Babysoftpink’s♥バーガンディ♥Lounge

The value of a MBA education

Posted on: January 9, 2006

showNetworkBanner(1);

 

The Value of an MBA Education

By: Jackie Bassett

Issue date: 10/25/05 Section: Voices

function jump(x) {
if (x == ‘next’) {
if (currentpage == paragraph.length) {
currentpage = 1;
} else {
currentpage = currentpage*1+1;
}
} else {
if (currentpage == 1) {
currentpage = paragraph.length;
} else {
currentpage = currentpage-1;
}
}
return currentpage;
}
function getThisPage() {
currentURL = ” + document.location;
thispageresult = ”;
if (currentURL.indexOf(“?page=”) > -1) {
currentURL = currentURL.substring(0, currentURL.indexOf(‘?page=’));
thispageresult = currentURL;
} else if (currentURL.indexOf(“&page=”) > -1) {
currentURL = currentURL.substring(0, currentURL.indexOf(‘&page=’));
thispageresult = currentURL;
} else if (isPseudoURL()) {
currentURL = ‘/news/’ + story_id + ‘.html’;
thispageresult = currentURL;
} else {
thispageresult = currentURL;
}
// Make sure the URL generated by this fuctnion is compatible with mirror image.
thispageresult = thispageresult.substring(7, thispageresult.length);
thispageresult = thispageresult.substring(thispageresult.indexOf(‘/’)+1, thispageresult.length);
thispageresult = basehref + thispageresult;
if (thispageresult.indexOf(‘sourcedomain’) > -1) {
thispageresult = thispageresult.substring(0, thispageresult.indexOf(‘?’));
}
return thispageresult;
}
function getPageJumpDelim(currentURL) {
delimiterToUse = ‘?’;
if (currentURL.indexOf(“?”) > -1)
delimiterToUse = ‘&’;
return delimiterToUse;
}
function isPseudoURL() {
if (document.location.toString().indexOf(“.html”) > -1) {
return true;
} else {
return false;
}
}
function writeContinued(currentpage, paragraph) {
if (currentpage != paragraph.length) {
document.write(‘   Continued…

‘);
}
}
function writeNavigation(showpage,paragraph) {
document.write(‘

Article Tools:Email This ArticlePrint This Article ‘);
createPrevButton(showpage,paragraph);
document.write(‘Page ‘ + showpage + ‘ of ‘ + paragraph.length);
document.write(‘
‘);
createNextButton(showpage,paragraph);
document.write(‘

‘);

}
function revealPage(showpage,paragraph) {
document.write(paragraph[showpage-1]);
}
function goPage(direction) {
document.location = getThisPage() + getPageJumpDelim(getThisPage()) + ‘page=’+jump(direction, paragraph);
}

function createNextButton(currentpage,paragraph) {
if (currentpage != paragraph.length) {
document.write(‘Next Page‘);
} else {
document.write(‘‘);
}
}
function createPrevButton(currentpage,paragraph) {
if (currentpage != 1) {
document.write(‘Previous Page‘);
} else {
document.write(‘‘);
}
}

paragraph = new Array();
paragraph[0] = ‘In my Managing Change course the other day, we were discussing the value that Stern provides to its students. As my group started to make a list of ways in which Stern provides value, I said that education should naturally be at the top of the list. To my surprise, the other members of my group disagreed – and rather strongly, I might add. They insisted that the majority of students enrolling in the MBA program at Stern are here to get a job, and that the value of the education itself is trivial. It made me sad to realize that I am one of a small minority of students who actually came here with education as their primary objective. According to my classmates, the perceived value of the education is worth much more than the education itself. It\’s not about being smart, it\’s about looking smart.

I certainly haven\’t done any research to find out just how prevalent this attitude is; I\’m simply relying on the impressions of a few of my classmates. I hope that they\’re wrong and that most of us do value our education. But it is for those of you who really are just here to get a job or who don\’t feel that you are really learning anything of value, that I feel compelled to write this article. I may not be able to change your minds, but I\’d at least like to give you something to think about.

I\’m not trying to say that getting a job is not important. Clearly it is, and increased employability and earning power is another significant part of the value that a Stern MBA provides. But it\’s not just about getting the job, it\’s also very much about getting the education that will help you succeed, not only at your first job out of business school but throughout your entire career. If you\’re not focusing on the education as well as the job, then you\’re missing out on a huge part of Stern\’s value.
What we learn as an MBA student may not be as tangible as what many other programs teach. Sure, concepts like the time value of money or multivariable statistical regression may be clearly perceived as tangible knowledge, but what about all of those “soft skills”? What value do they have?

