Is an MBA worth it?
If you’re in the early stages of your career, you might ask yourself this question. And like anything, the answer will depend on your reasons for considering an MBA and what you expect to get out of it.
Certainly, an MBA is no light undertaking. There’s the time – a full year of your life. Then there’s the disruption to your career, your family, your personal life. And of course, there’s the cost. And with such a glut of programmes on offer today, you might be tempted to think that an MBA no longer has the prestige or the stamp of quality to differentiate you in the job market.
We sat down with the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) full-time MBA programme director, Ann Van Dam, and admissions director, Brandon Kirby, and fired the same question at them. They thought about it and have assembled a few benefits that an MBA brings that you might want to take into account if you’re wondering if it’s worth it for you.
Six benefits of doing an MBA
1. Connecting the dots
Wherever you are in your career, whatever the function you hold, it’s hard to take a step back when you’re at work and survey the bigger picture. But if you’re looking to move up into senior management, seeing the full picture – how business functions and areas interconnect to deliver value – is exactly what you need to be able to do.
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A good MBA, says Ann Van Dam, helps you to connect the dots between marketing, operations, finance and strategy, and accelerates your integrative thinking to prepare you to step up to greater responsibility.
When you understand how the different levers work and can bring components together, you’re better equipped to make the kinds of decisions that leaders have to make every day.
Business problems are never one-dimensional. Responding to challenges means knowing how to unpeel the layers to discover the core problem. And that means asking the right questions.
“An MBA”, says Van Dam, “is a continuous challenge to re-think, re-frame and re-position issues, approaching them from different angles and experimenting with new methodologies to find innovative solutions.”
A good MBA will accelerate an innovative mindset, says Brandon Kirby, and should expose you to the people and the places where innovation happens. “You will be constantly challenged to find new ways of doing things, and to defend your position.”
And outside the classroom, many schools offer study trips and other experiences that broaden your exposure and your horizons. “At RSM, we build mandatory study trips into the programme, taking students to places like Los Angeles, Shanghai, Hamburg and even French Guiana to see innovation in action and meet industry movers and shakers.”
4. Going global
The capacity to manage multicultural teams or enterprises requires you to have more than just international exposure. And again, this is where an MBA can be a differentiating factor.
“From the second you walk into an MBA classroom at RSM, you are dealing with cross-cultural dynamics,” says Van Dam. “We design our cohort for maximum diversity so that from the off, our students start building the sensitivity, the understanding and the leadership skills not only to embrace difference, but to leverage it.”
5. Leadership development
“If you’re serious about really moving up within your career and leading teams of people, you’re not going to wait for the promotion to do the job for you. You’re going to want to really challenge yourself to think about how you come across, how you connect, what your values are and what you need to work on if you’re going to inspire and mobilise others,” says Van Dam.
“The Personal Leadership Development programme is integrated into our MBA from the word go, to get students working on this throughout their experience.”
6. Network, network, network
The network you build during your MBA will sustain you for life, says Kirby. And it’s not just about your peers.
“When you join a school like RSM, you become part of a community that encompasses faculty, our business partner ecosystem, our career services, the close relationships you forge within your cohort, and the thousands of business leaders around the globe that form our alumni network.” The opportunities, benefits, continued learning, professional and personal support, he says, are unique to the MBA experience.
There are many more benefits to pursuing an MBA: the chance to experiment, to see the world differently and to challenge yourself. But like anything else, an MBA is only worth what you are prepared to put into it.
The responsibility is on the individual, says Kirby, to get the most out of the experience. And that means researching the best school for you, that best serves your needs and will best help you shape your future.
RSM MBA Open Day
RSM's admissions team is on standby to review your profile, talk through your objectives and answer your questions. Join their MBA Open Day on Saturday, November 10 to find out if an MBA is worth it for you.