Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MBA: The Good Parts

Today I had a chance to talk with one of the co-founders of the company I work at and the CEO/CTO/CFO/[you name it] of another company with 80 people. He's a CS + MBA grad. I have always been curious what people learn in MBA as my dad always said you don't need an MBA to run a company. We ended up having a pretty interesting conversation and I thought it would be good to share.

First, he gave me a primer on the stereotypes of people who attend business school. He said 90% of people who go to business school need an MBA next to their name to bump their salary. And the other 10% are people who truly want to understand the art of business better. Clearly he fell into the 10%.

He told me that my dad was in fact right. You actually don't need an MBA to run a company.

I was curious. Then was it for networking or what?

He said no. The most awesome contacts he had weren't the people he met in business school, but were the ones he spent many years together in college and people he met through serendipity.

So what was special about MBA?

He said MBA gave him the "universal" vocabulary to conduct business. Without it, he wouldn't know what a cash flow statement was. Without it he would look at a product and say something like, "This is nice, let's make it better." without being able to objectively measure "nice" and "better".

Not only that, if he hadn't gone to business school, he said he wouldn't have had the confidence to take over and improve a 20-year-old business started by his family.

I guess business school doesn't solely consist of people in suits with spiky hair after all. Pretty cool indeed.

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