Steering off the course of your career to embark on an MBA programme is an important decision; a daunting one. While there are benefits of an MBA programme such as the classroom experience, global networks, added knowledge and skill sets, and global job opportunities, you will need to do an evaluation and ask some pertinent questions before deciding if an MBA best meets your needs, and which business school is the right one for you.
Michael Wort, Assistant Director of INSEAD’s MBA Recruitment and Admissions, offers some advice on important questions to ask yourself, before you start your application journey to the business school of your choice.
What are your objectives for an MBA programme?
It might be worth thinking about where you are in your career and reflecting on your objectives and aspirations for the future. Are you happy within your current function and sector? Would you like to take on a more senior role, change your career completely, or start your own business?
An MBA programme can prepare you for senior roles and can help you change your function, sector and/or geography. Some students’ objectives are focused on career change, others want to learn new skills so that they can become more effective, and others are interested in the experience. Defining your goals will help you streamline your choices to those that can enable you to make the best out of your MBA journey. At INSEAD, the global team at our Career Development Centre is committed to helping MBA students find their true career passions and maximise their pre-determined goals.
Which MBA programme best fits your needs?
Once you have identified your objectives, the next step will be to research the various MBA programmes available out there and shortlist your programme choices. Some programmes are designed to prepare students for general management roles, and there are also more specialised master programmes with a focus on a particular sector or area of technical expertise.
Another consideration is the length and format of the programme. Some programmes may offer distance learning which is very different from those where you have the opportunity to debate face to face with professors and other students, and develop your leadership skills. INSEAD’s intense 10-month programme is ideal for those who want to minimise the duration out of the job market, and lower the opportunity cost.
What is the return on investment and employment opportunities?
Most students cover the cost of their MBA programme with a combination of loans and scholarships, and some students have personal savings. Paying back any money that you borrow is important so you will want to know what the employment opportunities look like post-MBA.
Most leading schools produce employment statistics for a recently graduated class. You’ll be able to understand opportunities in different functions, sectors, geographies, and see how many students were recruited by various employers. The post-MBA salary data will allow you to estimate how long it will take to pay back any money you have borrowed.
INSEAD has the highest ROI amongst all MBA programmes, with a payback period of 2.4 years, according to Forbes in 2015. Eighty-nine percent of our recent graduates secured employment within three months of graduation, and are employed by more than 300 different employers over 68 countries – by far the most global and diverse reach of any top MBA programme.
What will the quality of the network be?
You might want to research the profile of a typical MBA class to see if you would fit in. Statistics such as the average GMAT score, average age, years of work experience, number of nationalities, and the professional backgrounds of its students will provide a good picture of the class dynamics.
The quality of its alumni network such as their location and vocation can also determine how global and diverse your reach will be. It will be useful to connect with a few alumni from the school and find out more from the people who have been through the programme.
With over 90 nationalities in INSEAD’s recent MBA class, our students experience a world of new perspectives. They are also connected to the global INSEAD network consisting of over 53,000 alumni in more than 170 countries. The bonds fostered with one another during the programme often translate to lifelong friendships and business opportunities.
What are its strengths beyond academic excellence?
Will the MBA offer opportunities to develop your capacity to manage people? Does the programme have a coaching component where you can take feedback and further develop your leadership style?
Your investment in an MBA programme is significant in terms of your time as well as your money. You want to make sure that you are choosing an institution where the rigour of the classes will challenge you.
INSEAD’s robust curriculum includes a Personal Leadership Development Programme (PLDP), designed to guide students towards heightened self-awareness through personalised leadership coaching, interpersonal skills, and effective communication. On top of our core courses, there are also more than 75 electives for students to choose from that will help tailor their skills set to meet their objectives after the programme.
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