Sunday, March 16, 2014

MBA and the non-amortizable intangible assets

This post may be useful for corporates who are considering doing an international MBA. Maybe not. None of the information below is factual. Just my $.02. I highly recommend not to take this seriously.

Do you need an MBA?

A short version: Do it. Can´t hurt*

Here´s a slightly longer version:

Contrary to what the applications and interviews demand, there is rarely a soul who knows exactly why he/she needs the MBA. An MBA isn´t a PhD in Molecular Biology. It isn´t meant to be. You can be assured of upping your BS skills, adding an extra line on your resume and be part of an eclectic group of people who are comfortable with business jargon. They are the ones who will sync with you to catch a low hanging fruit before close of play, simultaneously avoiding cannibalizing a cash cow. An MBA will neither guarantee that you will turn out to be a much smarter person, nor will it guarantee that you will start a $mn business. However, it guarantees a few opportunities for you to achieve them at some point. The real MBA starts once you´re done with it.

Opinions on the MBA or your choice of location maps itself on a wide range of spectrum. Many relatives feel that my presence in Spain is due to a lack of ability to find myself a way into the United States. ´Oh I´m sorry that you did not get into Amerikkaa. Should I ask my son for help? He is in Chickaako with a double masters´. I promptly tell them how I would love to be in Illinois as opposed to Barcelona and that I envy their son. Never take their glory away! My Dad cannot comprehend why any school would charge close to a 100,000 USD to teach anything. My smart uncle knew it was never about the MBA and keeps hinting to my parents ´He is going to party in Spain and come back to India and join the same company´ My bank in India wants me to prove I do not need the money to do my MBA to lend me some. MBA alumni will speak volumes about finding the ´right school that fits in with your style´. I agree partly to it. But it has a lot to do with liking the place where you´ve been and unable to imagine yourself in any other school, in retrospect. The truth is, you will fit into many schools if not any.

If you try to quantify the value of an MBA with your loan investment and what you end up making afterwards, you´re missing out on a great piece of the pie - People. Apart from being an experience of a lifetime, a long break from monotony, an MBA is an opportunity to meet very interesting people from different walks of life, different stages of their careers and very diverse mindsets. Try putting a value to that. When a bunch of us were comparing what life would have been like if we did an MBA from India, Harshad an MBA colleague, simply said ´We´d all be different people´. It is simply that. An MBA makes you different, largely because of the people you meet. You cannot avoid absorbing the gazillion perspectives being thrown at you. You ignore some but digest some. And these perspectives matter. They matter because they will shape the way you think about a problem and they will shape the way you do business.

The second part of the value is inspiration. Whoever you are, whatever you´ve achieved, you will always find people smarter than you, making you look very very small. And the best part about this - you have a year or two to interact with them, work with them and heck, possibly suck some awesomeness out of them. Nobody minds, really. Working groups in my business school consisting of diverse nationalities with different levels of intellect, experience, cultural nuances and motivation have survived, thus substantiating my claim. You either end up learning patience or help a team mate learn it, depending on the project #winwin

There is obviously more to this ranging from endless parties to working with real companies and traveling to many cool places. One last shot at leading a student life, crazy times and not having to worry about end of quarters and performance reviews. But the point I was trying to stress really, is the opportunity to meet people. Arguably, this is not an easy platform to match if you´re working at a corporate, however diverse the workforce is going to be.

I get a lot of emails from prospective students concerned about news articles on the economy and unemployment. If you´ve decided on not doing your MBA because you think you understand an FT article on how many jobs will exist when you graduate, good luck my friend, you probably don´t need an MBA. There are people who land sweet jobs from a top 50 school and those that find it hard to get into a job from the top 5. The proportions are different yes, but the point is, you can neither ignore the unpredictability, nor can you bank on the seemingly accurate probabilities that different sources give you. My advice would be to look at yourself and see if you need an MBA - need a change from what you have been doing, if you are open to exploring opportunities personally & on the career front, and more importantly, excited about meeting new people and going new places. If your answer is yes, go for it. Everything you get on top of it can only be a bonus. Take that chance. 

If you were seriously expecting this post to help you make a decision, well..

*Conditions apply. Of course.