On the back of a number of discussions about careers and people’s interests, I thought I’d put it on here to get some thoughts.
I’ve got a BSc and an MSc and 20 years experience with half of that in some form of management. Yeah, I suppose I am career focussed, mostly from a point of view of proving to myself (and others but mostly me) that I am capable and also wanting as stable/comfortable life as I can because my childhood wasn’t.
So I’ve found myself looking at more studying options. I think the motivation has been a few new colleagues (all middle aged white men - sorry, I know that’s the majority here) coming in at the same level as me and I think to myself that I want to be better than that in the next 10-15 years.
The options I’m looking at are:
An executive MBA - 10 years ago I was anti-MBA because I felt like everyone had one. Now I realise that some of the broader subjects may be of use and I need to diversify my knowledge.
An MA in international relations because it’s a subject that interests me. Not sure if it’ll help my career but it will help in the knowledge diversification I feel I need.
Here’s where you lot come in. I did the MSc part-time but I had a stress-free job, no dependents/“real” responsibilities and it was employer funded, which meant I could focus on it, get it done and it was just part of life. The questions therefore are:
What’s it like studying around a proper job and real life? Am I upsetting an equilibrium that’s not worth it.
An MBA is a scary price, I’ll be funding it myself so is the investment worth it? What’s the views in other industries of MBA grads?
Over to you lot - throw the tomatoes and bring out the pitch forks!
She’s a teacher and this MBA is specifically for people working in education. It’s a 2 year course accredited by a university.
She’s not having to fund it herself - I don’t fully understand but it’s partly centrally funded through something called the Apprenticeship Levy, and part through her school which is an independent school.
Lots of group work (Zoom) and projects. Lots about finance, organisational culture, change management. Essays. Video presentation assignments. I think she was ready to stretch her wings a bit.
She works full time & it looks like hard work on top of that. On the other hand she doesn’t spend 7 or 8 hours per week running up or down hills or on Zwift. Guess everyone has to make their own fun…
She is very organised and just cracks on, so it seesm OK. She’s not distractable and easily led astray like me - I’d have no chance.
What is your aim in doing it? Can you quantify the expected return on your investment? In my wife’s sector this sort of qualification can possibly facilitate the jump to leadership roles. I’d be terrified of anything like that, but again each to their own.
Initial thoughts: make sure you’re doing this for you and yours and living your best life i.e. not to ‘compete’ with anyone else (regardless of their demographic). It sounds to me like you’ve already made a success of your career/life… but then I’m not academically driven these days; it’s adventure that I crave.
A bloke once wrote: “A calm and modest life brings more happiness, than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
I have next to no qualifications, a levels is the top. I looked into an MBA a few years back. My father in law was a vice chancellor of a big uni and big into academic stuff. He said I could get in via the APEL route. They are bloody expensive and I think it matters where you do it. The main thing that put me off was a) it wouldn’t increase my career prospects by much and b) all the networking.
The next step up for me is c suite but that is a level of stress too far for me. An MBA would probably help at that level.
I came to the conclusion that actually if I were going to pay thousands to learn something then it would be for something I enjoy. So in the next couple of years I want to get my private pilots licence.
So guess what I am saying is in agreement with Jorgan, make sure you do it for the right reasons.
My wife did a masters whilst working and we have kids. It was doable, but there was stress and not a lot of down time.
This is a big thing and something I genuinely tussle with on a daily basis. Including having professional help to understand it all. I think a big part of it was having a difficult childhood so I have the attitude of “I’ll show you!” And that means I’m my own worst enemy
I came across many in my years of recruitment who’d done MBAs and they generally fell into 3 categories
Those who do it early on, perhaps post 1st degree, and preferably from a well recognised school, and use this as a lever for a fast track career somewhere. IMHO the best option
Those who do it as part of their career to enhance their job function and maybe also help in moving up the management ladder. A good choice.
Those who think they can apply for jobs once they have one and double their salary. These often have MBAs from unknown colleges, have shown no great progress in their jobs to date and live in cloud cuckoo land. Where MBA means Master of Bugger All.
(there is a small 4th category of those who do it for the sheer hell of having a “full set of medals” - BSc/BA, MSc/MA, PhD, and MBA etc - boring bastards in the main)
If your employer can fund it, go for it; if you have to fund it yourself think long and hard where you want to go in your career and whether having an MBA will actually make an awful lot of difference.
I know what you mean! I’ve done a few professional quals that didn’t take too long time wise and that was enough. Now I’m not Einstein and money isn’t everything, but like many here I suspect, I’m already paying 40% on a chunk of my income and any extra I get…so if anyone in my household wants more career success or money, then they can make those moves
Mrs FP did it a bit tough. She had to go to TAFE for 15mths in Oz to get some make up credits before she could start her mature age degree because UAC didn’t recognise her Korean quals.
