in 500,000,000 lottery-winner that has money to start with, the perfect idea, the perfect blend of strategy and tactics, the need for less than 4 hours of sleep a night for the next 20 years and still has the most luck of anyone ever.

    My advice is this:  Go get a job at Mckinsey or Accenture or some other consulting firm where you  can be exposed to a whole bunch of different kinds of business problems and work there for no more than 3 years.  Travel as much as you can for work, pledge to yourself that you will not get into a serious relationship during that time and save all the money you can comfortably afford to save.  At then end of this you will have several options, and by then, you will know exactly what to do because you will have all of the practical business education that you will need to be awesome in your MBA program, you will be a more attractive MBA candidate to the best programs, you will have worked with a bunch of idiots that are MBA’s so you won’t be impressed by the letters M.B.A, You will have worked with a bunch of really awesome MBA’s so you will see what they have that others don’t and, most importantly, you will be able to tell when a proffessor in business school is full of crap and doesn’t know what he/she is talking about so you can ignore them and focus on what YOU want to get out of the program.

    I am saying all of this as a guy without an MBA.  I have a Masters in Organzational Leadership and have done a bunch of stuff.  I am 37 years old and have worked for, with and have hired MBA’s and I am not enamored with someone just because they got the degree.  I am not even particularly impressed with someone for having done the work that it takes to get the degree because even at the "Top Programs" (that’s for Heather) different people have to expend differing levels of effort for the same results.  I do, however, wish I had gotten an MBA instead of the degree that I got because an MBA from a no name school would be worth more to me NOW than my masters from the #2 ranked school for my degree program has ever been.

    An MBA won’t always help you be good at your first job, but It can definitely help you be better at your 2nd, 3rd, 4th…Jobs.

    Good luck next year when you are getting some practical experience and start a blog to tell us all about what you learn every day in your first job after college…that is something that I would like to read.

    Darren Cox

  44. HeatherLeigh says:

    Yeah, Darren’s right. Even in the most practical sense, a person graduating with an MBA and no business experience would be MUCH less attractive to hiring companies. I can’t imagine our MBA recruiters here being interested in someone that did that.

    The only reasons I can think of for going straight from undergrad to MBA are 1) graduating during a recession and 2) fear of having to work. The first isn’t a reality now (it was my reality when I graduated with my B.S., but I wanted to work and woulnd’t have had the financial means to go anyway…and my grades were less than stellar). The second is natural and you have to get over it. It’s an inevitability. You’ll be much better off getting some work expeirence before MBA (I would even say more than 3 years experience….maybe 5-8).

  45. Melanie says:

    Hi Heather,

    As a working professional, can you please speak to the importance or preference of the executive MBA, or how it compares to the traditional MBA program? I’m looking into getting an MBA and am contemplating which of the two I should look into, and which employers may prefer.  Thanks.

  46. Oz says:

    According to a study I read about in Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping Point, MBA is like having an undergraduate degree 20 years ago based on the number of people with MBAs compared to past. It is almost becoming an education that you are expected to have for business.

    This popularity among professionals brings problems with it. New MBA programs are popping up every day as well as new twists like MBA + Mass Media program in three years etc. The rule is simple: top companies lwill hire from top business schools. Although you will be exposed to very similar material and instructors, you will not have access to top schools’ career services which will have set recuritment days and job fairs with top employers. You have to pay top dollars for this these days and be very successful at that school. Overall, I agree with Heather’s opinions in the post since top school MBA will be a great reference.

    If you can not get an MBA from top schools and if you do not have 5+ years job experience, I suggest keep working and saving your money. Get experienced and try switching to a related industry of your dream company. Network your way in or leverage your experience. These two will be much valuable than an non-top school MBA degree.

  47. HeatherLeigh says:

    Melanie – Most imporant to me is the work experience the candidate has. Other than that, I don’t think it matters that much…most important to get into a good program.

    I will say that for full-time MBAs, our MBA recruiting team works with them to find positions that are designated specifically for MBAs. For exec MBAs, industry recruiters work with them. SO I guess if someone has a really significant amount of prior work experience, the exec MBA would open them up to a wider range of opportunities. But that’s just how it works at Microsoft.

