The importance of an MBA for your career

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Forget the classic bamboccioni. Achieving qualified training is a key component for those who want to succeed in the business world and aspire to management positions.

Have you always wanted to attend a degree course at Harvard or Bocconi? A good dose of luck must never be lacking: that is certain. But deciding to enrol in an MBA Master course is undoubtedly a winning choice to ensure a promising working career.

First of all, it is essential to find the right MBA master to enroll in. Scale study programs, teachers, internship opportunities, costs and many other parameters to consider for the best choice.

More than 8 years have passed since the beginning of the financial crisis that has hit global markets and many claim that the worst is over, but never as in this period in our country we know that the years of financial volatility have contributed greatly to the stagnation of the labor market.

More and more often than not, millions of graduates are being told: âyou are unskilledâ, âyou have little experience to work for usâ. According to the Financial Times study, those who have attended a Master in Business Administration after three years can earn up to 180 thousand dollars in 12 months.

Why an MBA?

A Master in Business Administration is the ideal forge where tomorrow’s leaders are trained, a post-graduate degree necessary for those who aspire to obtain high positions in world companies and are in search of excellence. Subscribing to an MBA is an interesting business card for all those who seek to enter the largest companies in the world.

The profile of an aspiring business man must be able to provide a global perspective on different issues, experience critical and analytical thinking in solving different problems, have specific knowledge in the field of technology, finance and entrepreneurship.

The ranking and benefits of an MBA

To analyse all the business schools in the world, you could take a look at the Global MBA Rankings, where Harvard continues to be at the top of the list.

66% of MBA graduates say they have earned a better job or have been able to make a career faster thanks to their studies. This and other trends have been identified in a global voluntary survey of Advent Group in which over 2000 students (prospects, current and already with MBA) from over 24 countries of the world have participated. The study, called “Trends in International Postgraduate Business Education” aims to distinguish between expectations and reality by asking the same questions to candidates and students on the one hand and graduates on the other.

Preferred job opportunities include Marketing and business consultancy for those who are able to hold a leadership position and have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Why attend an MBA Master Executive?

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It is a major investment, in terms of time spent on study and finances invested. However, attending a Master Executive is still a profitable investment, opening the door to career advancement and the resulting economic benefits. Especially when the business school that provides it enjoys a well-established reputation in the eyes of certification bodies and companies.

However, career and salary improvements are not the only motivations that can push a professional towards an EMBA.

In a mini cycle of two posts we will try to analyze them in more detail, also through the testimonies of those who attended: this week with Paolo Starace, CEO and Managing Director of DAF Vehicles.

Improved career and economic prospects

If after 2 years a professional career still seems open to every perspective and rethink, once the threshold of 8 years of experience has been exceeded, it is natural – not to say fundamental – to draw conclusions. Determine where you arrived and where you aspire to arrive. Make an inventory of the tools and skills you have to reach the goal.

This is where the master executive comes into play. Given in hand, it is an additional weapon that can bring out a curriculum and offer real career opportunities. According to MIP data, the business school of Politecnico di Milano, on average within two years of the conclusion of an Executive MBA:

80% of graduates get to take on roles of greater managerial responsibility
40% of these have access to management positions
20% hold management positions in the international arena
15% become CEO

This figure was also confirmed from an economic point of view by the Washington Post which, reporting the figures of the executive MBA Council, noted a 23% salary increase at the end of the master’s degree, and a reduction in the payback period from 23 to 17 months, for an average value of about 60,000 dollars.

A 360-degree view of your business

In the introductory video Paolo Starace describes, with an effective metaphor of the library, another important value of a master executive: offering the right tools for analysis of his market. Managers are called upon to act with an increasingly “macro” perspective, grasp the dynamics of a company as a whole and decide accordingly, in a tight timeframe.

In order to do this, the experience acquired in the company is fundamental, but not always sufficient. Daily work offers very specific technical skills, allows you to move with skill in your own field, yet does not necessarily guarantee a 360-degree view. The risk becomes that of making wrong decisions, or decisions conditioned by one’s own mental models.

What is the difference between an MBA Master and a Master in Management (MIM)?

