Category Archive 'MBA topics'
Incredulous. Dismissive. Or worse. How else can someone with a hard-earned MBA degree feel about the concept behind “The Personal MBA” experiment? For those who are not familiar with “The Personal MBA,” it is the brainchild of Josh Kaufman. Mr. Kaufman earned his MBA from the University of Cincinnati. After graduation, Josh apparently decided that MBA programs might just be a waste of time and money. Josh therefore started www.personalmba.com. There , Josh listed 99 business-related books–and inferred that anyone who read all 99 of these books would have core business knowledge similar to that of someone who actually earned his or her MBA.
Personal MBA Experiment
But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Thomas and I am a new staff writer here at “Experiments in Finance.” I am the former creator/owner of Broke Professionals and now own and run FreelancePF–a freelance writing business. Now that we are properly acquainted, I must first confess something: unlike many of our audience and the owners of this site, I do not have a MBA. I do however have a J.D., and I know reading a bunch of “the right books” could never fully assimilate the experience of law school. If I had a MBA and someone who had simply read 99 books told me they had a MBA equivalent–well, I probably would not take that too well. Nor do I believe an employer would give a raise or make a hiring decision based on a”Personal MBA.” From what I have read about MBA programs, there is a major emphasis on leadership and teamwork. MBA Students generally already possess core business knowledge, and many even work full-time–so the emphasis of the program is more on doing as opposed to passively reading. No matter how many books you read, in my opinion, that will never replicate the process of actually doing. Too much of our education takes place in the theoretical already.
My Personal MBA Confession
I have another confession to make. If, dear reader, we are going to be collaborating together over the coming weeks and months, then I want us to start out our relationship honestly. I must confess that I am partaking in the “Personal MBA” challenge. Before you rush to judgment, first hear me out. I will never say that I have a MBA. I know I will never possess the business acumen of those that have completed a legitimate MBA program. At this point in my life, however, I simply have too many student loans from my law degree to enroll in a MBA program. I would love to be able to, but it’s not practical at this time. So, for someone like me, I do believe the reading list in the “Personal MBA” program provides a good introduction to basic communication, finance, marketing, and various other business-related skills.
Can the “Personal MBA” Rival a Traditional MBA Program?
The idea that the “Personal MBA” can rival the education taught in a traditional MBA program is, however, starting to gain some traction. None other than entrepreneurship guru Seth Godin appears to embrace the “Personal MBA” program. Seth Godin, in an interview at the “Personal MBA” website states: “I think instead, getting the network and the education (without the very expensive diploma) frees you up to accomplish some amazing things, to work your way through Dips that MBAs are too busy to get to.” Perhaps more troubling, Mr. Godin goes on to state: “I think what’s missing from the Personal MBA is easy transferability. In other words, it’s not trusted yet. Safety-seeking managers don’t trust themselves to hire people with a PersonalMBA. The good news is that every day, more people with a Personal MBA end up in hiring positions, or end up doing great things… so it is spreading, and it’s getting more powerful every day.”
Where’s The Opposition to the Personal MBA?
There appears to be very little formal opposition to the concept of the “Personal MBA.” Even New York Times best-selling entrepreneur writer (and big fan of quality education) Ramit Sethi (of I Will Teach You to Be Rich Fame) says on his site that he considers Mr. Kaufman a friend (and has had Mr. Kaufman as a guest-poster on I Will Teach You to Be Rich)–even though Mr. Sethi does not agree entirely with the idea of a “Personal MBA”. I am sure most people would agree that credentials don’t really matter as much as whether someone can competently perform their job. At the same time, however, I do not believe I will be listing my “Personal MBA” on my resume anytime soon. (besides, I have not yet “graduated.”) Conclusion I look forward to writing for you and reading your comments in the coming weeks and months. Let’s get the conversation started out with these two questions: 1) What are your thoughts on the idea of a “Personal MBA”? 2) What % of a MBA program is immune to a purely reading-based curriculum. I will be sure to respond to your comments– in between reading a “Personal MBA” reading-list book on negotiation that is. I’m starting to feel like a “master of the universe” already.
For those who did it, they know that doing a MBA is a lot of work. The MBA by itself is not too bad but what really hurts is keeping your normal lifestyle at the same time. Trying to cope with a full time job, kids and keeping an active social life during a MBA is quite a challenge. So you should ask yourself if you should really do a MBA and why you do it. Is it going to give you a promotion? Are you going to make more money? Are you trying to keep your present job? Are you looking to switch career? Those are all questions a MBA can answer. However, maybe doing a MBA won’t do any good in your field. This is why you need to know who should do a MBA first.
