Before I share my personal experiences allow me to provide you the following factoid. The M.B.A., Masters in Business Administration, is one of the most popular post-secondary degrees in the United States and the world. Professionals from all walks of life and backgrounds are adding this degree to their toolbox to further their business knowledge and hone their skills. Yes, yes I am also aware the MBA allows one to further advance within their professional careers or transcend into a new one. That said I wish to share my MBA “strategy.” Even though this was some years ago it still rings true today.
First off, in my opinion, there are two types of students entering the MBA program. There are students with a business background and others with a technical background. I do not believe either background has an advantage except for the opportunity to take fewer classes with an undergraduate in business. But I would venture to say even individuals with a technical undergraduate focus had to choose various electives within the business curriculum. For me, I was a bit of a hybrid. I completed many science classes but finished with my undergraduate in business. There is much more to this story not worth sharing but please note the completion of my undergraduate degree was a marathon not a sprint.
Being a freshly minted college graduate with about 10 years of work experience I asked myself, “what next?” After all in the field of operations there were all sorts of certifications I could pursue in the areas of manufacturing, quality or supply chain. Many before me pursued these certifications adding various acronyms behind their name and to their resume. I chose the quite the opposite, to further my education and secure a coveted Masters in Business Administration. Now the “why” question.
My belief, the MBA allows the student to gain profound knowledge as a business “generalist” while continuing to pursue an area of specialization within their profession, business or technical. For example, my area of expertise is in Operations. I found the MBA exposed me to advanced concepts in functional areas of business. For example, I do not have to be an expert in Managerial Accounting or Project Management but I should have a working knowledge of these important topics. The MBA provided expertise in both. The end result, more tools in the toolbox! In addition, completing my MBA allowed me to pursue new options. Options that lead to career advancement and greater self-worth!
However, I did not complete a “comfortable” MBA. Let me share my definition of comfortable with an example. Since I had an operations background I could have pursued the comfortable route and completed more yet advanced classes in operations. After all I was an operations expert! But I chose to maximize learning by pursuing various electives that provided me the greatest impact. Areas I had little professional exposure or knowledge.
Therefore, the MBA is not only an advanced degree. It is a venue to continue on the journey to profound knowledge in the area of business. The MBA drives critical thought. Critical thought is the primordial ooze of decision-making! Take stock of your knowledge portfolio and choose classes to benefit the gaps in your knowledge. Complete an assessment; use others for input to craft an MBA plan of action. Use this opportunity to add to your toolbox. Make sure part of your MBA experience is outside your “comfort zone.” I did just that. Make being a “business generalist” an objective. Use the pursuit of an MBA as an opportunity to fill your toolbox. In the long run it will pay dividends!
Related Benedictine Programs
Benedictine’s online MBA provides an environment to apply critical thought against real world situations. To learn more about how Benedictine’s online MBA can expose you to lessons on critical thought and advance your career click here or speak to one of our Program Advisors who can share more with you about the program and curriculum.
About the Author
Pete Papantos is an operations director at a Fortune 500 company. He is responsible for the global execution of their strategic plan and driving operational excellence using lean methods. In addition, Pete is a graduate instructor with emphasis in operations and strategic management — both in traditional and online settings.