Specific career goals help you to pick the right MBA


Duncan

Many people looking for an MBA don't have specific career goals. For example, they might not know which country they want to work in, which industry they want to work in, or what functional or managerial role they want to play. Sometimes that's because they don't know. Othertimes, it's because they think the MBA will just sort that out for them. As a result, they don't really see MBAs are being very different from each other.

The top sign of this is someone asking which MBA is best. For example: is Melbourne better than Edinburgh? Without context it is a meaningless question, like saying what is better: a $10,000 engagement ring or a $10,000 motorbike?

Not having a specific goal makes it harder for you to target the right schools, and it makes it harder to be admitted. For example, someone who applies to both Melbourne and Edinburgh probably cannot work in both countries, probable doesn't understand the different employer pools of the schools, cannot see how the graduates of those programmes have different outcomes. If you understand the schools that are most able to meet your specific goals, then you can convince the schools that their school is a better fit with your goals and their potential employers. As a result, you are more likely to be offered a place. Between two similar candidates, schools will always prefer the one who is most likely to accept the offerand is more likely to be valued by their partner firms.

There are some great articles on this. I will flag up the Economist https://gmat.economist.com/gmat-advice/business-school-admissions/application-advice/how-craft-effective-career-goal-essay-your-mba-application

Many business schools have great articles too: http://bit.ly/SetPostMBAgoals

Many people looking for an MBA don't have specific career goals. For example, they might not know which country they want to work in, which industry they want to work in, or what functional or managerial role they want to play. Sometimes that's because they don't know. Othertimes, it's because they think the MBA will just sort that out for them. As a result, they don't really see MBAs are being very different from each other.

The top sign of this is someone asking which MBA is best. For example: is Melbourne better than Edinburgh? Without context it is a meaningless question, like saying what is better: a $10,000 engagement ring or a $10,000 motorbike?

Not having a specific goal makes it harder for you to target the right schools, and it makes it harder to be admitted. For example, someone who applies to both Melbourne and Edinburgh probably cannot work in both countries, probable doesn't understand the different employer pools of the schools, cannot see how the graduates of those programmes have different outcomes. If you understand the schools that are most able to meet your specific goals, then you can convince the schools that their school is a better fit with your goals and their potential employers. As a result, you are more likely to be offered a place. Between two similar candidates, schools will always prefer the one who is most likely to accept the offerand is more likely to be valued by their partner firms.

There are some great articles on this. I will flag up the Economist https://gmat.economist.com/gmat-advice/business-school-admissions/application-advice/how-craft-effective-career-goal-essay-your-mba-application

Many business schools have great articles too: http://bit.ly/SetPostMBAgoals
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mba hipste...

Good post, thank you Duncan! In general, if you lack concrete career goals, or just think that an MBA will help you figure them out, then you probably will not be offered a spot, regardless of your qualifications / GMAT score. 

Good post, thank you Duncan! In general, if you lack concrete career goals, or just think that an MBA will help you figure them out, then you probably will not be offered a spot, regardless of your qualifications / GMAT score. 
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Duncan

Well, you won't be offered a spot in a great MBA if you don't have clear goals that the school considers to be both realistic, and which are better served by this school than by obvious competitors. If you have unrealistic expectations, if the school obviously cannot meet your expectations, or if there is an obviously better school for which you are looking for an insurance alternative, they will not waste an offer on you.

On the other hand, an average or below-average school that is separate for students, or a good school that things you are well above its average student quality, will have no trouble offering you a place even if they cannot meet your objectives.

Well, you won't be offered a spot in a great MBA if you don't have clear goals that the school considers to be both realistic, and which are better served by this school than by obvious competitors. If you have unrealistic expectations, if the school obviously cannot meet your expectations, or if there is an obviously better school for which you are looking for an insurance alternative, they will not waste an offer on you.<br><br>On the other hand, an average or below-average school that is separate for students, or a good school that things you are well above its average student quality, will have no trouble offering you a place even if they cannot meet your objectives.
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Geepee

Great post Duncan. After reading, now I have a question. I work as sales professional in medical device industry. Most of my seniors and mentors have MBAs and this has propelled me to want to be part of that category. Also, I understand that this will be an advantage as I grow to take on senior roles/position however, I am now stuck. I don't know which is best for me; MBA or a Msc. in International Business Administration.  Long term career goal is to take on more senior roles heading regional sales, managing multiple countries. Do you think an MBA is best or an MIBA would be better in this case? Can you recommend online programmes i can go for at less than $10k? I don't mind even if there's no triple accreditation. Just a good school with a good name and a good programme.