I\’ll use my own example to try and answer that. I got two engineering
degrees prior to coming to Stern, full of enough tangible, quantitative knowledge to make anyone\’s head spin. I learned how to perform non-linear, dynamic analyses of complex three-dimensional structures using finite element methods, as well as dozens of other equally complicated-sounding concepts. When I started my career as a structural engineer, I felt confident enough in my knowledge to tackle any engineering problem. And analytically speaking, I was indeed very well prepared. But then I got into the real world and realized that there was so much more to life than number crunching.

One of my earliest lessons came when I was managing one of my first projects. I had a small team of just two engineers and a CAD operator to manage, and it was a fairly simple project, some college dormitory buildings. I divided up the work among the engineers and set to work on my part of the analysis, checking in with the other two engineers every once in awhile to make sure that everything was okay. They gave me the thumbs up whenever I checked in, and I thought, gee, project management is easy. Then it came time for me to compile my team\’s work. When I started looking through the calculations and details that the engineers had prepared, one engineer\’s work was pretty good, just a few small corrections to be made, but the other engineer\’s work was abominably bad, almost completely unusable. I had to start feeding work to the CAD operator in order to stay on schedule, and I realized that there was no way that was going to happen. I panicked. My first reaction was to yell at the engineer on my team. “Why didn\’t you tell me you were having problems with the analysis?! Why did you say everything was okay?” And he yelled right back, “You\’re the project manager! It\’s your job to make sure everything is okay!” He was right, of course. I had performed my engineering analysis flawlessly, but as a manager I was a failure. My boss, who had to tell the client the next day that we were going to miss the deadline, was extremely unhappy; the CAD operator had nothing to work on and spent a significant number of unproductive hours until he was placed on another project; and the engineer told everyone in the office that I was a terrible manager and he didn\’t want to work with me anymore.

My management skills improved after that, thankfully, but I learned two invaluable lessons from that experience. First, management is really hard. While it may not be as tangible a skill as things like engineering, it is nevertheless a skill that must be learned. And second, if a project is not well managed, then the project is not going to succeed no matter how good the engineering is. Getting mired in the details and losing sight of the big picture is a sure way to run a project into the ground.

From that point on, I became obsessed with seeing the big picture. As I developed better project management skills and got involved with the overall management of the office, I began to gain an increasingly clearer view of how flawed thing were. I saw that while my firm had plenty of great engineering talent, the company was struggling to remain profitable. And it wasn\’t just my company; the industry as a whole was suffering from low fees and high turnover. When it came to business, the company was making a lot of mistakes. Marketing was a concept that barely existed, beyond hanging pictures of previous projects on the walls and including colorful brochures in with RFP responses. Operations was a concept that I didn\’t even know existed before coming to Stern, but I see now that a lot of scheduling was done very inefficiently, and employees constantly had either too much work to do or not enough. And worst of all, there was no formal management training. Engineers were just expected to figure it out for themselves through experience. Many of them eventually did, but there were plenty of projects being badly-managed while the new managers figured things out. And some engineers never became good managers. They continued to manage projects poorly, while the employees working for them got increasingly frustrated and often ended up leaving the firm.

I eventually found myself wanting an even bigger picture view than the firm had to offer, and that\’s when I decided to go to business school. I wanted to figure out how the world worked. That, to me, seemed like it would be an incredibly valuable education to have, much more valuable than the education my engineering degrees had provided me. I wanted to learn about things like marketing, operations, finance, and management, in the context of how to run a better business. I wanted to gain better teamwork and communication skills, in a myriad of different settings. I wanted to be exposed to the differing viewpoints of my classmates from all over the world. I wanted to hear first-hand testimonials and advice about how to run a company from some of the most respected corporate leaders in the world. I wanted to study companies all over the world to figure out if they had better ways of doing things. I wanted to study the global economy to understand how it influenced business. I wanted to examine and understand why some companies had succeeded while others had failed. In short, I wanted to gain the knowledge and skills required to run a successful company. And to me, that\’s why it was worth moving across the country and taking on six-figure debt, to gain that kind of education.

