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Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Is it Possible That MBAs, Like Wine, Need Aging?

It occurs to me that I’ve had many good experiences, with hires and colleagues and business contacts, with people who had MBA degrees and years of experience. And I’ve had generally bad experiences with young MBAs fresh out of business school.

You could guess the reasons. Arrogance and entitlement come to mind.

Maybe it’s a matter of seasoning or tempering that fresh knowledge with some of the battering that comes later. Arrogance and entitlement leave a lot of sharp edges that time and experience wear down.

I am no different. As I got older, I found that my MBA studies gave me a better vision of the whole business, the forest as well as the trees; and I was glad for that. I’m sure that it helped me in business and was worth its weight in money many times over. And what I got from the degree wasn’t a higher salary, it was the knowledge to make my way on my own.

On the other hand, fresh out of business school, I recruited into a fancy and prestigious position with McKinsey Management Consulting, and I fell flat on my face. I disliked them, and they disliked me. (I did a post on that mistake here). I hated that job.

I’ve heard that fewer than one in five MBAs lasts even a year in the first job after business school.

Do you think there’s a pattern there?

(Image credit: JakubPavlinec/Shutterstock)

  • Tim,
    You hit the nail on the head. Along with many of my colleagures from Sara Lee I went to Kellogg and studied part-time to get my MBA (back then it was called an MM – Master of Management) and occasionally took courses with full-time or day program students. After two I made sure never to enroll in day time classes no matter how good the professor’s reputation. Not only are full time/day program students arrogant after they get their diplomas but they are arrogant while they are in school. They gave up getting a salary to devote themselves to study, they have no worries other than classes and hanging out at Starbucks dreaming up the next entrepreneurial gig and it makes them feel they are better than part-timers. What they don’t realize is that they can’t balance family, work and school – they aren’t as great as they think they are.
    Only time and experiences such as yours can humble these folks and yes I have friends that went to business school full-time but I like them much more now after they have aged and have softer edges.

  • Tim,
    I finished business school just over a year ago and have been with the same company since I graduated. I believe its fair to say that I do feel a higher level of confidence (although maybe not arrogance) after obtaining an MBA. Some people may misinterpret a recent graduate’s desire to prove themselves with shear arrogance and entitlement. I think all employees get better with age, not just MBAs. Thanks.

    • @Jake, thanks, well said, no disagreement from me on that one. I appreciate the addition. Tim