Job Doctor: Each Tuesday Darren Robinson answers questions about career development and finding a new position.
Dear Job Doctor,
Do executive MBAs really advance most managers’ careers?
I have asked David Kitzinger, head of executive recruitment and search at Badenoch & Clark, to answer this question. David manages the careers of executives and also holds an MBA:
“Pursuing an MBA program is a huge investment--in time as well as money. Therefore every executive should carefully consider whether an MBA programme will really advance, accelerate or simply facilitate further career steps.
“In most cases an MBA will not enable a manager to progress to a more senior position that he could not have obtained without it. Without doubt, an MBA is great, but it may never substitute for real world experience and track record. It will certainly enhance and polish an executive’s managerial skill set and profile and with that better the chances to climb the career ladder, however, it will by no means guarantee certain career steps.
“Besides the usual questions about the recognition, brand, ranking and specific program focus an executive should ask himself the following questions.
“First, does the industry I am working in really reward an MBA?
“Second, are my current superiors respectively senior management holders of MBAs themselves and thus appreciate and foster them? Will they value and reward me taking the programme?
“Finally, who are my competitors--internally as well as externally? Would an MBA give me, objectively, the necessary edge to come out on top?
“We see in practice that people can succeed without MBA programmes. It provides a huge personal benefit but admittedly at a high cost. There is no way to accurately measure what an MBA degree adds to a person's earning potential or the effects it has on his or her ability to advance into upper management.
“However, if you have answered most of the questions above with ‘yes’, it is very likely that an MBA will be a benefit for you and that in a competitive market it can give you an essential advantage.
“I would like to highlight that MBAs may no longer expect an instant gratification in terms of salaries, perks and positions that are open to them. However, in the long-run an MBA can still offer a very good rate of return.
“In summary, an MBA can provide underlying and theoretical credibility to your practical working experience. It can enhance, but does not replace, your business acumen when thinking about career advancement.”
Darren Robinson is managing director of Badenoch & Clark Luxembourg, the largest staffing and recruitment firm in the Grand Duchy.
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