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July 27, 2007


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Sounds like your boss is scared of something: either you will leave, or you will stay...

Is your goal the $100K mark? Do you think you will get there without it? If so, how long before you get there?

Does it have to be that MBA program?

Honestly, $34.5K for EVERYTHING seems fairly inexpensive. Will they not help you out at all, or is it that they will not help to the level that you would like?

Most employers have a education policy, have you checked your employer's policy? Perhaps it is something that he will have little control over.

Check your options and find something that works for you. If you cannot find something that you are comfortable with, then you are either not ready for it (internally) or it isn't important enough to you.

If the guy's boss isn't interested in paying for his education, he's going to HAVE to leave that company to get a raise. They clearly don't value it. But since an MBA isn't really all that hard to get, there's no guarantee that another employer is going to be able to bump him up into the 6-figure range either. Unless he's already CLOSE to moving into executive management then the MBA probably won't push him over the edge. If he wants to move up, both the career ladder and in salary, he has to be prepared to leave his current job/responsibilities behind. He can't remain a project manager and expect to get 6-figures for an MBA. He'll have to move into program/executive management.

In short, he needs to find out if his lack of an MBA right now is holding him back.

Company is a business, and they are interested in keeping cost low and revenue up. Salary is an expense to the company and obviously the company would like to keep it low.

That's the general rule. However, if you could turn this around and say "Increase my salary by 10%, and I can bring in 20% return for the company", it'd be an attractive deal for the business owner.

I hope the MBA program can mold the students to think like a business owner. When you can prove that you can bring in lots of business to the company, whether you are asking for 100k or above, it would be easier to justify to the business owner or manager.

Check out GMAC's website for a research report on the value of an MBA in general. I would post a link, but they are disallowed in the comments.

As for your specific situation, you will more than likely need to switch jobs to gain the most benefit from your MBA. A lot of companies won't give large raises for the same job even if you have an MBA. You will need to find a job that requires or prefers an MBA so you get the most bang for your buck.

Any degree, be it undergraduate, graduate, professional is only one part of the equation. How you sell/market yourself (in terms of benefits to your boss / future employer) is critical.

MBA or not, we look for your skills in communication, leading by example and working as a change agent.

Don't get me wrong, I am not putting down an MBA (I have 2 graduate degrees myself) but I am always surprised by applicants who do not see the bigger picture. As a COO, I want to know what you can do for me!

Some thoughts for you to explore: Will the MBA program have a specialty concentration? Does it support your growth up a career ladder? Did you highlight the return on investment for your boss, e.g., With this MBA I can do the following for you?

Just some food for thought. I wish you luck and much success!


Some say there has to be an ROI associted with the degree. Well I disagree. In the days of loyalty by the employer I would have said yes. But in todays market, I just think you make yourself a more marketable commodity. You just don't know what the future holds.

Obviously the expectation is that you will grow.

As for your boss, If you are willing to commit to 3 years after you complete the program, i believe it is fair assuming they are picking up 100% of the tab. That puts you there for 6 full years. Commit to 2 years for 75% and 1 year for 50%. It's simple negotiation.

The big question is "What do you want to do when you grow up?" An MBA teaches you to manage your time, work with people, see the big picture of a company. If you want to work for a company that works in a competitive market (potentially a competitive, stressful job), then go for an MBA.

Don't do an MBA just for the pay increase. While the payoff will eventually make it worthwhile, a stressful job isn't always worth the compensation.

I am doubtful it would be much value at your stage, and probably none with your current employer, so unless they are paying for it, I would think twice. After you have completed it, you will just be compared to a lot of new young graduates but one that would want a much higher starting salary. That is a no go for many potential employers and I don't suppose you want to return to entry level. Do you want to start a business or turn a hobby into one? Make a sideline into your main career? You could learn and earn much more doing so. On the other hand, if you don't mind spending the money and would enjoy it, you might want to even without a monetary payoff.

A better solution might be to transfer to different areas in the firm such as sales and marketing to learn the entire business. You might find yourself more valuable elsewhere.

In you present career path, does the job that you want next require/prefer an MBA?

In my company, I'd say that above a certain level in the management structure, an MBA is certainly preferred and most people without them have been around for a while. This means that to get a good chance of having getting into these roles you need an MBA.

If that's the case in your career path, then you need an MBA. If you want to switch to a more operations focussed role you might need an MBA. On the other hand, if the people filling the roles you want don't have MBAs, then perhaps you don't need one either.