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Can programmes such as the Master in Management (MiM) be considered as an alternative to an MBA Master? What is the difference between a MiM Program and an MBA? Certainly MiM and Master MBA have common characteristics – both are post-graduate programs – but they differ in many respects. Here are the main ones:

What is the Master in Management?

1. Student age Management Masters (MIM and MBA)
MiM programmes usually do not require professional experience, although they are open to young people with work experience of up to one year. As a result, students of a MiM are generally much younger than full-time MBA Master students. In some schools, the average age is 23 years (from 20 to 27 years), compared to the average age of the students of an MBA Master, between 27 and 32 years.


2. Professional experience
Consistently, the professional experience of MiM students does not play an important role during the course of studies, while an MBA Master programme draws much from previous work experience, especially during class participation. In summary, MiM Master programs are designed for talented young people during the beginning of their professional experience, immediately after graduation or after one year of work experience.


3. Entry fees
MiM programs are cheaper than MBA programs in terms of tuition fees. While the most expensive MBA programs in Europe – offered by LBS – are around 60,000 euros, MiM programs cost on average half. This is probably due to the different target group: young people who have not yet been able to earn and save money on the side of the MiM Masters, and experienced professionals or the willingness to occupy leadership roles on the side of the MBA Masters.


4. MBA Master and Master in Management (MIM): Curriculum
As regards the curriculum, there are also overlaps between the MiM and MBA programmes. Both offer general management courses, group work, business cases, and a general practical approach. The traditional MiM course Master, however, focuses more on the theoretical approach than an MBA. A MiM student may encounter subjects that require strong mathematical bases or analytical skills and the final thesis may be oriented to the world of research. On the contrary, an MBA programme places more emphasis on the practical part. For example, in an MBA Master programme a student might be required to have a practical application of EVA (Economic Value Added, (c) Stern Stewart) rather than its theoretical formulation. In addition, instead of a final dissertation, the student may be asked for a real-world consulting project and so on to demonstrate what they have learned during their course of study.


5. MBA Master and Master in Management (MIM): Eligibility criteria
With regard to admission criteria, business schools for MBA programs prefer the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) rating and professional experience, without attaching too much importance to the academic training of candidates. About a third of MiM’s programmes, however, require a degree in administration or economics.

What business schools should teach

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On his blog on bplans, Tim Barry launched an interesting debate on the role that business schools play (and should/could play) in the development of entrepreneurship.

A series of rather interesting posts are following each other.

I summarize a couple of them in which Tim Barry lists 5 basic lessons that business schools can teach and 5 other lessons that they should teach, but which present a number of difficulties, for which one wonders if a classroom is the right place to give them.

Here are the lists. The 5 basic lessons that business schools can teach

Cash flow

The concept of cash flow is critical but not intuitive. Learning it in class is better than learning it in the field.

Business planning

Creating a business plan is a good way to see a business in its articulation, complexity, completeness. And also to teach it, this articulation. However, this does not necessarily mean that we are confronted with extremely complex models.

Business fundamentals

The role of fundamentals should not be underestimated: strategy, marketing, data collection, finance, analytical thinking. With the focus on teaching how to translate concepts into numbers and vice versa.

Communication skills

Both in writing and in front of the public, the importance of the ability to convey one’s ideas is often underestimated.


Good business education should also teach what to not believe, and why. The 5 lessons that business schools do not teach.

What to do with people

The question is: can people really be taught empathy?
Is it really possible to learn how a person feels while sitting in front of you?
What’s Right and What’s Wrong

Ethical issues have become an overriding theme in the debate, and often in business school programs as well. But it is so difficult to reconcile the different visions, the different social and political constraints, the different meanings of the word ethics that it is difficult to think that translating all this into teaching.

Living a lifetime

Is it possible to think that business schools teach not only the passion and enthusiasm to start a new business initiative, but also the ability to prioritize professional issues over the development of a rewarding private life?

Manage risk

Not from a technical point of view. This is what most business schools do.
Rather, the ability not to take risks whose consequences you are unable to manage.

When to persist and when to give up

One of the most difficult things to evaluate, from an entrepreneurial and start-up point of view, is to what extent to remain faithful to a business plan and when, instead, the time comes to make substantial changes and seek alternatives.

