MANAGEMENT: MBA no Substitute for Experience
Recent Western Cape Business News
MBA graduates with little hard core business experience should not believe they can walk into top jobs and operate at a strategic level purely by virtue of their newly acquired qualification. While the qualification certainly has value, particularly when it comes to business education and personal skills development, it does not necessarily provide the keys to the corporate kingdom, and is no substitute for sound experience.
Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, MD of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters says that many people study for an MBA because they assume that it will allow them to leapfrog into a senior position in a different field with a huge salary hike.
“The reality is that sound experience is still the job seeker’s most appealing attribute, especially now that the number of MBA graduates on the market has diminished the competitive advantage previously associated with the qualification. Employers are far less impressed by an MBA than might have been the case even 10 years ago, and people thinking about studying for the degree need to carefully consider what it can realistically do for their careers,” she says.
“Of course, it’s important to remember that not all MBA’s are equal; some of these qualifications are of average quality and are nothing more than cash-cow programmes for B-grade educational institutions. On the other hand, an MBA from a top quality institution can undoubtedly add value by supplementing a more general or non-commerce undergraduate qualification, and as such can round out an academic portfolio.”
Goodman-Bhyat says that MBA graduates should have realistic expectations about what the degree will achieve in the short to medium term: “Without already impressive experience behind you, an MBA cannot be expected to produce miraculous results.”
She notes, however, that even for less experienced individuals, an MBA qualification can contribute to one’s personal growth and development in numerous ways, including the spin-off of the networking opportunities that an MBA experience can provide.
“Over a 1-2 year period students are able to tap into the knowledge and expertise of their peers, many of whom bring years of corporate experience to the course, and build strong relationships with invaluable contacts that can help to broaden future careers prospects.”
Goodman-Bhyat suggests that people work for several years before considering the MBA option.
“Potential students will then know how they are going to use the qualification, allowing them to ask directed questions and get the most out of the course. It’s also important to work through The Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) of the Council of Higher Education to see if the MBA you are considering has been granted full accreditation,” she concludes.
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