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What C-Level Executives Think about MBA Degrees

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Pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) can be highly touted, but can also be expensive. It’s sometimes hard to determine whether obtaining an MBA degree would be strategic in the long run. Would it actually prove valuable and create a positive ROI for your career? Of course, career goals and aspirations vary widely and should always be factored into this decision.

But to begin answering those questions and provide insight on the value of MBAs, it’s worth tapping an authoritative source for advice: C-suite executives.

How Many CEOs and C-Level Executives Have MBA Degrees?

According to a Harvard Business Review study shared in 2021, close to 1 in 3 CEOs surveyed have earned an MBA. Interestingly, 6 of the 10 top CEOs in the country have an MBA. This list includes the CEOs of Gilead Science, Cisco Systems, Allergan, Simon Property Group, Monsanto, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Other studies show even higher rates of C-level executives in the country having earned MBAs.

For those who aspire to executive-level positions, earning an MBA degree can provide multiple advantages that can help propel your career to the next level more quickly than you might have been able to progress otherwise. And even if your career goals don’t actualize in a boardroom or C-Level suite, whether you’re interested in top management positions, strategic consulting, entrepreneurial endeavors, or something else entirely, there are a number of ways an MBA can prepare you for success wherever your aspirations take you.

Why MBA Degrees Are Advantageous

Earning an MBA, whether through an in-person or an online MBA program, provides a few distinct value-adds that are difficult to gain any other way.

First, MBA programs are obviously academic. Thus, they provide you with skills and knowledge that will benefit you profoundly in any role you hold – whether in business or in a different industry or setting, and regardless of level or position. MBAs are designed to help you construct frameworks of thinking, reason, industry knowledge, and work ethic that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Yes, MBAs contain a lot of business-specific information. But they also develop you more fundamentally into someone who can reason and problem-solve well. They teach you management and leadership qualities that can benefit you (and your teammates and direct reports) wherever you go. MBAs can provide significant upskilling in ways that will benefit your endeavors for the rest of your life.

Second, earning an MBA indicates investment and intentionality to both your current and future employers. Simply being able to include an MBA on your resume says something about your character and skill set. When being considered for future positions, having an MBA communicates that you have invested time and energy in making yourself a better fit for demanding, nuanced positions of leadership. It shows that you have taken the time to learn solid decision-making practices, refined your communication skills, and learned characteristics necessary for being a team player. That investment is one that continues to pay back dividends for the entirety of your career.

Third, earning an MBA allows you the opportunity for networking and connections in a variety of ways. Getting to know your faculty and institution’s professional departments can yield strategic connections that could result in job opportunities, tailored mentoring, and strong references or recommendations as you apply for future positions. Additionally, your classmates and colleagues also make strategic networking contacts. As you each finish your MBA and pursue your respective careers, oftentimes these contacts will remain some of your important touchpoints and can be people you may share job opportunities, advice, or comradery with in the future.

Fourth, MBA programs often provide you with important industry-specific expertise that can help you enter or progress in your desired line of work. MBA programs can sometimes make specializations or emphases available to you. Some MBA programs also exist that specialize in certain industries or types of work.

And finally, earning an MBA stretches you personally and professionally. Whether you are pursuing an MBA full-time before entering your career or completing it alongside a current professional position or other responsibilities, completing an MBA program isn’t easy. They are structured and designed to help you grow your personal and professional capabilities, often beyond what you might have anticipated or expected. MBA holders often experience the high’s and low’s of higher education along the way and will testify that not every part of the process is easy or pleasant. However, this unique opportunity to grow and develop will often benefit you in ways you might not have been able to predict when you decided to pursue it.

Taking the opportunity to earn an MBA degree is a significant investment in yourself, your professional career, and your capabilities to lead and grow. It can often open new and exciting doors as well as introduce you to people who often become colleagues and support networks for the remainder of your professional trajectory.

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About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

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