Do I need an MBA?

Let’s start at the beginning. Do you need an MBA?

Do you want to work in the US? If so, you probably do need one. US companies (and their foreign subsidiaries) look far more favourably on those with an MBA. Yes, it’s two years out of work, but it was described to me as “having a rocket up your ass” for the rest of your career. On the other hand, European companies in Europe are a little snotty about it. One director at a large company that shall remain nameless said “the MBA is not very trendy”. Admittedly he was a dick, but it’s a common feeling on this side of the pond.

Do you have a rubbish university grade / GPA? If you do, getting an MBA from a great school goes a long way to mitigate that. It proves to any employer that you’re not a bum, and you can work your ass off when required.

Are you a career switcher? If so, it’s a great idea to get a rounded business education. It’s hard to go from being a tech gimp into management – you can prove you’re clever, but you can’t prove that you know anything about marketing or finance. If you have a business background already, consider that two years of business experience could be more valuable for what you want to do.

If you answered no to all of these questions, get your ass back to work. Feel smug in the knowledge that while all those MBAs are paying out a disgusting sum of money, you’re earning it.






4 responses to “Do I need an MBA?”

  1. Donald

    What if you have a JD? I’m interested in switching careers to go into Marketing and I am not sure if it’s necessary to have an MBA for this (I am getting a Certificate in Marketing to get the basics down). If I did an MBA it would be in Finance but I wouldn’t work finance because I like marketing anyway. I’ve seen people with JDs go into marketing and a whole plethora of other things and excel by the mere reason that they have a law background, no MBA needed.

  2. I suspect that it’s not necessary for a JD to get an MBA to excel, but it helps. I’m stabbing in the dark, as I have a tech rather than law background.

    I do know a bunch of JD/MBAs at Kellogg – they’re better placed to give you an opinion on this. If you’d like me to put you in touch, let me know – just pop another comment here.

  3. Mani

    Thanks for a concise and informative blog. Sorry to be using this space asking for your advice instead of providing my comments.

    In the terminology I came across in one of the books that gives an overview of the MBA application process, I am considered an older applicant. I am 32 years old engineering professional with 8+ years of experience in the field of mechanical engineering. I have MS in Mechanical Engineering and have worked in different companies in various roles which mostly have been very technical but have given me some flavor of technical marketing, consulting and product strategy. At this point in my career I am interested in pursuing full time MBA mainly to accelerate my career growth. One of the programs that I think will be the right fit for me is the MMM program at Kellogg. Also the MBA programs offered at Columbia, MIT and LBS are of interest to me. I looked at the class profiles at these schools and it is true that my age makes me fall outside the 80% class size age range and justifies my classification as an older applicant. This is of concern to me and it really would be useful if you could provide some insight into the following:
    1. Percentage of older students (mid-thirties age group) enrolled in the MBA/MMM program at Kellogg.
    2. I will be 36 when I graduate if I get admitted to the class of 2012. How much of a disadvantage will my age be during the recruitment process?
    3. Typically what percentage of the students in mid-thirties at Kellogg do not return to their pre-MBA employers or embark on careers different from pre-MBA?

    Any other suggestions that you can provide will help.


  4. Munawar Jamal

    Dear Shahid,

    When I started my search for an MBA School, I came accross your blog. I need a few suggestions and would appreciate if you could reply to my email address.



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