I won’t lie.
At one point of time many moons ago…I yearned for the prestige of being an MBA graduate. My seniors had woven pleasant and golden dreams of impressive designations, the lucrative pay packet and seemingly abundant growth opportunities. It was all very alluring! So did I chase my dreams and reach the fabled final destination?
No. Because along the way circumstances changed and I discovered my true passion. Persuasive copy and tailored funnels!
Over the last five years I have never felt pulled to retrace my steps and delve into the world of Master of Business Administration again. But does that mean companies shouldn’t hire MBA talent? Or disregard anyone who hasn’t got the stamp of approval that comes with the degree?
Times are changing. Market demands are shifting. Nothing is black or white. And so the issue of the pros and cons of hiring MBA graduates is a pertinent one that should be carefully debated. If your company has held a somewhat rigid view of what MBA education implies or if you are a fresher pondering the question, “Do I need an MBA?” then stick around. This article might just leave you with fresh insights.
Fun fact! The curriculum that we associate with the MBA degree came into existence 114 years ago at the Dartmouth College’s Tuck School with a tiny class of four. But fast forward to the 21st century and 25.4% of all higher education graduates step into the world armed with the firepower of the hallowed MBA. What’s more, since 2002 there has been an increase of 43% in the number of students who opt for post graduate degrees.
Club this number with the fact that the starting salary of MBAs from reputed colleges might touch $109,000 per year and the MBA rage isn’t about to lose momentum any time in the near future.
There is merit in hiring MBA talent. Here are the five most dominant traits that Master of Business Administration graduates bring to their workplace.
What is critical thinking? In short it is the ability to transcend biases and preconceived notions to reach the truth about a subject.
Considering the fact that social media platforms are officially capable of spreading misinformation that might push businesses and their leaders to give in to knee jerk reactions, critical thinking and the objectivity that comes from it are highly desirable.
It is argued that MBA graduates have better developed critical thinking skills than their peers. They are taught to gather evidence, sift the facts from conjecture and use that which is unequivocal to come up with feasible solutions. An MBA graduate is less likely to be taken in by hoaxes and fraudulent news.
MBA graduates are taught to consider a business holistically – as an entity which is greater than the sum of its individual parts. As a result the candidate is exposed to the fundamentals of handling assets and financial accounts, the principles of effective marketing and even the tenets of communication and organization. This gives them the confidence to navigate their way through the corporate hierarchy and understand what makes the profit and revenue side of the company tick.
There is a chasm of a difference between vocational training and theoretical education, and MBA graduates grasp the practical aspect of running a venture better than others.
MBAs are suave. An important part of acquiring the degree is being presentable, having the chops to convey messages in a way that persuades and build a persona that pleases. MBA graduates aren’t relegated to the corner of the room where they cut themselves off from the rest of the world to pursue passion projects. These individuals know how to network and stay on top of global macro and micro trends. They mingle with connections who can further their career and the objectives of the company they represent.
Hiring an MBA isn’t just adding to the “technical” talent pool of the company. It is taking on an advocate and an evangelist who can bring value to the public perception of the brand.
A good leader first and foremost leads himself or herself.
MBA graduates are individuals with a keen desire to upgrade their abilities and hone their skill sets. They are eager to learn and not shy of investing in their career. For a company that offers growth opportunities, they prove to be appreciating assets who go on to shoulder more responsibilities and become worthy leaders.
Moreover the MBA curriculum is designed to test the limits of hard work and dedication, and the degree confers candidates with stamina thanks to the rigorous training.
If you want to use a spoon to shovel a drive-way, the results will be far from satisfactory. Would you ever use a blow torch to light a candle?
The question here is of suitability and context. An MBA graduate may quadruple the ROI of certain projects. But in other scenarios they might feel as awkward as a fish out of water. There are a number of mindsets and preferences MBA candidates develop, and these may not serve them well in unconventional settings.
The characteristics that make MBA graduates so forceful at work also program them with high ambitions.
They might not be the best recruitment choice for Startups that are strapped for cash. Such establishments might seek professional consultation by the hour instead of taking on an MBA graduate as a full time employee.
Once supplied with the needed resources, MBAs possess the ability to process inputs using their impressive repository of standard procedures and thought frameworks and produce predictable outcomes.
For businesses with well-defined protocols, business administration graduates are great helmsmen. They keep the ship in order, they are committed problem solvers and they sharpen the tools in their kit constantly.
But when foundations are shaky, MBAs tend to fall back on their education to tide them over. And that puts them in the proverbial box. Economies are being landscaped by factors like digital media, crowd funding, alternative data and a lot more. Under such circumstances creativity is the need of the hour and it doesn’t come easy to those who swear by critical thinking.
MBAs work best in the position of a supervisor. Obviously there are always exceptions to the rule.
But most business administration graduates are focused on how an asset performs, why it is impacted by economic and social trends and what can optimize returns to spare lofty concepts like vision and mission much thought. Details are drummed into their DNA by their course curriculum.
They may be perfectionists. They can’t fly by the seat of their pants or fall in with the culture of companies that set a store by entrepreneurship.
While MBA graduates are better equipped to understand the nuances of operating a business than their peers, the ones that are fresh out of college do not have that job experience. They may intern with established companies that encourage the notion of ideal operational conditions.
Bootstrapping isn’t a term in their vocabulary. However, getting things done when the going is tough is an art that all businesses must master in today’s world and MBAs might find themselves out of depth in fast-paced, uncertain situations.
At the end of the day there is no “one size fits all” decision when it comes to the pros and cons of hiring MBAs, and those who are interested in the specialization shouldn’t think of it in terms of generic considerations like “MBA vs MS”. It is all a matter of finding out what an MBA graduate can bring to the table, gauging its need in the company and balancing the cost (the MBA’s salary) and the pay-off (the returns on investment and objective) for an informed final call.
The MBA journey takes people places. But is the destination one that beckons you?