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Do I need an MBA to be a CEO?

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New post 10 Aug 2016, 08:16
Hi All,
Here we go with the age old question, "Do I need an MBA to be a CEO?". Here is my background, BS, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering (BS & MS from Umass Amherst, PhD from VirginiaTech). I am 32, but have almost 9 years of work experience. I got my graduate degrees while I was working, and I was fortunate enough that all my employers picked up my educational tab. My previous employer really helped me grow professionally, they moved me from top of the technical individual contributor level to a manager to Director level in 2.5 years. Then a medium-sized technology company picked me up this March as a CTO, my end goal is to either be a CEO at this place or start my own company. Having said that, would an MBA help me get to where I want to go faster? If an MBA does help, which one should I get (MBA vs. EMBA) and what specialization?

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New post 10 Aug 2016, 12:05
Congrats on your career growth - you have done great - why pause or change strategy?

A few folks have done research and looked at trends of MBA vs. No MBA for CEO's and what makes a CEO. There are also there are stories of Amazon or Microsoft which were started by smart technical/business people without an MBA.

With your level of education I don't think you need an MBA, unless you have spent your career in tech only. In that case, you will look lopsided and may need to offset it with something else (at the same time if it is a tech company, it may not be a bad thing).

If you do need additional business exposure, I would definitely focus on EMBA as I don't see how you could take 1-2 years off and then join a company as a CEO fresh out of business school.... i can see combining work and EMBA at the same time gunning for the top spot, but you will have to restart if you go full time.

My 2 cents.
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New post 10 Aug 2016, 12:47
bb,
Thank you for your inputs. I am not changing my strategy, I will not take time off from work to go get an MBA. Ideally I would like to work full time while I am getting an MBA, and learn and apply theory while building the business and creating new products. Our current CEO has BS an MS in engineering and an MBA, he is a great business leader. While I support him technically, I find some of the things he does a little strange and takes me time to understand. I am thinking of an MBA to really understand the money flow in the business and how to optimize its flow while running a successful tech company.
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New post 10 Aug 2016, 14:14
An MBA is not needed in your case. Doors have already opened to you..but some doors will more easily open if you have some level of pedigree at the MBA level.

Stanford business school has an executive program in strategy and general management for executives. That might work better if you are already experienced in your career and have reached CTO level.

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New post 11 Aug 2016, 01:52
To add to the discussion, MIT also has a similar program as Stanford's, called the Sloan Fellowship program. You will have to take a year off for either of the programs, but you will find yourself in a class of more people like yourself, senior managers, on the cusp of top leadership roles. This would be the main difference from the 2-year MBA as well as eMBA. You will also build a network that would be closer to you in demographics (age/ experience)

Moreover, if your company sponsors you for a year, that would be icing on the cake.
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New post 11 Aug 2016, 04:10
Thank you all for your inputs. MIT's and Stanford's program sounds wonderful, I will look into them.
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Re: Do I need an MBA to be a CEO?   [#permalink] 11 Aug 2016, 04:10
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