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The MBA

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– still the world’s top business qualification
The
master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is a qualification offered by many institutions throughout the world. The MBA was first introduced at Harvard University in 1905. It was, however, only in the 1940s at the University of Pretoria that the qualification was offered outside of the United States. Business education and in particular the MBA was born out of a need to formalise and systematise business education There are many advantages to further your education in the area of business, one being the attention the initialism MBA on your resume will draw. The high level of education that an MBA represents will undoubtedly show a potential employee in a positive light. It suggests a level of dedication that is necessary to complete the qualification, and is indicative of the commitment that the candidate will bring to the job. Grace Manchidi, the Admissions Manager for the Gordon Institute of Business Science emphasises the importance of the MBA. She says, “The MBA is the premier career-enhancing qualification in business education, and the combination of pressure and hard work in a collegial environment will open up new opportunities. An MBA will create mastery in all the areas of business that you are likely to find yourself with your career.”

The MBA

“The holder had the commitment

and determination to complete the qualification and
has a specific level of knowledge”

“An MBA affords students the opportunity to acquire

a high level of business knowledge.

It is the norm that the higher your qualifications the more money you are likely to earn. Bearing this in mind it becomes clear that the time and money spent on education is an investment that is likely to mature.

The gaining of knowledge itself is obviously important but what is equally important is for others to know that you are capable of using this knowledge in practice. This is something that an MBA ensures. The respect and recognition that this qualification implies is one of its greatest assets. Prof Helena Van Zyl of the University of the Free State says, “An MBA implicitly tells a story. The holder had the commitment and determination to complete the qualification and has a specific level of knowledge. Although no MBA guarantees employment, it does increase the value of the graduate.” A popular South African website dedicated to all subjects relating to MBAs, www.mba.co.za, recently conducted a survey to determine the value that employers give the qualification. The survey found that the vast majority of employers hold the qualification in high regard. In an article that reveals the findings of the survey Elspeth Donovan, former director of the UCT Business School Program and Ailsa StewartSmith, director of Executive MBA, UCT School of Business say, “Sixtythree percent of respondents rated their experience of MBA graduates once employed as good and 21% had rated it as excellent. Similarly 84% said MBA graduates had added value to the company after the degree.” The same survey also found that many companies were in favour of general rather than specified MBAs. Van Zyl says, “Although the MBA

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does not have the same scarcity value than in the past, it still enjoys prestige and respect.” The diversity and depth achieved by most MBA programmes are certainly the qualification’s strength and the level at which subjects are studied enables the knowledge acquired to be used at the highest levels of business. The programme content of many MBAs includes: project management, finance, strategy, organisational behaviour, entrepreneurship, supply chain management, ethics, government policy, marketing and international business. The programme offers an education that is more than the sum of its parts. It encourages students to implement effective decision-making and initiative which is a valued skill in an increasingly fast-paced world. Whatever your profession it is likely that an MBA can increase your chances of making a successful transition to a management position. Prof Eon Smit of the Stellenbosch University Business School, and chairperson of the South African Business Schools Association says, “The MBA also focuses on personal leadership development and hence it deals not only with knowledge and skills development, but also the development of attributes, values and mindsets necessary for sustainable and ethical organisations.”

Many entrepreneurs rely on the strength of an idea or plan. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises when the specific skills needed to implement the idea are lacking. An MBA is a worthwhile consideration for the aspiring entrepreneur as it aims to develop an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of business. This is likely to better equip the entrepreneur for the long term running of his or her business. The entrepreneur will have a more acute awareness of the problems likely to be faced and a wealth of knowledge to deal with these. “Any MBA will hold a great deal of value for a future entrepreneur. Every final-year MBA class will deliver a number of promising entrepreneurs,” says Smit. An MBA affords students the opportunity to acquire a high level of business knowledge. On a personal level it provides a practical and enriching challenge. This challenge is an important part of its contribution to the student. It serves to test perseverance and resilience, a test that is likely to continue in the business world. S

June 2008

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