Which MBA Programme?
Career and Personal Benefits: Enduring and Ephemeral
How do you decide where to pursue an MBA? Well, if you base your decision on a program's effectiveness in teaching analytical skills, it's apparently hard to go wrong. Big schools, small schools, well-known schools, and little-known schools - they all produce MBAs who get high marks for analysis and technical competency. In contrast, the concurrent mastery of people-management, leadership and teaming skills - and the opportunity to build cohesive relationships with cohorts - are greater variables in choosing among competing programs.
Analytical Skills: Consistently High Marks
As a young professional contemplating the MBA experience, the choice among programs will not likely yield a measurable difference in the mastery of technical and analytical skills. These skills are the hallmark of virtually every accredited program. In fact, in every "consumer" survey asking employers of MBAs what attributes among graduates they routinely find most developed, analytical skills are always at the top of the "most satisfied with" list.
People Skills: Consistently Low Marks
If we glean from the same employer surveys the other consistent pattern of responses, then most MBA programs do a lousy job of teaching soft management skills. Interpersonal, people-management and teaming skills consistently rank among those attributes that employers find the least well-developed among MBAs, and these are the skills which employers are least satisfied with when they have hired an MBA.
Curriculum changes over the past decade - and there have been many changes over-sold as "revolutionary" - have begrudgingly nodded to the expressed frustrations with MBAs who can't manage, not to mention lead, fellow employees. But in most of these celebrated curriculum revisions, a nod is all you'll get. The faculty and administration of most graduate business schools are trained to deliver analytical skills, not people skills, and they are not about to retool in soft skills or abandon their tenured posts to those who have those skills.
As it turns out, both faculty and MBA students are more comfortable with the traditional preoccupation with analytical and technical skills training. A majority of MBA candidates have technical backgrounds in fields like engineering, finance, accounting and the sciences. This makes the adoption of soft-skills curricula ever more challenging, since it takes both the consumers and suppliers outside of their comfort zones. What we've been teaching in MBA programs is easy for professional engineers; what we haven't been teaching is not.
So the challenge for an aspiring MBA student is to identify that relatively small set of suppliers who are responding to what the ultimate consumer of MBA talent, the employer, has been telling mostly deaf ears over the past decade.
Whether schools feel comfortable with soft-skills training or not, the failure to effectively help students to develop and strengthen those skills represents a considerable diminution of the value of the MBA curricula. The reality is that as business managers rise in their organizations and take on ever-greater responsibilities, the percentage of their time devoted to "people problems" increases exponentially. The CFO of one of the world's largest soft-drink giants, whose training had been in accounting, once told me that 95 percent of his time was spent dealing with people problems; the financial issues had to be compacted into the remaining 5 percent.
Connections: The Ultimate Enduring Value
Finally, we come to probably the most important and most enduring benefit for those MBAs lucky enough to have acquired it: deep, personal relationships with other MBAs. When I talk with MBA graduates about their various experiences and results, regardless of where and when they studied, those who developed close personal relationships cite these as the primary enduring benefit from their MBA programs. For those whose programs failed to foster a strong sense of connection among their student colleagues, the entire MBA experience is discounted as little more than a "hurdle" to have jumped over in pursuit of greater management responsibility, rather than as a time of personal growth, important learning and life-enhancing relationships.
As important as relationship building is to the MBA experience, few programs make a conscious, energetic effort to facilitate that process. That failure diminishes the value of services rendered to their MBA clients, and accordingly leads to lower retention rates and a diminished sense of alumni loyalty and support once the students finish their programs. In other words, ignoring the relationship-building aspect of an MBA program yields the worst case "lose-lose" outcome: a diminished experience for students, diminished retention rates for the school, diminished levels of alumni support and enthusiasm for the school, a diminished reputation for the program and, ultimately, diminished rates of applications and admissions.
This is a colossal loss for both programs and their students, and it's a needless one. Facilitating connections and relationship building can be and ought to be an objective of every credible MBA program, but it takes more than merely providing lounge space for students to congregate before and after classes, or workspace for student teams to hold team meetings. It takes structured programming that either explicitly, or as a by product of building leadership and teaming skills, brings students together in the kind of intensive work (and play) circumstances that foster the development of strong, enduring personal relationships. Outdoor experiential-based training programs, for example, can be woven into a skills-building course in leadership and team development, ideally offering an extended retreat component that keeps a cohort group in close proximity for several days and nights. The result of this kind of investment: the creation of life-long personal relationships.
Alumni who are five, ten and more years removed from their MBA studies say the quality and quantity of lasting personal relationships are the ultimate enduring values of their MBA experience. Prospective MBA students should expect that - should demand that - from their MBA programs.
- Why do an MBA, Diverse Opportunities, Demand for Training
- Why do an MBA? - Diverse Opportunities. Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the UK and international MBA market. The increasing demand for training in what is now routinely accepted as the graduate management degree is in part due to the MBA's growing reputation with senior executives in the business world.
- Distance Learning MBA, Full Time Programmes at all Levels
- Distance Learning MBA. There are various approaches to learning. Full time programmes at all levels require a career break of some sort. This may be acceptable especially for short courses or where you get leave of absence but you also have to consider access, location, timing, the quality of the group and of the deliverer. Local courses may be of restricted quality and you may not be able to afford overseas courses.
- Online MBA programs, The Continuing Development of Internet Technology
- Online MBA Programs. The online MBA is a relatively new development and as such there are very few business schools that are offering an MBA program entirely online. Many online programs still require students to attend mandatory residential courses as part of their syllabus. The length and frequency of these "contact" sessions vary depending on the school and program.
- MBA Rankings, Are a Great Way for Perspective Students to Select
- MBA Rankings. MBA rankings are a great way for perspective students to select between the best business programs offered at reputable universities. With future students in mind four main sources, The Financial Times, Business Week and The Economist publish a list of universities that offer the best program to earn a Master's in Business Administration. Taking the MBA rankings into account, perspective students will have a general idea of the status and value of their future degree in the business world. When selecting a school students should be aware of these rankings, even though they are debatable since they are seen by so many hiring companies.
- MBA Rankings, Business Week and U.S. News & World Report
- MBA Rankings. The ranking of business schools has been a controversial subject for a number of years. It is only recently, however, that they have become popular with the press, publicized and generally accepted. As a matter of fact, one of the principal reasons for the rankings has been the ability of the articles to boost the circulation of the magazines.
- Full-time MBA
- A global MBA with an Asia Pacific focus. Students can choose an Asia specific track such as China, Japan or Vietnam. Hawaiiâs only AACSB accredited MBA program. The cohort format fosters teamwork and peer learning
- Full-time MBA
- The Full-time MBA is an intensive one year programme, which offers a rigorous and challenging process of personal and management development.
- Part-time MBA
- The Part-time MBA is a 3 year part-time programme, designed for those working in a wide variety of managerial, technical and professional roles.