Why do we bother with MBAs?

I was having a conversation with one of my brothers recently, and he mentioned that he was hoping to get an MBA soon. I was a bit surprised by this. Once I finished school, I had no intention of going back. I figured that he thought the same thing… And I’m pretty sure that I enjoyed school more than he did.

Although I majored in a technical area, computer science, I ended up with a consulting gig that constantly forces me to think from a business standpoint. My career path at Pariveda molds me into a business professional who sees problems from an enterprise view and understands how to plug technology into a solution. Along that path, I should learn tons about business administration. Right…? So why the hell should I waste my precious time getting another degree in an area that I am learning along the way. At some point I ought to be able to portray that I have a comparable skill set to that of someone who has an MBA (plus, I’ll have lots of cool technical anecdotes to share). So why bother with spending the extra time, effort, and money to get an MBA?

Once I thought about it, things started to make a little more sense. I’m not sure if getting an MBA makes sense for me, but it could make perfect sense for someone who doesn’t get the administration exposure along their career path. How would you feel if you had been doing purely technical work for years, and all the sudden you were dropped into the unfamiliar land of business administration? You’d probably feel confused, lost, frustrated, etc. Is it too much to ask of your employer to help shape your skill set into what they eventually expect of you? I don’t think so. Maybe if companies realized that their employees are investments, they would put the effort into helping said employees grow their skills into what the career path has in store.

Or… I guess they could just pay for you to get an MBA when the time is right.

I am currently polling my company to see who has MBAs, and why they bothered with them. I also asked if anyone thought having an MBA at our company was useful. I’m planning on writing a follow up to this post where I consolidate some response from within my company (and from you – go ahead and comment).

[Here is a link to the follow-up]

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2 comments on “Why do we bother with MBAs?
  1. Anon says:

    I think getting an MBA at a company like yours is like getting a technical certification in something like SharePoint, Azure, or Salesforce. You may possess the skills that would suffice to obtain a piece of paper that says the same thing, but the benefits from the outside may be high. Sometimes clients choose teams based on certification numbers in the same way that some businesses choose employees based on degrees. While having a degree purely to validate a skill set that you already possess seems moot, having a degree to show others that you possess the skills needed to obtain it is still an important consideration.

    Also, some people just really like getting degrees and learning in formal settings. Not everyone is cut out for piecing information together over time into an unambiguous set of skills and knowledge.

  2. Josh says:

    I believe your pov is quite valid, especially when it comes to weighing the tangible costs and benefits of earning an MBA degree. As the price of a college degree rises, I foresee people picking and choosing their degree programs more carefully; in other words, maximizing the educational value over as few years as possible. What better way to accomplish this than to learn on the job. The problem, which you have pin pointed, is that there are too few companies willing to invest in their most valuable resource (employees). People with such an employer need a way to grow their business knowledge and differentiate themselves from others, in order to get a good job. In that light, there are MBA programs out there that shorten the number of course-study-cycles it takes to earn an MBA. I think the five and six year programs that some universities offer a good option for earning an MBA. Maybe this article I read the other day will give you something to think about.

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