In today's environment, the question is not whether one should do an MBA. it is universally acknowledged that an MBA provides one with the knowledge and skills of various facets of a business – economics, finance, marketing, operations and human resources. It also creates an understanding of softer issues like leadership, communication, working in teams etc. This knowledge usually helps individuals to grow faster within the organisation. It also helps build a solid foundation for a good career growth. An MBA provides aspirants with some important tangible learning – it gives them an opportunity to carry out projects and assignments within an organisational system (be it through discussions with stakeholders, one-week week assignment stints, three-week weeks winter projects or two-month summer projects) and this provides them with a practical exposure while still having the advantage of being students. It helps them build their professional network as the institute is normally a member of various professional forums. It helps them get a higher salary and grade as against others who do not have an advantage of MBA and the pedigree of the institute also gives them a brand name that could help them throughout their career.
Overall, an MBA creates an individual who is technically sound, but also good in running the company, driving the processes and motivating the people. Thus, the student has the advantage of understanding the importance of strategy, technology and operations very early in his/her career.
While acknowledging the importance of MBA in determining career success, we move on to the question of when this MBA would be most useful – at the beginning of one's career and before one starts work, or after a few years of work life. Here the answers are not clear, but we explore the advantages of both.
Doing an MBA immediately after graduation ensures certain continuity in education. It also helps in understanding the theoretical concepts first and then applying them in work life. Organisations also look for bright young talent that have a lot of ideas and energy to implement them. Another advantage of doing an MBA right away is that parents pay for the education!
Doing an MBA after a few years of work life helps in relating practical experience in the corporate world to what one learns. The syllabus and pattern of an MBA is such that it cannot be compared to other courses where classroom training alone is sufficient to understand the concepts. Today, many organisations sponsor their employees for MBA programmes, due to which finance is no longer a problem. Above all, work experience provides people with a maturity that helps them get a better advantage out of the MBA, which is designed to closely emulate the corporate environment.
The most important thing is to understand that a MBA fills a need. It helps create a better and more informed corporate citizen. It needs to be seen as a means and not as an end in itself. It is designed to give your career a boost through sound understanding of organisational dynamics.
The author is Madhu Jalan, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Product Development, TalentSprint.