It took me several years of deliberating before I finally took the plunge and started my Master of Business Administration (MBA) at London Business School. The key question I mostly agonised over was whether it’d be worth the huge investment of my valuable time and of course money. This wasn’t simply the significant number of hours spent doing the MBA itself, but the enormous amount of time required upfront to sit the GMAT and prepare the relevant application for my business school of choice. However, four years after finishing my MBA, I’m pleased to say it was one of the best experiences of my life.
What’s an MBA?
The MBA is a highly distinguished postgraduate qualification that provides an overview of key business practices and is valued by many top employers. Whilst they’re at the same level of education as other Masters courses, MBAs are typically studied after you’ve gained a few years of professional work experience rather than continuing straight on from your undergrad studies.
Why an MBA?
When I was mulling over whether or not to do an MBA, my initial focus was naturally on how quickly I would recover my investment. But once I changed my thinking and also started to explore the non-financial gains, I knew it was right for me. Mostly because of the feeling I got when visiting the business school, hearing professors speak and meeting people. It quickly became apparent that I’d grow positively both professionally and personally so therefore pushed forward with my application.
Why was it so good?
Classmates/ lifelong friendships and connections
My cohort consisted of people from multiple nationalities all of whom with vastly different professional backgrounds and sectoral interests. This not only paved the way for a very rich learning experience, which significantly added to my journey growth, but also resulted in my forming long-lasting friendships and connections with likeminded individuals.
I feel very lucky to have had some amazing and truly inspiring professors. Many of my lectures were truly captivating. My first year consisted of a set schedule but in year two I was able to choose modules of particular interest to me.
It is not just your classmates who will always be happy to give advice, it is all alumni from the school. There is a great culture of reciprocity.
There were many opportunities for travel during my MBA and a minimum of one week-long international assignment. Mine was an organisational behavior project at a listed retailer in Cape Town, South Africa. My fellow students went to Argentina, Russia and other equally exciting countries.
Impact on my career
My MBA has meant I could expand my skillset from the traditional accountancy career path I had followed. It depends on what you want to achieve in your career, but if your aim is to get that promotion, change profession and/or relocate this may be achievable using what you have learnt, the school’s resources and vast network. This might not happen in your first job move after the MBA, but it will certainly help you to achieve your longer-term aspirations.
I even attended Entrepreneurial Summer School (ESS) to tap into and explore the entrepreneurial side of me. At ESS we each took a business idea and explored its viability. The course concludes by presenting to Angel Investors in a mock pitch. This was an invaluable experience, which I’ll always draw from for many years to come.
Positive impact on my life in general
Modules selected during my MBA can also have benefits outside of work. Throughout life there’ll be many opportunities to resort to knowledge you’ve learnt or skillsets you’ve expanded. I took negotiating and bargaining in my second year and have used what I learnt over and over. For example, when negotiating salaries or purchasing a house to name a couple of examples.
Advice if you’re thinking of doing an MBA
- Personally, I only had one preferred business school but I highly recommend MBA open days and/or visiting schools’ open days. You’ll meet current students and may even get to see professors speak.
- Be prepared to make sacrifices as it’s likely your MBA will be all-consuming. Fear not, it’ll be worth it.
- MBAs can come at very different price points with fees ranging between £40,000-£87,900 at some of the most high-profile UK schools. If your preferred school is one of the pricier MBA providers, do not be deterred as there are different ways of financing. This can even include persuading your employer to set up a salary sacrifice scheme (there’s an incentive for them as they’ll pay less national insurance).
- There’s a choice of doing a full-time MBA versus an Executive MBA, which is part-time and will allow you to continue working. The Executive MBA will generally mean that your cohort has more years of work experience and you can apply what you have learnt immediately. However, with the full-time option you’ll have more time to delve deeply into the course content and more precious time to immerse yourself in clubs.
If you do take the leap into the MBA world, be prepared to work hard. However, for all the hard work you’ll undoubtedly be required to do, you’ll have just as much fun. And remember, the rewards will come in many ways, not just financially.
Anna Magee, is a Finance Director/CFO for an insurance company in London