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# Does the cream of the crop go to business school?

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19 Jun 2007, 17:45
When I look around my firm, I see several young, highly capable people who have no interest in going to b-school. And why should they? They earn gobs of money, they get to work on whatever they like, they can work in some pretty exotic cities if they want, they already get some equity, and they're on their way to becoming partner.

And then I look at some of the kids at my firm going to top 15, top 5 b-schools next year (or considering it for the future or have gone in the past). These kids are qualified, innovative, and smart. I would be happy to call any of them a classmate. But none of them are slated to become the next CEO, I doubt any would make partner, and I'm guessing even managing director would be a stretch. Talented, yes. Stars, no.

So, in general, does the cream of the crop go to business school? What is it like at your firm?

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19 Jun 2007, 19:01
Is there a big gap between the quality of undergrad institutions attended between the "stars" and the MBA grads/aspirants?

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Re: Does the cream of the crop go to business school? [#permalink]

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19 Jun 2007, 20:14
naturallight wrote:
When I look around my firm, I see several young, highly capable people who have no interest in going to b-school. And why should they? They earn gobs of money, they get to work on whatever they like, they can work in some pretty exotic cities if they want, they already get some equity, and they're on their way to becoming partner.

And then I look at some of the kids at my firm going to top 15, top 5 b-schools next year (or considering it for the future or have gone in the past). These kids are qualified, innovative, and smart. I would be happy to call any of them a classmate. But none of them are slated to become the next CEO, I doubt any would make partner, and I'm guessing even managing director would be a stretch. Talented, yes. Stars, no.

So, in general, does the cream of the crop go to business school? What is it like at your firm?

Remind me again what industry you are in... I wanna know how I get an equity stake in a firm at 23 or 24...

But seriously... My take is that generally no, the best of the best don't go get an MBA. An MBA is an excercise in hedging your bets. It tends to attract the risk averse - those who prefer a sure thing than a maybe.

After all, if you really boil it down - why are we getting an MBA? You can spew any rhetoric you want about education, growth, opportunity, self knowledge, whatever -- but these are all things you can do without an MBA (and for a lot less \$\$). In the end, it boils down to wanting to get from point A to point B without taking too much risk. An MBA provides that.

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19 Jun 2007, 20:32
I wish this topic stays burning for a while. We can get some very valuable discussions out of it.

I agree with rhyme. Look at the reasons that people typically give for needing an MBA.

An MBA simulates cases to educate you on how to deal with them. But wouldn't it be better to let real industry scenarios educate you instead? An MBA can help you network. But did you do enough to network with your undergraduate school's alumni? With your colleagues from previous companies? Aren't there a lot more (And a lot cheaper) ways to network? An MBA teaches you to be a leader, to be an entrepreneur. Are you kidding me?

The point is - we don't need an MBA for any of that. An MBA doesn't lead you to great success .. but it can help you to follow a tried, tested and less troublesome path to mediocre success.

It's funny that the kind of profiles that B schools would ideally want, have no reason to go to a B school.

Last edited by mNeo on 19 Jun 2007, 21:02, edited 3 times in total.

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19 Jun 2007, 20:33
I was thinking about this the other day, and couldn't think of one of my Ivy-league grad friends that have B-School as a goal. Without a doubt, people that are superstars will be held onto tight by any company. What is the incentive to go back to school if you don't have to?

After a few conversations with B-school alums, it seems that most students are career changers and an MBA is the way to do it. So if there is the best of the best going, it's probably just a vehicle to change careers and explore opportunities.

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19 Jun 2007, 21:29
At my company stars get promoted at faster rates and are offered sponsorship for Exec - MBAs (typically MIT Sloan 1 yr program or similar) when they are around 33 - 35 (i.e. 10+ years with the company) instead of sponsorships to full-time MBAs at younger ages.

I was offered a similar treatment (the Exec MBA) but with a lot of disclaimers (I'm a borderline case as most of my fast progress has come in the last couple of years and where mostly a case of knowing the right stuff at the right resources - constrained time and company than pure stardom) when I shared my MBA plans with the company. The disclaimers:

a) I should have continued to work in the company AND should have continued to perform at above average levels (top 10%).

b) The company in no way committed to a date or time for me to attend the program, they just mentioned it was a typical career plan for most would - be high-level executives.

c) I should have been willing to rellocate as required by my career plans and options around the world at the company's requests.

In the end, I decided I didn't enjoy being in that company any longer (I did for some years and my stay served a purpose but by now I'm no longer passionate about being a part of it).

