“I think there might be too many M.B.A.s running companies,” Tesla’s chief executive says.

Source: Elon Musk Decries ‘M.B.A.-ization’ of America – WSJ

Earning an MBA degree added important business skills to my background as a software engineer (BS computer science, then). Prior to the MBA, like so many people in software, every problem in the world looked like a software problem. The MBA program expanded my perspective to see opportunities and solutions across a wider spectrum. I also enjoyed working with students from many other backgrounds – both in skill sets and in working with international students[1]

Coming from the engineering side of the business, in tech companies that invested little to nothing in on going education of staff, my background was strictly product development – with no understanding of marketing, sales, accounting, finance – literally the “Business”.

The MBA is a complementary degree to those with other product-line value-adding skills – but may be not as valuable to those with a BA in business admin, or marketing.

I later completed an MS in software engineering during the last economic downturn, adding important skills too. My only regret is I did these degrees late in my career which limited my ability to fully exploit what I had learned.

[1] I am a failure on international skills. I grew up at the wrong time in the 20th century. No study abroad. No travel abroad. No work abroad. The closest I came was to coordinating the international conversion of some software via a company office in Ireland – but that was all done on the phone and email.

Today, I view international skills and international perspective as 100% critical to global thinking. I literally would not hire myself today because of this weakness.

2020 was to be the year I was finally going to start traveling and develop international schools. This has now postponed until 2022 – after which it no longer matters for career opportunities for me, unfortunately.

My advice to anyone younger – if in college, do a study abroad. If out of college, do international travel. If in the right kind of business, pursue work abroad – such as transferring to a company office in another country. Do anything you can to develop international skills and a global perspective. This if FAR easier when you are young – and possibly do not have a family in tow as well. Similarly, if you may pursue additional education – including an MBA, ideally do this no later than age 30-35. You certainly can pursue degrees later – but your best return on investment will be served if you do so much earlier. Plus, your graduate education will likely open up additional possibilities.

By EdwardM