View Full Version : an MBA - is it worth it ?

25th April 2003, 13:17
Hello there,
I am toying with the idea of doing an MBA. Part-time, while I'm (hopefully) working. Open University, in fact.

I reckon I have the energy to do it, no kids yet etc, so it's probably a good time.
Does anyone have views on whether if it really pays off ?

My motivation is that I guess the day will come when I have trouble getting contracts, I will want other options ready. Like look for permanent jobs.
And then (being that bit older) I would need to be a manager of some kind, because purely technical permanent jobs have that salary ceiling. If I would be stuck on a purely technical track, I could be competing with spotty kids for VB jobs. I am under the impression that the more seniors guys from a technical track are using business skills.

any thoughts ?

(apologies to any younger Visual Basic professionals who may be reading)

Martin Underwood
28th April 2003, 10:35
Ask yourself this: How many high-flying executives with MBAs gained their MBA from Open University?

Despite OUMS being AMBA accredited, and despite there being more OUMS graduates than any other business school, it just doesn't have the 'cachet' of, say, LBS, Ashridge, Cranfield and the like.

The problem with an MBA qualification is that, the actual qualification is secondary to the choice of business school. So, choose your school with care.

Mark Snowdon
29th April 2003, 09:00
Actually the OU has a very good name. It may not rate with LSE/Cranfield but is better than most of the standard universities.

Check out the course carefully and see who goes on them. Many of the business schools are packed out with foreign students with no experience. Part of doing the course is to gain from the knowledge and experience of other participants.

The best schools insist that you have substantial prior experience.

Ask yourself if you want a theoretical basline or real skills.

29th April 2003, 09:57
A friend of mine took the part time MBA at Cranfield. Over 2 years he had to go to Cranfield x weekends per year.
He's at the BBC now in a senior management position so for him it was a good call.
Think about starting your own business. An MBA will definitely be of use then...:smokin

29th April 2003, 13:57
...to take a year out and get one from a proper university (I'm thinking leafy cloisters and creaky bicycles)?
One of my schemes was to do an MBA, but really as an excuse to bum about like a student again while there's not much going on in the sector. However I've had wall-to-wall work for the past x years so I never got as far as weighing it up properly.

Where do all these MBA people end up anyway? Asking any of the boardroom-level guys at most of my clients 'so where did you do your MBA?' would most likely result in a smack in the mouth.

29th April 2003, 15:17
...and sadly increasingly coming over here. I know one girlie who I would not trust to make a cup of tea but she has an MBA and earns 120K per year in London plus bonuses...

www.business2.com had a long article on MBAs and whether they are worth it or not a few months back - go and do a search.

Some senior British business leaders have slated MBAs in recent months with more than one saying that MBAs did well in the boom when anyone could have made money but are ruddy hopeless now.

In the US apparently many MBAs are now finding it difficult to find work but, no doubt, they will get loads of work in any global recovery.

I heard it can cost from 30K Sterling to 150K Sterling to get an MBA. Here in the UK they are mostly the children of super rich people who do them.

29th April 2003, 15:21
...is that an MBA is notj ust an MBA... You can do MBAs in specific areas like Health Services, IT, Media, Marketing, etc...

If you pick the wrong one, for example IT, would you be in work now earning mega bucks or not. On the other hand, here in the UK there is mega bucks in NHS Management and those jobs never seen to suffer in any recession so maybe it would be wise targeting that... but then would you get accepted.

29th April 2003, 15:47
£30k - mm, might be worth it
£150k - honestly? I'd expect one-on-one tuition with Carole Voorderman for that much.

29th April 2003, 16:42
...as a long series of articles on the mertis or not of getting an MBA...

Martin Underwood
29th April 2003, 20:15
Where in the world does an MBA cost £150,000??!

The most expensive MBA in this country is at London Business School. Currently about £40,000 for a two year course. Most of the 'big league' business schools charge in the region of £20,000 for their courses.

In response to Thunderlizard, if you want to bum around as a student, go and do a Masters in some tin-pot subject. Most reputable MBAs require serious amounts of work.

