Decision-making Process for Management Programs:
This is a very common dilemma with college grads these days. I did quite a bit of research for a couple of years, as I already had a MBA from India and was debating on whether to pursue an EMBA or second MBA. I was offered a second MBA from a decent local school, and my craving to gain knowledge from top schools and network beyond my domain made me embark on a PLD ( Program For Leadership Development) from Harvard.
First and foremost, I believe your passion is important for your career ladder and not your degree or your school. Look at what your local schools are good at and known for and see whether they meet your passion via a niche program, i.e. maybe you want to be an entrepreneur or an urban planner or a marketing analytics analyst. What I’m saying is the credentials of the MBA do not always matter. Think about it, CFA/CMA/CPA have better ROI compared to MBA, even though they need hard work.
MBA – Some people will agree that the benefits of attending an Ivy League or other “top” school for this program clearly give you advantages for your professional future. However, some will disagree and say the choice of school does not matter. I say both can be correct. Top schools can provide you with access to various resources and networking connections. The recognizable name of the school can usually play a small but valuable part in your job search and interviews. When it comes to core education, the books and materials utilized are almost the same as those in “regular” schools; however the teaching, amenities and networking offered at top schools play a big role in differentiating you from other MBA grads. For instance, if you are an Ivy League grad, the network is wide-spread and will give you access to valuable information about alumni-affiliated companies.
When all is said and done, attending a top school can be key in getting your foot in the door of your future profession. Once in, your real talents and skills need to shine to help you move up the career ladder. Let me add this disclaimer – education aside, you must still succeed in the interview process, which requires careful preparation and thinking on your feet. If you decide to obtain your MBA from a local, lesser-known school, that doesn’t mean the education you receive will be to a lesser degree. Make sure you research which schools have the largest alumni in the local community and then start networking. The first step to your successful network could be your Alumni club or try searching http://www.linkedin.com. Do your research to get an understanding of the topics discussed in the MBA classroom and how they relate to your experience and expectations. My PLD program classmate was a Wharton Business School drop out for that reason.
EMBA – The Executive MBA has become an attraction for people who have 10 yrs or more of business experience. Although it did spark my interest, I had difficulty doing ROI for programs at top schools as they have exorbitant fees, relatively speaking. If you are flying out every week or every other week, then you need to include those expenses as well. The advantages I see in this program are as follows: Brand name, comprehensive domain knowledge on other subjects, and networking at executive level (very good bonding for approximately 2 years and will continue for life).
The in-class discussions will be interesting, as your classmates are probably at the same decision making level as you. You can complete this program while working which can be beneficial to most participants. I believe Wharton requires company sponsorship & nomination (fees to be paid by your firm as well as their recommendation of you) to participate while most others don’t. Harvard does not have an EMBA program per se, but has PLD which caters to the same target market. It is focused on leadership rather than comprehensive coverage of a multitude of subjects. It is usually difficult to make career path changes (like IT to Marketing) unless the company you work for gives you that chance. Thoughts are welcome on this subject.
2nd MBA – Many people who obtained their MBA outside the United States/ European region often seek an additional MBA from a top school in the United States. I feel there is nothing wrong with it. You will see quite an interesting difference in programs. The important topic that will be discussed in the application form/interview for this program will be your “demonstration of the ‘need’ for an additional MBA”. Students have shared interesting perspectives on this topic, ranging from the need to understand cultural differences in management arena to wanting to broaden their range of business expertise to feeling like the “frog in the well.” Part-time MBA – This is beneficial to our working generation. Some schools, such as Ross, may let you sit in on the job interviews done for the full time students. This is an opportunity for people who are looking to change careers from one domain to another.
A Word on Consultants:
To what extent consultants help candidates to be successful is debatable. Some have had great success with consultants; others would say it is just too much trouble. Do your research to find one who is reliable and meets your expectations. I have added a link in this blog that discusses feedback on consultants. I did lot of research a few years back when I was targeting MIT Sloan’s fellow Management Program. Through all this research I found some consultants to be rigid, materialistic, and some that lived by the phrase “my way or the highway.”
One of them was so angry that I consulted the school about the admission process before hiring him that he terminated our communication. The common factors among these consultants were: they are among the Adcom, they know what schools/employers look for and they will help with applications and probe your thinking. My research revealed that while they may not all be pleasant to work with, they are skilled in putting a positive spin on your application. In the end I chose a mentor, not a consultant. She has very good perspective on who I am and what my passion entails. That helped me think straight and make the right decision for myself, which is why I ended up in PLD.
Executive education programs – PLD/AMP/GMP/KMI:
These are some of the other programs I did research on. They cater to executives. If you are a Manager/VP/CTO/CFO/CEO, I suggest that you look into these programs. Harvard’s PLD/AMP/GMP programs are very intense and the selection process needs to be commended, as you will end up with classmates who are highly talented and have the same level of expertise as you. Among the students in my PLD class was an author, a pilot, a CFO of the world’s largest exporter of dates, a surgeon, IT manager, and an entrepreneur.
The list goes on for 100 well-qualified candidates. They are the cream of the crop since every candidate must be sponsored and nominated by their organization even before your application is considered. The application form for PLD is filled up with complex questions and your sponsor needs to have patience and clear understanding of your talents. The selection process is quick but accuracy is important! You need to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Kellogg’s KMI seems to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to the selection process; however their teaching is still excellent and the quality of the program is still on par. A colleague of mine attended this program and thought highly of the professors and the program itself. The class size is usually in the range of 20-30.