So she did that, then did her degree part time whilst working full time at a very demanding job in Oracle Finance. She also chose MacQuarie because in her words ‘they are very tough’ She did 3 modules per semester, which was more than most of the full time students were doing. Then she did her CPA modules mostly here when LO was less than one, then her CIMA exam just as LO turned one.
She still does her 200hrs PD per year but like you, she’s done with exams.
Safe to say, I’m Mr 51% and we are polar opposites.
If you’re funding it yourself, I think the the ROI on an MBA only works if you intend to use it for a change in career direction or it can lift you up into an executive level position. Take your engineering background, add an MBA and move into some sort of a management consultancy or corporate finance role, that sort of thing. The bloke who used to run our oil and gas financing team was a geologist and worked for one of the big oil companies before he did an MBA and got a job in banking.
I don’t know that having an MBA on your CV is necessarily going to get you a much better job as an engineer.
likewise - got my BSc, turned down the chance for a PhD (pissed the Prof off big time!) and decided no more exams and bar a few vocational exams to assist in things I enjoy doing, I have stuck to that.
It’s also one of those never ending things, where you can always have something better. Its about 6 to 7k and minimum 45 hours to get your basic license. But that only let’s you fly single engine prop, with fixed landing gear on visual flight rules. You then need to add all the different ratings. Instrument ratings, retractable landing gears, variable propellers, super charged engines and on and on.
Bit like triathlon really. You can do it on any old bike, but once you’ve done one you’re really going to want a carbon TT bike
I felt the same way when I finished my ICAEW exams in 1996. Apart from a gap year spent working full time for Ford, I’d been doing exams every year since I was 11 and I’d had enough of studying. The training company that we did our studying with wrote to us all congratulating us on our success and suggesting that we might want to consider doing out tax exams now. That went straight in the bin
Not sure I can add anything to what @fatbuddha has said.
Might be difficult to get the ROI on an MBA, but that doesn’t mean don’t do it, if it interests you. The ROI on triathlon is pretty bad afterall. I briefly looked at an MBA a few years ago, the subjects genuinely interest me, but in the end it was too big a commitment in time and money. But I do think a bit of an intellectual challenge tangential to my work would be a good thing.
10 or so years ago work and home life were pretty settled and I needed a new challenge. I ended up doing an evening class qualification in Sport Massage, a bit of anatomy theory, and a ‘free’ massage every week, it was fun. Even got a massage table somewhere, just never followed through with all the Personal Insurance required to actually practice.
I did a HNC in Chemical Engineering a few years ago. Mainly for job security and the company paid for it. Didn’t get on with it though. Struggled to do the studying.
Was given the option to do a degree but declined.
Thanks for the thread it’s interesting to me as I work in Corp Finance but have only a petroleum geology masters to my name. I’ve looked at MBAs and there is no chance they will payback or provide a modest ROI for me. But if they enable a career change or a step into management then maybe they can work out.
With MBAs the quality varies enormously, and big employers will generally only value MBAs from very reputable institutions. Snobby but true IME. They say it’s all about the school.
Any CFAs here? I’m thinking of doing the L1, beyond that it looks irrelevant to my job. But 300 hours study… even if work pays for the materials and exam… and IM Lanza next year. Sleep is overrated right?
This is the crux of it really. I’ve probably come across the same types along the way. I’m an engineer but I’m a manager more these days and my technical abilities have disappeared almost entirely. I respond with common sense for techy questions now rather than actually knowing the detail. But I’ll catch out many a contractor trying to dodge their contract requirements and can challenge costs and schedules with confidence. So it’s fairly evident I’m moving more and more into management rather than the nuts and bolts stuff.
Had a chat with a mate today and I think that reminded me of something - I’m good at learning on the job and I pick things up quickly but the shear terror and stress it fills me with when in the middle of it is probably what’s making me think of studying certain subjects.
I taught myself project and contract management because I was thrown in the deep end and I had to! So now I’m thinking I’ll get ahead of the curve and learn the strategy and corporate stuff instead of being a deer in headlights.
Oh so very true! I am going to be very sure I choose wisely if I do decide to go with it.
In amongst the choices there are also some weird nuances which I find a bit odd. Take uni of manchester for example. They have a “global executive MBA” which is nothing more than a jolly to different parts of the world as far as I can see. It’s a good way for the uni to market themselves outside the UK. Yes, the fees include accommodation but not the travel to the different places. Whereas top-rated Warwick doesn’t go in for gimmicks like that, just concentrated hard work.