To the person who stated that the OU has a good reputation, I would point them to the league tables of MBA courses. OUMS only makes it into one league table, and that is for the number of graduates they churn out. It may well be better than doing your MBA at De Montford (or whatever Hatfield Poly is called now), but it will hardly put you into a strategic level job.

30th April 2003, 20:39
I was toying with an idea to go MBA route - I even passed GMAT and all other crap. Stanford and Harward (USA) refused my app :( It fair to say that I did not deserve it anyway. After some thining past that I came to conclusion that MBA is nto worth _for me_ - I have 2 business degrees already. As it was indicated choice of school is paramount -- if you choose crappy school then it would be very clear that you did it on purpose, and you will be considered second hand MBA. On the other hand, if you are of pure tech background and want to move into management, then it might be worth getting into it.

Bear in mind that salaries quoted for MBAs are often result of financial bubble of 90s, dont trust them.

30th April 2003, 20:57
Bumming around's all relative - right now I'd describe it as anything under 65hrs/wk.

Unfortunately I've already got a tinpot Master's, and don't want to damage the CV with another one. But while I was studying for it there was no shortage of guys from the Judge Institute who had enough spare time to train 2 hours every day with the college 1st VIII - which you'd be hard pushed to fit alongside proper work.

AtW, how did you find GMAT? It sounds a bit like a grown -up version of Common Entrance ("Anne is to Nick as Richard is to..?") - how deep does it go?
I think you're right about MBA salaries - I've seen a few jobs advertised for salaries '£40k - £150k' which sounds like a crazy range to negotiate within.

30th April 2003, 23:09
My GMAT score was avg of top 10 MBA schools at the time of application (a few years ago), however, dont think that good GMAT is everything for a top school -- your essays matter a LOT. The hardest part of GMAT for me was verbal part -- I was getting 70-75%, while math was relatively easy - 95-98%. Make sure you spend at least a month preparing for GMAT, better 2-3.

More info about GMAT is here: www.gmatclub.com

I am personally convinced that MBA is not worth jack @#%$ for me -- its not the route I am taking, hence I did not reapply.

1st May 2003, 08:45
"Stanford and Harward (USA) refused my app"

ATw, is this why you dislike the US soo much?

Martin Underwood
1st May 2003, 09:38
"My GMAT score was avg of top 10 MBA schools at the time of application"... go on, we want the actual figure... what was your score? (ahem, sorry to pry).

You're absolutely right; the GMAT itself is only one criterion in the application process. The frustrating thing (for the applicant) is that different schools place different emphasis on different parts of the GMAT (and indeed, on the non-scoring parts like the essay). As far as I can remember, it is not the difficulty of the GMAT questions themselves, but the sheer pressure of time: you are answering on average 1 question every minute and a half for 4 solid hours.

One organisation that has a good reputation for preparing applicants for the GMAT and the whole MBA application process is Kaplan. Kaplan offer GMAT preparation courses, and are extremely good at teaching you strategies for completing the GMAT exercises.

1st May 2003, 17:06
If you are lookingf or an MBA to purely boost your options in terms of work , forget it.If one the otherhand you want the experience of working with like minded people and the benefits that brings in terms of relationships and contacts , then it is wort considering.

1st May 2003, 20:18
> "Stanford and Harward (USA) refused my app"
> ATw, is this why you dislike the US soo much?

No! I detest Harvard and Stanford for another reason, I have sworn to take GMAT again in next 2-3 and start applying every single year until I get success -- at the point I will thru it intheir face and put acceptance letter in my toilet.

I dislike America because the United States of America are no longer country of the free -- I detest slavery that took place in USSR, and now USA is betraying ideals of its founding fathers. USA has no God Given right to be liked by everythnig -- I have right not to agree with them.

Martin Underwood:
> go on, we want the actual figure... what was your score?
> (ahem, sorry to pry).

GMAT: 660 overall (90%),
AWA: 6.0 (99%) -- this is harder to get, I believe it plays much bigger role that most schools would like to admit
Quantitative: 92%, Verbal: 75%.

