6 compelling reasons to do an MBA
Everybody's reasons for an MBA are different. Today I’ll explore 6 of the most compelling reasons, based on my experience at Oxford University.
Reason 1: Change careers
The first sign that you’re ready for an MBA is a burning desire for a career change. Not sure where to? It doesn’t matter. For me, I knew I wanted to pivot after spending 5 years of my life trading at an investment bank in London. I loved dealing with people, but I hated the politics. And I really hated the early starts.
Entrepreneurship was my dream. When I started my MBA, I fell into a melting pot of thought-leaders who helped me channel my corporate experience into startups. A couple of years later I began my first entrepreneurial venture, Sam Weeks Consulting.
Reason 2: Acquire new skills
The second sign that you’re ready for an MBA is that you’ve identified specific skills that you need to further your career. An MBA may provide these! Personally, I lacked the marketing skills required to grow my own business. So I chose a business school with strong marketing pedigree and focused on this during my course.
Other skills include corporate finance (how companies fund and value each other), corporate strategy (how companies make decisions), operations (how companies run efficiently), accounting, leadership training, and country-specific courses, such as Oxford’s Business in China elective.
Reason 3: Jump-start an existing career
Another sign that you’re ready for an MBA is that you’re content in your current role but feeling hamstrung by a lack of formal qualifications. This could be a formal ceiling, for example, some companies explicitly look for an MBA for certain roles.
At other companies it’s less explicit. You may feel you’ve got more to give and yet are being overlooked for certain projects or promotions because you lack formal qualifications. Or perhaps you lack the confidence to even put yourself forward these projects because you feel under-qualified!
Whichever it is, an MBA breeds professional confidence that’s going to help you progress in your career.
Reason 4: Get formal leadership training
It’s very common to reach a point in your career where you are required to manage others but it feels uncomfortable. Like you’re making it up as you go along. Perhaps you feel you lack the authority to lead effectively, especially a team of people more experienced than you. An MBA provides formal leadership training to help.
For me, the best bits were:
1. Management theory: Learn why people behave as they do, and how this behaviour can be influenced. Money isn’t everything, it turns out!
2. Decision-making: Leaders make tough decisions under pressure. The “Case Method” puts MBA candidates in the shoes of decision-makers in tricky situations, then you'll debate their options. Warning: These debates can get very heated!
Reason 5: Change geography
If you’re eager to change your geography but can’t get a job in your target market, an MBA will provide a stepping stone. It provides an opportunity to relocate to your target geography and begin networking there before applying for jobs.
For example, if you’re looking to start an investment role in London, then being close to The City and Canary Wharf will allow you to meet the Managing Directors. Rather than having a zoom call, you’ll hop on the tube and meet a new connection in person. At the end of the program, you’ll be in a much better position, both in terms of qualifications and visas, to land your dream role.
Reason 6: Grow your network
A top MBA class size is between 200 candidates (Cambridge Judge Business School) and 850 candidates (The Wharton School). So you’ll widen out your network in your current industry, but also meet incredible new colleagues with completely different perspectives.
Some of the most interesting people on my course included Brexit negotiators and sea cucumber farmers.
But bonding with everybody in your MBA cohort is a monumental challenge. Sign up for as many clubs and treks as possible (within reason!) to form bonds over shared experiences. You’ll lean heavily on this network of classmates after graduating.
And don’t forget, the entire alumni network who graduated before you. Many of these will help you in response to a simple LinkedIn message, even if you’ve never met them.
In conclusion, everybody’s reasons for an MBA are different. If any of the reasons above resonate with you, perhaps you’re ready for an MBA too. In the next series of posts, I’ll lay out the questions you should ask yourself before committing cold, hard cash.
I help determined applicants get admitted to top business schools. Get in touch if I can help you with your application. Book a chat here.