A current co-worker, who is firmly in the star track, was originally planning to go for an MBA but in the end decided to hold steady at the company as he felt the signs (i.e.: career progress, promotions, career plans and compensation) where right. Other factors that weighed his decision: the company has a firm footing in our home country and he wants to have the option to go back home whenever he feels like it, knowing that there will be enough positions available for him, and he felt that the tuition + expenses + lost income would have been too much to make the MBA worth it. I also feel that he's better suited to the company's style than I am and I feel that he's got a better chance at making senior positions (Director and above) than I had.

So that's that, for some superstars, the lost income + tuition + expenses is a strong deterrent, specially if they feel they are getting the right recognition and possibilities from their employers.

L.

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19 Jun 2007, 22:46
Many of the MBA aspirants fall under 1 of the following categories.They

are either MBA aware from a very young age and were exposed to the benefits of an MBA education through experiences of family members(or through anecdotes).(or)
are constrained in jobs which do not satisy their appetite for continued growth and are generally dissatisfied with where they are in life and want a change, any change (or)
feel they are unfairly in a cookie cutter peer group and feel frustrated with the lack of recognition.

If by 'cream of the crop' you mean pure potential, I am sure there are a lot of smarter, more mature and intelligent folks out there who are content with what they have and where they are.

Ah! how I would kill for the bliss of MBA ignorance.

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20 Jun 2007, 02:26
I think that the company I work for is unique then. Almost all the high ranked managers have master degrees (MBAs, MSc, etc) and actually there is a cap, though not explicity, if one does not have a degree.
So it is within our culture to pursue a degree so that one can keep climbing the corporate ladder. There is a program where employees with very impressive performance are sponsored to their whole MBA program (it must be within Ultra an Elite programs) and before the company eve paid their earnings while doing it, now the company changed the policy a little bit.

In my particular case I want to attend an MBA for some reasons:
1) I really like studying and with my quantitative background I would like to develop the so called soft skills (I am not being sarcastic here, it is true);
2) I need a break from work, and I decided that the best way is studying;
3) To keep climbing here I need the degree;
5) I think it would be good to live in an english speaking country as I've never lived befor;
6) Networking: to meet people from all over the world;

If it will be the best thing to do I will never know, what I really do not want is 10y from now I look back and think that I should have tried, I do not want to regret for what I haven't done.

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20 Jun 2007, 05:42
Well obviously all of us here are the cream of the crop....as for the rest of people who are going to business school, I agree, probably not the cream of the crop for the most part.

As has been mentioned above, there are reasons why some superstars go to b-school: (1) MBA or advanced degree is required for a job they seek (2) MBA is necessary to transition into new industry (3) MBA is a nice break from work, and it will fast-track them on their already superstar career.

I would guess that H/S/W has a ton of superstars, people who are walking away from salaries of over 200K to go to school. Outside of those schools probably not too many superstars.

I met this one kid when I was visiting Yale, who had a successful business, and it sounded like he could basically have his business on autopilot and watch TV all day if he wanted to and live a very comfortable life, but the reason he was getting an MBA was that he wanted to take his business to the next level and for the ventures he has in mind he wants to be "taken seriously" when he meets with business people (venture capitalists etc...) So this guy was obviously a huge success already, but he wanted to go to school to have the MBA credential, to learn the lingo, and to network.

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20 Jun 2007, 06:43
I think business school brings you to a certain level in terms of prestige, salary, and education. Once you get beyond any one of these categories, you have to look at how much benefit you are getting.

I want to know the age of these superstars at your company. Being a superstar making 100+K at 28 is different from being 24 making 100+K.

I don't know anyone making 100+K at the age of 24 (outside of MC, IB, or entreprenuership) So if you look at these 28yo superstars and see their career progression at 24, it would've make sense to go to business school at 24.

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20 Jun 2007, 06:57
Haha interesting topic.

My dad told me that MBA is a only a piece of paper and it probably belongs in a rubbish bin. His suggestion to me is that if I want to learn about business, I should start by starting something of my own accord and learn the skills "on the street" so to speak.

An ex army friend of mine came up with an interesting counterpoint. He said why should you start a war, just to learn how to fight and win a war, especially since we such wonderful tradition and history(sarcasm) of war.

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20 Jun 2007, 07:14
For some people, I suspect that they treat an MBA as just another luxury label they can flaunt.

http://nymag.com/fashion/lookbook/32096/

I mean, this fashion victim already works at Carlyle... where the hell do you go from there?

A Harvard MBA for her would be a nice accessory to her Chanel suit; nothing more.

Last edited by baer on 20 Jun 2007, 07:28, edited 1 time in total.