Lame excuse: I had cold at the time of taking -- at some point i could not look at screen :(

That was 4 years ago - Harvard at that time had avg score of 670, stanford was 710 and LBS was something like 640. Avg GMAT test scores are consistently growing, so 660 in my time is about 700 today. Its not like I give a fk about it, but I do plan to re-take it this year in order to break 700 -- as a matter of principle. Now I see that I was lucky not to get into it because I've got much better career path.

It was my poor English skills that let me down -- had I obtained 5-8 more points in Verbal I would have hit nice 720+

Kaplan is poor, there is better stuff on the web. Make sure you get official GMAT stuff -- they are most authentic.

GMAT Score means less for less than great schools -- best schools like Stanford like to be choosy and can afford to put value to non-standard values.

I'd tell more but I think I am boring you.

5th May 2003, 11:48
From what I've heard everyman and his dog has one. They're only worth it if from a decent business school (Cranfield, Bradford).

But there again surely a MBA from anywhere is better than not, shows you can apply yourself.

5th May 2003, 13:15

5th May 2003, 15:11
Don't forget that 95% of companies are NOT top 5% employers. There is place for crappy degrees as well, and for a pure techie who wants to change direction a crappy MBA can be God sent -- it all depends on your position.

5th May 2003, 19:02
Yep, Bradford! It has had an international reputation as being one of the best MBA courses since the 1970s.

And back when I was younger, the main university had a good reputation for technical vs literary modern language courses.

6th May 2003, 07:10
I recollect FT used to publish ranked list of UK MBA programs once a year -- cant mind exactly when but think its sometime in spring, could be autumn tho

6th May 2003, 16:56
Business week has an article online about all the MBAs out of work or who have settled for lower paid jobs... Oh well, no doubt the buggers will benefit in any future upturn! There is one coming isn't there? Promise???

7th May 2003, 17:42
There are so many comments and responses to your question of whether doing an MBA - is it worth it. The simple answer is YES!

MBA (or any qualification for that matter) is an ASSET and a lifetime investment. This is an ASSET that will be with you till you die (unlike many other ASSET Classes that you may loose - this ASSET will stay with you forever, once you acquire it). You will be able to benefit both in material terms and in acquiring additional knowledge from this ASSET.

No doubt you will gain more benefit doing at one Business School compared to the other.

This is a lifetime investment - take a long term view. Choose a Business School that you can afford and choose the area that you want to pursue your career in the long-term (even if it is IT, I will stick with it, as I take a long term view!!!).

I am an MBA (Monash Uni Australia) - my life certainly changed (for the better). I may not have the fame, status, position etc etc of another high-flying MBA. But I am certainly a more confident person with more career options now than what I had before my MBA.

Enjoy your course.

10th May 2003, 15:20
You can find comments like the above in the prospectuses of several universities that offer MBA courses. They are usually written by fresh graduates happy to have passed and thinking as a result they belong to some special and higher order. The brainwashing that goes on in some MBA courses are second only to the Masonic rituals. MBA people as a result think the world owes them a living, usually beyond normal riches.
Truth is with the exception of the Ivy League and a handful of European institutions (LBS, INSEAD, etc), getting it from a 2nd rate or even obscure University is more likely to harm your future (as well as your pocket) rather than enhance it.
In all my years in IT, I have never come across someone with an MBA (contractor or permie). Admittedly I have met some from other walks of life that have not impressed me at all.
Like they say, MBA = Means Bugger All.

11th May 2003, 12:28
I hate to say it but I do agree with TinTin -- many MBAs are professional liars and what would you expect from school that teaches them?

Ivy Leagues and LBS are good, however, weight costs very carefully -- I've decided for myself that paying £50k for Harvard is not justifiable, even if it accepted me, I am certain I'd succeed at getting into LBS, but again, costs outweight gains that I anticipate from MBA.

Bottom line: MBA is not a clear cut silver bullet answer to one's problems.