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What has your post-MBA experience been like and what influence has the MBA had on that? FYI I'm mulling the decision on whether to pursue one. I enjoy business and I enjoy programming...but I don't want to end up on a career path stuck in some IBM boardroom with a bunch of schmarmy tools either. So I'm sorta conflicted. I hear that MBAs are good for future contacts, but I have a queesy feeling about going onto a career path where success is determined to such a large degree by "soft skills" (i.e., bullsh*t). I've GOT these soft skills, but I don't want to make a career where success is solely determined by them. Not to sound too altruistic, but I have a feeling my honesty and good will may get in the way of any success.
Ideally, I'd still be able to participate in real engineering, but have a say in the business aspect. As an engineer I'd know that I wouldn't be selling crap and with a fancy schmancy top 20 B-school MBA, I'd have some sort of pedigree to further help convince people I'm not selling crap. In other words, I want to use the MBA to help run an honest shop.
Anyway, how realistic is this? :)
I have an MBA, a Masters in Comp Sci, and I run my own business. If you ever have an interest in starting a business, then an MBA helps understand the fundamentals. I don't think it is a real requirement, but it does help.
However, you seem to think that soft skills are BS and that somehow an MBA focuses on these soft skills. I don't think either assumption is true. There are definitely people that focus on quantitative skill that get MBAs (finance, operations, etc.)
If you feel that business or making money is somehow "dirty", then I would stay away from an MBA. You just won't get much benefit out of something that goes against your conscience.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
First of all, thanks for taking the time to write such an insightful response.
First a few things as I think my post came off way more negative than I intended. I think soft skills are important. Clear communication is important. Not ticking off other with obnoxious behavior is important. Being able to develop an easy repoire with others is important. Even on the tech side, these skills are tremendously important.
But none of these things gets stuff done and at one extreme, you have people who have nothing but these soft skills without the ability to get anything done. They are the polar opposite of the hardcore geeks who never shows, never brushes his teeth, and shuns human communication. Perhaps I'm concentrating on this extreme too much, but the more I look at the top end of corporate America (the Carly's, the Skillings, the Sculleys, etc), it seems many people's only skill seems to be convincing people they are doing something innovate rather than actually doing something innovated. When I read articles in Fortune that sniff that jocks of corporate giants, only to later turn around when their fortunes go south and bash them, I get a little depressed by the hyocracy.
So I want to hear more about the experiences of people like you -- people with the MBA who are doing what I want to do (esp. people like you specifically since you run your own business). There really is nothing fundamentally bad about the MBA IMO. I just want to hear the opinions of more honest people (specifically tech oriented) and their experiences of dealing with this BS from the business side (I only have experience from the technical side).
I think the best way for everyone to get a little bit of fun in a corporation is hiring the best. Philip Greenspun and Joel Spolsky are two easy examples of this working out pretty well. If you have smart over-achievers all constantly reaching into the communal barrel of problems (big, small, easy, tough, boring, interesting, soft, tech), you'll bound to go a little furthur than a company run by a top of the line MBA employing average people just looking for a check at the end of the 9-5 week. However, this is trying to run a company using common sense, and you can't just run a company with 1 good decision. It's daily strive of making more and more good decisions--some of which are easier with a MBA in your pocket--others aren't.
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