Mastering Your Career: The Right Postgrad to Pursue

Everyone knows what an MBA is, but if you’re living outside Europe, the MiM, or Master’s in Management, may have passed under your radar. Nonetheless, whether you’re looking to change your career or kick-start it, a Master’s program is worth looking into, and in the world of business, the MBA and the MiM are the top contenders.

So which one is right for you?

The first step is to be honest with yourself. Unlike most other Master’s programs, the Masters’ in Business Administration and in Management are not mainly academic, but rather a ticket into a “members only” club with equally ambitious and accomplished individuals that can help make or break your career. It is hence extremely important that you pick the right club for yourself.

Length and goals

The MiM can more or less be considered a mini-version of the MBA. The duration of MiM programs averages out at less than a year, while MBAs will take anywhere between 1 and 2 years, which will allow enough time for an internship in case you are looking to experiment with different roles. More importantly, the MiM caters to recent graduates who either haven’t entered the workforce yet or have worked less than a certain period. As a result, the MiM is obviously less specialised and more theoretical than the MBA, where there is usually a minimum experience requirement, giving you the opportunity to share experiences and insights with people more advanced in their respective careers and apply what you already know to cases and real-life scenarios. That said, the MiM does bear the added benefit of allowing those without business-related backgrounds, i.e. athletes, arts majors, scientists, etc. to break into more “business-oriented” roles by offering a well-rounded foundation of basic concepts and theories to help you get started.

With this in mind and before you go any further, stop and ask yourself: where am I in my career? Would you qualify for an MBA? More specifically, would you contribute and benefit more from building a foundation of business concepts, or from being thrown straight into the water to discuss them?

Outcomes

Being a shorter and more recently introduced program, the MiM almost always costs less than an MBA within the same school. As a natural result, it will often be the case that an MBA grad will be compensated much more generously for their subsequent role. Similarly, MiMs will usually have an entry level or graduate role after they graduate, rather than a managerial role as the name of the program might imply.

Where to do it?

Going back to our first point – that is, MBAs and MiMs are more social than academic – it goes without saying that the choice of business school to attend is much more crucial than the program you decide to enrol in. You might find that you qualify for MBAs at hundreds of good schools, but only a MiM at the top-ranked one you want, and the best decision for your professional future might be to go for the less senior program at the more prestigious school. A lot of the importance and status of your degree will come from getting into a top school rather than what you did there, so the name of the university will make all the difference in the world. Your degree will represent a stamp of approval on your CV, increasing your employability and potential salary. The bigger the school, the bigger the stamp.

However, this isn’t the only reason it’s important to put a lot of thought into the school you attend. Effectively, both of the programs we are discussing are more about the people than anything else, and the choice of school is the choice of people to spend the next one to two years with, to refer and be referred by, to be inspired by, to start ventures with, and even to go sailing with, which means it will have a greater impact on the kind of experience you will have. Whether you decide on a MiM or an MBA, you will have access to the same student body at the same time, and to the same network of alumni later, so similarly to our previous point, you might have gotten into two top schools, but you might want to go for the school with a slightly lower ranking, but a reputation for a great culture which will increase the odds of your time there being enjoyable and of being a beneficial investment in the long run.

It is then clear that there are a lot of factors to consider before making a decision; Do you have the necessary work experience? Can you afford it? Will the name of the school help you progress faster and get more interviews when you start looking for a job? The list goes on, but the best way to help yourself decide is to figure out your strategy. Where do you want to go? Will a business-related master’s degree be helpful at all in getting you there? Which one would get you closer? And keep in mind that, yes, these programs are intended to help you change your career or progress more quickly, but there is more out there and if they are not perfect for you, there are countless more or less technical programs to choose from, and which will only make you stand out more.

Sarah Yakzan is a Master’s in Management candidate at London Business School. Before moving to London, she got a BA in English Literature from the American University of Beirut, and worked for a year as Marketing and PR manager, External Relations Coordinator, and Blogger. She will start her next role at Facebook in August.

Image: Pexels

Why Getting Your MBA Gives You Confidence

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This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

One of the most enduring reasons to get your MBA (or even EMBA) goes far beyond the “so-called” traditional reasons for going back to grad school (starting with increasing your pay check). It also extends much further than your expanded business network and the knowledge that you pick up along the way, including bettering how you work in teams.

