It’s often asked: How do you know if someone has an MBA? To which the answer is: They tell you. For many the MBA is a lifeline to a better future – but is it really worth investing all that time and money in an MBA in the 21st century?
JFP: For some people it’s undoubtedly about getting ‘the badge’, but whether or not it’s worth getting depends on what you want to achieve.
But at the better business schools, it’s about developing skills that help us build better businesses, and here, to help us build a better Africa.
CS: Unfortunately, some people think that just because they’ve completed their MBA, they can just walk into a six-figure salary position, but you’ve still got to use the attitude, skills and learning that you’ve acquired to market yourself, and show that you are the candidate they want. It’s not just going to fall into your lap.
BW: If you treat it as just a badge, you are doomed to failure. There are many MBA graduates who have gone into top jobs but failed because they may be good at the academic stuff, but they fell short when it came to the real work.
CS: Exactly, but it’s interesting that there’s been a huge shift towards people who are taking their MBA with a view to becoming an entrepreneur, and our research in 2013 showed that 54% of MBA students had this ambition.
JFP: Growth these days comes from our own intellectual capital, our own creative interview thinking, so for us to deliver value, we have to show people how to become imaginative, not just analytical. The creative industries are growing six times faster than the average, so we have to stimulate those… and it’s more fun! So we now have an MBA for the Music and Creative Industries. A good MBA makes you argue and challenge, and make complicated decisions in difficult situations.
A good MBA is applied and assignment driven, rather than purely academic, so they’ve already practised before they graduate. A classic MBA is purely academic.
JFP: I completely agree with Colette, and one of the things we’ve introduced is a flexible, family-friendly MBA, which involves the partners from the start. We don’t want to be a machine that turns out ruthless Type A leaders, but people who can create organisations of human beings.
People can’t think creatively if they are under stress.
BW: There will be an economic impact, and it has to be paid for, whether it leads to professional advancement or a more fulfilling life. How can we achieve the balance?
JFP: Often an MBA is a turning point in people’s lives. Some people judge it on how much more they earn, but we also see it in terms of allowing people to release their capabilities and giving them the courage and confidence to learn in different ways. Good business schools drive people to want to learn, learn to grow.
CS: And to add to that, MBAs are for any person of any age who has the selfawareness and courage to develop in the areas that they are lacking. That’s the kind of person I would hire.
This is an interpretative report of the discussion rather than a verbatim transcript from the video.