Key points you should consider to choose your MBA program
The world of business is changing rapidly, and the skills necessary to succeed in leading a business are also rapidly changing. An MBA is still the best way to prepare for the radically new managerial landscape. Yet certain caveats need to be observed.
In choosing an MBA program, there are certain “basics” that candidates need to ascertain:
• Is the program accredited by an established global accreditation body, of which there are essentially three: AACSB, AMBA, and EFMD?
• Is it ranked, in particular amongst such prestigious rankings as The Economist’s 100 Top Global MBA Programs?
But candidates should also delve more deeply into what goes into the rankings. For instance: post-MBA salary levels have long been heavily weighted in many rankings. Yet current research shows that more and more MBA graduates opt to set up their own businesses after graduation, rather than seek a job. This inevitably has an impact on salary weightings, since most entrepreneurs defer high salaries until their entrepreneurial businesses are more firmly established. Also, as is well know, salaries differ from one region to another globally speaking, and for many MBA grads location is a more important consideration than salary. And, finally, whereas once finance and management consulting were the preferred sectors of MBA grads, research shows that more and more MBA grads are interested in SMEs, in high tech firms, or in other forms of start-up. This interest lies both in the potential earning power in such sectors, as well as the challenges involved. But there are other considerations as well when making that all crucial “which MBA program” decision.
On the one hand, it seems that ever more specialized skills in terms of functional and industrial expertise are being expected; on the other, that managers and leaders also need to have a holistic and integrated view of their business, and of the factors that could potentially impact it, such as: evolving technologies; rapidly changing consumer values; largely unpredictable geopolitical and economic shifts; and, of course, competitors, both “physical” and “digital”.
These new challenges in management are of course reflected in the changing landscape of higher education in management studies. The number of specialized Masters degrees seems to be growing on an almost annual basis: Masters in Finance, International Management, Wines & Spirits, Sports, Luxury, Retail, Public Health, etc. The list goes on and on.
In the face of this, some have wondered whether the MBA degree still has relevance in a world of specialization. The answer is a resounding “yes”. Now more than ever managers need to acquire and hone a systemic approach to their business environment. The MBA is the best and indeed only way to achieve this. However, the MBA too needs to be radically rethought and redesigned if it is to deliver on this promise. In today’s and tomorrow’s world, the MBA (and leaders!) needs to combine the depth of specialization, with the breadth of thinking systemically and the ability to see the “bigger” (yet not always obvious) picture. This approach to the MBA is the essence of the MBA with specialized career tracks, such as the Monaco MBA offers. While essentially still a general management degree, students are offered the possibility—if they wish and have a strong career preference—to take elective courses in the areas of Luxury Management, or Applied Finance, or Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management. More generally minded students can select electives from across these tracks.
But integrating specialization options into the MBA is not enough to ensure the relevance of an MBA education in today’s world. The “core” of the MBA curriculum also needs to be radically rethought. Courses in marketing, and accounting, and strategy, and finance, etc. are all of course still relevant. But new insights and tools also need to be acquired in such vital fields as innovation management, and design thinking for management, and creating a customer focused enterprise, as well as in CSR and sustainable business practices—to name but a few—are also essential. Candidates choosing amongst several MBA programs should therefore closely examine and compare the curriculums being offered, and ensure that the MBA programs they will apply to offer at least some of these new, yet highly vital courses.
Finally, the MBA is not for everyone. Choose your MBA program carefully. As we see it in the Monaco MBA, it is program designed for individuals with left and right brain skills; with strong intellectual as well as emotional, social, and cultural intelligence; and for individuals who want to explore areas they may not be familiar with, or even knew existed. It is a program for individuals willing and eager not only to improve and accelerate their career, but change and enlarge their perspectives.
Written by Dr. Marika Taishoff, Director of the IUM MBA Programs
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