Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Josh Kaufman -- Assistant Brand Manager at Proctor & Gamble -- blogs about the MBA's worth

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Here is an article published on Josh Kaufman's site with some details about the personal vs the traditional MBA: http://www.joshkaufman.net/personalmba/ (part of the script is posted below my thoughts on the debate) --
Josh raises significant points no doubt born in the minds of different students over time.

What I have realized from my experience as an undergraduate at USC is that what we learn in a classroom -- professor experiences, differences in teaching presentation and styles, group interactions, questions raised by others, and that making mistakes is part of the learning process -- is a valuable contribution to our development to cope and succeed in the workplace.

An MBA allows students/employees to raise their critical thinking processes to a level that involves greater responsibility. And the research involved broadens the foundation of specialist knowledge that is needed to be an expert in a particular field. Mentors in MBA programs guide the research process so that the intended questions are properly and thoroughly addressed.
Face-to-face interaction with others teaches skills highly pertinent to the negotiation process too. People skills and effective communication strategies are needed by MBA students to be successful in business, and this cannot be achieved solely through the online community. These are aspects that cannot be learned or achieved alone in a library or at home either because the benefit of interaction with a mentor and with other students from different backgrounds is lost.
For this reason, I think it is still highly valuable to pursue an MBA degree -- if it is within your means.

A combination of the traditional and online aproaches may work well. MIT's OpenCourseWare is a great resource for online learning, and interaction on corporate blogs is also a valuable tool for students to learn. The two approaches combined are complimentary.


Thoughts on Traditional MBA Programs

“Whatever be the qualifications of your tutors, your improvement must chiefly depend on yourselves. They cannot think or labor for you, they can only put you in the best way of thinking and laboring for yourselves. If therefore you get knowledge you must acquire it by your own industry. You must form all conclusions and all maxims for yourselves, from premises and data collected and considered by yourself. And it is the great object of [our educational institutions] to remove every bias the mind may be under, and to give the greatest scope for true freedom of thinking.” - Joseph Priestly, Dedication of New College, London, 1794.

The debate concerning the value of traditional MBA programs is long and involved, and this manifesto won’t close the issue [1]. For the sake of brevity, here’s a short Q&A on the pros and cons of business school:

Can a traditional MBA program help you? Yes. You’ll meet a lot of great people and get acquainted with a few professors and corporate HR recruiters who can help you land a new job. You will also sink very deep into debt. If you decide to enroll in a full-time program, the opportunity cost of lost wages and future investable savings is huge.

Will a traditional MBA teach you anything you can’t learn by yourself? Probably not. Classroom discussion can be beneficial, but there’s nothing presented that you can’t learn by studying a good book on the subject.

Is a traditional MBA worth the time and money? Sorry – there’s no universal answer. If you’re looking to go into advanced corporate accounting, finance, quantitative analysis, commercial real estate, consulting, venture capital, or investment banking, an MBA or MS in a business-related field may be expected or required. In those cases, caveat emptor: once you decide to attend, the only certainty is that your bank account will be significantly smaller.

If you decide not to go to business school, the Personal MBA is a low cost way to educate yourself about business. (Even business school graduates can benefit greatly from reading these books.) Before we get to the list, however, allow me to set a few reasonable expectations about the PMBA.

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