[Edited by Geepee on Mar 26, 2021]

Great post Duncan. After reading, now I have a question. I work as sales professional in medical device industry. Most of my seniors and mentors have MBAs and this has propelled me to want to be part of that category. Also, I understand that this will be an advantage as I grow to take on senior roles/position however, I am now stuck. I don't know which is best for me; MBA or a Msc. in International Business Administration.&nbsp; Long term career goal is to take on more senior roles heading regional sales, managing multiple countries. Do you think an MBA is best or an MIBA would be better in this case? Can you recommend online programmes i can go for at less than $10k? I don't mind even if there's no triple accreditation. Just a good school with a good name and a good programme.
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StuartHE

Is your ultimate carere goals to be a senior salesperson in the medical device field? 

Is your ultimate carere goals to be a senior salesperson in the medical device field?&nbsp;
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Geepee

Is your ultimate carere goals to be a senior salesperson in the medical device field? 


Ultimate career goal is to be a well established African business leader with cross industry knowledge. However, right now I am in medical device and I need to focus on growing here first.

[quote]Is your ultimate carere goals to be a senior salesperson in the medical device field?&nbsp; [/quote]<br><br>Ultimate career goal is to be a well established African business leader with cross industry knowledge. However, right now I am in medical device and I need to focus on growing here first.<br>
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Duncan

I don't think that's a very specific career goal. What role is your ultimate goal, in which business function, in which industry, in what country?

[Edited by Duncan on Mar 28, 2021]

I don't think that's a very specific career goal. What role is your ultimate goal, in which business function, in which industry, in what country?
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Geepee

I don't think that's a very specific career goal. What role do if your ultimate goal, in which business function, in which industry, in what country?


Regional Sales Manager, Head of Sales Africa, Senior Director, etc.
Business function: Sales
Industry: Healthcare/Medical Device
Country: Any country in Africa, Top tier countries are Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. However, any can do.


[quote]I don't think that's a very specific career goal. What role do if your ultimate goal, in which business function, in which industry, in what country? [/quote]<br><br>Regional Sales Manager, Head of Sales Africa, Senior Director, etc.<br>Business function: Sales<br>Industry: Healthcare/Medical Device<br>Country: Any country in Africa, Top tier countries are Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. However, any can do.<br><br><br>
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Duncan

At the top end of your budget is the Illinois MSM: https://www.coursera.org/degrees/ms-management-illinois That's an excellent program but you will need a very strong application. I think they might look for people with excellent academic credentials. This is an outstanding option at your price point, and it's worth a try.

You might want to focus just in sales and marketing, in which case you might find a course for the CIM Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Marketing Level 7 taught by distance learning. That's very economical. 

The UK's Open University is an excellent, triple crown, MBA available in the developing world at a discount from Amity University, for the INR equivalent of around $8,300: http://www.amityglobalvarsity.com/Home/program_mba  

[Edited by Duncan on Mar 28, 2021]

At the top end of your budget is the Illinois MSM: https://www.coursera.org/degrees/ms-management-illinois That's an excellent program but you will need a very strong application. I think they might look for people with excellent academic credentials. This is an outstanding option at your price point, and it's worth a try.<br><br>You might want to focus just in sales and marketing, in which case you might find a course for the CIM Postgraduate Diploma&nbsp;in Professional&nbsp;Marketing&nbsp;Level 7 taught by distance learning. That's very economical.&nbsp;<br><br>The UK's Open University is an excellent, triple crown, MBA available in the developing world at a discount from Amity University, for the INR equivalent of around $8,300: http://www.amityglobalvarsity.com/Home/program_mba&nbsp;&nbsp;
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Geepee

Thank you so much Duncan. Sincerely appreciate your recommendations.

