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Why MBA ?????

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05 Oct 2009, 13:34
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Why MBA - that’s the biggest question for all MBA applicants.

While working on my applications I encountered this question several times. Each time I had a better explanation but still not fully satisfied with my answers somewhere in the back of my mind. The AdComs generally doesn't like a candidate who is not clear about the answer to this question, and that’s justified. Once a candidate starts with the MBA, he/she may not have enough time to change the decision. Like me there would be many other applicants, so I thought if my findings and your feedback could help us all

Here I'm not going to answer why MBA is required. The reason would be different from person to person. I have listed a few questions for self-evaluation and I can promise, that by end of this note you would have an answer to convince the AdCom
My apologies, but in this post I would be taking example of "Management Consultancy in IT" (one of the hottest job profile today) to justify my points.

So get a pen and paper and start answering all the questions one by one. For some of the questions you may need decent amount of time and research.

Step 1:
Apart from the huge salary packages , what is the main reason for you. It could typically be:
1. Switching career to some other Industry or function
3. Progressing to a higher responsibility in the same industry or function

Step 2:
Now once you have answered the above question, take some time and evaluate
1. Which Industry, role and country you are aiming for.
I take an example of "Management Consultant in the field of IT in India".

2. What are your target companies.
Be clear about this. AdCom may want to understand what kind of companies you are targeting. It should not be list of 100 best IT companies listed on NSE, rather a genuine answer would be a target for 3-4 companies. Also, be realistic and don't try to list top companies like Mckinsey or Booz unless you can justify that.

3. What the new role means.
If I'm saying Management Consultancy in IT field, I should be clear about what this role means and what would be the kind of responsibilities. A typical IT management consultant would be doing:
• Selling (identifying prospective clients etc)
• Research (Gathering requirements, interviewing clients, evaluating existing solutions etc)
• Analysis (Gathering data and information)
• Reporting (preparing proposals, recommendation to client etc)
• Implementation (project management, documenting team work, IT implementation etc)
• Administration (Expense report, time tracking)

Step 3:
Now one need to evaluate himself to answer the big question of why the above role and industry
1. Where do you stand today.
I'm already working as an IT consultant for last XX years and have successfully implemented XX projects at various client locations. I have worked close with client and have displayed some of the qualities required by a IT consultant.

2. What kind of role you are looking for in the future.
I'm looking for a role of Management Consultancy, continuing in the same IT field but with a higher responsibility (Can use some crap from 3rd question in Step 2 )

3. What skills you already posses and what new skills are required.
A typical way to answer this question would to list all the skills generally required for Management Consultancy and rank myself:
Technical knowledge - strong
Analytical skills - strong
Client skills - basic
Management skills - Nil
Communication skills - good
Relationship skills - basic

4. The skills, which hindered your performance in the past, MBA can add.
In my past role, there have been various responsibilities I couldn't take because of lack of a particular skill or knowledge of some tools. A simple way to answer this question would be to compare ones skill-set with the skill-set of a role (may be a senior manager) where he see himself after MBA. Example - I lack knowledge in Pricing concepts, Financial analysis, Business strategy, Project Management, Negotiation skills etc etc etc.

5. What have you done so far to prove that you are moving towards your career goal.
I have moved from IT Product based company to IT services based company due to this reason. A list of trainings or programs I attended to add a skillset like client negotiation, Project Management etc. I have chosen to work for a client-site role. The list goes on.

Step 4:
An MBA can just lay a foundation for your career goals, but certainly cannot assure to achieve that goal. In most of the cases, one can still achieve his/her goals even without MBA. Don't forget only 38% of the CEOs in US have an MBA degree. So the most important question
1. If not MBA then what?
Surely, MBA is not the end of life. If not MBA, then also I would like to achieve my career goal of IT management consultancy. The way would surely be unorganized and time consuming. A typical example would be attending trainings, gaining experience from current role, reading articles and business publications, and choosing a mentor with the role I'm targeting.

Having said that, I would say MBA is just a means to achieve my goals, a bundled package which would provide me with the skill-set required to accelerate towards the career goal.

