It’s been nearly a year since the fine sunny day in spring, when I flew into one of the design capitals of Europe- Milano. A greenhorn, with respect to actual business practices, I was intrigued enough in how the world of money and power worked, so as to give up a steady job and go back to school to earn my MBA degree.
Now, let’s put that into perspective. I wouldn’t buy a car from a new company even if it looked wicked and sexy and promises to beat a Lamborghini in a 0-60mph sprint, without reading the reviews and taking it out for a spin. Even better, I’d like to wait and ask people who have owned the car for further feedback. That’s where established companies have a competitive advantage. They have wild drives, which have withstood the tests of time. Let’s take the Ferrari California, the latest release from the prancing horse stable as an example. You “know” that even if it turns out to be a damp squib in the long run, the engine and the engineering are gonna be awesome. Ferrari ensures this by making sure that their production, design and supply chain follow certain rigorous standards and use the best components available. After a while, the brand overpowers the product. The same is the case with B-schools. They want to make sure that they have the right raw materials - clay with the right attributes which can be molded and polished into a really good product.
Friends and relatives would be more interested to know if you have lost your mind, and whether you know what you are doing. They are probably just worried that you are under some spell, after watching some new rad TV show, and this is something you are planning to do on a whim. If you indeed are, it’s high time you snapped out of it! The road after the MBA is not an easy one. I don’t mean the endless hours of poring over texts and articles, which could be handled with some practice- but, the risk. It’s like buying a house, with a housing loan, and not knowing where the money to pay it off is gonna come from. If you play the market correctly, you could sell the house later profitably, or you could find a good job and pay off the loan. Or you could end up losing a lot of time, money and effort to end up with nothing worthwhile.
From my point of view, here’s what a good MBA will provide you…
International exposure: Not just in business, but with respect to cultures too. It might matter quite a lot, in the coming years. In my class there were 20 different nationalities among the 32 students. This made up for quite an interesting experience at times. You can see the cultural conflicts, the similarities, what matters more for each culture and so on… It’s a total immersion, that’ll push you to adapt to various situations.It’s like a crash course of 10 years of normal cultural exchanges, compressed into a year. I’ve learnt that the Chinese trust their Guanxi to do business. Angry Turks and straight shooting Australians aren’t just stupid stereotypes. You see both sides of the coin when you interact with Israelis and then Palestinians, Greeks and then Turks. You’ll be influenced by the salsa crazy Latinos and the soccer loving Italians. If you throw in a bit of travelling, the prospects are endless.
Networking opportunities: You’ll get in touch with many companies, and top-level managers. You’ll get to hear from trailblazers in the business and other related fields. I had the opportunity to listen to Prahlad, Gary Kasparov and Mohammed Yunus speak about various trends in the business world, first hand.On a less serious note, I managed to worm my way inside the EU parliament at Brussels, with a contact that I made through a community. Guess what? Gandhi has made his way to the EU parliament too. The European version, however, is dressed up in a suit!
Fundamentals in the business arena: This of course is a given and hence the reason why I listed it third on the list. If you’d like to strengthenacquire your finance, operations, organizational behavior and strategy fundamentals, and then the MBA is one of your best options. I found myself appreciating and actually understanding the details that were printed in the Financial times and Wall street Journal, halfway through my course. You’ll never feel lost when you read the so called ‘power’ magazines or journals, after the MBAJ.
Opportunities to redraw your career graph: The chance to change your career path is another compelling reason why the MBA is favored by quite a lot of people. An engineer might want to move into the design, or the fashion industry. Someone with a commerce background might want to do management consultancy. An MBA in a good school will open up doors. Once you get through the door, it’s all up to you, to whack the opportunity on its head and drag it back home. But the tough part of getting through the fortified walls would have been achieved, in any case.
There you go… if those are not good enough reasons for an MBA, well I’ll most certainly be surprised! There’s just one key word that I would really suggest, as a mantra – MOTIVATION. You have to convey oodles of motivation, in your answer. To do that, you’ve got to be motivated, and that’s only possible if you are completely sure that this is what you really want to do! So figure out what is it exactly that motivates you , and frame your answer around those lines.