• Key questions when you’re getting ready for an MBA

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    If you’re looking to advance to a senior management role either in your current career path or an alternative one, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from an internationally renowned business school is an invaluable qualification to attain.

    The MBA provides a sound background in key business areas that help aspiring managers and business leaders take on new challenges, including setting up their own enterprises. MBA candidates gain an understanding and appreciation of the science of management, HR and organisational behaviour, entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, international business, economics, accounting, finance, operations management, marketing and project management.

    Full-time students will also usually undertake a placement within a business where they will be responsible for managing a real project.
    As with most things worth having, it is not a course of action to be taken lightly – don’t underestimate the commitment required to complete the MBA successfully. MBA courses at the leading institutions are rigorous and the shorter the course the more taxing it is likely to be.

    Here are some key things to think about as part of your planning and preparation.

    • What are your goals and aims in undertaking the MBA? Do you have a short and medium term career plan? How does the MBA fit into this plan?
    • Is it a logical stepping stone towards your goals? Conduct thorough research to find the type of MBA programme that best matches your career goals, lifestyle and financial status.
    • Are you and your family aware of the impact your study time will have on your family life? For example, you may be studying abroad; possibly away from your family.
    • Studying part-time and combining this with a job will help with finances but you need to take into account between 15-20 hours study per week, in addition to your preparatory work and participating in study groups. You need to be very organised and driven to succeed.
    • Can you commit for the period of time required? Most full-time MBA courses run for anything between 10 months and two years; part-time students can expect to do course work for at least five years over weekends and evenings. Some MBAs can be tailored to specific roles and business sectors and this may determine the length of the study time.
    • If you’re thinking about enrolling in a fulltime course, how will you finance your study as well as your normal household expenses while studying? Increasingly employers are willing to fund or part-fund the cost of MBA study because they are looking to promote from within the organisation and keen to develop talent and harness new skills. Support ranges from paying for course materials to full funding. Even if your organisation does not promote support for MBA study, it is worth speaking with your line manager and/or HR department to see if the organisation will consider sponsoring you.
    • If your employer is willing to sponsor your study, will this support be tied to a guarantee that you will return to the company after gaining your MBA? If so, how does this fit into your career master plan?
    • If you are self-funding your study, look into scholarship opportunities, as well as loans. Traditionally MBAs have been funded through loans. Banks have been willing to lend to post-graduates in the knowledge that once the MBA has been attained there would be a substantial increase in expected salary.
    • Also, look into financial support from the business schools you are considering – some provide lending schemes to help with costs.

    If you are a young engineer looking to develop your management knowledge and skills and considering an MBA, please look at the rest of the SMF Scholarship sections of this website applications for a £30,000 scholarship are considered on an ongoing basis, with up to ten awards made between August and September each year.

    You may also be interested in reading interviews with the winners of the SMF MBA Scholarship.

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