MBA: Is It Right For You?

What is the value of an MBA degree? Is it right for you? Let’s find out in this week’s episode.






Let me start with the punch line;

MBA… definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, 100% boosts your career. Whoever doubts this, is either incredibly incompetent or has a different agenda.

So your starting point shouldn’t be whether it's valuable. Because it is. But your starting point should be whether it's valuable enough that justifies your actual money and time investment, and the opportunity cost you create by not working for 2 years.

So, let’s find out if an MBA degree is right for you.

The way I see it, you gain 2 types of returns by having an MBA degree;

First one is that you learn. You obtain the sort of a cohesive understanding of how business works. You learn everything from marketing to business strategy to corporate strategy to accounting.

And the second benefit is that You get an increased salary from your current employer. Or get a new job with a higher salary in a new organization.

So, let’s talk about them one by one. And see if they are really as beneficial as you may think.

By the way, I do have an MBA degree. In fact, it’s from one of the top 10 business schools in Europe, It’s Cass Business School of City University London. I graduated in I think 2012. I was 29 years old at the time.

My experience is a great case study for you because you’ll hear about not only the short term benefits but also long term benefits of the program. So, please pay attention.

Let’s first start with the Education.

Now, in an MBA degree, you definitely learn a few things that you didn’t know before. But I certainly doubt you’ll learn enough to justify the investment. You will not learn anything that you can’t learn from books.

Do you want to learn strategy? Good go read Michael Porter’s books, want to learn Marketing good go find experts in the field and read their books. Your professors will teach the same stuff just more filtered, condensed,  and presented with slides and case studies. So, the value isn’t really in the knowledge.

MBA is too general for it. It may give you that cohesive business understanding but not specific enough so that you can develop strategies to win. MBA is a mile wide but inch deep. You’ll know about segmentation, positioning, fine.. but that’s just too high level. That’s not what is needed for the majority of corporate professionals to win. Or for entrepreneurs. For example, you learn general marketing, like; positioning, segmentation in MBA, but in the real world, what you need to know is the conversions, funnels, how to create funnels, marketing for specific platforms, digital A/B testing, SEO, PPC, you know... The knowledge you learn at MBA is really applicable to CMOS or CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.  It’s not detailed enough.

And the other issue is the fact that the world of business is changing faster than their ability to update their curriculum. So, they are always lagging behind.

In simple terms, MBA definitely doesn’t make you a better employee. It doesn’t make you a superstar performer. I’ve learned this the hard way.

After my MBA I ventured into consulting, I first worked with a consulting firm called AccountAbility which focused on sustainability consulting. And, in that firm my MBA sort of held its ground. It was OK.

But then after AccountAbility, I joined PwC Consulting. PricewaterhouseCoopers. And that’s where shit hit the fan.

Excuse my language.

I was very confident you know. I thought I am the shit. I have an MBA degree from one of the best schools in the world, I spent 2 years and tens of thousands of pounds. I am also coming from another consulting firm. I know what I am doing.

I had the shock of my life in my first month. The level of intensity, intellect, knowledge, expertise, action, the thought process those guys play at, it’s just out of the world.

It was not something I had ever even thought of. And I am not even talking about managers or partners, I am talking about junior consultants, senior consultants. Guys who report to me. In my first maybe up to 3 months, I failed at everything.  I failed at consulting, quality client work, in my presentations, and even leadership. My confidence took a beating you know. This was 5 years ago.

So, that’s when I learned the hard way that while an MBA supposedly prepares you to all these top notch consulting firms or investment banks, the reality is that they don’t.

I mean, fortunately, I adjusted very quickly and I survived, then I eventually thrived. But even after 5 or 6 years now, I still can’t forget the shock that I had. It was a shock that lasted over 3 months.

Ok, I hope this was clear.

education quality? don’t expect miracles…

Next, is the return on investment. So, you get that either through an increase in your salary from your current employer or you get a new job with a higher salary in a new organization. This is true and if you are in management consulting, corporate finance, investment banking, and consumer goods then you’ll probably benefit the most.

In fact, if you are smart about just 1 thing, then you can benefit immensely.  I am going to share with you what that 1 thing is, just in a minute. But I need to first give you an analogy.