The MBA experience, where-ever you get one, is also structured very differently from other graduate degrees. That is why getting your MBA, whenever you obtain it, will almost undoubtedly enhance just about any other skill set that you have.

Beyond this, however, getting your MBA is one of the best ways of building confidence – and I would add, particularly for women. I know I am not the only woman who I have talked to recently that has specifically mentioned that getting the degree, no matter one’s professional background and track record, helps you understand that business is as much a “conversation” if not “communication” with the rest of the world as it is anything else.

Part of this, I think, is that the MBA experience creates a solid framework for knowing how to “think outside the box” and to express that in terms that other business people will understand. It is not just about creating pretty PowerPoints (although you will probably find yourself doing a lot of those). It is very much about learning how to express yourself in structured terms in order to summarize complicated concepts much more simply and effectively. The ability to “speak fluently” in any language and be much better understood is, in and of itself, a confidence builder.

Presentations and team work are a big part of what you learn (or learn how to do better) – and there is no better way to learn than to try and fail. While this may not sound ideal, it is in fact a vital part of any entrepreneurial story. The skills gained from experiencing both successful and unsuccessful attempts to deal with leadership, management challenges, product launches and marketing if not defining a market itself are invaluable. The only way to understand business is to live it, and I am starting to see a difference in my classmates, and already in myself.

Part of it, I think, is that the MBA experience gives you a framework to look at your own life in a different way – in all its aspects even beyond business. It allows you to separate the idea of “failure” and “success” from personal traits and better define a life path – no matter where you find yourself on it. It certainly allows you to use different benchmarks.

As a relatively “late bloomer”, I can definitely say that the program I attended, at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, has allowed me to define myself differently. In one way, getting an MBA is almost like learning to tell the story better – whether it is a story about yourself or a story about a business idea, concept or initiative.

One thing I do know after a very hard year and as I head into delivering my final presentation. The process of getting my MBA has changed me, for the better. I am a more confident and capable woman, and this is an asset I can lean on no matter where, in the future, my personal and professional journey may end up taking me.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: Frankfurt School of Finance and Management)

Why International Business Degrees Are So Important

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This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

International business degrees, in particular the MBA, are of increasing importance in a world where globalization (no matter how you define it) is here to stay. If anything, despite the recent backlash against globalisation, international business people who have an understanding of different business cultures are far better prepared for the world that lies ahead.

Call it Globalization 2.0.

Getting an international business degree is important because it exposes you to different people and ideas in your classes that open your mind to how diverse individuals and teams organise themselves and get work done, which is inevitably influenced by different national cultures. Beyond that, an international business degree also opens ones eyes to new and creative approaches available for structuring companies, launching new products, and reaching consumers in new and more effective ways.

On another level, international business degrees are important because of their focus on real sustainability and how it can be achieved. This is not limited to so-called “green” sustainability (although this is an increasingly important aspect). It is understanding, quite literally, how your business translates into different languages, needs, markets, market structures and regulations.

This is even more true if you work for a global technology company.

Two recent examples: AirBNB and Uber.

Both businesses are American and, while expanding rapidly at first, they have both quickly found that the disruption they caused has eventually created huge roadblocks. In Germany, for example, both have been banned outright. As much as their business models were good at “disrupting” two very traditional industries in almost every country they entered, it was precisely this feature of both companies that caused their eventual banning in more than one market.

The export of American innovation absolutely is hitting its limits right now as national governments realize that, despite all the conveniences, there are significant negatives that come with the same that their economies just cannot absorb. And as a result, the US tech firms end up destroying the very innovation that they created in the first place. That is nowhere more obvious than in America itself right now.

Part of this conversation has been underway for decades. American companies (in particular) have found a home in almost every country. But with technology, market entry has never been easier.

In the U.S., the focus on deregulation since the 1980’s, and the ability of firms to create new technology faster than the ability of regulators to understand and regulate it is widely accepted (or at least has been up until now). How this will continue in the future, however, particularly combined with the rise of automation, is yet to be seen. To date, the ability of firms with hugely disruptive business models to change the game has been accepted domestically as a mark of American entrepreneurialism if not exceptionalism.

