You have reached a decisive stage in your career, where you know the best way forward is to earn an MBA. You realize, too, that the number of high-quality MBA programmes far exceeds your expectations. With so many excellent choices, you need to step back and try to figure out your personal and professional goals, and where you want to be in five years. Once this internal weighting of factors is completed, you will be in a better position to choose the right MBA programmes to apply to.
Profile Number 1: Staying the Course
Have you ever asked yourself where your career has taken you since you earned your previous degree? You love your job, know the satisfaction of providing a valuable service to your clients and want to add value to the enterprise. Trouble is, you are often left frustrated by the effort, and now want the three gold MBA letters that will indelibly put you into a higher career chain, one that leads to senior roles in the company hierarchy. A part-time MBA in the local market could be the best route for you.
Profile Number 2: Experience Does Count
You are already a middle-level manager, but you want to change your profile. Your connections in the market have indicated that your 10-to-20 years of experience in a good company work in your favour but that you need to add a global dimension to your profile to be considered for a position in the boardroom. Although you would like to move from your company, you cannot take too many risks as you have a wife and family to support. In considering your options, you rule out a full-time MBA programme as you are slightly too experienced and cannot afford to be out of a job for one or two years. You could be the right candidate for an Executive MBA programme with a modular structure and a multi-campus international approach to learning.
Profile Number 3: Switching Functions
A committed and highly respected manager, you want what is best for the organization, the industry and the clients. But at the end of the day, you do not like your job. It seems to have become something you could do blindfolded. Afraid to share your concerns with your supervisor, you have, however, consulted family and friends and have reached the conclusion that an MBA is the vehicle of choice to surmount the impasse. You could start a part-time EMBA programme which you could complete without having to leave the company you love. Or go for a local full-time MBA with your company endorsement.
Profile Number 4: Changing Careers
Let’s assume you have definitely decided to switch careers. In your last job, you have attended company-sponsored training sessions, learned everything you could about the industry you are in, and developed new skill sets. But precisely because of your over-riding ambitions, you now realize that your professional and personal goals no longer correspond to the reality on the ground. You are ready for a big career move, a complete change of company and sector or, in other words. a new life with greater potential. You have passed the point of no-return in your current position. Admissions committees would understand your desire to move out and on with your career. The best choice for you could be a well known full-time MBA programme with an active network of alumni in an international environment.
Profile Number 5: Fast-Moving and Ambitious
A young professional, you want to assume far more responsibilities than is currently on offer at your company, and likewise be rewarded with excellent status reports that promise to put you in line for good promotions and higher paying positions. However, you lack some of the basic management skills required to obtain the confidence of your immediate supervisors. Meanwhile, a recruiter has just informed you that you could get a more senior level position in a multi-national company if you had more management experience. What to do? Quit your job and become a consultant at a big brand-name firm? You could take the long-term approach and start a two-year MBA programme at a global powerhouse where you would acquire the very best business skills money can buy.
Match Your Profile to Your Specific MBA Criteria
In the profiles above, the most appropriate solutions are not necessarily the right choices for you. In considering an MBA programme, you can take into account three-to-four criteria from those listed below and then decide which type of MBA is right for you.
Domestic or international campus: With the growing demand for management education, the number of business schools has grown dramatically in North America, Europe and Asia. As a result, prospective students are taking a far more careful look at the domestic markets vis-à-vis their preferences to establish residency in particular foreign countries. They now have the benefit of choice. For example, if you have already established residency in a foreign country and want to continue working in the same country, you will most likely want to continue your education there. On the other hand, if you want to return to your home country but are living in a foreign country, you will obviously want to apply to b-schools on the domestic front. In this case, your decision is almost no different from someone applying to a full-time MBA programme in a foreign country.
Focused or General: If you are like most candidates, you will go for the general management MBA, which at top business schools will train you the essential business skills. However, many b-schools offer a custom-designed phase in the second half of their programmes in which students can select from a range of specialties. If you already know what your special needs are, you are better positioned to choose b-schools strong in that area. If you want to be an entrepreneur, some general management MBAs have custom-designed phases which may suit you. If you have decided to work in the wine or the aerospace sector, for example, you could do a Specialized MBA in these fields.
Long or Short Programme: Just by opening your diary, you are confronted with a decision as to whether to choose a 12-month or 15-month programme or an 18-month or 24-month programme. “I interviewed at five schools,” said Gudmundur Kristjansson, a student admitted to the Rotterdam School of Management. “Every school has a different flavour. I wanted a school with a 15-month programme because it has the same pace as my consulting job. I was thinking of doing an Executive MBA, but realized that I could do a full-time MBA at a faster pace.”
Full-time or part-time: If you are committed to making a major career change or moving to a different region, the full-time MBA programme could be the most appropriate choice. It requires a complete commitment, but the return on investment could be worth the investment. On the other hand, if you unable to leave your job or field for personal or professional reasons, or if you do not want to commit to an accelerated course load, the part-time MBA programme might be better suited to your profile.
Global or Local Network: An international alumni network is critical if you are a global mover and shaker, but a nationally-based network could be just as critical to someone who is forging a career in a defined market. By talking with graduates before you apply, you are in a better position to know which type of network will suit you.
Ranking or Local Reputation: Many prospective MBA candidates place too much emphasis on the annual rankings. A programme’s global reputation will change over time so your concern should be focused on its long-term viability, the amount of time, money and effort the school invests in building new facilities, expanding its curriculum, attracting top faculty, and forming partnerships with other organizations. If you are more interested in a regional powerhouse, rankings become less of a factor in your decision-making process. Some excellent b-schools are well known in the local market or in their specific field, but not elsewhere. Such schools also charge far less tuition fees since they do not need to pass high branding costs on to their MBA students.
So What’s Next for My Profile?
You should now be able to come up with three or four criteria that match your profile. According to these criteria, you are now ready to start choosing which MBA programmes to apply to. So let’s play the game:
- Profile # 1 Criteria = Part-time, general management MBA with a local campus and a strong local network and local reputation.
- Profile # 2 Criteria = Part-time, modular MBA with an international campus, a strong global network and a solid place in the rankings.
- Profile # 3 Criteria = Full-time, focused MBA; or part-time MBA with a local campus and a strong local network.
- Profile # 4 Criteria = Full-time, general management, short-length MBA with an international campus, a global network and a local reputation.
- Profile # 5 Criteria = Full-time, general management, long-length MBA with an international campus, a global network and a solid place in the rankings.
At the Access MBA Tour events, our experienced consultants can help you find the right MBA programmes that match your profile and criteria.