Think of your career as a computer. Like an assembled pc. All your previous employers and your schools are the components that make up that computer.

So, when a buyer looks at the computer, it doesn’t really look at its case, right? You look at its components. You say oh it has a Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card or you say it has an unknown name graphics card from North Korea. This is very similar in your career. The brand name of your previous employers or your business school gives you the credibility. And that credibility makes you jump to the next level in your career.

But Deniz, why is brand name important? I mean you can still be a kick ass professional, even if you don’t come from big name employers or schools. So, there are 2 answers to that question.

First one is the obvious one. Better training, better exposure, more competitive environment, well-educated and experienced team members. This is the obvious one.

But there is also a less obvious reason, and this is highly true for consulting firms and investment bankers. See, consulting firms, essentially sell 2 things; they sell their track record in certain work packages, right? Like the experience of the firm. But they also sell your profile. In each proposal we prepare, there is always a detailed section where the background of the consultants goes in. And trust me, that’s usually the first section clients look at. You give a 100-page proposal, the first thing they do is open it up and look at the people. And that makes perfect sense. Firms don’t exist. They are the only bunch of people put together to deliver certain value adds. It’s people.

So, continuing with the same analogy, your resume, is nothing more than the brochure of that assembled computer. That means the more brand names you collect as components, the more chances you will have.

Why did I give this analogy?

It’s because, if you are going to have an MBA degree, the worst decision you can make is to go invest that money and time into a school that doesn’t even have a strong brand name. Because the brand name is the only thing you are getting out of it. That brand name converts into money, not the knowledge.

Anything below the top 100 MBA programs in Financial Times rankings, in my opinion, should be avoided like the plague.

And if you want really strong returns, then I suggest you stick to only top 10.

Let me share with you why I personally wanted an MBA degree and how it turned out for my career.

See, after I lost my job with Standard & Poor’s back in 2008, I had many opportunities. I had Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and even Bain interested in working with me. But the salaries they offered were not what I was expecting. I was relatively young, and I didn’t have a pretty strong vision for future. I didn’t have mentors sort of guiding me. So, I did a pretty stupid thing and joined a no name local company, who paid me a lot of money. They paid me more than triple of what the big name employers offered me.

I think I was 26. So, I kind of cashed in the brand name of Standard & Poor’s. And I made almost close to USD 100,000 salary. First, it was amazing, I bought sports cars, I bought Honda 2000, then BMW M3, I lived a pretty lavish lifestyle for a few years.

This continued until when I lost that job in 2010 during downsizing. That’s when things got quite ugly.

I was stupid, I had no savings, I spent it all on cars and parties. And that was it.

But I still somehow thought that all those big name firms would still come and hire me. I mean they were interested in me just a few years ago. Right?

Wrong! I was no longer the “S&P guy” in their eyes. I was a local company guy. They no longer even wanted to have interviews with me. Nothing, the doors were shut.

Then I settled for another local company to pay the bills, again a no name employer. And it was really downhill from there. So, within as little as 3 years, my career was destroyed. It felt like I fell from the champions league down to UEFA cup. Not even that, even worse, like down to 3rd league. And that’s exactly what it was.

That’s when I realized that I need a brand name again in my brochure.

I knew that even after the MBA it won’t immediately put me back to champions league, but at least it could open more opportunities which can become a stepping stone to where I want to be.

And that’s exactly what happened.

I graduated from my MBA, and I joined a well-known but boutique consulting firm which specializes in sustainability consulting. Then, I leveraged that experience to jump to PwC Consulting.

Ok, that’s it for today.

But before I conclude the video, let me briefly talk about the LIG program. If you are following my channel for some time you’d know that this channel entirely exists so I can have an opportunity to present my LIG program to you. I strongly recommend you check it out if you are unemployed or underemployed. Especially Before you consider an expensive program like MBA. Because you may not be aware of certain advanced strategies that will land you those jobs with multinational companies.  Maybe all you need is a quick fix to get the jobs you deserve. The program is not for everyone for sure. But it doesn’t hurt to just take a look. Maybe it can save you from a very large investment. Plus, LIG comes with direct online support from me. So, I personally answer all your questions. It’s pretty awesome. Just Check it out.


See you next week.