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MBA Shortcut To High Position & Pay?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 2:06 pm
by Prabhat
This is a discussion on the news article "Is MBA A Shortcut To High Position And Pay?"

Is MBA a shortcut to high position and pay? This question, posted in Quora recently, drew responses from an MBA being no magic carpet to the more practical realities of being helpful for those wanting to switch careers, in acquiring in-depth knowledge of a particular sector but in essence, not a shortcut.

Steve Shu, author of the Consulting Apprenticeship,, is of the opinion that MBA does not directly provides a shortcut to a high position. Several people use the MBA to switch careers and get into entry-level positions at management consulting or investment banking firms, which may have faster career tracks relatively speaking.

Shu himself switched from engineering to management consulting. The compensation boosts for successfully switching like that are generally good for the large majority of people, and the costs are significant,” he says.

Many of the top business schools publish pre- and post-MBA compensation statistics by job function and industry. Such information can be used for any due diligence. However, implicit in all this is that you still have to work hard and often make sacrifices to attain a high position.

Vasilios Danias, who has worked for several top firms, says an MBA is complimentary to one’s existing profile. Don't expect much in terms of career advancement even if you somehow manage to enter such a program with a “brandless” CV or at least without a successful startup exit.

“My MBA studies helped me land amazing interviews and finally a manager role at Uber with 100+% salary increase. Nonetheless, the MBA alone without Accenture, UBS Investment Bank and The University of Edinburgh on my CV would probably not have been enough to get here,” he says.

A CV without the backing of such brands makes it even more necessary to have a strong MBA degree, he adds.

Thomas B Walsh, author and retired executive, says if you have a degree from a top tier school, Harvard, Wharton, or Booth, you’ll be in select company and on a completely different trajectory than your competition. “Almost all the top execs in the last company I worked for before I retired had MBA’s from one of the top schools,” he adds.

He himself had got an MBA about 40 years ago from a second tier school. I am glad I went. He says he didn't know if it helped his career, but he learned a lot mainly due to exposure to a wide field of study and literature.

The third tier schools aren’t very impressive, but they can “dress up” your resume and help you get that first job. Today only half of graduates with a bachelor’s end up with a good job. The rest are under employed or unemployed. “I’ve seen young people, who made bad choices in their under grad major, school, or both, “bite the bullet,” spend another $50K, and earn an MBA so they could get a decent job. Not necessarily a winning strategy from a return of investment (ROI) standpoint. While his MBA cost $5K. his company paid 80%.

John Huang, a blogger of career advice having worked in consulting, startup, and corporate finance, says there is no real shortcut to prestige and salary. Just like just like many other things in the world you have to work hard and know how to navigate the corporate ladder, or you get a lucky break along the way.

What an MBA does is open doors that are normally closed when you are seeking a career pivot. Most people go to business school because they want to break into an industry that they don’t have any relevant experience in.

The network and recognition you gain in business school would enable you to have more mobility than most in your career which can lead to more frequent promotions and pay cheques as you move between companies.

About why so many alum from the elite schools like Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, etc. end up as executives at companies, he says the likely reason is because they were already really smart and well connected before joining these MBA programs and would have succeeded anyway. The MBA program itself does not guarantee that its alum are destined for the C-suite.

Richard Hom, Doctoral student, Biomedicine and Career Coach, says its a myth that an MBA can “fix everything”, or be a “magic carpet” to a high-paying position. For some few who have the connections, the MBA isn’t even needed. They will get the position regardless of their education.

For the rest, an MBA might be a coin for credibility that others don’t need. If the “chosen few” have taken the majority of jobs, then the MBAs are fighting each other for those few slots.

Dave Crisp, who is now into counselling after switching various careers, is of the opinion than an MBA from a reasonably good school will almost always help you to get an interview and maybe in the door. However, any entrant is likely to get trapped in a ‘go nowhere’ job and an MBA by itself won’t keep that from happening.

In addition to getting in the door you will need to develop on the job skills for finding promotions, lateral moves to spots with better opportunities, etc., and turn in top performance in each job to deliver results.