Tips for studying an MBA

Choosing an MBA is not easy, so it is important to find an advisor who provides the necessary guidance. In this exclusive interview for MBA International Business, Stacy Blackman CEO of Stacy Blackman Consulting, presents some tips for studying an MBA.

What is the true value of studying an MBA?

An MBA at a top-ranked business school doesn’t come cheap. If you’re thinking about the ROI of an MBA, ask yourself these three questions. Will an MBA help if you plan to change careers? Do you expect to receive a large salary boost with the degree? Can an MBA accelerate your path to a leadership position?

But firts…why go for an MBA?

Ask yourself what you plan to do after your MBA. If you know what your long-term goal is, that’s a great way to start. What do you need to know to accomplish that goal? How does your resume need to look? What skills do you need to build? And who do you need to know? Think about the aspects of that future that will be developed through your MBA and your short-term post MBA career.

How to calculate return on investment

Students of two-year MBA programs have the largest investment expense because they miss two years of employment. They need to recoup the cost of the MBA degree plus the opportunity cost to get a positive return on their investment.

Prospective students should consider payback time with projected cumulative growth, and average growth rate, when looking at return on investment as a motivating factor for pursuing an MBA.

Top MBA has an easy formula you can use to sketch out your ROI post-MBA, and 10 years down the line. But keep in mind, the value of the MBA degree varies depending on your post-graduation plans. The brand of the business school where you earn the degree is also a factor.

“Transformation” is a key component of the ROI opf an MBA

When it comes to deciding whether business school makes sense for you, remember that the choices you make – ranging from the cost of the city you decide to live in, the field you move into, the school you choose – will all impact your financial return on investment.

Your personal return on investment, however, is something quite different. Transitioning into a lower-paying but more rewarding job may be well worth it. You can’t measure that kind of personal satisfaction in dollars and cents.

“It is a transformative experience that enables an engineer to become a financier, a high school teacher to become a marketing executive, or an auditor to become a mergers and acquisition specialist for a top corporation,” Paul Danos, former dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, once said. “I know of no other educational experience that can match the total value proposition of a 2-year full time MBA”.

In your experience as an MBA advisor, why do professionals want to study an MBA? What is your main motivation?

Business school graduates benefit not only from a solid return on investment through substantial salary increases, but also by deepening the knowledge, skills and abilities they will need for future professional success.

Here are just four of the key career benefits MBA programs can offer.

1. Transferable skills: Business school gives you new skills and knowledge that will turbocharge your career. While MBA students often set their sights on a job in finance or consulting, the hard and soft skills acquired during an MBA program are transferable to myriad other roles. Today, you’ll find an increasing number of MBAs working in tech, health care, consumer goods, government and nonprofits, and many other industries.

2. Higher employment rates: Having an MBA is a powerful tool that can increase job security with your current employer or within your current industry. When the Graduate Management Admission Council released its latest annual poll of employers, it forecasted robust 2016 hiring that reflects high demand for MBA graduates. A whopping 96 percent of responding employers agreed that hiring business school graduates creates value for their companies.

3. Degree specializations: Most MBA programs offer specializations or concentrations that allow you to do a deep dive into the nuances of a particular industry. These courses provide students with an opportunity to sample a few different industries or career paths to see whether it’s a good fit before taking the plunge.

4. Networking opportunities: At business school, you’ll interact closely with talented individuals from all over the globe, which enhances the experience by exposing you to different business practices, cultures and points of view. It’s the network of contacts you build that make your MBA experience truly priceless.

What is the first thing that MBA candidates consider, to choose a business school?

If you seek a business school environment where you’ll truly thrive, focus on fit over ranking and brand. While the latter two are important, if you don’t feel at home from the moment you set foot on campus, you won’t get the most out of the MBA experience.

Tell me about yourself, why did you decide to dedicate yourself to MBA consulting?

I earned my BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

I am a firm believer that every weakness can become a strength and that each candidate must celebrate what makes him or her unique. I believe in celebrating the “white spaces” on a resume, the journey that took a candidate from point A to B to C.

In 2001, I founded Stacy Blackman Consulting, a leading MBA admissions advisory with a proven track record of acceptances to the world’s top MBA programs. Year after year, our clients’ acceptance letters and scholarship awards speak for themselves.

SBC boasts a team of consultants with backgrounds, including former Admissions Officers from Harvard, Stanford and every top school. Overseen by the time-tested techniques that only come with our years of experience, each and every SBC admissions consultant is solely focused on you getting what you want: an acceptance to business school.

Is your work limited only to North American candidates? Can you work with MBA candidates from Latin America?

Each year, 10-15% of our client pool come from various regions of Latin America. We have consultants on our team who come from Latin America and/or specialize in guiding LATAM clients successfully to the top programs.

What do you love most about your job?

I love helping young professionals realize their aspirations by catapulting them into MBA programs that are higher ranked than they could have achieved on their own– often with scholarship dollars.

What advice would you give an MBA candidate who wants to study at a Top business school?

Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. When you’re hard at work on your MBA applications, it’s easy to get caught up in what sounds great to you. Or, what seems impressive to your friends, co-workers or parents. But you really need to consider your materials from the admissions committee’s point of view.

Granted, it can be tough to form a truly objective opinion of your own candidacy. For example, some candidates think that if they have a high undergraduate GPA, aced the GMAT, and have been successful in their career so far, their admission to the top programs is all but guaranteed. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Any other tips you want to add?

Focus on what you can share with your classmates that would be valuable to them—experience or knowledge that others can learn and benefit from. Consider your application from the viewpoint of the people charged with putting together a diverse group of students.

(This interview was published exclusively in our issue No. 71/2019 of MBA International Business)