Why The MBA Is The Ultimate Professional Development Activity
Professional development, whether formal or informal, is a critical element for professional success in this competitive business market. When deciding on the type of activity to pursue, it’s important to remember that each option has its merits and can help to achieve different outcomes. Regardless of the chosen activity, the well-known notion rings true – You only get out what you put in. There are a number of reasons why leading businesspeople have long turned to the Master of Business Administration (MBA) as their choice of professional development activity. We delve into this topic below, showcasing why the MBA is like no other programme.
Graduate with practical knowledge and the skills to apply it
Throughout most of the top business schools, education has begun to shift from strictly theory-based programmes, to those with a practical focus. A practical education does not imply that theory is not studied; it implies that students apply theory to real-world business scenarios. This ensures that they not only graduate with the necessary knowledge, but they also have the skills to use the knowledge in everyday circumstances. This is crucial to an effective professional development activity, as students must be able to utilise the knowledge that has been gained. This approach also allows them to apply new knowledge in their roles almost instantly, seeing benefits before even completing the degree.
Stay relevant and up-to-date
Business practices, education and leadership have all evolved significantly over the years. Not only are businesses forced to adopt new technologies at a faster pace, they must also be continuously innovative in order to keep up with current market demands. It is therefore important that today’s leaders possess the most up-to-date knowledge on business principles, so that they can make the best decisions for the company moving forward.
For AIB MBA graduate, Jonathan Nolan, the motivation to study an MBA came from the desire to catch up with today’s business methodologies. He said, “My previous studies may have been applicable 10 or 20 years ago, but after a period of time, I knew that I had to keep pace with today’s fast-paced environment”. Jonathan did this through undertaking the MBA as his professional development activity – a choice that saw him gain the latest business knowledge, and apply it straight into his role.
Grow your professional network
One of the top reasons why professionals choose to study the MBA is because it opens doors to a number of unique networking opportunities. This includes building relationships and engaging with peers online, as well as attending networking events. While knowledge is the primary motivator for most, the power of an MBA Alumni group is not to be underestimated. When you undertake your MBA, you are likely to meet current and future CEOs, entrepreneurs, and forward-thinkers, both local and international to you. This presents an opportunity for lifelong learning as you continue to discuss key topics after the MBA, and in many cases, presents a number of career opportunities.
Gain a greater perspective in the business environment
Considered a holistic programme, the MBA offers a perspective like no other – one that encompasses all key areas of business operation and administration. As a professional development activity, students find that their knowledge is increased greatly, not just in areas they are familiar with, but outside of their usual scope too. Most professionals find themselves specialising in a particular area, however, the MBA allows them to step outside their comfort zone and learn about other business functions.
AIB MBA Graduate, Graham Haughey, undertook the MBA in order to create a challenge that was going to see him grow both personally and professionally. He said, “I was always looking for new ways to expand my knowledge and challenge myself, and the MBA has helped me to broaden the whole scope of my career”. Graham feared that he was going to become pigeonholed in his career, but the MBA saw him expand both his knowledge and what he could offer to his role.
Fine-tune your existing skills
For many students, the motivation to undertake a professional development activity comes from the desire to ensure they continue to be at the top of their game. This was the motivation behind AIB graduate Matthew Slattery’s decision to study the MBA. He used the analogy of re-tuning the engine, sharing that, “there’s new technology for an engine, and it’s the same for us – we should try to find what tests us.” This drive for self-improvement will not only benefit the MBA graduate throughout their career, but will also be beneficial to each employer they work for and professional contact they engage with along the way.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear from current and graduated MBAs – what are your thoughts about the programme as a professional development activity? Motivations to undertake the programme differ quite substantially, but the above highlights some of the shared benefits enjoyed by MBAs around the world.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.