Date: 03 Apr 2009
Published: The Irish Times
Author: Peter McGuire
Despite the current frosty economic climate, investing in an MBA can prove a canny move both for employers and employees, writes: Peter McGuire.
As FINANCIAL services companies cut staff and scramble to reduce their costs, will they still be prepared to sponsor staff for a Masters of Business Administration Programme? And, in today’s economic climate is it still worthwhile for graduates?
A survey conducted last autumn by Amarach Consulting for the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI) found that the majority of MBA graduates viewed the programme as a worthwhile investment with 44 per cent benefiting from a promotion, 39 per cent experiencing a change of position or employment and 55 per cent reporting a salary increase of over 20 per cent or more within two years of graduating.
Tom Brennan and Patsy Carney graduated from the University of Limerick’s (UL) MBA programme in 2005. During the course, they prepared a business plan for a company called EirGen as part of a class exercise.
“Having been through the discipline of the MBA, we were able to look at projections for this pharmaceutical research and Development Company and we could see we had something worthwhile,”says Brennan.
“The MBA really changed our focus and encouraged us to become entrepreneurs.”
Brennan says that EirGen’s success is in no small part due to the MBA. “It gave us the skills and ideas we needed to pull together a business plan and the knowledge of how to finance a company and manage it.”
For many working in business, the MBA provides a formal business qualification to match their experience. Margaret Fleming is director of The Marketing Table, which provides business consulting and training. She graduated from university with a Bachelor of Education degree and then worked in business for many years. From 2006-2008, she undertook part-time study for the MBA degree at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
“I always had the idea of going into self-employment,” she explains.” I didn’t have any formal business qualification or training so I learnt a lot on the MBA. Possibly the most important aspect, as it turned out, was meeting other people on the course. The MBA Association of Ireland has great networking opportunities. It’s a good chance to make contacts, get out there and be known.”
As companies rein in spending does Fleming think they will be willing to spend money on the sponsoring staff for the MBA?
“Over the last decade, there were plenty of customers and money around. All things being equal, businesses had a good chance of success. Now, more than ever, companies need the strategic thinking of MBA graduates. It makes much more sense to have this expertise in-house, rather than pay for outside consultancy services.”
MBA graduate Peter Scallan agrees that the course is a worthwhile investment. Scallan gained his MBA qualification from UCD in 2007. “In college, I’d spent too much time in the pub and not enough in the library so, despite almost two decades of experience I was very conscious of an education deficit,” he says. “I wanted to build on my management experience and gain a better understanding in a few areas, such as finance.”
Scallon now works as a self employed consultant for medium sized enterprises. “If I hadn’t done the MBA, I would probably still be doing the same job as before – and not as effectively. The MBA gives the skills to focus on problems and opportunities in business,” he says.
“I think it’s still worthwhile. Obviously, companies need to cut their costs and are doing so by cutting staff. On the other hand, they don’t want to lose talent from the business. Rather than lose their skills, some firms should consider releasing some their talented staff to study the MBA for a year, and maybe part-funding it”.
For more information see the MBA Association of Ireland website: mbaassociation.ie