This is one of the most common question I get asked. After making the decision to go from tech start up to Corporate five years ago I spoke to a number of business women who are doing non exec roles for ASX200 Businesses, my ultimate aim from going into corporates. Understanding their perspective on what I needed to do over the next decade was critical to my success. I met three senior non execs who told me not to leave exec leadership before 55, many women do and they have insufficient leadership experience to secure board roles on ASX200.
Regarding education, I only have a BSC in Business and Computing, they advised me to do the AICD Directors course as the governance and risk component of the training was invaluable. With 25 years business experience the MBA had less value. I followed the advice.
Here are my top tips on how to decide, do I do an MBA?
1. “What do you want to do in the next 10 years?” Once you are clear on this you can plan your life backwards to what you need do.
2. Find at least 3 people who are doing what you want to be doing in 10 years time. Meet with them, explain your dilemma re:MBA. Ask them what an MBA would do for you? What value would it add to your career?
3. Always ask those three people, is there anything you can do to help them, they will appreciate that you are interested in them, you will also be surprised that they have learnt as much from you, as they have shared with you!
4. If you decide to do an MBA because you want to do it for yourself and no other reason. Do it, learning because you want to versus need to is far more pleasurable.
If you have no Tertiary education, there are many companies that will not consider you for a senior role. I started my degree part time at 24, put on hold for a decade and finally completed at 39. My boss of 20 years could not understand why I was doing the degree when I had been the MD of European business for over 15 years, he use to say you could teach the professors.
When I did the BSC degree part time, I did it for me. To prove I was capable of doing it. What I got from the experience was far more: learn to challenge thinking, models IE Porters five forces, Boston matrix and more. I loved it. The only time I have needed it to secure a role was when working at Salesforce.com it was a minimum requirement. I use the models I learned on my degree courses and reference them all the time.
Do I return to study and get my MBA?