So does Stern provide that education? Apparently there are many who don\’t think so, but I think that those people are really missing the big picture. If you\’re only focused on the short term objective of getting a job, what happens after you get the job? You\’re going to be expected to perform, and riding on your degree\’s reputation won\’t get you very far in that respect. You\’re going to have to rely on the knowledge and skills that you\’ve gained
throughout your life, including the education you gain at Stern. And the further in your career that you progress, the more involved you will likely be in the overall running of a company, and the more you will start to see the clear benefits of your MBA education. Bear in mind that your employer didn\’t offer you that high-paying job because you got into the MBA program, but because of what he or she thinks you will get out of the MBA program. If you coast through your time at Stern after you land your job offer and don\’t focus on getting as much education out of the program as you can, this could come back to haunt you later in your career.

Jobs may come and go, but your education stays with you for life. The knowledge and skills that you gain now will always be there to serve you, no matter where your life takes you. Most of us will never again have this kind of opportunity to devote a significant amount of our energy to learning. Of course it\’s important to balance studying with networking and having fun, though in a broader sense I would argue that all of these activities qualify as part of Stern\’s education. But if you take advantage of your time here at Stern to learn as much as you can, I promise you that sooner or later, you will be glad you did.
‘;

var currentpage = 1;
if(typeof(QueryString(‘page’)) != ‘undefined’) {
currentpage=QueryString(‘page’);
}
if (currentpage paragraph.length)
currentpage = 1;
writeNavigation(currentpage, paragraph);
document.write(‘
‘);

document.write(‘

‘);
revealPage(currentpage, paragraph);

document.write(‘

‘);
writeContinued(currentpage, paragraph);
document.write(‘
‘);
writeNavigation(currentpage, paragraph);

Article Tools:Email This ArticlePrint This Article Page 1 of 1

In
my Managing Change course the other day, we were discussing the value
that Stern provides to its students. As my group started to make a list
of ways in which Stern provides value, I said that education should
naturally be at the top of the list. To my surprise, the other members
of my group disagreed – and rather strongly, I might add. They insisted
that the majority of students enrolling in the MBA program at Stern are
here to get a job, and that the value of the education itself is
trivial. It made me sad to realize that I am one of a small minority of
students who actually came here with education as their primary
objective. According to my classmates, the perceived value of the
education is worth much more than the education itself. It’s not about
being smart, it’s about looking smart.

I certainly haven’t done
any research to find out just how prevalent this attitude is; I’m
simply relying on the impressions of a few of my classmates. I hope
that they’re wrong and that most of us do value our education. But it
is for those of you who really are just here to get a job or who don’t
feel that you are really learning anything of value, that I feel
compelled to write this article. I may not be able to change your
minds, but I’d at least like to give you something to think about.

I’m
not trying to say that getting a job is not important. Clearly it is,
and increased employability and earning power is another significant
part of the value that a Stern MBA provides. But it’s not just about
getting the job, it’s also very much about getting the education that
will help you succeed, not only at your first job out of business
school but throughout your entire career. If you’re not focusing on the
education as well as the job, then you’re missing out on a huge part of
Stern’s value.
What we learn as an MBA student may not be as
tangible as what many other programs teach. Sure, concepts like the
time value of money or multivariable statistical regression may be
clearly perceived as tangible knowledge, but what about all of those
"soft skills"? What value do they have?

I’ll use my own example to try and answer that. I got two engineering
degrees
prior to coming to Stern, full of enough tangible, quantitative
knowledge to make anyone’s head spin. I learned how to perform
non-linear, dynamic analyses of complex three-dimensional structures
using finite element methods, as well as dozens of other equally
complicated-sounding concepts. When I started my career as a structural
engineer, I felt confident enough in my knowledge to tackle any
engineering problem. And analytically speaking, I was indeed very well
prepared. But then I got into the real world and realized that there
was so much more to life than number crunching.