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20 Jun 2007, 07:22
LOL Baer, you have just given me one big reason for not applying to HBS

baer wrote:
For some people, I suspect that they treat an MBA as just another luxury label they can flaunt.

http://nymag.com/fashion/lookbook/32096/

I mean, this fashion victim already works at Carlyle... where the hell do you go from there?

A Harvard MBA for her would be a nice accessory to her Chanel suit; nothing more.

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20 Jun 2007, 07:36
MoonShine: no, I wouldn't say there's a huge edu gap between the stars and the mba aspirants. A lot of the mba aspirants went to good, but not highly recognized undergrads, so I think there is some element of getting a better edu institution on their resumes. With the stars, some are ivy and some are state. However, even the stars who went to state schools have a high amount of social capital--they come from wealthy or accomplished families and generally know how to handle themselves around powerful people.

rhyme: well not 23 or 24, but definitely below 30.
____

Also, I will say that even though my firm's stars are going to b-school, the majority of partners have MBAs. I'm trying to hunt down the partner list to find the exact break-out. I know there's some people at the very top who don't have MBAs, but I think for the most part, most of the department heads and other big-shots do.

What does that mean?

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20 Jun 2007, 07:49
bsd_lover wrote:
LOL Baer, you have just given me one big reason for not applying to HBS

baer wrote:
For some people, I suspect that they treat an MBA as just another luxury label they can flaunt.

http://nymag.com/fashion/lookbook/32096/

I mean, this fashion victim already works at Carlyle... where the hell do you go from there?

A Harvard MBA for her would be a nice accessory to her Chanel suit; nothing more.

if you liked that, you will love this: http://www.leveragedsellout.com/2007/05 ... able-girl/

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20 Jun 2007, 08:17
ROTFL !!

This is GOLD ... She went to Princeton as well... there goes my other pick.

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20 Jun 2007, 08:31
bsd_lover wrote:
ROTFL !!

This is GOLD ... She went to Princeton as well... there goes my other pick.

Your hopes have been tainted. Better luck at State U!

Sidenote: you should look into Courant Institue. I took a few classes there in my undergrad years. It's tops in applied math.

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23 Jun 2007, 21:39
I heard a story related to why some people don't get MBAs today. In my quest to gain as much knowledge about different schools I was talking to my brother about schools earlier tonight (my wife recently said she will move anywhere now, before it was the northeast only, so now my options as to where to apply has really expanded). During our conversation I asked him why he never bothered to go back and get his masters since I know several years ago he toured some schools and was planning on getting his MBA and then nothing more ever happened.

He said when he went to ask his boss for a recommendation his boss said he would be happy to give him one but the next day one of the higher ups in the company brought him into a room. The guy had found out about my bro asking for a recommendation and flat out told brother that he didn't want to lose him to a school and asked what it would take to keep him on. Jokingly he replied that a promotion to a position that would be what he would graduate into with an MBA. He said the guy didnt hesitate and said done, so instead of graduating this year and being in that position he is two steps above that level and making twice that salary now by not going to school. Seems like where he works they fast track some people, usually they are the ones that are bringing in the big bucks, to keep them from switching companies they have to keep moving them up or risk loosing them to the competition which could be schools.

I am sure this happens to a fair number people planning on applying...its like if your bosses find out you have a new job offer or are actively looking and magically there is a promotion or raise on the table that would not have been there unless they knew you were thinking of leaving. I would think that some people decide that a promotion and raise outweighs the benefits of going to school. This might be part of the reason why the MBA seems very popular with career changers, I know personally no matter what raise or promotion was laid out for me I am going back to school. Now if I was returning to my field postgrad I would have to weigh the two options.

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23 Jun 2007, 23:09
On the other hand, the MBA is an opportunity like no other for career changers. The top business schools are filled with people have already been successful in business or as doctors, lawyers and engineers who are looking to transition into another field.

I think there's little doubt that business schools trail law and medical schools in terms of academic talent. But I think that business schools have more people who have proven they can succeed in the real world.

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24 Jun 2007, 07:39
As always, I shall present the 'Indian' side to the discussion. In India, the best of the best go to B-school. Of course, when I say 'best of the best', I'm talking in terms of academics. The simple reason for this is that, unlike American or European B-schools, Indian B-schools require stellar academics. The CAT (Indian equivalent of the GMAT) is hyper competitive. People here spend years (yes, I said 'years') studying for it. People who score less than 99 percentile usually do not get calls from any of the IIMs. Therefore, a fantastic quantitative ability is a pre-requisite for an MBA from a top school in India. Also, a large chunk of the entrants at the IIMs come from the IITs. The IITs themselves have a super competitive entrance test called the IIT-JEE. People begin studying for this from the 8th grade itself. The situation is so bad at some places that students go to coaching classes to get into specialized prep centers!

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