Thank you so much Duncan. Sincerely appreciate your recommendations.
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Hello Duncan Sir,

I'm the kind of guy you mentioned in this thread start. I have a pretty decent career for my generation in my country, looking for an MBA program but as you said, don't have a clear career goal

I started my career in a management trainee program in a Shenzhen e-commerce company. I left because my parents wanted me to focus on my study plan. I got an LoA from UKM GSB MBA on late 2020. The reason why I picked this program is simple: my sister sponsored me because she was pursuing her MSc in IIUM, so she expected me to accompany her in her apartment

But after the lockdown opened, my sister came back home in 2021 and continuing her study remotely until now. I deferred the LoA until it's expired after 2 semesters because my parents think it is pointless to study in abroad university without having the abroad experience

I am now working as a consultant outsourced by 2 different Singaporean outsourcing companies
1. The Glints Singapore, where I'm outsourced to a HK consulting firm FiveStones Ltd which was founded by an ex Mountain View Googler, as analytics consultant specialized in Google's CDP suite (including analytics and A/B test service)

2. A not so popular outsourcing company specialized in IoT where I'm outsourced to an Oracle consulting firm, as a managing consultant specialized in NetSuite finance

So I got 2x the $$ by working remotely from my parents' attic

I also have few startups, few as a co-founder and one as a limited partner. We're actively looking for investment and I would leave my outsourced jobs one I got one

Now that I realized:

1. My job is ultimately flexible
2. The pandemic curve is getting flatten at least in my country

I can continue to pursue my postponed mission. I don't need an executive program since a regular full time program won't distract my job. And my manager supports my study

I will wait if I will get an investment round until February. If not, I will pursue the MBA/MM/MSM along with my remote and flexible job, either abroad or local. I can't think for another country for abroad beside Malaysia because it's the only country with a living cost more affordable than my city, Bogor

I'm thinking to admit to the UM (not UKM) MBA. And if I'm not accepted, I will admit to entrepreneurship MBA of ITB where I was graduated from. But after reading several of your posts regarding MBA in Malaysia, I might as well consider Nottingham NUBS

My career goal is either, respectively,

1. Product marketing at Google Southeast Asia
2. Product manager at any company related to marketing technology, or
3. A finance consultant in a reputable firm

I don't have a strong desire in one specific field because as you know I currently handle multiple specialization of consultancy. I just have almost 3 years of exp and go with the flow. I took every opportunity to learn more experience while pursuing for a funding round

That being said,

1. What advice could you give to me regarding my career goal? Because as you said it should be specific enough
2. Do you think my plan to pursue the MBA is decent enough?

Thank you. Your keynote article inspired me already

[Edited by Muhammad Fikri Kawakibi Huda on Dec 27, 2021]

Hello Duncan Sir,<div><br><br></div><div>I'm the kind of guy you mentioned in this thread start. I have a pretty decent career for my generation in my country, looking for an MBA program but as you said, don't have a clear career goal</div><div><br><br></div><div>I started my career in a management trainee program in a Shenzhen e-commerce company. I left because my parents wanted me to focus on my study plan. I got an LoA from UKM GSB MBA on late 2020. The reason why I picked this program is simple: my sister sponsored me because she was pursuing her MSc in IIUM, so she expected me to accompany her in her apartment</div><div><br><br></div><div>But after the lockdown opened, my sister came back home in 2021 and continuing her study remotely until now. I deferred the LoA until it's expired after 2 semesters because my parents think it is pointless to study in abroad university without having the abroad experience</div><div><br><br></div><div>I am now working as a consultant outsourced by 2 different Singaporean outsourcing companies</div><div><br></div><div>1. The Glints Singapore, where I'm outsourced to a HK consulting firm FiveStones Ltd which was founded by an ex Mountain View Googler, as analytics consultant specialized in Google's CDP suite (including analytics and A/B test service)</div><br><br><div>2. A not so popular outsourcing company specialized in IoT where I'm outsourced to an Oracle consulting firm, as a managing consultant specialized in NetSuite finance</div><div><br><br></div><div>So I got 2x the $$ by working remotely from my parents' attic</div><div><br><br></div><div>I also have few startups, few as a co-founder and one as a limited partner. We're actively looking for investment and I would leave my outsourced jobs one I got one</div><div><br><br></div><div>Now that I realized:</div><br><br><div>1. My job is ultimately flexible</div><div><br></div><div>2. The pandemic curve is getting flatten at least in my country</div><div><br><br></div><div>I can continue to pursue my postponed mission. I don't need an executive program since a regular full time program won't distract my job. And my manager supports my study</div><div><br><br></div><div>I will wait if I will get an investment round until February. If not, I will pursue the MBA/MM/MSM along with my remote and flexible job, either abroad or local. I can't think for another country for abroad beside Malaysia because it's the only country with a living cost more affordable than my city, Bogor</div><div><br><br></div><div>I'm thinking to admit to the UM (not UKM) MBA. And if I'm not accepted, I will admit to entrepreneurship MBA of ITB where I was graduated from. But after reading several of your posts regarding MBA in Malaysia, I might as well consider Nottingham NUBS</div><div><br><br></div><div>My career goal is either, respectively,</div><br><br><div>1. Product marketing at Google Southeast Asia</div><div><br></div><div>2. Product manager at any company related to marketing technology, or</div><div><br></div><div>3. A finance consultant in a reputable firm</div><div><br><br></div><div>I don't have a strong desire in one specific field because as you know I currently handle multiple specialization of consultancy. I just have almost 3 years of exp and go with the flow. I took every opportunity to learn more experience while pursuing for a funding round</div><div><br><br></div><div>That being said,</div><br><br><div>1. What advice could you give to me regarding my career goal? Because as you said it should be specific enough</div><div><br></div><div>2. Do you think my plan to pursue the MBA is decent enough?</div><div><br><br></div><div>Thank you. Your keynote article inspired me already</div>
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Duncan

