Breaking the MBA myth

I was having a chat with a friend of mine who is about half way done with his MBA. I was asking him about the course and how he is doing, so he said, “for me now the MBA myth is broken” and I was like, “what do you mean?” to which he explained that, “everyone mostly pretends to know stuff when they are really just copying information from Google” (his words, not mine!). This set me thinking and I will share with you what I discussed with him.

To be honest, when you are surrounded by people who are all doing the same thing in the same way and you have not hit any real life experience of doing business, one can be pardoned to think that is all there is to it – copy stuff from somewhere, not go deep enough and present it as if you owned the data pretending to know everything there is to know about it. But, like I told him, if one steps back, we can see that the more complex the things get the harder it is to tell between someone who is just “speaking” their way through vs. “doing” the right things. It is the same case with business – strategy, marketing, finance, consulting, are all complex domains in their own right and unlike in engineering where if one does not code/do something properly, it shows up easily, here it might take ages to understand the “rightness” of a decision as the “wrongness” of it and the over-emphasis on “luck”factor  in the media doesn’t help either. It all boils down to decision-making in highly ambiguous situations and requires a lot of skill than just “copying and pasting” information.

I was reading a book called “Alternative Schooling in India” and a particular sentence there really caught my attention. It said that the real test of education is if it teaches you to stand your ground when everyone is doing wrong, to have the courage to stand up and fight for something if you believe it is the right thing to do, to stand apart when everyone is rushing to follow each other…and I can’t but help compare this with what my friend was feeling about the “myth being broken”.

What do you think, is MBA a myth?

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12 Responses to “Breaking the MBA myth”


  1. 1 vivek krishna April 8, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Nice post Sreeja! One of the things I find useful post MBA is the exposure to basic economics.. marketing models etc may change with the day and fads but some things like Econ101 can help you think differently..at least for someone like me who was a techie before.

    • 2 sree April 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm

      Thanks Vivek. I agree, for me it was the perspective that the sessions set, the kind of people I met that are the greatest takeaways.

  2. 3 Aryan's Mom April 8, 2010 at 9:49 am

    A very good thought provoking post.

    Well, as your freind said, it may be true. But for any course, it is within us how much we want to be dedicated and how much we want to learn from it. I have no expereince, but I guess if we can strike a balance between submitting assignments/projects with commitment/dedication and submitting them by copying (for those areas where our interest level is low), then to some extend we can complete the course successfully.

    Again the sentence that you quoted in the end is the apt fruit of the whole education, which will always come handy in any real life scenarios.

    • 4 sree April 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks Aryan’s Mom. Striking a balance is important and so is not forgetting why you went to do the course in the first place. In a one year MBA program like ISB, at the end of the day priorities were all that mattered. As no one person can compare and tell you what will be best for you, it is up to you to find out, chose and live it. That, in itself, is a very important lesson.

  3. 5 Devil April 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Excellent post. I agree with your friend that MBA is a myth.
    Infact I shall put it one step further and say everything is a myth unless you are cut out for it.

    Greatest research in life is to find out what you really want to do and MBA or any other A is just a mode of transportation that will get you there.

    • 6 sree April 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

      Thanks. Can’t agree more with your point of “greatest research in life..”, very true indeed. In fact, when you spend time, money and effort and sign up for such higher education programs it becomes ever more evident that you need to know what you are trying to get out of it. Else, its all a myth!

  4. 7 4th idiot April 8, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Good post Shreeja! but I have a question. You also have done MBA. So you also agree with the copying and pasting skill during MBA?

    You hold a good position in your company and if you agree that it couldn’t have been possible without your MBA degree, then doesn’t it strengthen the MBA myth?

    • 8 sree April 22, 2010 at 11:40 pm

      Dear 4th idiot. The point I was trying to make was that “One should not consider MBA to be a myth just because you see people copy-pasting around you”. The reality check here is that “why did you want to do the MBA in the first place”, “what do you want to take away from it” and what I was saying from my experience is that “perspective”, “learning to make intelligent choices in a time-constrained environment” and “being comfortable with not knowing everything” are solid takeaways. An MBA is far from a myth and like people before you have commented – it depends on “what you are looking for” in the first place.

  5. 9 Anoop April 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    MBA and Phd were 2 higher education options which I could never convince myself of taking up, I believe with all due respects towards talented MBA graduates from top B-schools, most of them are simply overvalued, I cannot understand the rationale behind high pay for a top B-school graduate even though he/she lacks experience relevent to the industry.I may be wrong but many companies follow different salary norms according to university reputation.
    I disagree when someone claims that an MBA graduate from a top B-school is a finished article in business and can make decisions which may add real value to the company!. I believe its nothing but a Myth.. I always believed that vision is the most important thing for an individual for a successful career, if one knows exactly the purpose then the rest is simple, richest businessmen never had MBA/MS or Phd’s, they may be considered as gateways to success stories, that said success itself is a very relative term.

    • 10 sree April 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm

      Anoop,

      Like I mentioned in the post – it is very difficult to separate the “grain” from the “chaff” at the level of complexity that is present in business-level decision making. I’m not claiming that a person from a business school comes out as a finished article, what I said was it is where one is driving towards and it is not an easy drive, it is complex, requires a ton of skills and is a high risk job (especially if someone puts their neck out to do something different) – people get paid to put their necks out man, the rest of the success/failure stories get out there anyway, right!

      • 11 Shoeb June 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm

        To me doing MBA sets one apart from others is in Thinking. Yes I agree before entering into this fields, you should know yourself very well and what you are looking for. Don’t expect miracle to happen after completing the course, how you apply the knowledge in MBA to the real work problem is ultimately decide your success. Don’t just MBA for the sake of degree or because of high salary, first understand yourself whether this kind of position sutis your personality or not. Do thorough research from your end before taking a final decision.

      • 12 sree July 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

        I agree Shoeb. It is in the thinking process and decision making capability that an MBA brings a lot of value to the table. You are also right in pointing out that one should check for strengths and personality alignment. Probably, it will also help to realize that no matter what you do, if you do it well and with a lot of passion success and fame will follow. So, what are you waiting for? Discover what is within you before you jump on the bandwagon that others are jumping on!


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