MBAs: switched-on thinking

It's about 100 years since the first MBA course was launched in the US. They're now more popular than ever.

We speak to seasoned entrepreneurs who have used the course to fill gaps in their knowledge.

Most people would be satisfied with having turned around a 170-year-old wines and spirits business.

The finance director at Le Masurier achieved this and then thought an MBA at Manchester Business School would further fine-tune his business acumen.

‘I’m a huge fan of what can be gained. Having now come out the other side, I realise the network of professionals and peers is very powerful,’ he says. ‘It also gives you the ability to think laterally and see outside the box.’

While on the course, McCarthy was formally offered a promotion to become the new chief executive of the company – a position he will take up shortly. ‘I think all entrepreneurs should consider an MBA, although it won’t be appropriate for everyone.’

Xavier Adam, founder of public relations and media marketing company AMC Network, is a firm believer in gut instinct. He says: ‘Most of the best businessmen and women I’ve met don’t have MBAs. Entrepreneurs are born with certain skills which can then be nurtured in practice. It’s not something that you are sat down and taught.’

Alistair Benson, academic director at Manchester Business School Worldwide, concedes that the MBA skills can be picked up on the job, but argues there are definite advantages to a course.

‘An MBA speeds up the whole learning process. However, a lot of people think that all they need is a good idea then they will be the next Bill Gates.

‘They need to be able to measure the possibilities and capabilities of their business ideas becoming a success – which is something the MBA gives them the skills to do.’

For many, an MBA will polish already existing skills and provide useful contacts for the future. Ranjan Singh, chief executive of travel company Isango, studied an MBA at Insead in France to improve his business skills. ‘You are thrown into a network of very high-calibre people and those contacts are still very useful for my business now,’ he says.

MBAs normally cost between £28,000 and £45,000. A selection of institutions offering MBAs is below.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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