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I often reflect on whether it is has been worthwhile studying for MBA. My opinion is a resounding no.

I spent three years studying for MBA whilst I was a middle manager in public sector desperate to get a director level post. The feedback I used to get from my failed interviews was that I did not have a wider exposure to business for a senior level post. There is so much more to business than accountancy.

I paid a heavy price for gaining a MBA. This was the amount of my out of work time taken up in reading, completing assignments and examinations. This time could have been far better used gaining life experience. When I was young I did not fully appreciate the importance of time.

I think experience in business is far more valuable than a post graduate qualification particularly if you have your own business. It was all very well learning about how other organisations have handled problems and how they could have been dealt with far more effectively. Hindsight is 20 20.

I do not think you really learn till you are faced with the situation and have to deal with it. Furthermore, each situation is unique you just cannot apply what you have learnt in a unique situation.

I did get my senior level post at a price that on reflection was just not worthwhile.

Reading widely on business and gaining life experience is far more valuable than an expensive MBA. 


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03rd Dec 2012 00:33

Case studies

I think that is why case studies are so worthwhile. If you work on problems and discuss solutions then after the MBA you would have a lot of experience - I accept it's not as realistic as learning on the job but the quantity of case studies is greater than in real life. I don't think studying the theory of management is as useful for practical application.

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03rd Dec 2012 10:20

Don't waste time on regrets

Whatever you have done in the past, there are always some positives to come out of it. If you hadn't done the MBA you would always have wondered if you should have.

We all make mistakes and use bad judgement at times, but even bad mistakes can be beneficial if you learn from them, so don't waste time looking backwards. We can't change history, but we can look to change the future.

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03rd Dec 2012 13:34

In the words of a famous boy band

You can look back but don't stare!


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07th Dec 2012 09:34

Very interesting topic (for me !)

I am in a similar position that you were in - I am a middle manager in the private sector desperate to get a director level post !

Over the past few years I have contemplated studying for an MBA as I thought that this would provide the "passport" to the role that I want.  However, the time commitment and the financial commitment (up to £25k) required have put me off (I have also come to the conclusion that my procrastination is further evidence that this may not be for me - as if I really wanted to do it, then I would just do it and not look for excuses).

I agree with Shirley in that you would have wondered either way - like myself, I think if I had done an MBA 3 years ago would I be an FD now ?

I also agree with Peter in that you have probably gained more as part of your studies than you give yourself credit for.  I also agree with the case studies - it is preferable to be actually involved in these issues but it is not always possible.  You will therefore gain more by studying 20 case studies as part of a group than being involved in one or two actual live work issues.

I also looked at correspondence / part time MBA courses, but then I spoke with somebody who said that it is better to study full time and fully emerse yourself into the subject and course rather than just use it as a means to an end (ie. just "get" an MBA and automatically get a great job) which I think I was doing.

Just out of interest, can I ask a few questions :

- How did you study (eg correspondence, day/block release) ?

-Can you give the name of the University / provider ?

-What was the cost of the course?

-What commitment was required in terms of time / hours per week ?

-Did you work in groups with other students or was it self study (i.e. more book learning than practical) ?


You also mention that you got your desired job, but at a price - can you give more details ?

Maybe I am over-thinking things myself, but I am also ambitious and am looking for a step up, but I also want to maintain some work-life balance.

If getting my desired FD role means that I have to work 15 hours a day 7 days a week then I cannot see this making me happy (Ps - I am not afraid of hard work - I usually work approx 50 hours a week), but I want to enjoy my job which will be part of who I am and not define me as just who I am (I hope that this makes sense !).


It would be interesting to hear your thoughts.


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08th Dec 2012 15:13

B Roberts

Thank you for reading my blog and your comments. On the questions you raised:

Study - I looked at various UK MBA course providers. One that really suited me was the Open University MBA. I found the course material to be excellent. It was the best material I have come across in my studies. 

The course was made up of a combination of face to face time with other students, reading and online discussions. 

If you would like to take up MBA my recommendation is Open University. It has got all the approval badges to give it credibility - Triple Accredited

This link provides the costs

The key point I missed in my blog is that in employment MBA opened doors for me. Potential employers could see that I was serious about my career.  Also I found the senior management selection process easier since through studying  HR as part of MBA I just knew why they were doing what they were doing.

I ended up with much wider role than FD which was what I wanted. HR, reception, Finance, IT and data management all come under my wing.   I had five middle managers and about 60 staff in my directorate. I was really surprised to end up with this role.  

If you intend to remain an employee and would like to progress in your career, than MBA is option to consider seriously. My study time was about 15 hours a week. I found this heavy going with a demanding job that required working long hours.

I would not advise you to study MBA full time. Give up a year's salary plus MBA fees! With OU the assignments are geared around work so that would not work.

If you intend to work for yourself, than study your business and do not waste your time on MBA. You do not have to prove to yourself that you are capable. 

Good luck!  


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10th Dec 2012 09:45

Thanks form your reply and links.

I did consider the OU.  When looking at course providers and the type of courses, I figured that if I was going to go down the "correspondence" route as this seems the mosts flexible option then the OU would be the best as they have been doing it the longest and it is what they are renowned for.

My concern was the lack of interaction with lecturers and other students and also I was worried that I would be able to maintain my motivation over 3 - 5 years whereas if I had to attend classes on certain days etc. then that is booked in and fixed.

Thanks again for your comments.

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