A friend recently asked me what I have learned during my two-year MBA programme. This is the first part of my thoughts on the subject.
There are scientific hypotheses and theories about how brain development slows down as we grow older. When I was younger, this misled me into thinking I might be incapable of further intellectual advancement after a certain age, but I could not have been more wrong. Taking an MBA has turned out to be a most inspiring and memorable experience. It has accelerated my career progression and personal development and, in doing so, has definitely been transformative.
Even so, I find it difficult to put down in words exactly what I have learned. On various occasions, friends have asked me about the biggest lessons and I have clearly failed to come up with a consistent and satisfying answer. Perhaps this is attributable to the non-technical nature of an MBA, but it has also led me to reflect deeply on my two-year educational journey in the United States.
There, the MBA is rather confusingly classified as a professional degree. But unlike other such degrees, it does not provide on-the-ground training for a profession. A law degree prepares students to work in the legal field, a degree in medicine trains future doctors. Yet there is no obviously equivalent profession for MBA graduates. Even in the realm of business education, an MBA is probably the least technical further qualification. For instance, a master’s in accounting is clearly designed for accountants, while the MBA, in covering numerous subjects, is more of a compromise between breadth and depth.
Certainly, I learned a few tricks about statistics, financial engineering, strategy and, perhaps most importantly, about using Microsoft PowerPoint. But I could probably have learned those just as easily at home at less expense. I should, of course, mention having an expanded network and the many happenings outside the classroom. The MBA was a chance to step out of my comfort zone and test my own mental – and physical – limits multiple times. Also, it was difficult to keep count of all of the interesting excursions, meetings and seminars we were asked to attend. But with the nature of the MBA being to train people to be a jack of all trades, I know I have learned a lot, but still find it hard to pin down the few key distinct skills which will make all the difference.
It is only in retrospect and through introspection that I can recognise the subtle changes in myself and what I want and expect from life. Some of the changes are obvious and amusing, such as my new tolerance for poorly brewed coffee and hamburgers and a new passion for skiing and ice hockey. They may not help career advancement, but they have helped to add colour and variety to my life.
However, other influences from the MBA have fundamentally changed my perspectives on business and views about the world around us. I will go into more detail about that in my next blog.
Posted originally on Education Post.