I can't make a specific recommendation to you,. And that would really require a personal consultation. However, because you don't have a clear goal you can't value it, and because you can't value it you cannot justify making an investment. As a result, you have a lack of focus and some self limiting beliefs. 

I can't make a specific recommendation to you,. And that would really require a personal consultation. However, because you don't have a clear goal you can't value it, and because you can't value it you cannot justify making an investment. As a result, you have a lack of focus and some self limiting beliefs.&nbsp;
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Mateen

Hello Duncan,

I have received unconditional offer from Bayes Business School (formerly Cass). My post MBA goal is to work in any of the big consulting firms in London. Do you think the school aligns with my post MBA goals? I know it is a famous school with good reputation among employers in the heart of London but I want to know what you have to say.

Hello Duncan,<br><br>I have received unconditional offer from Bayes Business School (formerly Cass). My post MBA goal is to work in any of the big consulting firms in London. Do you think the school aligns with my post MBA goals? I know it is a famous school with good reputation among employers in the heart of London but I want to know what you have to say.
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Duncan

Bayes has relatively low placement success: 81% in 2020, for example, compared to 96% at Warwick, 95% at Oxford, 90% at Cambridge and 88% at LBS. A better school would be better. 

Bayes has relatively low placement success: 81% in 2020, for example, compared to 96% at Warwick, 95% at Oxford, 90% at Cambridge and 88% at LBS. A better school would be better.&nbsp;
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Mateen

Warwick's 50% of the MBA is focused towards entrepreneurship and I am not interested in exploring entrepreneurship in such length as my post MBA goal is to find a job in one of the big consulting firms. Also the range of electives offered at Warwick is much less than what is offered at Bayes, in addition to one free elective every year. And Bayes is located at an attractive location right in the middle of the action. These factors make me tilt towards Bayes.

I know Oxford, Cambridge and LBS could be much better choices but I will be funding myself through savings and loans so it is one of main decision making factors for me.

Warwick's 50% of the MBA is focused towards entrepreneurship and I am not interested in exploring entrepreneurship in such length as my post MBA goal is to find a job in one of the big consulting firms. Also the range of electives offered at Warwick is much less than what is offered at Bayes, in addition to one free elective every year. And Bayes is located at an attractive location right in the middle of the action. These factors make me tilt towards Bayes.<br><br>I know Oxford, Cambridge and LBS could be much better choices but I will be funding myself through savings and loans so it is one of main decision making factors for me.
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Duncan

MBA specialisations, like the WBS one in entrepreneurship, are optional. I think you might be biasing your information search and prioritising the wrong things. 

MBA specialisations, like the WBS one in entrepreneurship, are optional. I think you might be biasing your information search and prioritising the wrong things.&nbsp;
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