My Déjà Vu MBA experience yesterday …

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So, yesterday (Wednesday September 2, 2009) I was on a flight from Hamburg to Frankfurt am Main, and I was reading the Financial Times (paper version).  On pages 16-17, Companies and Markets section, three news stories caught my eye (all on the same double-spread page), as well as a further story on page 14:

  • “Skype set to carve a future of its own” (page 16)
  • “Marvel’s illusive ‘Ike’ is a key character” (page 16)
  • “Boeing shakes up Dreamliner team leadership” (page 17)
  • “Bankruptcy blow for SkyEurope” (page 14)

Apart from appearing in the same newspaper on the same day, these stories appear to have little connection. Except, for me they do.

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MBAs – What do you get for your money? Hints and tips to make the most of an MBA

iStock_000001616993XSmallI recently blogged on whether I thought my MBA was worth doing (considering the time, cost and opportunity cost investment (here: ‘A reflection on MBA programs – was it worth it?’).  That was very much a personal reflection on my own MBA.

I have also been thinking about MBA costs in a more generic manner, in particular about what it is that you actually get for your money – I’ve structured these thoughts into two levels: (i) what you actually receive, as a student, and (ii) the other costs of providing an MBA program.  Clearly there is a connection between these two categories, but the thought approach is slightly different.

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7 things that could define the core of an ‘alternative’ MBA

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Both during, and since my MBA there is a topic that has been eating away at me – was there anything missing, or could the experience have been improved by the inclusion of other study topics? Don’t get me wrong, I thought my MBA was excellent, but I’m always looking to see how things might be further improved.

Most MBAs deliver a mixture of core material (finance, economics, accounting, strategy, etc.) and electives (optional topics that are either more niche or are perhaps addressed in greater detail, often relating to a topic that the school is known for being strong at). The elective topics nevertheless tend to revolve around academic content/theory, with case studies to provide a bridge to reality.

Could other topics, which are perhaps not considered as classical MBA topics, be useful additions to an MBA?

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Should MBA programs share blame for the adverse economic development?

[or looking at it differently, can future MBA programs protect us from the economic turmoil that we are now suffering?]

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The majority of my MBA was undertaken during booming economic times, however with a constant uncertainty hanging over our heads at that time: “What do global trade imbalances mean?”.

Now, in the midst of a global economic crisis numerous commentators are asking the question “Did MBA programs develop greedy managers, who put growth ahead of stability?”, or variants on this theme.  Global trade imbalances still exist (with no clearer insight into how these will be resolved), but discussion of these seems to be parked while we work our way out of the recession.

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10 hints and tips before starting an MBA

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I wrote these tips to a friend before he started the same MBA that I was about to finish – they are thoughts that came to mind, which I doubt would have been at the front of my thoughts when I started the program (at least with less clarity/focus).

Hopefully my reflections on the program will help or be of interest, but you should of course form your own opinions also.

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A reflection on MBA programs – was it worth it?

It is now almost two years since I completed my MBA (Duke Goethe Executive MBA).  The program itself lasted 22 months and covered the usual standard courses (finance, marketing, strategy, operations, etc.) and certain optional ‘electives’ (in my case including electives addressing risk, entrepreneurship, private equity, and negotiations).

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I am often asked the question “Was it worth the investment?”  Usually this question refers to the direct cost of doing the MBA (the price paid to the University for the tuition).  There are however other investments made (eg, opportunity cost of time invested, and ancillary costs of accommodation, travel, etc.) that need also to be considered, but are usually covered by the same answers to the question.

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