July 16, 2012
“When you interview recent MBA graduates about the highlights of their two years, you are very likely to hear about their experience doing case work in the field. They loved the social aspects of school and were inspired by their professors, but it is often the work they did practicing what they learned in the real world where they gained the most.”
- Aaron Hurst, President and Founder, Taproot Foundation
I am one of those MBA graduates Aaron Hurst is talking about. Experiential learning is a topic near and dear to me and one I’ve visited on this blog many times before (post links 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). The HuffPost article I quoted above is a tad thin, but the sentiment is well-received.
Pedagogically, I know for certain that experiential learning initiatives can pack a semester’s worth of education into a couple of weeks. What I found most intriguing and hopeful about Mr. Hurst’s article is the idea that companies are possibly venturing into such initiatives as a way to train their employees. Mr. Hurst goes onto say that employees are hungry for work that “feeds their souls and not just their wallets.” Reaping soulful benefit from doing good works is no revelatory notion, but for companies to seek out projects to help mission-driven organizations as an avenue to boost employee skill is fantastic.
In my experience with both student and professional Net Impact chapters, it is the sole responsibility of the individual to decide to participate in and seek out opportunities to drive positive change through pro bono work. Wanting to do this is much more common than actually doing it. Moreover, keeping such a fire stoked and bright considering how demanding a work/life balance already is… well, it’s tough.
Thus, to imagine a world in which companies not only see the value in putting their employees to work outside of the organization, but also incorporate these initiatives into the fabric of organizational culture is a wonderful dream indeed. The logistics of such a program are tremendous and complex. I anticipate a robust report on the cost/benefit of a training curriculum like this would be as requisite as it is daunting, and the organizational champion behind the prospectus may well need to have pit-bull DNA. Still, the Taproot founder does offer mild evidence of success:
“A few leading companies like HP and Capital One have been able to follow the lead of MBA programs and created in-house pro bono programs to develop their employees while giving them an outlet for their desire to create community impact. They have seen powerful early results.”
Do you work for either of these companies or any other company that is spearheading similar opportunities? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.
June 23, 2012
I left business school with an MBA, focused inspiration, and a business plan meant to harness it. After the Waxman-Markey bill passed through the House, I anticipated impending emissions regulations and the formalization of a domestic commodities market that would help put US businesses on a path of accelerated reduction, heightened efficiency, and increased global competitiveness. Just how a regulated carbon market would look and operate on US soil was open for speculation, but the winds finally seemed to be shifting toward a future that used market forces to reign in carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions rather than a system that left it to the clearly failing Invisible Hand.
In the end, I was short on three critical resources every entrepreneur must have to succeed: timing, team, and money. Although my effort was a failure, aspects of my plan still excite me. One was the clientele I was interested in serving: small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). As I learned more and more about sustainability, ideas to mitigate environmental degradation, initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and the heated debates that surrounded these issues, what became very clear to me is that SMEs had no seat at the table, no voice, and no one was talking to them. Despite their invaluable and lauded role in the US economy, discussions of a new industrial future were solely between big business, big government, and big money.
Healthcare reform destroyed any momentum the American Clean Energy and Security Act may have had upon arriving in the Senate. And after the relentless flood of blank stares and I-don’t-cares revealed the folly of my start-up, I walked away from that sea of inaction—my head low and shaking. However, a recent HuffPost article has caused a flood of memories, questions, and, dare I say, hope?
Especially in big election years like this one, everyone and their sister has an opinion on what is destroying and/or holding back the US economy. A favorite scapegoat is environmental regulation a la the EPA. If the green chains that bind our companies are not loosened or better yet removed entirely, the towed and tired line goes, then we will never be able to get out of the economic mess we find ourselves in nor compete globally if by chance or miracle we do. This is nonsense, and it turns out 70% of small business owners agree despite some vehement efforts to wag the dog.
For a wound-licking, slightly more guarded (pessimistic?) sustainability champion like me, the following quote from an interviewee in this HuffPost article is pure music:
““Boosting energy-efficiency standards in the United States wouldn’t thwart growth for small businesses like mine — it would enhance it,” he said. “Encouraging manufacturing businesses to refine their processes by becoming cleaner and more energy-efficient would put us on the way to becoming part of a more competitive global economy.” ”1
What do you think? As a future or current business school student, where do stand on regulation and the green economy?
