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Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA?

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Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Nov 2013, 16:24
Hi guys, I am at a stage in my career where I need to make a decision about whether I should go for a full time MBA or wait a couple of years to go for an EMBA instead. I am really banking on some valuable discussion here and some insights from existing MBA students and recent/past MBA grads about their experience and perspectives about my case. I'd really appreciate your honest feedback.

To give you some background about me and my background: I did my Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering back in 2008 and subsequently went for Masters in industrial engineering, whcih I completed in 2009 (slightly earlier than schduled originally). At the time, I was very interested in logistics and supply chain mgt so I decided to go into an off-shoot of manufacturing (mech engg) and major in Industrial Engg instead, rather than hardcode mechanical engineering (such as heat transfer, aerodynamics, pure manufacturing etc). Recession hit and my internship company pulled back the job offer. Along came a financial services company, and they were looking for people with strong stats and operations research background and I was one of the 3 lucky (yayy) people to get hired. Since then, I've worked at 3 fortune 500 financial services companies (some of the biggest in the world, HSBC, Discover & Barclays) and have been on a relatively quick & steep career trajectory. At 26, I'm currently working in the NYC area, and make decent money. I feel that based on my performance, I feel pretty safe in my prospects here in the company.

My concern at this stage is though, that with about 4 yrs of work experience, and a MS already from one of the top institutions for Industrial Engineering (according to various rankings out there), if I am already making close to $150K/year (incl base + YE bonus), like my job in Risk management and work on international consumer credit portfolios... is there a solid reason at this stage for me to go for a full time MBA? My idea of an MBA isnt just money but also the northward growth.. I dont foresee myself changing fields, since I actually like risk management... its not as lucrative (financially) as M&A, PE or IB but I think there's something to be said about not having to work more than 55-60hrs/week and having full weekends avilable (most weeks). My performance thus far has been good (I've risen 4 levels since I started 4 years back, with excellent YE reviews at all my past companies)...

I am truly confused at this stage... At my last job level, 6 months back, I was making just under $100K and going for an MBA made all the sense in the world for me, but right now I am thinking about the incremental benefit an MBA will bring in at this stage in my career, which I cant gain from just some more experience and an EMBA a few years later. I only want to do an MBA from a top institute (my admission chances/profile notwithstanding, that is) such as HBS, Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck or Berkeley. I a not considering any other programs at this stage, which are great but either dont have prestige factor or "as" well-placed alumni base. I mean no offense here to Dukes, UCLAs, Ross-s of the world out there, but I dont think I'd want to get my MBA (my final degree) from an institute of a similar ranking as the one I got my grad degree from. I feel showing an incremental prestige factor in all stages of education is a good indicator on resume, for clear career progression and well defined objectives.

From what I understand, the jobs after a full time MBA mostly come from career fairs and internships (which are also through career fairs) and the profiles they come to hire for are very standard, for example (from what I've heard) most BB IBs will come for 1st Yr Associates, most management/financial consulting houses will come for 1st/2nd yr Consultants and in most cases the salaries are about the same (if not less at some schools) as where I am now. To be honest, I really dont mind that.. I'll happily take a small cut if it meant a much faster progression and quality of projects/deals I'll get to work on than what I have going on today, which isnt really bad or miniscule by any measure.

On the other hand, I am startting to think that an EMBA program might be a better fit from Columbia/LBS, Booth, Kellogg or Wharton, given their strong presence in the top C-suites and executives of the world & a well established EMBA program. These are smaller in size, cohort based and usually have residence for a short time while classes are in session, to allow for socializing. The nature of the program and candidate profile, makes the program use alternate hiring practices, such as individualized career coaches, headhunting, etc. I'll also get to keep my job (which by then should be paying a little more, and I'd have settled in my role a little better to allow for a simultaneous school).
On the flip side however, I feel that being with people who have 10 yrs exp may not give me a proper MBA experience in terms of limited interaction with other candidates, couple of days a week, etc. From what I've learned the growth in salary/position isnt that great in many cases as well from an EMBA. This ofcourse are summarized figures, I've read since many schools dont give their own programs specific numbers about post-mba salaries etc.

At this stage, being based out of NYC, I dont want to pursue a part time MBA, since usually I've seen either people who need to get an MBA for a pre-decided promotion (some companies dont let people get to a director level, say, without an MBA) or very young professionals who're working. I think PT MBA, typically, being non-cohort based limits the networking opportunities and interactions in general to create a strong program belonging like in other options, especially in Full Time.

I am hoping for some fruitful discussion here with folks that are having a similar debate within their own minds, or those who've previously gone through it and have made a decision. Anyone really who's gone through the MBA process either FT or Exec. and what their experience has been, what type of career progression they've expeirenced after the program, I'd really appreiciate your inputs. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 08 Dec 2013, 11:08
Your decision should revolve around what you want out of the MBA.

If you want to stay / rejoin your current career path - don't do the MBA
If you want to drastically increase the amount you earn and stay in a similar path - don't do the MBA - your growth prospects look great and EMBA makes more sense
If you want to switch careers, such as to consulting, where after 2 years at either of MBB (~5 years from now), and with your current background, you're primed for upper mgmt of a medium sized to large company (e.g., CEO - 1/2). This will require lots of sacrifice, especially in hours worked which you've stated you don't want
If you want to build large networks (assuming you don't already have a large network based on your top tier eng degree) and open up opportunities in other industries / companies, do the MBA but focus on networking
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Re: Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 20 Dec 2013, 05:40
4 years of work experience is actually a good time to do the full-time MBA, as the median work experience is 5 years for most top programs. You'll be among peers and will have an amazing growth experience.

It sounds like you would make a fantastic MBA candidate at many of the schools on your list. If all goes well, you should get scholarships from some of them.

One suggestion I have for you is.. there should be tons of MBA grads at the banks that you've worked for. I'd be curious to know their perspectives, and especially if your firm has a sponsorship program for MBAs.
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New post 30 Dec 2013, 09:24
I think you need to do some research on what you can truly get from doing the MBA. You aren't switching careers and seem like you are already on a great growth path. To take two years off and lose out on your level of salary means there would have to great results from your investment. I think the EMBA makes sense, because it gives you the opportunity to continue your trajectory in the industry, but will give you the qualifications needed in the long term.
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Re: Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 02 Jan 2014, 07:29
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IMHO, don't fix what ain't broken. You sound pretty happy with your current path, and keep in mind the vast majority of business professionals do not pursue full time MBAs - of course if you post this quandry on an MBA ADMISSIONS BLOG you are going to get skewed results.

If I really didn't think I could benefit from an MBA, I wouldn't be doing it. I don't think anyone capable of getting into an T15 school NEEDS an MBA (save for MBB and PE/VC guys, like myself, who are de facto transitioned into that path); their careers are generally on a good trajectory otherwise they would not have a good story to tell.
Re: Making $150K a year, should I do an MBA?   [#permalink] 02 Jan 2014, 07:29
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