Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are MBAs necessary for Start-Ups or VC?

With our Entrepreneurship course in full swing, and keeping my interest, I thought I'd post another interesting article from one of my new favorite Entrepreneur/VC blogs - "Both Sides of the Table".

I'm not going to get into the argument of whether or not people with MBAs are good fits or not, since that's a generalization and not relevant. People can decide from their experiences if the degree is useful or not. But there were a few points that I found interesting &/or thoughtful:
  • Curriculum - I would tend to agree that you could learn as much from reading topical books (or internet research) as you do from the topics taught in the classroom. One of the things that I find incredibly valuable in our Executive MBA program is the breadth of experience that I'm able to derive from our classroom discussions and outside discussions. The professors that are valuable to me have been the ones that provided a conceptual framework, but the primary focus of their courses have been the application to our personal experiences or current/future roles.
  • Colleagues - This is far and away the most valuable interaction from an MBA program, but I believe that if often gets under-estimated if the culture/sub-culture within the program is overly focused on grades/rankings. I've told people many times that I'll be happy if I recall 50% of the coursework concepts in 5yrs, but I'll be extremely disappointed if my work/personal network doesn't include at least 75% of the people from my program in 5-10yrs.
  • Sales - I completely agree that sales/influencing is a subject that is lacking in most MBA programs. I'm sure it gets neglected (or completely left out) because it's not considered a science or area worthy of academic research, but it is the lifeblood of every company. Not only that, internal selling of new ideas (innovation, change management, etc.) hinges on the ability of leaders to sell. Maybe it needs to be added as an elective. The occasional classroom presentation just doesn't equate to sales.

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