    I don’t think most employers would make the effort to differentiate.

    Oz – I totally agree with your recommendation. My role may not be everyone’s dream job, but I worked to get the experience that would make me attractive to Microsoft, without the MBA.  

  48. Marty says:


    Should one pursue an MBA if they already have a bachelor’s degree in general business (Business Administration)?  I have looked over many programs and they seem to be almost exactly the same as my undergrad program (operations management, stats, planning, finance, etc.)

  49. HeatherLeigh says:

    You definitely don’t need an MBA to get into HR. I wouldn’t invest in the degree but would put together a career transition plan so you can make some progress in moving from IT to HR. I’d recommend trying to make the move within a company that you have already worked, where they know your performance and are willing to invest in/risk moving you from a role where you have experience to one where you don’t.

    Good luck!

  50. StevieRay says:

    I really find it fascinating that you take time out of your busy schedule to try and help job seekers advance professionally. I also appreciate reading your thoughts on this topic. Kudos to you Heather. Sounds like you made it further north than USC (and now NE from GE) and are having fun… Keep it up!

  51. HeatherLeigh says:


  52. apEng says:

    What if one’s reason for pursuing an MBA straight out of undergrad is more of a career change strategy? For example, like most bright kids out of high school, I tried to make a post secondary choice that was challenging and yet utilized as many of my skills as possible. Now that I am going into my last term of my Electrical Engineering degree (with six 4-month co-op terms working in industry under my belt also), I question my aptitude and personality fit for a job as an electrical engineer. I’ve always loved business math, and have excelled in elective courses like Economics, Organizational Behavior, and Intro to Financial Management for Engineers. Further still, every time I take a personality/ career aptitude test (and I have done many) it points me towards a career in financial management, bank management, actuarial science and even accounting. I tend to agree, but after 5 years of studying to be an engineer, I don’t think another undergraduate degree is the way to go. I also don’t want to give up the possibility to one day do engineering work if I should ever want to. I wonder if pursuing an MBA as soon as I finish undergrad (given that I do have work experience through co-op) is something worth considering. Even if I do remain in an engineering career path, I do know that I want to be a manager one day. I wonder if pursuing the MBA sooner rather than later, might help to open my eyes to the career path that is best for me, and facilitate a change over if I become convinced that engineering is not what I want to do anymore.

    Any thoughts on MBAs as ‘career changers’ would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  53. HeatherLeigh says:

    I’d still get out there and work for a couple of years. The problem you will have is that when you graduate with your MBA, you graduate at the same time as a bunch of others MBAs with similar educational background but also with work experience. It’s hard for a company to rationalize paying MBA dollars to someone who is essentially a new grad.

    I’d look at your first job after undergrad as a means to an end. Get some real world experience so you have some context going into an MBA program. You might find that you don’t need to go back to school.

  54. Alton says:

    Hi I am an entrepreneur and running my own business. A decision which I planned and finally executed after working in MNCs for the last 10 years. Now, I am earning 10 times more than working as a senior manager in an MNC.

    However, I still have very strong quest for knowledge and wish to further my studies after obtaining other professional certificates. I would like to know would what I learn in an MBA be useful for my business or having an MBA is only useful for applying for jobs? Or would a MSC in Finance or ACCA be more useful for my business? Thank you.

  55. HeatherLeigh says:

    Alton – I think you are the only person that can answer that. There’s no standard response. What skills are you missing and can you find a program that offers them? I’d go to some info sessions at some programs to check it out and see if any of it sounds like it would be particularly useful.

  56. Krystal says:

    I wanted to get your opinion on what I am about to persue. I have a B.A. in Biology and I am debating on entering an MBA program.  I just dont want to be a lab rat anymore. I want to be in charge of the lab rats ; ). So what opportunities are out there for a person like me? Will I be marketable with an MBA?