As the backlash against technology firms has reared its head, it is highly likely that this will be felt elsewhere, and in many places far beyond the boardroom. While misinformation is the focus of the current debate – starting with the algorithm-controlled world of editor-free curation of blogs and Facebook’s role in the distribution of “fake news” prior to the U.S. election – the broader issue is a backlash against the role of tech firms in society overall . Uber, AirBnB and the many digital work platforms for freelancers are all tech enabled business models spawned beyond the clutches of regulation – and which are now facing a global backlash.

For precisely the reason that “American innovation” has been resisted around the world and now even domestically, it is important to understand the current playing field and how things are rapidly changing. This is one of the most invaluable lessons an international business student can learn.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: Global Business Technology)

Lessons Learned from a German EMBA

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This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

In the fall of 2015, after spending two years in a small town in the Ruhr Valley starting to learn German (I will appreciate Mark Twain’s perspective on the sprache so much better going forward), I moved to Frankfurt to begin my Executive MBA at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

There are many reasons why I chose to obtain my graduate business degree in Germany (and even more specifically in Frankfurt). I am an American expat, with my future plans in Europe if not the rest of the world. I have felt, for quite some time, that American business schools are myopic when it comes to understanding international business issues and globalization outside of maximizing profit. I also feel that there is something very right going on in Germany specifically, that has been fundamentally lost in the U.S. There is a strong manufacturing culture here that is shifting to the future with a face that is far more humane and sustainable (and certainly more green, the disaster at Volkswagen notwithstanding), and the so-called “Mittlestand” – small to medium sized enterprises – create a business culture in which innovation and change can thrive.

While Germans frequently ask me “why come here when you have the U.S.?” the answer is super simple. Yes, things are regulated in Germany on a level that drives even rules-obsessed Germans to distraction. And yes, change comes more slowly here. But the so-called “creative destruction” that drives American entrepreneurialism is now happening in a way that is destroying companies and lives if not innovation in general (including in Silicon Valley).

Germany is more interesting.

German regulation and the thinking about the regulatory process in general, particularly in industries like banking and Fintech, is a standard which could certainly help redefine not only the German market, but create a global benchmark for those who understand that regulations are necessary. The changes that Germany has managed to transcend (including those of the post war period, reunification and even its acceptance of refugees) were only possible because of a strong national culture that is by definition globally focussed. Germany has no natural borders and, perhaps because of that, the country has created a national identity and operating DNA that is designed to be like an ocean liner on a global ocean, rather than a country which walls itself off from the rest of the world.

Frankfurt itself is also a fascinating city. It is not only where my family is historically from, but has long been defined by international trade, commerce and global thinking. Now it is set to become a thriving cluster for FinTech entrepreneurs in a way that other cities cannot match due to the winning combination of its size, infrastructure and proximity to global banking players.

The Frankfurt School itself is also a very interesting place. Started as a school for more traditional bankers and executive education, it is rapidly moving up the global rankings and redefining itself in a rapidly changing world; the school is perfectly positioned to address the transformations happening in the banking industry with the impact of digitalization, cryptocurrency and mobile payments. My class has also achieved a number of “firsts” for the school: we are a highly diverse international group, classes are taught in English, and we are 40% women.

In terms of coursework, it has by far lived up to my expectations (and I have high ones, partly because of my 25 year professional career in the U.S. but also because I am Peter Drucker’s niece). Our professors are drawn from the ranks of both the school’s faculty and drawn from all over the world (including Ghana and the U.S.) However, the perspective offered here is exactly what I was hoping for. And the lessons learned from the teamwork exercises and my classmates are ones I will take with me for the rest of my life. We are drawn from every industry, and every kind of background. And more than a few of us are using the EMBA experience to either begin or more seriously launch our entrepreneurial careers and aspirations. Drucker once wrote that once a subject becomes obsolete, it is taught in the classroom, but that is not the feeling I have here. In fact, the Frankfurt School has made it a priority to present classical business education in the context of a world that is changing fast (from every perspective). And while there is a healthy appreciation of American innovation, it is taught in a way that is separate and distinct from a mind-set that is focused mostly on the American market.

Students who want to understand a world outside the U.S. on topics ranging from globalization to sustainability would do well to consider a German business education.

Global business is about understanding the needs of stakeholders who come from a diverse range of cultures; being able to create a remarkable “journey” for employees and customers; and responding to and managing change in a way that does not upset the core mission of the enterprise. It requires innovative responses to both the mundane and the exception.

At heart, those are some of the real lessons I have learned here at the Frankfurt School. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: WallpaperUp)