THE BENEFIT OF AN MBA
Having an advanced degree in business serves as a gateway to executive-level positions in corporations and other institutions. This is especially true for those who aspire to reach upper-level management positions but may have only technical knowledge.
A master of business administration (MBA) degree is an important credential for at least three reasons. First, it is important when attempting to move to a position of higher authority within an organization; second, it is important when attempting to change careers; and finally, when combined with a Ph.D., an MBA lends a sense of credibility to business school faculty.
The MBA program format is designed to integrate critical career management activities into academic and professional development experiences. With knowledge and technical skills in hand, MBA students engage regularly in professional development and personal networking activities. The latter form the foundation for success in the marketplace.
The Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, for example, offers an executive MBA in health care administration. The program attracts medical professionals who moved to managerial roles but discovered they do not have all of the tools to succeed in that position.
Individuals from the not-for-profit sector and other traditionally non-business settings seek the MBA to develop skills that will allow them to combine their firm-specific expertise with managerial skills, such as accounting and human resource management, that will improve their firms’ operations as well as their mobility within the firm.
A recent graduate of the Zicklin program, Titilayo Fagbenle, MBA ’15, left a position in operations with Emblem Health to pursue a major in human resources management. According to Fagbenle, now a Talent Acquisition Coordinator with Hilton Worldwide, the MBA credential alone made her more marketable. Specifically, she benefited from the opportunity to pursue an internship while in the MBA program, which was particularly career defining.
Additionally, Fagbenle found the content of her human resources classes immediately applicable during the interview process. She recalled she was able to discuss a timely issue of legislation regarding immigration paperwork processing of which other candidates were unaware. Having that practical knowledge differentiated her among the pool of candidates and helped her land the job.
Fagbenle also indicated a master of science degree is not as marketable because it is too specific and, therefore, less respected than the MBA. The vice president of human resources in her company prefers MBA graduates since the degree provides a wider breadth of knowledge and usually only takes one additional academic year to complete.
An MBA is essential for those who wish to change careers, particularly from non-business to business-related fields whether moving from one industry to a completely new one or moving into a new, functional area within the same industry.
For example, Zicklin’s Full-Time MBA program in Manhattan, N.Y., attracts individuals from the entertainment industry who wish to move from artistic and production roles to supervisory and managerial roles. The school has also graduated several former artists, musicians and performers who moved into accounting and finance.
Many shared their desire was sparked by the inefficiencies observed within their industries, and their sense these professions could allow them to express their creativity in another fashion. Ideally, the MBA program does not reside solely in a classroom. The curriculum is complemented by resources, activities and opportunities that together enrich and infuse the experience.
MBA programs introduce students to the concept of using research and data analysis for decision-making. In the process, it is not unusual to attract students to the field of academic business research and the pursuit of a Ph.D. While not a requirement for pursuing a Ph.D., it is generally the faculty with practical experience and the MBA who are best able to impart academic research findings to graduate business students, and ultimately, perform better in the classroom.
Overall, the return on the investment of time and resources to earn an MBA far exceed the cost. The benefit and importance of an MBA can be measured not only in terms of upward mobility, but also the lifelong network one develops among classmates and co-workers.
- Dr. Davis-Friday is a charter member of The PhD Project Accounting Doctoral Students Association.