Life is not all about money. Money helps, no doubt about it, but chasing a paycheck is a hollow existence that someday catches up with everybody. Well, most people anyway. In fact, some research shows that increasing extrinsic rewards (e.g., monetary compensation) will actually decrease the intrinsic reward one derives from work they truly like. It turns out, counter-intuitively, money can actually make you hate a job you used to like, or at least breed indifference to it.
Still, those of us that do the work required to take the GMAT, complete lengthy applications, go to graduate school and earn an MBA degree expect to be compensated for not only the significant sacrifice such laurels require, but also what that piece of parchment is supposed to stand for: a high degree of professionalism, competence, work ethic, leadership, intelligence, dedication, and aptitude for success. This is not about an irrational or immature sense of entitlement; this is about working hard to do what society says is valued and will be rewarded, then never seeing the fruits of that labor. At least not in the brimming cornucopia some anticipate.
Look, everyone deserves a living wage for the work they do as well as the confidence that that wage will augment as they put more effort into building their value as professional members of society. The reality of what the labor market can bear tells a more anemic tale—for most. In a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek article titled MBA Pay: Peering Into the Future, author Louis Lavelle discusses the results of new research on MBA compensation.
Since 2008, the starting salary average for MBAs has remained stagnant at $90,000 per annum. For most Americans—including this one—an annual salary at that level is nothing anyone should complain about. But the point is taken that a four-year plateau is not inspiring. The article moves beyond immediate post-commencement reimbursement to some new research that asks the question, “What is the MBA’s value over the course of a degree holder’s career?” Rough economic times aside—is this thing really worth it (monetarily)?
The study produced by PayScale has its limitations and is in no way definitive or all together representative of what an MBA aspirant can expect. However, it does reveal generally impressive numbers for MBA degree holders over the span of 20 years of earnings. The study also makes one point very clear, however, about the earning potential of alums from Top 10 institutions and all the rest. In short, the better the school’s reputation, the more that degree is potentially worth to the holder
Is it surprising that a Harvard or Wharton MBA will likely result in more earned income than one from the University of Buffalo or Georgia? Of course not. What is concerning, though, is that the gap between the starting and earned wages of degree holders from top institutions and their lesser-ranked competitors is widening. Simple supply/demand market economics may be all that’s needed to understand why this is happening.
In a previous blog post I wrote about what The Economist describes as a “business school shakeout.” It does not take reams of data to prove what we all know: MBAs are a dime a dozen and oversupply results in price dilution. A pedigree from a top tier program turns out to be an excellent buoy If you can get yourself into one and afford tuition, go for it. Otherwise, maintain the positive attitude and relentless drive that has gotten you this far and prove once and for all the old adage:
There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
June 5, 2012
No one can deny that Steve Jobs changed everything. His vision and leadership of Apple, Inc. shifted the course of history and the future that precedes it. While Jobs’ success at the helm of this lauded tech company cannot be understated, he did have certain idiosyncrasies and character traits that some may have wanted to change. For example, APPL investors would have liked a few more conversation with him over the years; something Steve Jobs was notoriously uninterested in. This lack of accessibility, however, is not a trademark of Jobs’ successor, Tim Cook.
As described in a recent Fortune article, Mr. Cook is continuing one of his past duties as COO—that of being an ear and voice to high value investors—on into his current role as CEO of the staggeringly wealthy tech company. Accessibility is just one of the colors within the new picture more clearly emerging as Cook closes in on his one year mark in the captain’s chair. And, in the end, an uptick of $140 billion in market cap since Cook ascended has a lot to say about the effectiveness of his leadership.
