Friday, January 13, 2006

What do Business graduates need?

I finished my first degree in business and heading into the second degree but still I could not answer this question.

Some students came to the MBA for the prestige of it. They thought, MBA will push them high into the corporate pyramid. Others came to acquire new skills that enable them to compete into the tight Northern American market. A lot of international students left their countries and sacrificed their savings in order to get an International degree and a reputation for their skillset. A lot of them are struggling now to find a new job. They are struggling sometimes more than what they used to be. At one hand, they used to compete into their own field that they knew well and acquired enough skills to work in. Now, they are competing with new others and in another land they do not know much about it.

Very few came to acquire a new mindset and understand the trick of the business. An MBA or another degree in commerce would not enable an engineer or a science student to find his dream career because he/she has a new degree. An MBA was designed to enhance the understanding of business for de-facto managers and evolved to become the corporate standard of excellence. However, having too many excellent MBA lately devaluated the MBA value :(


Sahag Mahrejian said...

Hello Bilal,
Raising these points surely do ring a few notes. MBA still needs to be either reinforced for the non-business-background-comers or otherwise restructured to include much more. It surely is not standing out alone so well in my opinion.

Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Thanks for your input Sahag. Surely we need much more than the hype that MBA got during the past decade.

Most MBA programs are still missing one keystone objective. They do not give non-commerce students an intro to let them understand the business world. Any new student will struggle to grasp the new mind-set.

MBA program designers should understand their clients and accomodate the program based on the future expectations of the market. Generic MBA program is loosing value at the moment because of the shrinking market in the west. Employers do not look for fresh MBAs to give them luxurious seats in top management circles. However, most of the official training is preparing low-experience students to handle top strategic tasks.

In JMSB, the program is improving slowly but it still needs higher level of support and commitment from the school side:
* Networking with the business world
* Better career advising
* Real technical courses (Accouting, Finance..)
* Wider choice of electives
* MBA professors (not anything available)

Anonymous said...

1) Although MBA programs recruit non-business background students, it is assumed that such students come with a substantial work experince. For example someone coming from IT backgound, will invariably have some exposure to consultancy and project management.
2) An MBA program cannot make a manager. It just teaches you the basic business skills. You always start from the bottom and work your way up through continuously proving yourself. it always takes time, either before or after MBA :)
3) People do not get job mostly due to bad economy.

Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Greetings Anonymous,
I did not say that an MBA program should build managers. I just said that the programs do not have clear objectives for each set of students.

MBA were doing much better when the programs used to host experienced professionals. However, it became a fad lately and accepted a high number of non-experienced fresh graduates. This is what I did not like to happen in our MBA program in JMSB and unfortunately it is coming because of the decreasing volume of applicants.

I was taught in my strategy class that a strong business can survive a bad economy and I beleive that a strong business mind set is mandatory in a bad economy.

I do not know if MBA programs taught the secrets of overcoming bad economies but this is what people are expecting.

As a mentioned first,bad luck, Verily, for any MBA candidate who is coming into this highly competitive field in order to find a job that could not realize it in her/his old career path.

Nada said...

Sorry to see such a gloomy view of the MBA education. It is not the Holy Grail that some may have had illusions about, but it is still very useful.

I also, like most, did not enter the MBA program with a commerce background and wanted to have up-to-date business viewpoints and skills so that I could perform well in a management capacity in the business world. Having done a BSc, I was used to and am naturally inclined to analysis which turns out to be so critical in business performance. However, all the various factors that come into play for a business (HR issues, accounting and financial analysis, marketing principles and trends, operational analysis, strategicg analysis...) were very valuable for me to study in the MBA, in order to better understand the complexities of the business world. I now feel much better prepared for management or entrepreneurship than I did after a few years work experience without any business education. I am not sure how useful this degree is for a commerce person, however.

I think what you get out of the MBA depends a lot on what you expect and work for. The expectations of education delivery should be realistic given your starting point and the quality of the program itself. The work and effort you put in should be enough to get the most out of what is being delivered to you.

No one said that it would guarantee a top job, which depends on many factors as we all know, although that is what all us MBA grads hope for. We are each responsible on investigating and having realistic expectations and adjusting our expectations as we keep scanning the environment. And, yes, sometimes life throws in some nasty curves, such as a slump in the economy, oversupply of MBAs, competitiveness in the business world which drives companies to hire for the cheapest they can, etc...

As for the question of foreign students feeling let down when faced with a difficult job market...think of the lack of much social support available today and complete lack of job alignement with qualifications immigrants faced when coming to Canada after WW1, as my parents did. Think also of the lack of good jobs for the many qualified, very experienced professionals who have been downsized in the last few years and who have lived here all their lives and have paid taxes here all their working years as well. Finally, think about the supply and demand situation. It often goes with the local economy's strength and direction.

I don't believe there is any rose garden in a competitive world and one must do the best they can with what they have and sometimes push to get their dues.

Ahmed said...

As a Software Engineer to be, i have come to realise the importance of business in everyday life, and general engineering work.

One can not simply rely on scientific know how to be ahead, there are millions of people all striving for the same thing.

So the next logical step is to understand how the business works and be able to become more than a worker. You don't have to open your own company, but your manager will appreciate you much more if you know what it means to sell and manage.

And in that sens, i believe that an MBA is no different than Computer Science. For a few years, people have been going into computer science for no other reason than to get a job once they graduate. But once in, they failed to distinguish themselves, and hence ended up jobless. The same is currently happening in MBA programs i believe.

Its important to keep in mind that a piece of paper is meaningless, its what you do while getting your diploma that makes your future.

Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Dear Nada,
Thanks for your input. I really appreciate it. This is a very important point that coming into MBA does not ensure you a managerial job. You need a managerial mindset in order to compete and prove yourself.

However, as most new students are just following the fad, I think MBA programs should try to clarify this and highlight the importance of hard work in order to delve into the business world and read read read read.

I still remember Mr. Rossin comments that "One has to sweat to get".

MBA can be a real u-turn for talented people who know what they are doing and what they need after the MBA but it might be another degree or just a piece of paper for others like Ahmad said.

Let us cooperate to build a better MBA program at JMSB.

Bilal Abdul Kader said...

Dear Ahmed,
I totally agree with you. The objective should not be a piece of paper and some financial formulas to memorize.

The target is to know the secrets of this world and learn the skills that enable someone to master his career and prove his ability to lead.

Coming from a Computer Engineering background, I suggest to you to try an elective course at the MBA program if you are at the graduate level now. If not, try any soft skills course at the bachelor of commerce level. It really adds a lot of value to one's career path.

Slave of Allah said...

MBA or any grad study these days is like the undergrad study 10 years ago ...

Idont think we are learning from the MBA the way we should ...

I feel sorry for what MBA had become especially in lebanon ...