MBA for a career in management
The most obvious reason why one should do a MBA is to advance one’s career in management. In several companies, a middle level director position requires a MBA. If you aspire to manage more than a team of employee, chances are that you will need to do a MBA sooner or later. The MBA will give you a macro perspective of an enterprise which you don’t really have time to acquire in your day-to-day job as a team leader for example.
MBA for a career switch
One of the first reasons why I did a MBA was to expand my professional network. If you are looking to work in a specific field, you are better off opting for a specialized MBA. You will have the chance to evolve through other professional in the same field and you will be in a better position to seize any career opportunities. Most people doing a MBA have a manager’s position. Therefore, you will be playing in a bucket full of potential employers. If you are looking for a career switch, doing a MBA is for you.
MBA to start your own business
You have a small business idea but you don’t know where to start? Doing a MBA will give you the management skills you need to build you start-up. You will also learn some basic knowledge in all administrative fields (human resources, project management, finance, marketing, strategy, etc.). If you don’t have a bachelor degree in commerce, you will learn even more from a MBA. In this case, I suggest you go with a general MBA.
MBA for a promotion, income raise and employability…
Myth or reality, I’m not sure that doing a MBA will guarantee you an income raise or a promotion. The only thing I am sure of is that, as an employee, you will earn more value if you have a MBA. It will become easier for you to move inside or outside the company you are working for. Depending on your career path, this increase in employability will come with a promotion or income raise. In my personal experience, I didn’t get a promotion (because I have turned it down) but I did get an income raise after receiving my MBA diploma.
I was lucky enough to get financing for my MBA from my employer so my MBA investment resumes in time and energy but not in money. Therefore, if I do the net present value of my project, doing a MBA was definitely worth it for me ;-).
I recently shared my experience of completing a full time MBA. To be honest, it was quite an experience. During the same time, I switched job (to become a financial planner) just before starting my MBA program. Then, we had our second child, Amy, 3 weeks before the MBA start date. So just before starting an 18 month intensive MBA program, I switched jobs and had a baby… Not to mention that I also had to pass my final exams to get my CFP certification during an MBA session. How did I succeed in finishing my MBA, performing at work and still be able to spend time with my family? Here are my top 4 tips to pass your MBA without a burnout:
#1 Build a strong team and identify project managers
When you consider your teammates for an MBA, think about compatible personalities at first. If everybody gets along well, you will be able to face any project. I would rather have a smaller team of focused people than a gang including experts from different fields but that are not team workers. During your first meeting with your team, ask everybody what are their motivations for getting an MBA and what are their expectations from each other. Clear communication is crucial as they are the people you will see the most over the upcoming 2 years ;-).
You can also ask about the academic strengths and weaknesses of each team member. You will then be able to identify project managers for each research paper according to the strengths of your teammates. This will allow everybody to shine at one point or another.
#2 Setup your schedule and stick to it
On the personal side, you must establish upfront when you will go to your classes, read, study, get work done and be available for team meetings. These places in your schedule must be as stable as possible in order to make sure you have enough time to cover everything. It is very important to incorporate a steady study schedule so you don’t have to write until 3am during the weekend to finish your work ;-).
#3 Focus on what is important and ONLY what is important
During your MBA program, you will access a ton of information; books, articles, professor’s talks. It’s hard to differentiate between what is important or not but it is crucial as you can’t possibly assimilate all the information. A good trick I learned was to improve my speed reading and focus on the titles and sub-titles. If you can remember them, you will be able to quickly develop each concept in your homework.
#4 Forget about the school system, think practical
One thing I really liked during my MBA program is that learning everything by heart was useless. Therefore, you can differentiate people who have a great memory from people who actually understand and apply theoretical concepts. It’s easy to learn most principles by heart; it just requires a lot of time. But no matter how close you are to being able to repeat concepts word for word, if you can’t apply it in the real life, it’s worthless. So each time you learn something new, think of how you can apply it at your job. This will make your life much easier ;-).
In the end, completing the MBA program was one of the most interesting experiences I have had so far in my life. It was very demanding but I would do it again as I had a lot of fun with my teammates at the same time ;-).