  57. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi Krystal, Hmm, not sure…being in charge of the lab rats…I don’t know what that means 🙂 I’m not sure that you need an MBA to do that. You might like this book that I am reading (especially given your degree) about the balance of left-brain/right-brain thinkiing and how the economy has an impact on the value of certain styles in the marketplace. The book is called "A Whole New Mind" and the author is Daniel Pink.

    It’s hard for me to tell much about your background other than that you have a BA. I wouldn’t recommend going from undergrad to MBA if that is your situation. Maybe find some people that have thejob you want and ask them about their path. From what I have read lately, there’s a lot more flexibility in terms of degree requirements for certain fields.

    I’m not sure if I am helping at all.

  58. Krystal says:

    Hi again,

    I guess I am really breaking new ground with what I am trying to do. There are a few schools offering a dual degree program with a MS in Biotechnology (which is what I have a minor in) and  an MBA. They have only been around for about 2 years now. Ive done a lot of research and found that many major biotechnology companies are having problems because of the missing link between buisness and the science. The employees can only do one or the other.  

    To me it would be pointless to go back and get another Bachelors in something. I want to get higher education, a better paying job and be sucessful. I want to be in demand.

    As far as the book goes I will be picking that one up. It sounds very interesting to me.  Thanks for the advice.

  59. HeatherLeigh says:

    Krystal – OK, that program sounds great. I don’t hire folks in the biotech field but it sounds like the programs were developed to address a specific need in the industry and it’s smart to think the way you are!

  60. AG says:


    What is the right age of doing MBA? If a person is already 35 years old and wants to do MBA which will take him 1 year to get selected in school and 3 years for part time MBA, by the time he will come out of college with MBA he will be 39 years old.

    Is it worth having a MBA & load of debt so late in one’s career when person is settled and have family & kids? Recruiters must be looking for right skills “preferable with MBA” but age is also a factor here.

    Who will be more preferred –

    Right Skills + MBA + Younger Person who can spend more time on job


    Right Skills + MBA + Older Person who can spend less time on job because of family obligations

    Older person may have more experience but what if he wants to change his career line in the field in which he has no previous experience to begin with, in that case his old age will be a drawback.

    Not sure if I’m right or wrong about this. Your thoughts please.

  61. HeatherLeigh says:

    I don’t agree about age being a factor. A person should pursue an MBA if they feel it will help them advance in their career and if they appropriate circumstances exist for them to pursue it.

    Recruiters don’t ask what age a person is. And frankly, most people that join a company, even at 39, don’t stay there for the rest of their work-lives. So I don’t think it’s an issue at all.

    And 39 ain’t old. I’m just saying!

  62. J says:

    It is a 2 year degree. The value of it is inflated because those hiring have them, and want to stroke their ego’s.  I do not have an MBA, but many more years of formal professional trainng in my field, and I find MBA’s generally full of themselves with inflated senses of what they are worth.  Today’s economy tells us what they are worth…they are worth identifying and keeping track of until they gain more useful experience and humility.  Again…it is a 2 YEAR degree…big deal!!!!!!!!!!!

    Get over yourselves…MBA’s are a dime a dozen…and even more common and devalued after this week on Wall Street!

  63. crawdad13 says:


    I completely understand the frustration you are exhibiting, but to completely write off the educational value that one can get from a good MBA program seems a little silly.

    I don’t have an MBA and have railed from time-to-time about  the perceived value versus the actual value of the degree, but to paint all MBA’s with such a broad brush is myopic and irresponsible.

    That would be like saying that all priests are pedophiles, all politicians are corrupt and all people who post responses to blogs are stupid and have nothing better to do with their lives but to anonymously rip people because they are sad and jealous and they need to blanket an entire group of people just to make themselves feel superior and to justify their own inadequacies.

    Sure their are people within all of these groups that fit the description, but that doesn’t make it true for all of them (or does it?)

    For the record, I know many politicians who aren’t corrupt…I can’t vouch for the rest.

  64. HeatherLeigh says:

    Well said, Darren!

