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Let me start by prefacing that going to Bentley this early in my life is probably one of the best decisions I ever made. Unlike most MBA programs, the Bentley MBA is unique with its cohort environment combined with a mix of social science and business studies. My experience has been fulfilling and I have forged relationship that I hope will serve as catalyst to making the world a better place. However, I have also come to believe that MBA programs or business graduate schools in general are overrated. Their approach to business education fail to prepare students for the next phase in their life:

An Unbalanced program: the lack of balanced skill-sets training

To start and succeed in business, three essential skills are essentials:

  • Entrepreneurial skills: is the ability to have vision or to imagine a product or service that people will buy.
  • Administrative skills: is how you develop a plan, set processes and procedures.
  • Strategic skills: is how do you create and sustain your competitive edge. It is how you position yourself or your company.

MBA programs excel at teaching administrative skills. They fail to realize that the most important skill when starting a business is the entrepreneurial skill; the ability to have and a formulate a vision. Unfortunately, no business school will ever teach you how to have or formulate a vision. Your either have it or don’t. I am not even sure that MBA programs know how to teach this skill since most professors spend more time doing research than testing their own ideas or being entrepreneurial. Consequently, the focus of the one (administrative) at the expense of the other (entrepreneurial) is producing MBA students who are incapable of thinking strategically. Strategic skills are the combination of entrepreneurial and administrative skills. Sadly, the failure to properly train people on how to formulate a vision is creating too many administrators and too few capable CEOs.

A lack of Introspection: A pointless grading system

When I joined Bentley, my goal was to graduate at the minimum with a 3.5 GPA. However, I soon realized the opportunity cost of focusing on grade. To have a good grade, I had to focus on what the professors conceived as useful or beneficial. My expectations depended on their assumptions. What they incentivized dictated in large part the behavior and commitment of my classmates.  Unfortunately, I found that what was rewarded most of the time did not interest me. A good grade was the product of someone else’s priorities. I opted to follow my intuition and to inquire more about topics or subjects that I found interesting. Along the way, I developed a deep interest in strategic alignment and the link between innovation and development. I took a risk but I will also graduate with my intended goal. However, making this choice early on has proven to be more fruitful than obsessing toward getting a high GPA.

By focusing on grade, MBA programs are preventing students to look at themselves introspectively. Pushing students to reflect will help them to figure out themselves, their skills and interest while preparing them to deal with uncertainty. Unless you graduate from Stanford or Harvard business school, what dissociates most graduates is not their GPA. It is their ability to take risks (resiliency) and the size of their rolodex (network). Knowing yourself will only make you more successful.

A fear of failing: being accustomed to success

Our class is currently doing a business simulation and my group is currently last among the six groups after three rounds. We have two more rounds to go and we might never be able to catch up. Finishing last is synonymous to failing; thus, I spent my weekend going through the overall report of the market. I realized that our team made a mistake on the first round that dictated in large part our preceding behaviors. We made a risky choice that has proven to be counterproductive. However, making that mistake has proven to be more beneficial because it provided an avenue for learning and reflection.

I do not take pride in being last and I might not, but this experience has made me wonder how many times I had been put in a position to fail or finish last over the past year. Most business school pushed students to become accustomed to success while all data show us that most businesses fail. The idea of being last or failing is not as scary when you are able to face and own up to your own mistakes. MBA programs fail to teach students that the fear of failure is scarier than failure itself. Sometimes, we have to finish last (fail) to be able to finish first at the right time.

Overall, MBA programs are beneficial, but overrated. The combination of my choices and Bentley’s resources have made me a better thinker, planner, visionary and person. Unfortunately, my experience is peculiar and is not representative of the typical MBA’s experience.



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