According to Chadwick, an MBA ought to provide some of the tools you need for business success, such as skills in financial management and marketing, but it is no replacement for entrepreneurial drive. Indeed, there are those who maintain that entrepreneurship simply ‘cannot be taught’.
Xavier Adam, founder of marketing company AMC Network, 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.’
Alistair Benson, academic director at Manchester Business School Worldwide, agrees that it is possible to acquire MBA skills on the job, but argues that an MBA speeds up the whole learning process.
‘A lot of people think that all they need is a good idea then they will be the next Bill Gates,’ says Benson. ‘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.’
A few grey hairs
The average age of MBA students has been estimated at more than 25 but under 30. One powerful argument in favour of MBAs is the number of experienced business people who consider a course to be worth their while.
Brian MacCarthy is now group managing director at property investment firm C Le Masurier. Formerly the finance director, he helped turn around the 170-year-old business before deciding an MBA at Manchester Business School would help fine-tune his skills.
‘I’m a huge fan of what can be gained,’ says MacCarthy. ‘Having now come out the other side, I realise the network of professionals and peers is very powerful. It also gives you the ability to think laterally and see outside the box.’
Far from losing his footing on the corporate ladder, MacCarthy was formally offered a promotion to group MD while on the course. ‘I think all entrepreneurs should consider an MBA, although it won’t be appropriate for everyone,’ he concludes.
Ritz Steytler is another experienced businessman who decided an MBA would enable his career to take a new direction. He spent 12 years at Accenture and four at IBM before taking the plunge.
‘I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial’
‘I always wanted to something entrepreneurial,’ he says. ‘Business school opened my eyes to new things.’ In Steytler’s case, a thesis on “search funds”, in which budding entrepreneurs are backed by angel investors to search for and acquire a business, encouraged him to set up his own, for which he has secured more than 90 per cent of the required capital.
Clearly, undertaking an MBA course is an investment, and not one to be taken lightly. Tuition fees can be upwards of £40,000 at the top schools, as Carbon Clear’s Chadwick points out.
‘For most people, it will be the largest purchase, other than a house, that they ever make, so it’s essential that you research the school that you choose very carefully,’ he adds.
MBA application checklist:
- Think about your aims – what are you looking to get out of an MBA?
- Look in depth at the modules offered on the course – do they meet with your expectations and requirements?
- Are there any gaps in the syllabus? Can you take supplementary courses to fill those gaps?
- Research the alumni – where are they now and have they been successful?
- Can you afford the tuition fees?
Entrepreneurship at London Business School
Develop your entrepreneurial capabilities with London Business School’s Entrepreneurship programmes. For innovators and investors, the Growing your Business and Financing the Entrepreneurial Business programmes allow you to build upon your skills, and provide you with the knowledge and frameworks to maximise your business opportunities.