Friday, May 21, 2010

Is it worth doing an MBA?

My MBA has officially finished, or at least I have submitted everything I need to submit. It is now just a case of waiting to see what grade my final MBA dissertation achieves (review comments on my draft copy were positive). Now I just need to find myself a job in one of the most challenging employment environments in recent times...

The job hunt is proving to be a little more challenging than I had hoped. Once upon a time it was sufficient to reply to a suitable job advert with my CV, head to an interview, then discuss the details of my potential new role. Prior to this year (and my current job hunt) I had a 100% record of offers to applications (though admittedly based on a very small sample). Since my MBA I have applied for a large number of roles have yet to secure even a first face-to-face interview (though I have turned away a few less senior roles).

At least I’m not alone, one of the best things to come out of the MBA experience has been meeting, working with and developing friendships with others on the course. We can now all sit around unemployed and discuss the challenges together.

So was it all worth it? Would I recommend an MBA to others? To be honest... I’m not sure. Well not yet anyway.

It would be easy to say it hasn’t really helped being in a position of job-hunter at a time when the employment market is so depressed. The last year also hasn’t been cheap, MBA courses are expensive, living expenses are still incurred and there is always the niggling doubt around the lost opportunity cost (what I could have been earning if I’d stayed at work). Personally I am trying to keep a long term view of the decision to expand my career options. I am hoping the last year or so has been a positive investment in my future and in a few years time I will look back with conviction that I made the right decision.

My advice to others would be to take a step back and review the real reasons you want to get an MBA. Stuck in middle-management? A switch to another industry? Need a more challenging role? Just want more money? An MBA isn’t the only way to achieve major change in your career, though it is one of the most expensive and work intensive! Could you achieve your desired change another way? Career coaching, finding a suitable mentor, just expanding your network of contacts? It is worth finding out how much value others in your business or industry rate an MBA, what benefits do they see if you had one?

One thing I have seen is that different people have got different things from their MBA. From our cohort some people have developed their ability to analyse problems, others have seen an increase in their self-confidence, some have clarified their career and personal objectives (in at least one case resulting in a step away from a executive career)... everyone has taken away their own benefits.

Personally I have developed my ability to work in teams, with a significant change in my approach. Bearing in mind this is an area I have always considered a strength, it has been a revelation how much I have relied on team members having similar drivers and personalities as myself (not uncommon in technology-led industries). I now have a much better appreciation of how different people have different styles for learning, adopting change and motivation. My nature tendency is to be very result driven in terms of completing tasks; to adopt a cliché, I now have a much better understanding of the importance of the journey, i.e. how the result is 'achieved'. Hopefully this will help me build on previous successes and take my leadership abilities to an even higher level.

But first I need my next role... so back to the job hunt. Fingers crossed that one day this blog will wax lyrical about the wonders and benefits of taking time out from a career to invest in an MBA.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A shiny new post for my shiny new web blog

Not sure if I should be happy that I have finally got around to setting up a blog, or concerned that I have the time free to do so :-O

I do have to say after the experience of the last year or so on my MBA and the previous few months redecorating my house, I think I am now positively looking forward to a real job!

This is hopefully the first post of what will become a regular blog containing various discussion on issues I have experienced or are of particular interest (at the time of writing). I will do my best to remain reasonably informative and avoid too much ranting!