Tag Archives: b_schools

Why do an MBA?

Surely that’s a dumb question to be asking myself right now. I had to answer it on the application. I’ve committed the money and time to it. I’ve even started the first course – Accounting and Financial Management.

That first course is looking to be as easy as I thought. Which on one level really frustrates me. Why am I paying to do a subject I am already unconsciously competent at? It’s a good way to ease into studying again after all these years.

Strangely I found myself wondering about some of my fellow students. They don’t seem to understand the broad accounting aspects of their businesses. Maybe it was me, but all my career I’ve been interested in the Profit & Loss Statements and Balance Sheets of my employers.

Back to the question at hand. Why do it? Career prospects? More money?

For me it the answer is to change my life. To understand business and industry with a new depth and rigour. To use to time to change my world-view and internalise my studies in a way I could not appreciate when I was an undergrad. My business interests are in fast-growth, entrepreneurial firms. That is where my MBA is leading, although I can’t say exactly where yet.

Feeling uncomfortable but doing it anyway

I attended the AGSM New Students Day yesterday. I met graduates and faculty as well as some of my fellow students.

There was an fun little moment were we had to congratulate ourselves and each other on getting in. How the students reacted was interesting. There were those (mainly marketing types) who got into it. There were some who refused to do the “silly” bit – must be the accountants. Then there were the one’s who were obviously uncomfortable but did the exercise anyway. I realised that I want to get to know that group. These are people who are out of their comfort zone, but willing to try something new in the hope or belief they’ll learn or grow.

I’m not sure how to deal with the one’s who withheld participation. On the one hand they are confident enough in themselves to march to their own beat. But did that mean they were more scared of appearing stupid? Or were they that pragmatic that they didn’t want to do any of that feely-touchy stuff? Either way I can find that sort in most places and my initial reaction is to avoid them as inflexible.

Obviously I can get along famously with the party animals who’ll try anything in case it’s fun.

Interestingly I’ve decided to kick off the MBA with only one subject Accounting and Financial Management. One of the adjunct faculty members said she got the least value out of the term when she did two subjects. All she focused on as doing the required reading and barely kept up. She was aiming for internalising the subjects. Really considering the issues and allowing herself to come up with her own thoughts and attitudes on the subject.

Another vote for “the MBA is the journey” school of thought – which I am rapidly converting to. Who cares if it takes me longer to finish if I am changed by the experience. Heaven forbid I do all this work and all this study to emerge as the same person and the same skills as I started with.

This will be a life-changing experience.

Executive MBA application

I’ve applied to do an Executive MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). Long-time readers will know my advice from October 2003 to hire MBA’s rather than become one.

I fear most MBA’s are blatant credentialing, especially if the school accepts people who lack industry experience. However the AGSM is consistently ranked at the top of Australian MBA’s which in my view puts just behind the top tier American B-schools. Applicants must have 2 – 6 years experience in managerial roles as well.

MBA’s were originally designed to teach engineers, chemists and other technical people the basics of business. Therefore I saw my undergraduate degree as equivalent. However the world has changed as has the degree structure. Some of the subjects look interesting and I have both professional and academic interest in them.

I will have to do a course in Accounting and Finance Management which looks painfully easy, so the goal there is to get a high distinction.

This is an Executive program which means I’ll earn a Graduate Diploma for the part-time course work and if I maintain a credit average I can progress to the second year and take an MBA. Also the “executive” focus means I apply the work directly to the business I’m running. So there should be significant take-home value.

Some of the desire stems from discussions I’ve had with I-bankers and VC’s recently. Their job is to say no to most deals. I suspect the time has come that postgrad qualifications are another box to tick in evaluating a management team. My goals eventually lead to board roles and so I might as well get a good grade from a great Australian business school.

Of course that’s assuming my application is accepted.