There have been at least two occasions where I’ve gotten involved in a squabble with some people over the relevance of an MBA degree. One is a Physics major, currently enrolled in a Ph.D Program and the other is a Computer Engineer. I’m a little tired of defending this degree because most of the arguments that I encounter are uninformed and irrational. It’s become an inside joke to make fun of anyone who’s pursuing an MBA.
I have a unique background in that I studied Science in 11th-12th, then did law for under graduation and now, I’m at the brink of completing my MBA. So, when I talk about the merits of an MBA degree, then it’s not because I dislike Sciences or Arts. I don’t know how good the Indian B-schools are, to tell you the truth. They don’t appeal to me because I cannot comprehend the idea of having the school decide my courses for me. Everything is so fixed in the Indian MBA Curriculum. For example- There is a fixed time for attending classes all day long that only reminds me of my school days. Also, the Indian MBA system leaves little flexibility for full time workers. They are forced to quit their jobs in order to enroll into an MBA Program. I don’t know whether an average B-School in India offers specialization courses, but I think not. Even if they do, then there won’t be too many courses that you can choose from. Most of these degrees are focused towards “Management” or “Sales/Marketing”. And it is because of programs like these that people form faulty opinions regarding the MBA Degree.
I got my Bachelor’s from one of the top colleges in India, which is based in Pune. The faculty’s supposedly outstanding and the college boasts of a library that’s one of the biggest among all the Law Schools in India. Why is it that I ended up bunking all my classes and not giving a hoot about what the teacher was talking about? Surely staying away from home, the least I could have done was attend classes and complete my homework. The syllabus and the method of teaching made me sleepy. I was better off completing everything on my own rather than ask the professors, who were too high-headed. I don’t know if I studied only to pass exams or to really learn something.
When I compare this with my MBA Program, I find that I’ve learned much more. I don’t want to turn this post into an Indian-Education-System-Sucks kind of post, but I need to make a distinction between my level of interest now and my interest in studies during undergrad years. I’ve learned concepts about Finance and Accounting which wouldn’t have been possible had I not taken up this program. Very often, I converse with people who don’t have an MBA and talk extensively about the economy and the industry. I was surprised to see that what was so obvious to me about a particular issue wasn’t so obvious to him. And I don’t use words like “mitigate” and “diversify” and “asset” all the time.
There is a lot of difference between people completing an MBA degree in Finance and an MBA Degree in Marketing. It’s just my opinion, but I feel that most of the concepts that are “taught” in a Marketing degree are things that are of common knowledge and can be picked up by anyone. You really don’t need to spend two years of your life learning that stuff. Most of the times, when people talk about their dislike for an MBA degree, they base all their arguments upon the assumption that an MBA degree is synonymous with a Marketing or Management degree. Says an executive–
“If you’re talking about a sales position, I’d have to say that the MBA is pretty much useless. If you’re talking about an executive position, an MBA is useful, but only marginally. The sad truth is that the training is just too theoretical to make any difference.”
I came across an article at BNET that’s as baseless as a column on celebrity gossip can get-
- Course Description:
- Examines the role of finance in supporting the functional areas of a company and fosters an understanding of how financial decisions create value. Topics include basic analytical skills, principles of corporate finance, functions of modern capital markets, and risk analysis.
- Most Useful Skill:
- How to read a balance sheet.
- Most Useless Skill:
- Understanding the history of double-entry bookkeeping.
- Hidden Agenda:
- How to exploit investors without getting caught.
I’m not very sure if the person writing this article even has an MBA. I was never taught “The History of Double Entry Bookkeeping”. In fact, book keeping is very easy. Even constructing a balance sheet is very easy. What is difficult is analyzing it. How many of you who are reading this article has heard about Modigliani and Miller? How many of you know about the Markowitz Portfolio Theory? If an MBA is that useless, then you should be knowing all of this. Also, there wouldn’t have been so much of demand in the job market for an MBA either. If the average starting salary for an MBA in the US is about $75,000/year, then it’s because of a reason. Surely, the person adds something that’s perceived to carry value to an organization.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that an MBA teaches you all that you’ve got to know. You can develop people skills and managerial skills only when you encounter real life problems. What the degree does do is give you analyzing tools that try to make the process easier. At the end of the day, it’s for you to decide if $100,000 and your time is worth it.