Step 5:
To justify ones long-term goals, he need to understand what a typical career path would be starting from the responsibility he is looking immediately after MBA.
1. What is the career progression from the immediate goals?
If I start as a Management Consultant in IT, a typical career progression would be:
Associate consultant > Senior consultant > Team lead > Manager > Senior Manager > Associate Partner > Senior Partner > Vice-president > President >
and so on

Step 6:
Last, but not the least. If one has chosen a career goal, he should be aware of the future trends and opportunities in the particular field. After all, there may not be a sense to choose a career which doesn't have much of future demands.
1. What are the future prospects of the career goal chosen?
For a management consultant in IT, some facts and figures regarding the future demands. For Example, in India IT services industry net revenue for 2008-09 is $58 billion, supposed to be doubled by 2012 and estimated to be$225 billion by 2020. Brief of few prominent projects and government initiatives would also be helpful.

By end of Step 4, one would already have a good reason for why MBA. Step 5 and 6 would strengthen the reason and help in getting a more convincing answer if one has chosen a right path for him/her.

Suggestions and comments are welcome. Please let me know, if you think there could be some more self-evaluation questions which we can added in the above list. And most important, please correct me if you disagree with any of my answers above, so that I can strengthen my case .
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06 Oct 2009, 12:58
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Kudos - thank you for starting this topic!
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14 Oct 2009, 08:35
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The toughest thing for me is finding identifiable gaps in my current skill set, and how an MBA will fill those gaps. Describing this is a tough balance, because basically all other parts of your essays, resume, application, etc, are spent talking about how great and terrific you are, which then has to be contrasted by showing weaknesses that an MBA will alleviate.

Its different than the "what is your greatest weakness" questions, which you can usually BS into coming out looking like a strength -- you must legitimately show how an MBA will help your career, and why you cannot do without.
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14 Oct 2009, 22:53
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Moss wrote:
The toughest thing for me is finding identifiable gaps in my current skill set, and how an MBA will fill those gaps. Describing this is a tough balance, because basically all other parts of your essays, resume, application, etc, are spent talking about how great and terrific you are, which then has to be contrasted by showing weaknesses that an MBA will alleviate.

Its different than the "what is your greatest weakness" questions, which you can usually BS into coming out looking like a strength -- you must legitimately show how an MBA will help your career, and why you cannot do without.

I agree. In my case, I did some research on internet, trying to identify what are the variety of roles an IT Management consultant would do and the list of skills required. Also, I talked to my seniors who were already into this role. Now I had a list of skill-set required and another list of responsibilities of a typical IT Management consultant.

From list 1 of skill-set, I rated myself on each skills (e.g. good knowledge, basic knowledge, no knowledge etc). From the responsibilities list I marked those I'm already doing and those I'm not able to do coz of lack of knowledge. E.g. I cannot create proposals for clients coz of lack of knowledge in pricing, negotiations, competition, market trend etc.

Having said that, once this list was there it was very easy to identify some of the skills which MBA can provide.

Remember, probably you or me cannot identify all the gaps else we would have created our own customized MBA program and acquire knowledge through books / articles/ training etc on the required skills. So for all identified and unidentified gaps I'm going to people who are expert on this, i.e. the B-Scools
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16 Oct 2009, 19:03
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Nice.

Thanks for the post Think you covered the bases pretty well, although the emphasis and procedure will vary from person to person.
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18 Oct 2009, 23:03
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Rook wrote:
Nice.

Thanks for the post Think you covered the bases pretty well, although the emphasis and procedure will vary from person to person.

Thanks, yeah I agree. Specially in case someone looking for starting his/her own business the above self-evaluation may not work.
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26 Oct 2009, 11:50
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This is really gr8 work bigoyal..

how do you also take into account follwing cases:

1. Bored with the same technical job in IT and the job up the ladder is nothing but word/excel/ppt oriented.
2. Hold only a bachelors degree and a stunning career path can be taken only through a stunning masters degree..

obviously, B-schools don;t want the escapist or stamp-paper seekers but I am sure this is the story of most guys Indian/IT/Male.. so, hw do we address that.. ?

Further, I observe that the entrepreneurial bug seems to be hitting a majority and many folks want to start something of their own but not in immediate future.. one school of thought is to get your base in place, nurture an idea, build upon it, shore up some investment and then jump into it.. roughly a period of 10 years.. how does one builds up on this ?
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28 Oct 2009, 03:06
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Amit05 wrote:
This is really gr8 work bigoyal..

how do you also take into account follwing cases:

1. Bored with the same technical job in IT and the job up the ladder is nothing but word/excel/ppt oriented.
2. Hold only a bachelors degree and a stunning career path can be taken only through a stunning masters degree..

