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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why MBA?

I get this question (or a variant such as Why did you go for an MBA, Why HKUST, Why after 6 years in the industry, etc). I thought I'll take a stab at that question in this post.

Here are a few reasons (in my order of priority) for why I went into an MBA and now that I am done with the MBA and spent some time in the industry, feel that doing my MBA when I did was the right decision.

  1. Increase your salary (over and above the opportunity cost lost): Over a lifetime or even 5-7 years post an MBA, if you do an NPV calculation, am sure the returns of the money spent on an MBA are quite good.I have to admit this was one of my top reasons, but post my MBA has gone down lower in priority. There's a lot more to life than money and a lot more to a job than just how much you make from it.
  2. Skills enhancement (Negotiations, Financial Modeling, Investment Management, XL, Deck prep, Problem Solving Skills, Business Plan Preparation) - These would be relevant in both your personal and professional life and some of the things I've learnt, I apply on a day-to-day basis (esp. Problem Solving, XL and Consulting style deck prep).
  3. General Management Capabilities (Frameworks / Concepts in Marketing, Finance, HR, Ops among others): You may or may not apply all of them unless you are in Management Consulting. But you would be the one sought after in a cross-functional project and will be able to provide a more holistic solution. I have been sought after for several key projects in my current company and I would like to think my MBA played a big role here.
  4. Career Change Opportunity (Opportunity to step back, try multiple career / industry options via internships / projects and finally make the call): I don't think I would have got into analytics and been as effective (I hate to say successful - still early days) if not for my MBA. I did consider alternative career paths such as Finance, Marketing and Consulting and made a conscious decision not to go in there for various reasons.
  5. Increase your brand value (:-)): Of course, an MBA itself helps and an MBA from a school such as HKUST and LBS definitely helps. Let HKUST/LBS stay in the Top 10 in FT and other rankings and keep doing the right things and along with the HKUST Brand, my personal brand value should also go up.
  6. Network (The Network that your school gives you automatic access to), network (Learn the do's and don'ts of Networking), network (All of the Networking Practice opportunities you get to strengthen your skills): I am an introvert by nature and found the networking sessions during school quite painful at times. But over time, soon mastered my own style of networking.
  7. Ability to think through life/career situations through the various models/frameworks you've been exposed to (This is the topic of another post I am planning in which I'll expand with examples)
Depending on where you end up post your MBA, some of these may not be relevant or at least as relevant. My MBA Network is weak in India - so the obvious bitch is that it is not as useful. But I still made great friends and have had multiple people from my class reach out to me (when they were in India or had an India question), have friends I have sought help from when I am in Thailand or UK or China on work and vacation and some day when I move to HK or Singapore, it is going to become relevant again. And who is to say the HKUST Alumni Network in India will remain weak for long (I recently had a junior reach out to me seeking help in getting into a previous company I worked for.). 

What was/is your reason for doing an MBA and do you think it worked for you? I would love to hear your story via the comments section of this blog or on Facebook/Twitter.
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You might also want to read:
Ahead of the Curve - Book Review and comparison of B-School
My HKUST Interview
My First Semester at HKUST
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