This is a difficult issue to translate into templates valid for all occasions. It is a matter of educating a sensibility to the changes of scenario, to the generation of alternatives, and not to fall in love too much (but not even too little) with one’s own plans.

The future of MBAs

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In October 2008, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Harvard Business School, the Global Business Summit was held, where entrepreneurs, managers and academics discussed a number of topics in discussion sessions.

One of the topics discussed had to do with the future of Business Education, and in particular the Masters of Business Administration.

David A. Garvin and Srikant M. Datar moderated the meeting.

The analyses and conclusions generated by the research and the debate seemed very interesting and provocative to me.

Here is a summary:

Traditional MBAs (which in the US, unlike in Europe, generally take place over two academic years) are in decline.
It should be noted that the data analyzed were prior to the economic crisis, which, at least in Italy, seems to have given a boost to the MBA market. The general considerations, however, looking beyond the contingencies of recent months, seem to me to be valid:

There is a pressure from the market to reduce the time needed: the duration of MBAs is moving towards the formula of an academic year, in which, however, 80% of the number of classroom hours that had previously been spread over two years is reduced.

Only the top international business schools offer two-year full time MBAs.

full time MBAs are seen more as career switchers than career accelerators. The opposite applies to part-time MBAs.

More and more, MBA programs are offered not with generalist programs, but with clearly defined specializations (MBA in supply chain management, finance, etc.).

Part of the decline in MBAs is due to the fact that they are no longer perceived as relevant factors for career advancement.

This perception should be an opportunity to reinvent the MBA experience.

The reasons for this decline are.

Homogenization of programs: very similar programs and texts are adopted in most business schools
Training perceived as overly academic and with little impact on daily practice.

In particular, recruiters and pupils feel that more emphasis should be placed on practical topics and skills such as.


Although of particular importance, leadership is not sufficiently addressed because teaching it is not easy and requires highly personalised programmes. The flattening of hierarchies requires re-focusing on this topic.


It is mainly focused on the ability to do business with people of different cultures.

Ability to communicate / present ideas.

Ability to perform problem-setting in an ambiguous environment, in situations where there is a lack of information or information overload.

Self-awareness: Future leaders also need to know how to be reflective and introspective, and MBAs do not develop these skills.

MBA: continued discussion

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This post on the future of the Master of Business Administration has provoked some debate, especially about a group of Linkedins. Many interesting considerations have emerged (some decidedly provocative), which seem to me to deserve an articulated response (and a further place of discussion).

I will try to summarise a few opinions and then add a few notes of my own.


The “administrative” approach of MBAs has resulted in managers with a short-term vision, who do not have (or do not want to have) the ability to build value in the long term.

Business schools have often sacrificed quality (in content and candidate selection) to the profit generated by MBAs.

In Italy, the MBA diploma is often more an obstacle to a career than a springboard, given that there is no clear perception of what an MBA can offer and what kind of value the company can derive from it.

There is no structural link between the world of business and business schools to create courses that truly serve young managers and companies.

We should follow the indications that come to us from overseas and reshap our MBAs on the meta-competences and soft skills that in the future, especially for us Europeans, will make the difference between growth and slow decline.

You should open a discussion on the real mechanisms of career advancement (maybe we talk about it on this blog). Career planning and networking are two preconditions for dealing productively with an MBA. Often those who sign up for an MBA do so with the simplistic attitude of those who think of buying a ticket for their career. Complexity requires much more, and those who persistently want to simplify phenomena cannot be successful.

My thought (which in many ways follows what has already been said):

The lack of manager skills that I often encounter has nothing to do with content, but rather with meta-components (let us call them âstructuresâ).

For this reason, I agree with those who say that soft skills should weigh heavily in an MBA path, as should those disciplines that allow us to acquire the keys to understanding complexity.

Moreover, I believe that this has more to do with the qualifications of the subjects being taught than with the teaching method. Even in organizational behavior or personal development you can reason about contents (I call them “recipes”) or “structures” (I call it “strategic vision”).

In the first case, hypersimplification is a direct consequence.

The risk for those who think in terms of structures is to provide maps that are too complex to allow knowledge to be transformed into a tool for action. The real added value that a teacher can bring, beyond the models adopted and the schools of reference, is based on this balance.