January 20th 2020
"Val, it's my dream to study in the United States.
Val, I want to change my industry.
Val, my career has stalled.
Val, I really want to become a Marketing leader at Northwestern Kellogg.
Val, I need to study Finance at UPenn Wharton.
Val, I would like a completely new life opportunity.
Val, I want to have a beer at a pub with my London Business Schools classmates one day."
These are some of the wishes I hear on a daily basis from talented, eager people all over the world looking to change their lives through education. However the main question I get asked is: "What Exactly Will A Top-Flight MBA Do For Me Val?"My answer in a nutshell is it provides you with ACCESS to new opportunities and life experiences that you might not typically have without the advanced educational experience that is the MBA. How so? I break it down below:"
"What Is The MBA And When Was It Founded?" The MBA is short for Master of Business Administration and it is an advanced business degree founded in the United States in the early 20th century that covers all aspects of business/scientifc management and provides a life-changing educational, professional and social experience. In 1908, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, created its Graduate School of Business naming it Harvard Business School and the first 2Year MBA Program was born. At the time of its inception, HBS only accepted 80 students and began pioneering the case method of teaching. These student numbers grew to >1,000 students in no time at all. Soon after, business schools across America began adopting the 2Year MBA framework as the standard mode of graduate business teaching. Today, more than 100 years later, the 2Year MBA remains the Platinum Standard for graduate business education in the United States! And it spread all over the world...
"Is A Top-Flight MBA Prestigious?" Unequivocally YES! The MBA from a top school is a badge of prestige, respect, and advanced educational achievement that opens doors to an unlimited number of opportunities around the world (we cover this below). People want to speak to you when they hear your have an MBA from HBS, Stanford GSB, Wharton, Northwestern Kellogg, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Columbia, London Business School, INSEAD, etc. They will want to hear your opinion on matters of global economics and business. In fact, some people might not remember your name....but they will remember which business school you went to and call you by your school (typical practice here in the States).
"How Long Is The Program?"The MBA is either 2Year or 1Year depending on the business school and location of your choice. In the United States, the MBA is typically a 2Year business model with a summer internship in-between the first and second year. European business schools pioneered the 1Year business model as it catered to their regional needs. Business schools like Northwestern Kellogg in Chicago have added the 1Year MBA format to their menu of options to further cater to global student needs. Whether you do a 2Year MBA or a 1Year MBA is totally up to you :)
"What Do You Study At The MBA?" The sheer breadth of the curriculum at top business schools is mind boggling! To answer this simply, one can study anything they want to at business school by tailoring a curriculum that suits their interests, needs and future career goals! In a 2Year MBA format, students enter the first year and take foundational/core courses in Strategy, Leadership, Finance, Marketing, Management, Accounting, Operations, Information Systems and Ethics. This is the time students get to do a deep-dive into the language of business within various specialities and try to identify which core discipline they like or would like to major/focus in. Students typically take anywhere from 1-3 majors at business school. I personally triple-majored at Northwestern Kellogg's 2Year MBA in Marketing, Finance and Management. In the second year, students undertake their major courses that go toward their final GPA and graduation.
"How Good Are Your Classmates At The MBA?" Your classmates will be the best and the brightest from every industry, every firm and every country in the world- they will all be represented to create the perfect synergy and harmony of the new incoming MBA class of 20XX. Some are Finance specialists from Goldman Sachs, others are Consulting mavericks from McKinsey or Bain, some are Marketing whizzes from Kraft Foods or Proctor & Gamble, others are Non-Profit leaders providing services to the needy globally, and some are Entrepreneurs who run/manage their own businesses. And then there are Army Air-Force Pilots, Actors and TV stars, Musicians and DJs :) Whoever is sitting next to you is talented beyond belief within their world. However, they come to the MBA to expand their world to learn new skills and meet new people- just like YOU!
"How And Where Do You Interact With Your Classmates?" You can interact and bond with new peers in class, group projects and student clubs! This is where you showcase your unique personality and skills and you learn so much from them! You will also interact with them in social settings like MBA social gatherings. Lastly, you will also bond with people over your career choice and attending corporate recruiting events and company visits! You make friends pretty easily as everyone has something to say and share
"Are The Professors Cool?" The Professors at business school are SUPER COOL! Not only are they are all PHDs from renowned programs globally, their job is to teach you new things every single time you see them. Think of it as a Symphony Conductor and the MBA class is the Choir - his/her job is to instruct and facilitate exciting debate and idea generation. I loved all of my Professors- from Marketing to Strategy to Finance to Leadership. If you're lucky enough, you may meet amazing Professors on our study-abroad too!