  65. Sean Gharavi says:

    While it never hurts a resume, from my experience, MBA’s are best for mid-to-senior business professionals that don’t have a BA in Business Administration and years of solid experience and results in a specific field.

    Except for tactical roles, which may benefit from a technical BS coupled with an MBA, such as product management, a VP-level candidate with a BA in Business Administration with 15+ years of exceptional experience and continual education in their specific field, outside of an MBA, is usually ideal.

    And most importantly, firms need to focusing on hiring the right individuals that are going to produce the best results. In this economy, an MBA does not a business leader make.

  66. Ann says:

    Great post. Thank you everyone.

    In the 80’s I helped start up several large companies in the US. When our children come along in the early 90’s, I stayed home to care for them. In the past 10 years, I have been working for a humanitarian organization designing and implementing programs for third world countries. With all of my professional experience, which I am proud of, I have found it very difficult to get a good job in the for-profit sector without an MBA.

    I have been accepted into an MBA executive program at a very well known university, especially in research and medicine, in the East coast, however their MBA program does not have the AACSB accreditation. Should I take out a hefty loan to pursue it? I like the program because of it’s approach on humanity in business.

  67. Yinka says:

    I have just finished an undergraduate degree in finance, given the economic situation presently I feel it is important to acquire more knowledge. With no work experience I am trying to decide between getting an MBA or an Msc in economics. I want to get my masters degree finished as soon as possible. Perhaps you could give me some advice.

  68. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hi Yinka,

    It really depends on what kind of work you want to do. I think that the MBA might be preferrable in that some larger companies (like Microsoft) have MBA recruiting programs, so they specifically target MBAs and recruit on campus. I don’t know of similar programs for Msc. Aside from that, what I would recommend is that you pick a few cmopanies that you think you might want to work at someday (not overly important what those companies are….you are just going to use them for their careers sites), review their job postings and see what degrees they look for. This is probably the most practical way to decide. Since it sounds like you are not personally drawn to one area of study over another.

    I hope that helps.

  69. Yinka says:

    Hello Heather,

    Thank you for the suggestions. I am more drawn to to a career in in banking and enjoy economics. However I am also  practical, I do not want to have to take time out later b/c I need an MBA. The fact that I do not have work experience is also a factor regarding the MBA. How difficult is it to find a job with an MBA and no experience.Taking this into consideration is the MBA still preferrable. Will the

    lack of experience be as much of a factor with an Msc.

    Once again thank you for your time.

  70. HeatherLeigh says:

    We generally prefer people who have had some experience before the MBA, but I am not sure if it’s the same in the banking industry. Maybe you can check some of their job postings and see if they require an advanced degree + years of experience. Obviously, now wouldn’t be a great time to apply for jobs in the bnaking industry but I suspect that there are some entry level roles that have similar skill sets that you could think about oif you decide not to go right into school again.

  71. BJ says:

    Hi Heather,

    Even after reading all of these posts I’m still somewhat unclear about who really benefits from an MBA.  It seems like the classes are the same as the ones taken in the undergraduate Business Administration major.  Currently I am in my early thirties and am close to nearing completion of my bachelor’s in accounting.  Now, I know that I am getting so much more out of my classes than my 20 year old classmates because I have real work experience I can apply to the book concepts.  Most of them are just memorizing the material but they don’t really understand it.  So, if I were to pursue my MBA, would I just be repeating what I am already learning now (because I am a bit older)?  All of the discussions on this post kind of seem to be saying that studying business in college directly out of high school is useless and you don’t really learn anything.  So retake the same classes 7 years later and now it will all make sense.  But now you need to pay an institution for two more years of college tuition to learn what you should have learned the first time around.  Am I way off base here?  

    I also was wondering about the guy who mentioned in an earlier post that his masters in (I believe) organizational leadership is not considered as valuable as an MBA.  So, let’s say someone was to major in chemistry, then go to school to get their MBA…….would this person be viewed as having more business knowledge than another person who received their undergrad in Business Administration and then a masters in Organizational behavior?  I’ve read about a lot of people who get an MBA but have a non-business undergrad degree.

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