Absolutely. Particularly according to those employers who have completed one themselves.

When asked the question, ‘what course should I do for professional development’, almost all roads lead back to an MBA, or postgraduate study in a relevant field.

Although an MBA qualification is more common than ever, there is no doubt that these three letters can make a difference to your employability, particularly if your employer has experienced the benefits of completing an MBA themselves. It is often these executives who are the greatest advocates of the program.

…there is no doubt that these three letters can make a difference to your employability…

No matter which side of the fence you sit on, favouring life experience or education, we see time and time again the influence it can have on a career. Particularly, for mid-level managers wanting to take on a senior management role and, for c-suite candidates even when their experience, achievements, and motivations are an ideal fit.

Studying for an MBA or another postgraduate qualification says to an employer ‘I’m committed to my professional development’ but keep in mind, not all qualifications are considered equal in the eyes of employers.  Many variables contribute to the weighting of one program over, which can see personal experiences and biases unintentionally factored into decision making.

‘Study says to an employer – I’m committed to my professional development’

In recent years there has been a growing trend among executives choosing to go above and beyond, to stretch themselves by taking on an MBA abroad. While any MBA requires a significant commitment of time and effort, completing an MBA abroad full time is an altogether different proposition that doesn’t go unnoticed by employers – putting a career on hold for one or two years, uprooting the family, leaving your comfort zone, immersing yourself in another culture.

Timing is also key. Although a significant number of undergraduates go on to postgraduate level studies immediately after graduation, an MBA that follows several years in the workforce is arguably more valuable.  Employers recognise that MBAs are most effective when they build on professional experiences and the extended business networks of fellow students.

But if an MBA or Masters isn’t an option available to you, consider other options that show a commitment to professional development such as short courses that support similar outcomes to position yourself for that next career move.

 

What executives say

There are many personal and professional reasons for studying an MBA that we regularly hear executive candidates speak about.  But in the end, the benefits do come down to how you use it.  Here are the top three:

Enhanced professional credentials – for many executives, particularly those from a specialist field such as engineering rather than general management, an MBA can ‘connect the dots’ and smooth the way to stepping into a senior management role
Skills development – there are some that argue business schools are struggling to remain relevant but what we’re hearing is the key skills that MBAs are recognised for are universal and transcend change – problem-solving, analytical and critical thinking, and increasingly in a ‘hands’ on learning format
Networks for life – the powerful personal and professional connections made, along with the opportunities to share knowledge across sectors and industries that individuals would otherwise not have exposure to

Searching out the one for you

Faced with what is an overwhelming choice in business schools, it’s not surprising that prospective MBA students spend hours scouring ranking tables for insight. The rankings provide at best, an overview comparing business schools on a range of factors from admission requirements to expected graduate salaries; ROI is a key determinant for many choosing where to study an MBA.

For local rankings, the best places to start are the GMAA 5 Star Assessment of MBA programs and AFR Boss MBA Rankings. Globally, the Financial Times, The Economist and Forbes.

According to the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2016, Insead (F), Harvard Business School (US) and London Business School (UK) take out the top 3 spots. Three of Australia’s business schools were included on the list – Macquarie Graduate School of Management (56), AGSM at UNSW Business School (66) and Melbourne Business School (87).   Interestingly, this is the first year a 1-year MBA program has taken out the ranking’s top spot. It’s also worth noting the proportion of women studying at ranked schools is rising. In 2015, 35 percent of MBA students were women, up from 30 percent in 2005.

Is it worth the investment?

This is a very personal question and will vary depending on the motivations for studying an MBA, which can’t always be quantified in monetary terms.

By global standards, studying an MBA in Australia is comparatively inexpensive. Studying abroad at any of the ‘top’ business schools can set you back double what it will cost you in Australia, and that’s even before you take into consideration lost earnings during the one or two years of full time study.

On average, the cost of studying an MBA in Australia in 2016 will set you back around $45,000. Melbourne Business School remains the country’s most expensive MBA at $81,400. The University of New South Wales (Australian Graduate School of Management) was second at $77,760 with Macquarie University’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management ($76,000) coming in third.

 

Are you considering an MBA or has completing an MBA broadened your career opportunities? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.