One of my
earliest lessons came when I was managing one of my first projects. I
had a small team of just two engineers and a CAD operator to manage,
and it was a fairly simple project, some college dormitory buildings. I
divided up the work among the engineers and set to work on my part of
the analysis, checking in with the other two engineers every once in
awhile to make sure that everything was okay. They gave me the thumbs
up whenever I checked in, and I thought, gee, project management is
easy. Then it came time for me to compile my team’s work. When I
started looking through the calculations and details that the engineers
had prepared, one engineer’s work was pretty good, just a few small
corrections to be made, but the other engineer’s work was abominably
bad, almost completely unusable. I had to start feeding work to the CAD
operator in order to stay on schedule, and I realized that there was no
way that was going to happen. I panicked. My first reaction was to yell
at the engineer on my team. "Why didn’t you tell me you were having
problems with the analysis?! Why did you say everything was okay?" And
he yelled right back, "You’re the project manager! It’s your job to
make sure everything is okay!" He was right, of course. I had performed
my engineering analysis flawlessly, but as a manager I was a failure.
My boss, who had to tell the client the next day that we were going to
miss the deadline, was extremely unhappy; the CAD operator had nothing
to work on and spent a significant number of unproductive hours until
he was placed on another project; and the engineer told everyone in the
office that I was a terrible manager and he didn’t want to work with me
anymore.

My management skills improved after that, thankfully,
but I learned two invaluable lessons from that experience. First,
management is really hard. While it may not be as tangible a skill as
things like engineering, it is nevertheless a skill that must be
learned. And second, if a project is not well managed, then the project
is not going to succeed no matter how good the engineering is. Getting
mired in the details and losing sight of the big picture is a sure way
to run a project into the ground.

From that point on, I became
obsessed with seeing the big picture. As I developed better project
management skills and got involved with the overall management of the
office, I began to gain an increasingly clearer view of how flawed
thing were. I saw that while my firm had plenty of great engineering
talent, the company was struggling to remain profitable. And it wasn’t
just my company; the industry as a whole was suffering from low fees
and high turnover. When it came to business, the company was making a
lot of mistakes. Marketing was a concept that barely existed, beyond
hanging pictures of previous projects on the walls and including
colorful brochures in with RFP responses. Operations was a concept that
I didn’t even know existed before coming to Stern, but I see now that a
lot of scheduling was done very inefficiently, and employees constantly
had either too much work to do or not enough. And worst of all, there
was no formal management training. Engineers were just expected to
figure it out for themselves through experience. Many of them
eventually did, but there were plenty of projects being badly-managed
while the new managers figured things out. And some engineers never
became good managers. They continued to manage projects poorly, while
the employees working for them got increasingly frustrated and often
ended up leaving the firm.

I eventually found myself wanting an
even bigger picture view than the firm had to offer, and that’s when I
decided to go to business school. I wanted to figure out how the world
worked. That, to me, seemed like it would be an incredibly valuable
education to have, much more valuable than the education my engineering
degrees had provided me. I wanted to learn about things like marketing,
operations, finance, and management, in the context of how to run a
better business. I wanted to gain better teamwork and communication
skills, in a myriad of different settings. I wanted to be exposed to
the differing viewpoints of my classmates from all over the world. I
wanted to hear first-hand testimonials and advice about how to run a
company from some of the most respected corporate leaders in the world.
I wanted to study companies all over the world to figure out if they
had better ways of doing things. I wanted to study the global economy
to understand how it influenced business. I wanted to examine and
understand why some companies had succeeded while others had failed. In
short, I wanted to gain the knowledge and skills required to run a
successful company. And to me, that’s why it was worth moving across
the country and taking on six-figure debt, to gain that kind of
education.

So does Stern provide that education? Apparently
there are many who don’t think so, but I think that those people are
really missing the big picture. If you’re only focused on the short
term objective of getting a job, what happens after you get the job?
You’re going to be expected to perform, and riding on your degree’s
reputation won’t get you very far in that respect. You’re going to have
to rely on the knowledge and skills that you’ve gained throughout your
life, including the education you gain at Stern. And the further in
your career that you progress, the more involved you will likely be in
the overall running of a company, and the more you will start to see
the clear benefits of your MBA education. Bear in mind that your
employer didn’t offer you that high-paying job because you got into the
MBA program, but because of what he or she thinks you will get out of
the MBA program. If you coast through your time at Stern after you land
your job offer and don’t focus on getting as much education out of the
program as you can, this could come back to haunt you later in your
career.

Jobs may come and go, but your education stays with you
for life. The knowledge and skills that you gain now will always be
there to serve you, no matter where your life takes you. Most of us
will never again have this kind of opportunity to devote a significant
amount of our energy to learning. Of course it’s important to balance
studying with networking and having fun, though in a broader sense I
would argue that all of these activities qualify as part of Stern’s
education. But if you take advantage of your time here at Stern to
learn as much as you can, I promise you that sooner or later, you will
be glad you did.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1 other follower

January 2006
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Top Rated

Flickr Photos

%d bloggers like this: