Why should I do an MBA?

An MBA is huge commitment in time and financial resources so the return on your investment should be extraordinary.

The commitment required means an MBA is a decision that should not be taken lightly and you should be clear about your motivations before embarking on the journey. Like any investment decision there will a large number of knowns and unknowns. As you weight up the decision, factor in these benefits:

New knowledge

A good MBA should provide you with a strong understanding and working knowledge in areas which are essential to management performance and which you may not have been exposed to in the past. Unlike an undergraduate degree, an MBA is a generalist degree which should cover a diverse range of fields. Your fellow students will come from a broad range of industries and will have generally excelled at their chosen field of study. Immersion in new areas of knowledge is the number one benefit of an MBA.

A quality MBA will give you a completely new skill set which enhances your value as a manager in your existing organisation or give you the skills and confidence to start your own venture. At the completion of your degree you will have a broad understanding of economics, leadership, finance, social responsibility and marketing and many other fields which are thje foundations of effective management.

An MBA should not be thought of as anything more than learning a new trade. The new trade you have at the end of the degree is management. How you utilise your new skills will be entirely up to you.

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Many business schools now openly market the benefits of the cohort effect achieved during an MBA. A cohort is the group of students who you will progress through your degree with. The University of Queensland Business School (UQBS) describes the cohort effect as the extra value that is generated when students can clearly identify their classmates and share sufficient class and study time with them to develop lasting relationships. These lasting relationships, built on a shared experience, will prove invaluable far beyond the completion of your degree.

Many MBAs are now structured to provide students with the opportunity to commence and complete with the same group of students to maximise this cohort effect. However, to maximise the cohort effect requires a disciplined approach to your study plan which tends to limit flexibility. As such the cohort effect is most easily obtained in full time mode and more difficult to achieve in part time. It is one of the true differentiators between the different modes of study.

Brand MBA

The MBA is a recognised brand that signifies management and leadership training. It is a passport that clearly identifies the holder as someone who has made a significant commitment to enhancing their skills and is interested in pursuing management excellence. The business community has developed a strong awareness of the skills acquired during an MBA and will generally assign a strong value to those skills. This ‘value’ will often materialise in the more tangible benefits of an MBA – greater earning potential, greater advancement/promotion potential and more ‘respect’.

The particular school and type of MBA program you attend also have brand associations that can help open doors based on the school’s reputation. The strength of a school’s brand is based on the program’s history, its ability to provide students with technical skills and opportunities for personal growth, and the reach of its alumni and industry network. Business school’s compete fiercely to develop and maintain ‘reputation’. It attracts more, and better, students, which in turn further enhance the school’s reputation.

Self discovery

An MBA can be an extraordinary journey of self discovery. An MBA will challenge your perception of the world around you in ways you may not anticipate. If you allow it, it will be a personal journey of growth that has the potential to change the way you see the world and your role in it. A fiery  group discussion about the relative merits of Keynesian economics will require you to form a view about the forces which guide decision-making of leaders on a daily basis. If you don’t know where you already stand on Keynes, a quality MBA will give you the theory, but the views will need to be your own.

Each individual will have their own reasons for embarking on the MBA journey. But ultimately, the true value of any venture will be measured by what you put into it, not what you expect it to give you. An MBA is no different.

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).