Relevance of “The MBA”: Is success of MBA as an academic discipline true or just a bubble?
Updated on Jan 20, 2014 - 3:28 p.m. IST by Sudipta Mishra
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According to a survey done by a reputed organization, the most popular academic pursuit of international students across various universities across the world is the MBA. The increasing number of students opting for MBA after their graduation and the growing volume of Business Schools further validate the swelling popularity of MBA as an academic discipline. But, a number of questions arise on the properness of this popularity. Especially, during the bleak economic situations, when organizations are thinking about layoffs rather than recruitments, when introductory pay-packages are becoming stringent, there is qualm on the worth of an investment in a programme as expensive as MBA.

Shannon Coco, Programme Administrator, MBA Programme Office at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, responds to these doubts and sheds light on the relevance of an MBA programme in the current scenario.

What according to you is the reason behind the popularity of MBA as an academic pursuit among students across the world? Are they just attracted by the hefty packages?

Often seen as a necessity for those looking to change career paths or industry sectors, or transition to a senior management position, an MBA creates opportunities to network, build new knowledge, and transform your approach to business challenges.

Current students named many reasons that attracted them to an MBA including networking, assistance with CV and job pursuits, and building knowledge to propel them to the next stage of their career.  These skills, along with the academic curriculum, provide the opportunity to define your career vision and equip you with the career-related skills, know-how, and confidence to pursue your unique post-MBA career goals.  Smurfit MBA participants’ career success is often most immediately visible through salary increases since on average participants see a 60+% increase within three years of graduation.  Yet, we find that the career aspirations of individuals are often more powerful motivators than simple financial gain.

Can administrative skills and business sense be really taught in class?

MBA Programmes provide insights into areas such as corporate finance, global strategy, and leading the innovative enterprise and provide opportunities for students to work in teams to address real-world business challenges.  By analysing case studies, students gain a perspective on how to best approach diverse scenarios and learn from the experience of fellow classmates, who are a diverse international cohort with 7-12 years’ work experience.  During the MBA programme, students engage with alumni and gain insights into the emphasis that is placed on personal, career and development of business concepts.

In addition, social experiences play a large role in the overall success of participants.  From opportunities in strategy and case study competitions to networking with corporates, working one-on-one with an executive coach, and participating in mock interviews with executive search professionals, MBA participants gain access to resources that would be difficult to obtain outside of an educational environment.

Is MBA’s success as an academic discipline true or is it just a bubble?

The first MBA was established at Harvard Business School in 1908, and over the past century, the popularity and importance of the MBA has grown amongst professionals, with many employers recognizing its value beyond the traditional financial and business management sectors.  With programmes firmly established, the true academic and career value is visible through the industry links created and the weight that an MBA carries.

MBA has travelled from being a niche career choice to the career of the masses. Please share your views on this.

Motivation for an MBA varies, but, simply going through the motions to obtain the popular degree will not create an outcome worth your time or money.  Instead, create a plan for the skills and areas you want to develop so that as you research programmes you’ll find those that match the outcomes you hope to achieve.  Your experience in an MBA programme will also alter your pursuits, so while you may initially undertake the degree for a certain objective, many students find that the MBA acts as a conductor of change in both their personal and professional lives. The decision to undertake an MBA involves planning and preparation, and as a result students are better prepared to contribute and gain the most from the experience.

How meaningful is MBA in the current economic scenario, with lay-offs increasing?

In a tough economy, employers have the benefit of being highly selective about whom they hire.  During the recent recession in the USA and Europe, many professionals flocked to MBA and professional qualification programmes due to the lack of employment opportunities.  The 2013 GMAC Alumni Perspectives survey found that 90% of all 2013 MBA alumni are currently employed.  The MBA supplied an opportunity to prepare individuals for the upturn of the economy, placing them at the forefront of desirable candidates. 

Now that the worst of the recession has subsided in Europe, we are seeing an upturn in the opportunities available to MBA graduates across many sectors.  An investment in an MBA is an investment in yourself and your future.

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