Tim Cook was hired fourteen years ago for his operational expertise and unique ability to mend broken systems. An impressive tenure as COO solidified Cook’s skills in identifying and rectifying Apple’s operations. Yet, the changes at apple over the last ten months might lay bare the constraints Cook perceived when he was not the company’s No. 1. “In general, Apple has become slightly more open and considerably more corporate.”1
Of course, such words of current portraiture will leave many diehard Mac-folk clenching their jaws and hugging their stomachs. Any threat to engineering creativity might be seen as the pebble that could bring down Goliath or at least the spice that could spoil the soup. Yet Tim Cook appears steadfast in his decisions without any sign of relenting and every indication he will deepen his mark on the company. One characteristic of this mark may be heartening to both MBA holders and aspirants interested in joining the ranks of the tech juggernaught.
From the Fortune article:
“Steve Jobs basically ran M&A for Apple. Today[Adrian] Perica heads a department with three corporate-development professionals under him and a staff supporting them, so that Apple can work on three deals simultaneously. Indeed, the vibe, in the words of a former employee, is of an Apple that is becoming “far more traditional,” meaning more MBAs, more process, and more structure. (In point of fact, 2,153 Apple employees reference the term “MBA” in their LinkedIn profiles out of a nonretail workforce of nearly 28,000. More than half the employees who reference “MBA” have been at Apple less than two years.)”
Though the implication of such a shift in the HR decisions at Apple will not have much of an impact on the overall job numbers for MBAs, it is nice to see your name in the press along-side that of a Pharaoh. What’s more, any nerve rattling that the prospect of more MBAs on the company payroll may engender is arguably misplaced. A graduate degree in business does not preclude one from being cut from the cloth characteristic of the company culture Steve Jobs so brilliantly created.
So…Anyone out there planning to take Tim Cook up on his offer?
March 29, 2012
By: Mona Abdel-Halim
If you’ve considered working in another country, now might not be a bad time to do so, particularly with today’s job market still looking dismal for young professionals. In fact, over the past five years or so, the rate at which Americans are leaving the U.S. has risen sharply. The number of expatriate Americans in 2011 was around 4 million, and the number continues to rise.
Plus, these opportunities to experience new cultures and gain unique work experience will certainly set you apart from your peers in the future.
Check out these reasons to consider heading overseas for your career:
New career opportunities. Whether you currently have a job or are searching for something new, heading overseas is a great way to open up new doors for your professional life. For instance, if you’re already employed, it’s possible that you’ll meet new people within your current organization who could be influential on your future career, and you also might be up for more promotional opportunities because you’re able to stand out more in your new environment.
See the world. As a young professional or recent graduate, it’s likely that you aren’t tied down by a family life just yet. It’s quite difficult to choose to work overseas when you’re concerned with uprooting a family, so if you’re interested in traveling and working abroad, now is a great time to discover new places and people.
Save money. Tax rates and cost of living in many countries is lower than in the U.S., so even if you’re earning less than you would here, you’ll be able to have more disposable income and savings in the end.
Gain independence. Step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve moved back home after graduation, cut the cord from Mom and Dad. You’ll be happy to learn that many expatriate work scenarios provide housing or an allowance, making it even more intriguing to work in another country.
Learn new languages. The exposure to a new culture and other languages is priceless. It’s also a great resume booster and talking point during future career opportunities. You might even become fluent in another language during your experience!
Have you spent time working or living overseas? What has it done for your career?
January 22, 2012
I don’t read Forbes magazine with any regularity. If there is a copy in the dentist’s office, then I might pick it up and look at the cover, but will rarely be enticed to actually open it and read an article. However, as is becoming ever more apparent, the age of print media is ceding tremendous ground to its virtual counterparts. As proof, I come across an interesting Forbes article online with some notable frequency. Here’s the latest eye catcher:
“The MBA Megabucks CEOs” has a title I just couldn’t pass up. Maybe it was the timing—GMACs’ 2012 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report was recently released and in it we learned a couple things about remuneration trends with MBA degree holders. Anyway, it reads almost like an article out of People; full of straw-man evidence and blanket statements that get folks comparing themselves to others in useless ways. Still, that kind of thing is entertaining, no?
As it turns out, forty out of the 100 best paid CEOs in America during 2011 hold an MBA degree. The article also gets into some patterns among the world’s ultra-rich and, interestingly, that list contains a bunch of people that dropped out of school.
