MBA study employment benefits have never been greater

ADELAIDE: For decades masters of business administration studies have featured in discussions among professionals. Such conversations explore the value, length, institution, contact hours, industry connections and countless other variables in gaining an MBA.

But their benefits to an existing mid-career professional’s employability, arguably, have never been greater.

Today, debate is focused not so much on whether professionals should study a postgraduate program but on the more complex questions of why, when and how to study an MBA to obtain a competitive edge or to move up the professional ladder.

It is of little surprise that more professionals are revisiting the merits of postgraduate programs when more and more of their counterparts are studying to the postgraduate level and beyond.

An increasing proportion of senior executives are expected to have an MBA. As a result, many professionals are contemplating using an MBA as a vehicle to upskill or reskill, with a view ultimately to seizing better professional opportunities.

Understanding this requires an appreciation of why students undertake postgraduate study.

About 20 per cent of undergraduates go on to study at the postgraduate level immediately after graduation, with many more returning midway through their career to help them obtain a senior management position.

Motivations include enhancing professional credentials, building on a general degree to develop an expertise, changing career stream altogether or simply pursuing a passion.

They are the same facets singled out by employers as key characteristics of MBAs that ensure they stand out from the pack.

We regularly speak to employers and hear they see the value in a second degree or specialisation, especially when it comes to soft skills, leadership and broad business principles often not learned on the job.

The reasons for pursuing an MBA may seem clear, but there is debate over when to study.

Continuing immediately after an undergraduate program often makes it easier to maintain momentum, but there is also a strong case for those who return to study after an extended break.

For many, the attraction of an MBA comes in the need or desire to upskill to adapt to the evolving landscape of their existing industry and to gain a competitive edge as they pursue positions at a senior level.

Considering how to study — its flexibility around you — is crucial to seeing the course through and gleaning the best insights.

Fortunately for professionals, debate over postgraduate study has progressed beyond the conventional concept of just doing an MBA. It has been replaced with a more sophisticated conversation about why, when and how existing professionals can obtain a foothold in the upper echelons of their companies or pursue a new career path altogether.

A range of options exists for prospective postgraduate MBAs and postgraduate professionals to meet their aspirations, add additional value to their employers and progress on a new career path.

As part of a formal leadership training program, skills garnered from an MBA and postgraduate study in general will remain applicable throughout a person’s professional life — whether they are applied to business contexts tomorrow, next month or in 15 years.

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