"Do You Get To Meet Anyone Famous? YES! You get to see/meet Presidents of countries (I saw President Barack Obama speak at Northwestern Kellogg!), current and former CEOs of the biggest companies globally (Jaimie Dimon of JP Morgan, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Indira Noori of PepsiCo, John Cahill of Kraft Foods), the biggest trendsetters in the current market, and celebrities who come to speak on a particular case or subject (sports athletes, musicians, rappers, models).
"Can You Find Career or Life Mentors?" YES! The MBA enables you to connect with people senior individuals who have seen more than you have and can advise you on things provided they like you and are willing to take an invested interest in your future! A mentor might be official (the mentor and mentee acknowledge this relationship) or unofficial (the mentee asks questions along the way and the mentor advises/helps when he/she can). My mentor to this day is my former Managing Director from Lehman Brothers and Harvard Business School MBA - he encouraged me to pursue my MBA one day as he recognized I had that drive that the once had :)
"What About Career Options?"This is arguably the single greatest reason people from all over the world come to business school- for better career options and a better life. I like to categorize people in 2 general categories:
Complete Career Changers - these are people who wish to work in a completely new job and industry from where they were working prior to their MBA. For example, a Consulting Manager at BCG with extensive Consumer Goods experience would like to do their MBA in Marketing and switch to Brand Management at Johnson & Johnson. The overwhelming majority of the MBA class (+60%) are Complete Career Changers. See, the MBA acts as a KEY for you to open new career doors and test them out during your Summer Internship in the 2Year MBA. You can choose from Marketing, to Finance, to Strategy, to General Management, to Accounting, to Information Technology and on and on. It is really quite endless. The biggest companies in the world come to your school to have info-sessions and corporate mingles where you get to see who they are and what they offer! The 2Year MBA is simply fantastic for the Complete Career Changer. Imagine effectively resetting your life and, with the knowledge you have, are able to change your career pathway to anything you want it to be in any country in the world! That is the power of the MBA and the MBA Career Placement Office at top business school :-)
Advancement in Current Firm/Industry - these are people who are looking to study at a prestigious program and return to their prior firm with a promotion and/or a bump in title and salary. Basically, they are looking for advancement within their own world, be it Marketing or Finance or Consulting. Corporate firms typically sponsor such individuals to study and return and the MBA is seen as a new learning ground for them. For such people, the 1Year MBA becomes equally as attractive if not more attractive than the 2Year MBA, as you spend less time and return to work sooner with the promotion! That being said, there were plenty of sponsored consultants in my Northwestern Kellogg 2Year MBA Class from Consulting and Banking firms!
To summarize, the Career options during the MBA is unrivaled! The sheer ACCESS to your own Career Placement Office, Corporate Companies, Corporate Mingles, Company Headquarter Visits, Corporate Challenges (JP Morgan Investment Banking Challenge, Boston Consulting Group Case Competition, etc.), and former alumni who come to campus to recruit their fellow students to represent at their firm! The MBA is incredible for a NEW OPPORTUNITY AND LIFE-CHANGING CAREER EXPERIENCE!
"Do MBA Alumni Really Help You Or Do They Brush You Off?" Yes, MBA Alumni from top business schools ACTUALLY help you as and when they are needed and you reach out to them. MBA Alumni of top schools are very proud of their pedigree and MBA community. They are very likely to give back as much as possible, as the school itself encourages alumni to give back and promote positive reflection and help to all alums. MBA Alumni either help through recruiting current students to their firms to represent or they may help you get a job outside the standard recruiting process. They may even do you a favor if you reach out to them, meet for coffee and request nicely. MBA Alums are generally very giving people and they want to do favors for people as and when they can. Be careful not to ask for the SUN AND THE STARS though haha....these people have busy lives with their career and families so ask within reason :-)
"How Are The International Experiences?" Phenomenal! Every MBA program has a Global Immersion trip to a new city/country with your MBA class and faculty- there are hundreds of random pictures on Facebook and Instagram of such travels! One can even take part in Global Management/Corporate Treks where you may travel with your class to a new city/country and learn about companies and businesses within that city/country- what a fabulous way to learn! Lastly, you can take part in a STUDY ABROAD at a partner business school around the world. I studied at London Business School during my second year at Northwestern Kellogg and it was definitely a highlight to my MBA program :) I got to study with Professor Eli Talmor and Founder of the Private Equity/Venture Capital department at London Business School. I also got to take in the local cultures, cuisines and shows available to me in London :)
To summarize in one word all of the above paragraphs, the MBA grants you ACCESS to opportunities that you may normally might not have nor will ever have in your lifetime. Is there a price tag? Yes! There is no free lunch. But if you are brave enough, ambitious enough, and eager enough for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, then the MBA is for you. It changed my life....it will change yours to!
by Val Misra, MBA
Founder & Managing Consultant @ MBA Accepted