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Management for life or management for living?

An MBA degree is not just a veritable gateway to lucrative jobs but opens up a vista of unique opportunities in terms of professional growth, leadership development and lifelong learning

education Updated: May 28, 2014 14:21 IST
Arun Sharma

Why an MBA? Answering this question has always been a confusing task for the students. Not because they can’t answer it, but because they don’t fully understand how to answer it. They have so much to say on this topic yet they fail to make a statement. A coherent and structured thought process is required to answer this question of “Why MBA?”

Talking about one’s professional life, everything that a person has done and whatever they are planning to do are based on certain experiences in their lives or else it is worthless. Knowledge gained in any manner is never a waste. Be it an article that you might have come across in any newspaper, magazines or the internet or be it anything that you have studied in your curriculum. Whether you pursued science or commerce in your school days, whether you pursued engineering, medicine or any other course for your graduation and whatever you eventually choose to take up in your Masters, everything needs to have a specific purpose in your life. In short, what all you do throughout your professional life, is all inter-related.

Now, 100 people have 100s of reasons to pursue MBA. The main reasons that they may give are as follows:
* It adds value to us in terms of knowledge acquisition.
* For my personality development.
* For nurturing my managerial skills.
* For better career opportunities
* For building a good network
* Last but not the least – for getting higher pay packages.

My question to all of you here is – why do you want to pursue the MBA degree?

The answer to this question lies within you only. No one can tell you to pursue this degree unless you want to. Though the reasons are very similar to those mentioned above, you need to try and determine what is relevant in relation to you.

To cut short, one must answer the question of “Why MBA?” in accordance to the following points:

* To develop new skills and acquiring knowledge to become the future leaders: You may think it sounds trivial and may say to yourself - isn’t that what any study programme is supposed to do? Yes, it is, but an MBA education is usually pursued in a very specific situation by a young professional with a few (2, 3 or more) years of experience and sometimes even by senior employees who want to embark upon the challenge. After spending some time in one’s professional life (even as little as 2 years) you tends to become repetitive in many ways and stagnate within a comfort zone. This limits your disposition for learning and new skill acquisition. One tends to think -Why should I learn something new when what I know works just fine; it’s safer to stick to what I know best. Studying a master of business administration forces you to get out of your comfort zone, deal with the latest issues, apply the newest management techniques and just constantly challenge yourself, your practices and your approaches. And that will continue after graduation as well, as an MBA also provides you with the channels that will keep this challenge alive and push you to continuously improve.

* A holistic perspective of the business world: As mentioned before, through studying an MBA you become part of a great network of professionals and companies and you constantly challenge yourself with the newest problem-solving techniques. These things together give you a great overview of the business world, a deep understanding coupled with a certain kind of receptiveness to the slight changes of this environment. This type of overview and sensitivity is very hard to achieve. Also, as regular employee, your access will be restricted to much of the relevant information. As an MBA student or graduate this insight comes with the territory and is a great asset, not only to you as a manager, but also to any potential employer. If you are the type of person that can handle the challenge of holding a leadership position, of having a lot of responsibility and of being in a constant learning and development cycle, then you are probably a good candidate for an MBA.

* Building up a better consolidated network: As an MBA student you have great networking opportunities. Through this type of study you get to know and interact in a relevant manner (in a context that accentuates your business management capabilities) with colleagues (future high level managers), professors and teaching staff (usually former or current potent business people, with great on-field experience). Furthermore if you are not doing a part-time MBA next to your job or within your company you have good chances to meet potential employers through the various internships that are part of most top MBA programmes. Last but not least you gain access to the extensive alumni network of that particular MBA programme and of others (professionals with key positions to whom you already have a direct link through the MBA education you possess). This extensive, well consolidated business network is bound to pay off throughout your whole career making you the first-hand recipient of all relevant information in the field and giving you better chances at seizing the best opportunities.

* Aiming at better career opportunities: Graduates of an MBA programme have, due to their qualification, higher chances of obtaining and holding a high level management position. It is estimated that 70% of the MBA graduates worldwide are senior managers or board directors. This type of position brings along a higher salary but of course also a higher responsibility and longer working hours. Whether you wish to further your current career by advancing in a leadership position, or you want to pursue a new career, an MBA is definitely going to boost your chances of achieving these goals.

* You get a treat for your hard-work: The average salary for an MBA graduate is considerably higher than that of an employee with a regular master qualification. So it is not an exaggeration to say that an MBA degree crowns your academic rigours with financial success. For MBA graduates the average salary ranges from 10 lacs (in governmental or non-profit Institutions) to 25 lacs (in consultancy, finance or healthcare). That is almost twice as much of what you can expect to earn with a regular university degree. In this case, in 2-3 years, you cover the investment made in your MBA education which is estimated to cost, for a 2 year MBA at a top business university, 12-15 lacs on an average.

Hope you find the inputs useful and practical enough to make sure that you are able to answer the Easiest Questions of all – “Why MBA?”

The author is CAT Guru and bestseller author of Mac Graw Hill Education India