So to answer the question in the article’s title: Sure, it could. But we knew that already. While the promise (or better-than-average chance) of seeing a return on our investment in graduate education is an important factor in our decision to go, I hope it is not the only factor you are considering. Don’t get an MBA just to get a bigger paycheck. Have more purpose than that. As sentimental as it may sound, I hope you pursue an advanced degree mainly out of a desire to become a better person. That way, if you do end up with the Big Stack, you’ll do some good with it.
January 16, 2012
“I want to see MBAs who can jump in and make decisions, not jump in and learn to make decisions.”
– Henry Kravis, co-founder, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
If you haven’t already, at some point during your MBA you’ll catch wind of the case study controversy. Well, controversy might be a tad hyperbolic, but there is definitely a strong contingent that derides their use and usefulness in training effective managers. Columbia Business School entered the fray in 2008, not to add more verbal fuel to the fire, but rather offer an actual solution, or, at minimum, an alternative.
Led by Columbia’s dean, R. Glenn Hubbard, the institution devised an approach which utilizes a “decision brief” rather than the traditional case study. Unlike a case study, decision briefs provide limited information from which students must make a decision. Only after their decision is made do students receive the rest of the information. This information packet includes the reasoning and results of the decision as it was actually made in the real-world instance from which the brief was drawn. Then, students may endeavor to compare and contrast their efforts and final call with reality.
The decision brief approach was launched in the summer of 2008 and Columbia’s CaseWorks initiative continues to crank out new offerings. Keep your eyes peeled for these decision briefs in your eventual curriculum and decide for yourself which teaching technique is more effective in creating the types of MBAs Mr. Kravis refers to in the opening quote of this post.
January 7, 2012
In a recent post, I brought you some welcome news about the 2012 job outlook for MBA hires. Well, good news is a wonderful thing in such an economic climate and WSJ’s MarketWatch threw together some interesting bullet points from GMAC’s report you might want to peruse.
With 2011 behind us and so many of you clamoring to get the GMAT out of the way before the test change in June 2012, it’s sometimes hard to lift up our heads and have a look at what happens after this whole grad school thing is over. Well, now is a good time to do just that ‘cause it sure looks like roses.
December 20, 2011
Business school applications are downand have been for awhile. The speculation as to why centers on ROI and the fear that after two-plus years and an exorbitant amount of money in tuition fees as well as possible lost wages, people don’t want to have a freshly-minted MBA no one cares about. However, in a 2011 year-end poll compiled and published by GMAC (and written up in Business Week), the job market outlook for MBAs in 2012 is very promising.
Some of the heartening data from the recruiters’ survey includes a 16% increase in companies planning to hire MBAs (up from 58% in 2011 to 74% in 2012). Further, not only are more companies planning to hire, but also they intend to hire at similar or increased levels than in 2011. Another welcome bit of news for those interested in the return on their investment is 32% of companies plan to increase salaries for MBA hires.
“There is a sense that the demand for business talent is competitive, not just in the sense of students competing for jobs, but in terms of employers who want to secure the quality talent they are looking for,” said Michelle Sparkman Renz, GMAC’s director of research communications, at a press conference today.1
December 8, 2011
This is an interesting WSJ editorial. In a state of officially declared 9% domestic unemployment and others stating it’s more like 16-22% in real terms (including those who are underemployed and/or not otherwise measured through formal channels), it is hard to believe that more than half of US companies report difficulties in filling open positions. How can that be? With so many out of work, one would assume that the only employment trouble besetting US companies would be creating open positions. Heck, isn’t that what all the partisan bickering is about?
It has been said that our schools are under-preparing our workforce. But, the author of “Why companies aren’t getting the employees they need?” blames, well, the companies. Peter Capelli posits that it is the inflexibility of companies to accept anything less than a mythic “perfect fit” on top of those organizations’ unwillingness to train people as the true causes of recruitment and selection trouble.
I would be surprised if anyone out there has not felt the catch-22 of landing a job: you can’t get a job without experience, but you need a job to get experience. Who hasn’t known in their guts that they could and would out-perform the expectations of a desired position, while simultaneously knowing full well that no hiring manager will ever take the risk to find out if it’s true?
What’s the answer? People need jobs and companies need to hire. How do we fix the mismatch?