In an earlier post, distilling wisdom from a number of high-powered professionals, I suggested that “having an MBA is not as critical as it used to be. Demonstrated success says just as much.” I encouraged my readers to “think long and hard before leaving the workforce to pursue an MBA, unless your chosen field absolutely requires one.”
To support or refute this thought and to offer additional experienced perspective, I sat down with Kari Whalen, Director of MBA Enrollment at Hult International Business School. She shared important insight and a number of valuable tips to help those of you thinking about pursuing an MBA.
Dorsey: I have argued that work experience is critical in the job market, that an MBA alone will not get you into that corner office. What do you think about that claim?
Whalen: We require our candidates to have a three year minimum of work experience. At Hult International Business School, we believe that having this experience makes you more competitive as a student and makes your MBA more valuable in the global marketplace. Your MBA complements your work experience and your experience supports your pursuit of an MBA.
Dorsey: What does an MBA give someone that pure work experience does not?
Whalen: Our program was designed to give students a wide range of hard and soft skills, including the ability to understand business finance and brand management, as well as the ability to think critically, work in teams and successfully deal with conflict. An MBA also gives you access to a wide network of like-minded professionals, connections that could end up being your future business partners, employers, or collaborating Venture Capitalists.
Dorsey: Many MBA’s argue that while the hard skills are useful, the connections they make in their program, the solid relationships and the network is the true value….
Whalen: This is one of the many reasons why I believe so strongly in Hult’s program. Nowadays, business is conducted in the global marketplace; leaders need relationships in all corners of the world to succeed in the highest levels of business. Hult is one of the only MBA programs with a global network. We have campuses in Dubai, London, Shanghai, Boston and San Francisco. Our students participate full-time with the opportunity to rotate campuses. This allows them to experience a variety of cultural perspectives and become comfortable in many arenas, while developing strong relationships across the globe.
Dorsey: When a prospective student is researching MBA programs, what should they be looking for?
1. Curriculum – Does the program encourage hands-on learning? Are there internships available? Is the curriculum specialized or is it broad?
2. Instructors – Is there a “publish or perish” attitude among faculty? That is, are faculty positions research-based or primarily focused on teaching? Does the faculty teach from theory and/or from practice?
3. Student Body – As an MBA candidate you will be learning from your peers. What have graduates gone on to accomplish? What is the profile of a student?
4. Network – Your fellow students and even some of your instructors will become your partners, advocates, clients, etc. Does the school have the network you need to succeed?
5. Location – How does the location affect your industry? For example, if you intend to pursue finance, you don’t belong in Idaho; you belong in London, the financial capital of the world.
6. Institution’s Brand – Does the institution’s mission statement resonate with you? Is there general awareness of the institution in your chosen field? What is the school’s ranking, and on what lists?
7. Think Critically – Know what you want and do your research. Talk with a mentor; attend recruitment seminars armed with questions. Do what it takes to make an informed decision.
Dorsey: That’s a helpful decision-making template. And finally, what is your response to the folks trying to decide if they ought to stick it out in their current role or take the plunge and pursue an MBA?
Whalen: If you have to ask yourself “…do I want to stick it out…” the answer is clear. An MBA provides direction and an MBA opens doors. An MBA gives you the skills, abilities, network and value to build the career that you want.
For more information on the Hult International School of Business, visit www.hult.edu
Kari Whalen has been working in education since 2008, with experience in cultural exchange, academic advising and international admissions. The San Francisco campus of Hult International Business School is where Whalen manages student enrollment for the US and Canada.
She welcomes inquiries and can be reached directly via her LinkedIn profile here.