Happiness - A Must Have for Business School Ranking

Happiness Business School RankingNot all MBA Aspirants choose Happiness as a factor for Business School Ranking but if you ask MBA Alumni about one aspect of MBA programs that would have added greater value in Business School ranking, they would immediately say – Happiness.

Robert Prentice, professor of business law at the McCombs School of Business had mentioned about Happiness as a parameter for Business School ranking in this 2009 article.

“Any sensible person would rather be happy than rich, although many people often confuse the two—business students among them. Those who choose to attend business school on the assumption that an M.B.A. will help them change jobs, make more money, and therefore be happier are very likely misinformed”

Princeton Wordnet Defines Happiness as a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Webster Defines Happiness as a state of well-being and contentment

See the common words there – Well-being and Contentment.

MBAs are not known to be content. They are ambitious and driven. They set goals on a regular basis, achieve them and create better goals. It is the constant goal setting and focus that makes them successful but are they ever in a state of well-being and contentment.

They might be, momentarily.

A better question is - Can they improve their state of well-being?

It seems that they can:

1) After Basic Needs – Purpose

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, after realizing the fundamental needs, people strive to reach the next level. For MBAs, the need would be somewhere between Esteem and Self-Actualization. Getting into a top MBA program is part of our need to get the respect of our peers and others in the community. Earning higher salary builds our confidence. But true happiness or self-actualization can come from reaching the top level.

Unfortunately, Post-MBA Salary growth after 10-15 or 20 years becomes irrelevant. What drives MBAs after 10 years is their purpose.

The purpose for Steve Jobs (although not an MBA) was to “put a dent in the universe”. He accomplished that by introducing innovative products to the market. What drive a Senior Executive might not be the Bonus at the end of the year but the problems that he solved, the reputation and respect that he earned and the legacy he leaves.

2)Spending Money on others

Business Schools are doing a great service to humanity by using community service as a key component in MBA Admissions. Aspirants who never intend to help others are forced to think about Community service. This not only helps MBA Aspirants with Admissions but creates a habit for happiness.

In this amazing Ted Talk At TEDxCambridge, Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can, indeed buy happiness -- when you don't spend it on yourself. 

3) Daily Tasks

OK, I have figured out my purpose and I am ready to participate in community service. Now how should I do Business school research?

Aspirants who are using MBA as a tool to switch job functions have to be careful when choosing post-MBA jobs. Ask Alumni who made the switch about the daily tasks in that job function. We have heard first-hand accounts of terrible dissatisfaction with post-MBA jobs, mainly due to lack of knowledge on what the daily tasks were. What you see in paper might not be the real tasks that you have to do.

For instance one MBA switched from IT Technical Function to IT consulting after his MBA. You know what he did for 1 year? Read emails of client companies and create summaries – A job that a high school student can do without an MBA.

The Journey is important than the destination but if the $50000/Year that you invested in MBA leads you to jobs with little creativity or problem solving skills, the Post-MBA Salary growth will have no relevance.

4) Be Flexible

You had a clear post-MBA job in mind. You wrote about it in essays and affirmed about it in Interviews. But on working in that field, you realized that the post-MBA job was not meaningful. Maybe the job market was down and you were forced to choose a different job function(Read Switching Industries after MBA – Not Easy!) . But soon you found happiness in that new job.

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness says that our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.

So Happiness might be in the new job that you accidentally chose or the new post-MBA job function that you have chosen during the course of the MBA program.

Don’t blindly follow the ROI in Business School Ranking. Contact Alumni and learn every aspect (Career Path, Daily Tasks, Work Environment and Satisfaction) of the Post-MBA Job Function, Industry and Company. Be open to the idea of choosing a different career path once you have experienced the courses and experiential learning in the MBA program.

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