How important is an MBA in developing a c-suite career?

Angel J. Burgos

Angel J. Burgos
Executive Director
MBA Programs
Florida International University
vantagepointquoteSkills, analysis, relationships: these are the key components of a successful corporate executive. They are the same ingredients that are at the heart of quality MBA programs like the ones I direct at Florida International University.Using financial skills to think both short-term and long-range is built into most MBA courses. So is working in teams to come up with solutions that will outrun the competition in the real world of employees and customers. Since most of us will encounter a “shark tank” in the real world, it is best to first experience the “bite” and marshal the skills of the sharks in the classroom.

Business requires the rigor of scientific analysis combined with the subtlety and artistry of human relations. MBA students bring to the classroom their own business experiences. They mix their backgrounds with those of their colleagues to attack the growing challenges of a global business environment and present solutions to them in the most effective way.

The capable global business leader is going to have to bridge cultures as well as cross industry boundaries. As Ron Johnson found when he moved from Apple to J.C. Penney, the retail world is a very expensive and unforgiving laboratory for error. And the turnover in the c-suite at Hewlett-Packard has shown that success in one tech company or industry does not automatically translate to another. The effective MBA program replicates the bridges and boundaries—and provides a safe place to make mistakes that might lead to termination in the c-suite. end_vantagepointquote

Juan Carlos Linares
Director
Latin United Community
Housing Association (LUCHA)

Linares

vantagepointquote Business school is a great place to develop and test business ideas, and to fail at them in a safe, constructive environment. This, along with great networking and passion for your work accelerates the drive toward the c-suite.

Case studies and exercises are helpful though not sufficient for the business-school experience. They offer the perspectives of professors, companies, and others that have tried, succeeded, and failed at every level. Of course, you can read these on your own, but the value of  business school lies in the strategic work with classmates, professors, and industry leaders that foster innovation and confidence. My favorite class discussions have focused on leadership and nonprofit endeavors.

Moreover, every individual brings unique qualities to the business school or the workplace, and our Latino experience is no exception. Leverage your distinct cultural background to contribute innovative perspectives in the classroom, and this in turn will give you the tools and confidence to shape your future colleagues’ attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, particularly in the c-suite. Indeed, building relationships with classmates is key as they will be your fellow leaders in business.

Lastly, business school is even more valuable when you have already defined your career passion. Business school will enhance your skills in accounting and finance, and marketing and strategy to name a few fundamentals. But knowing your own mission in life will focus your MBA goals and will provide greater benefit to your career in the long run. My Chicago Booth experience has been invaluable to my career path in these regards. end_vantagepointquote


Mirna Teresa Holton
Managing Director
Regional Development
Marquette University
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vantagepointquoteEarning an MBA continues to be important for advancing into the c-suite, particularly in corporations. While having an MBA does not guarantee success, it has a high value in an increasingly competitive job market. Professional and advanced degrees are also progressively becoming a requirement to advance into executive-level positions in public and nonprofit institutions. The opportunity for MBA holders to develop an executive-level position is clear. Colleges and universities are economic drivers in communities where they are located; while the business model has a vastly different bottom line than corporations, these institutions are in a historical moment of transition.

The conditions within which higher-education institutions are currently operating, together with the rate at which faculty and administrative leaders are expected to retire in five to 10 years creates executive level and c-suite career pathways for ambitious workers who have advanced degrees. A person holding an MBA can capitalize on this convergence of opportunity and need by creatively positioning her experience and specific competencies gained through her graduate education. While top universities will only hire a person with a doctorate as president, smaller and nontraditional colleges will consider a person who has proven success in managing complex organizations and holds a graduate degree. Having an MBA can be highly leveraged for a successful career in higher education and in nonprofit.end_vantagepointquote


Veronica Montalvo
Vice President
Enrollment Management
Post University
PostUniv_Veronica
vantagepointquoteHaving an MBA is certainly no guarantee that you’ll get a seat in the c-suite. But, a strong MBA program can help you develop both the “hard” and the “soft” skills commonly found in today’s successful executives.For most executives, the climb to the top is just as much about their content knowledge and expertise—the “hard” skills—as it is about their “soft” skills. So, choose a program that now only will build your expertise in a particular area, such as finance or marketing, but also hone your ability to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and be creative (commonly known as the four C’s). These softer skills are becoming more and more critical in an age where companies need to continually evolve to respond to changes in consumer needs and the competitive landscape.

You also want to choose a program that is practice-based, so you have an opportunity to immediately apply what you’re learning to real-world business challenges. At The Malcolm Baldrige School of Business Post University, for example, our MBA program is taught by scholar-practitioners, who have terminal degrees and at least 10 years of professional experience in their fields. And our MBA students must also bring at least three to five years of business experience, so discussions move far beyond theory and into practice. These skills, along with the ability to network intelligently and effectively, negotiate successfully, and bring a team together in pursuit of a common goal, are essential for any graduate seeking a c-suite career today. Getting the education you need is always a necessary first step to career advancement.end_vantagepointquote