Thanks a lot. So, do you mean career switching? Btw, why would you say that "stunning career path can be taken only through a stunning masters degree." I'm against the word "only" coz one can never say that the masters degree is the only way for your career path. An MBA would just provide a base and help you achieve your goal faster, thats it.

Now, if you say "only" to adcom, they are surely gonna ask you your reasons. In my interview with ISB, I gave them example of couple of skill-sets which I was looking from MBA. The adcom took one of these and started grilling me saying I can get this skill-set from books, journals or trainings

Thats very true, I can surely get the skills without MBA. I cannot tell them that the hefty package or stunning career is my reasons for MBA . So still sticking with my step-by-step analysis, I was pretty much able to convince them what I'm looking for.

Regarding entrepreneurial stuff, I think my step-by-step analysis may not fit pretty well. But surely it will provide some direction for doing further analysis on one's reasons.
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02 Nov 2009, 19:05
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This was definitely the most difficult question for me to answer as well as I wanted to be sure that I was being honest with myself and NOT just writing what I think an adcom would want to hear. I cannot stress this enough. I would tell any potential applicants to sit down and think about this before spending your time (lots and lots of time spent studying, researching, writing, etc. ) and money pursuing this goal.

I think it's important to shed some light on both your short term (1-5 years) AND long term goals (6+) as hopefully the MBA will play a pivotal role in both. It definitely does in my case.
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10 Nov 2009, 11:53
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thanks for addressing this. It's a tough topic to get a handle on.
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12 Nov 2009, 20:00
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Great post. I am an onsite TL and have a similar profile. But i am looking for a general management degree. I didnt want to do finance or banking or start my own company. So that left me with little options. I just want understand business better. And full time mba is regarded better than a postal/online course so i would prefer it. And it would be for career progression. so i am not sure how i could go about justifying it. Any ideas?
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12 Nov 2009, 22:31
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raven678 wrote:
Great post. I am an onsite TL and have a similar profile. But i am looking for a general management degree. I didnt want to do finance or banking or start my own company. So that left me with little options. I just want understand business better. And full time mba is regarded better than a postal/online course so i would prefer it. And it would be for career progression. so i am not sure how i could go about justifying it. Any ideas?

Believe me raven678, try to answer all those questions mentioned in the post (considering your career goals), note down your answers in a notebook and at the end you'll surely have lot of things to justify yourself.
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07 Jan 2010, 04:25
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Thanks Bigoyal the question Why MBA and Long Term Career Goals are the ones which should be handled from the word go. These questions require a lot of introspection and can make or break your B School Application that said here are my two cents to the discussion

1. In addition to whatever Bigoyal has mentioned the essays should also have a wow factor, this can be done through an example of a work situation that you want to be in post MBA. Jetting around countries solving Business problems for different companies. Make it stand out!

2. About the weaknesses which you want to address through MBA one should always give examples from real life experiences and you can even mention the name of courses on offer which would rectify these weaknesses

3. In addition to mention the position, work stream, companies one can also mention the area and then justify these choices as well

That's all from me as of now, will keep adding as I go through the process

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28 Feb 2010, 13:02
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Bigoyal, truly amazing.. I wish there was a -- 'Bigoyal's Guide to MBA Applications' available and I could lay my hands on it for preparing some real good applications for myself.

Keep up the Good Work!!

-Abhi
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01 Mar 2010, 09:05
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Thanks a lot crackfire2003. I fully agree with you. The wow factor is really important to impress the adcom.
Thanks a lot Abhi for appreciating the post.
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04 Mar 2010, 08:20
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Great post!
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18 Mar 2010, 22:23
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Nice discussion going..keep going.
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08 Jun 2010, 23:44
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WHY MBA?? MBA Students studying in schools all around the world ask themselves the same question everyday:

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01 Jul 2010, 10:41
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Awesome post...KUDOS...

could you please share your views on other mba topics also. Eg. Weakness, Achievements, Strengths, Experience as a Manager.

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01 Sep 2010, 02:31
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This is the most important question to be answered. If we fail to explain properly the reason for pursuing MBA, I m sure adcoms will reject the application.

Great post Bigoyal. +1
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Re: Why MBA ?????   [#permalink] 01 Sep 2010, 02:31

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