A while ago, I had listed all the Universities offering MBA programs in Canada. Choosing the university where you will complete your MBA is important, but choosing the right MBA program is crucial. Things are not getting any easier as schools are multiplying the variety of MBA programs. So it is becoming extremely hard to choose the right MBA program for your need. Here’s how I made my choice:
Look at Where You Are in Your Career
Before looking at MBA programs, I think it’s important to look at where you are in your career and which career path you want to take. The choice of program will be determined not by what you are doing right now but more by what you want to do in the next 5 years. Are you looking to start your own business or manage an important department? In these cases, you would be better off with a general MBA program. However, if you are working in a specific field and you want an in depth knowledge while growing your network within the same field, an MBA specialization will be the best option.
MBA Program for Networking
If there is one thing I gained while doing my MBA is a huge network of professionals from several different companies. In my case, I decided to select an MBA program with a specialization as I wanted to stay in the same industry where I am right now. The decision was beneficial for my career as I know a lot more about the industry and my competitors. In fact, most of my network is outside of my current employer. Therefore, it helps me to stay informed of all the changes in the financial industry.
Choosing an MBA Program to learn a different dynamic
Another reason to choose an MBA program is to take one that is not in your field. If you choose this path, your program will be much harder for you (as most people take the MBA program in their specialization already). However, it will likely open doors to several opportunities for you as you will finish your MBA with strong experience in your business field, an important diploma plus knowledge in another business field. Some MBA programs can offer you a big jump in your career if you are looking to diversify your knowledge.
Final advice on choosing the right MBA program
Beyond all the advice I can offer about selecting the right MBA program, the most important is to pick a specialization that you love. If you don’t do your MBA program in something that motivates you already, you will find your ride pretty harsh. Since you will be working through the program for at least 18 months (you are better off doing your MBA program full time), it is very important to enjoy what you are doing!
Having completed my MBA back in September 2009, I can tell you that I don’t think about all the effort and time spent on the MBA very often now. However, I remember that when I received my final mark, it was a feeling of pure relief. The weekends to follow were a bit weird as I was always expecting to receive an email from my MBA program manager or a colleague asking me even more questions on our final paper. But nothing happened. No more emails, no additional meetings, no “final” corrections to be done. Nothing. Finally!
2 years later, I enjoy the good life; I’m working 4 days a week in a financial institution, making more than enough to support my household and I can finally play with my kids during the weekends! So if you are asking me if a full time MBA is worth it? I would answer yes. In fact, there are several advantages of doing a full time MBA instead of a part time program.
Full time MBA vs Part time MBA – What is the difference?
In my experience, I had the option of doing it either full time or part time. The Part time MBA program was over 3 years with 2 days of class every three weeks. The full time MBA program was over 18 months with 3 days of class every three weeks. Both MBA programs had classes on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5) and they were non-stop (summer school included!). Some people thought of doing it part time thinking that a full time MBA was too much combined with a full time job (yup, I did both at the same time). In fact, they were wrong!
The Full Time MBA is Easier
Easier? Really? Yup. The full time MBA is easier than the part time program. Why? Here you go:
A) You are in the mood anyway
When you enter an MBA program, you must be in the mood to work hard and often. Therefore, there is not much difference between doing the full time or the part time MBA when you think of the work schedule. You are already planning MBA study time in your schedule and meetings with other students.
B) You can combine papers from different MBA classes
With 3 classes per session, we were able to take the same project and write 2 or 3 papers with different angles. For example, if we were implementing a new welcoming process in a bank branch, we were able to complete the project management paper at the same time as those for human resources and finance as well. While implementing a new process and calculating the net present value of the project, we were able to see how employees were reacting to the modifications of your day-to-day. We were then able to use data and research for both papers and save some time. With 3 classes at a time, it was easier to find ways to piggy back on each project.
C) You get your life back much faster with the full time MBA
The last reason why the full time MBA is easier than the part time MBA is because it is much faster. To illustrate my point, I’ll take the marathon and half marathon analogy: While you will obviously run faster and save energy doing a half marathon, it will still take you more time (and in the end more energy) completing two of them compared to one full marathon. Therefore, at the end of the road, you will recover much faster after a full marathon. It is the same thing with the full time MBA; as soon as you get your life back, you already feel much better ;-).
Full Time MBA Vs Part Time MBA – Final Thoughts
I know how doing the full time program might be scary. I was too, when I started. However, once you jump on the train, things become much easier if you do more at a time. In my opinion, the part time MBA will just burn you out, take the fast lane for you… and your family!
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