Slightly off topic here but 20 years earlier I also hoped to get an MBA. My path through life did not work that way, I never studied the MBA career path. Though I am now rather high up in the legal profession, I still am drawn more to the world of business than law. In my present corporate position I am attempting to more strategically align my job functions to the business goals of my company. Since I am not in a small company, nor do I speak the MBA lingo as readily, it is not easy.

So my question is what books or materials would any of you MBAs or Brian (the COO) suggest? In other words what if this question poster and I wanted to essentially study the MBA career path outside of the degreed world. Is there anything out there that can give one MBA-like knowledge for those of us who cannot afford the costs or time associated with more formal degreed continuing education?

Interesting dilemma, which I can't help that much on, I gave up that four-letter word "job* a long time back. But here's my thought on the MBA itself: The price you mentioned is indeed cheap. What's the reputation of the school, though? Is it even worth the cheap price? You can just "get a degree" at even cheaper sources ... to what point?

No degree will "bump you into six figures". What you learn from the program might. I would get 5 or 10 reference graduate names from the school and talk to those grads myself ... their personal experience will tell you much more about the true value than any of us can.

I think the MBA program you mention is a waste of your most valuable resources: time and money, in that order.

The general rule is that you either do a top tier MBA or you don't do one at all. Which school to pick depends on what you are looking for: Harvard for general management, Wharton for finance, Stanford for innovation, and so on.

Also, an European MBA from IMD or Insead can reduce opportunity cost as it only takes 1 (very intense) year to complete. These institutions require more work experience, which you have.

Good luck.

It all depends on what you want to achieve with your MBA. Agreed that an MBA will give you an edge over others. As it was pointed out by one individual in the comments, dont do it just for getting a rise. You need to remember that doing an MBA requires a lot of effort and of course will be expensive. If you really think that your experiene coupled with an MBA will boost your career chances, then go ahead.

There is no general rule that you do a MBA at a top tier management school. It all depends on how capable you are and what your financial resources are.

As it was pointd out, doing an MBA in Europe saves you a lot of time and money as most of the MBA's on Europe are 1 year in duration. But they are very intensive. I can vouch for it because i did my MBA in the UK. I actually did 2 MBA's and i know how tough they are.

All the best.

I just wish that my BA in English grossed half of what your degree in geography is paying you. No suggestions, toyed with the idea but need to stay on my path of debt elimination. Good luck.

Brian --

Actually, only self-promoting links are disallowed. if you have a useful link to help advance the conversation, I'd love to see it.

BTW, by self-promoting links I mean the kind that go "Hey, I just wrote about this on my blog. Check it out at (link.)"

I am in the same boat. I want to go back for my MBA, but the thought of taking on 40k of debt and two years of earnings scares the heck out of me. I would either look for a cheaper program or don't do one at all..just my two cents

I'm also comtemplating MBA and basically came to three reasons for doing it: Learning, Networking, Changing Careers. Money is not one of these.

Also, only do it if you're planning to get one from top 20 schools.

"PJ's" comment above is absurd. Only get an MBA from a top tier school? That's the most garbage advice I have ever heard. In actuality, if you calculate the ROI for the top tier schools (Wharton, Stanford, HBS, etc) you will find that it is LOWER than schools outside of the top ten (top ten schools cost considerably more, and hence it takes longer to earn enough in salary to pay back all of that "education prestige" which costs in excess of $100,000). Sure, many attendees of the top ten schools will ultimately go on to make 7 figures. BUT MOST WON'T. It's a fact. Get the education for the sake of the education. You will meet interesting people attending whichever school you ultimately choose, and you will be forced into being exposed to things you otherwise would not. Do it for yourself. Money will follow.

I agree 100% with concordius. Do it for the education and not for the prestige and money. After all, a high percentage of MBA programs have the same or similar courses. And he is right, those schools are very expensive.

I'm nearly done with my MBA, only have my dissertation to complete and I now truely believe that anyone in business should have an MBA. It opens a whole world of knowledge that (for me at least) didn't exist before. You must however research very carefully who you get your MBA through - it is vital that it is a recognised institution or you really will be wasting your money. It is expensive but it is an investment in yourself, can't really go wrong with that.
to reply to Scott - read everything you can on strategy. have loads of great books on Strategy and you won't go wrong! Bear in mind that most people can't afford to study an MBA full time and do so part time, which means that you are going through a great deal of the work load on your own in any case.

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