A little over a year ago, I commenced this blog feeling excited and intrigued by the MBA year that lay ahead. I was particularly intrigued to see what the examined MBA life would bring and whether all the hype around MBA’s was justified. Having now had the full experience, I can truly say it defies the hype and certainly worth doing for anyone who has the interest and fortunate circumstances.
People have differing thoughts on where the value lies from an MBA. I think the value can be summarised under three areas:
1. Knowledge: There is no other course that condenses so much about business, finance and management into one or two years; and does it so effectively. The structure and environment makes getting through the enormous content possible. Inevitably, the knowledge extends way beyond business and I now find that most things I now come across, whether in the news or general conversation, can be related back to something covered in the MBA. Of course, the trick is to know that not everyone wants to hear things being related back to an MBA!
2. General/Personal Development: You quickly recognise that a lot of the value lies beyond the content. MBA’s are very much focused on the development of the overall individual and Cranfield justifiably prides itself on this focus. The development comes from the formal subjects, psychometric testing, structured feedback as well as the inevitable development that happens when you are in a challenging environment.
3. People: You meet so many impressive people from such diverse backgrounds (the cohort, lecturers, faculty staff, alumni, students from other courses and cohorts from different MBA schools) that you inevitably develop as a result. It’s a vast ‘melting pot’ of great people whom you have the privilege of working with and learning from.
I have been asked about the process of choosing an MBA School. Here was my personal criterion:
· Full-time: I wanted to do a full-time MBA because I personally like to fully immerse myself in a project. With this bias in mind, I would strongly encourage anyone to do their MBA full time if circumstances permit. It allows you to give the MBA the attention I think the investment deserves.
· One year course: There is the two year option, but I personally felt two years too long a period to be out of the workforce.
· Overseas: Part of the MBA benefit is being out of your usual bubble and being in a new culture enhances that benefit. Being away from your home environment where day to day life can be busy also allows you to maximise the complete MBA experience.
· Appropriate demographics: Schools have different cohort demographics ( average cohort age, years of industry experience, a specific subject or industry focus, predominantly international or domestic cohort) so it is worth working out what suits you. I wanted a school with an internationally diverse cohort with older average age and longer industry experience. The appropriateness of the school can be gleaned by visiting it/speaking to the current students and sensing how much the school and students resonate with you.
All in all, Cranfield clearly ticked the boxes for me and I feel very fortunate to have not only made that choice but to have had the full Cranfield MBA experience.
In terms of coming up with a short list of possibilities, the rankings is an obvious place to start. There are only two major full-time MBA rankings (The Financial Times and The Economist) that directly compare schools from around the world. Business Week and Forbes create separate lists for the U.S. and the rest of the world, while US News & World only focuses on the U.S. market. MBA50.com compiles the results of the big five MBA rankings of the last 12 months to produce the MBA50.com Premiership. For a comprehensive summary of Cranfield rankings go to the following Link. (Some of the main ones are as follows: Cranfield is ranked 12th in the EU on (MBA50.com), ranked Top 10 in Forbes’ ranking of the Best Business Schools outside the US (forbes.com) and ranked 38 in the worldwide FT ranking of full-time MBA programmes and number 11 for Career progress (ft.com)). You learn that there are inevitable limitations with rankings and while they are a starting point, I believe you need to give much greater weight as to how a school fits your personal circumstances and preferences.
For those Australians who are considering doing an overseas, full-time MBA definitely get in touch with the Cranfield Australian Alumni as there is a large, active alumni who you can easily meet up with to find out more. I went through this process and found it extremely valuable. There is also information on the site about the Cranfield Scholarships available to Australians; including the annual CAASF Scholarship, currently the most financially valuable MBA Scholarship in Australia! Good luck in your searching and eventual MBA.