In an ivory tower or at the coalface

How relevant is your MBA qualification?

How relevant is your MBA qualification?
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The MBA degree has been under close inspection in recent years with questions about its value and relevance being posed by business professionals and academia alike. Is the MBA overrated? Does it adequately prepare students to deal with real world challenges? Do South African business schools produce the skills that the leaders of our economy need? Are the MBA courses out there relevant to real business? Milpark’s experience with its MBA students and business partners indicates that there is value in an MBA for graduates and that provided that the MBA curriculum is well-designed and effectively delivered.

There are many reasons why South African graduates aspire to an MBA including that it may increase the prospect of climbing the corporate ladder, result in better earning potential, provide opportunities to work internationally, deliver an enhanced understanding of business, and create opportunities to network with like-minded individuals.

In fact, it is the high value that students place on these expected outcomes that mitigates the notorious personal sacrifices and substantial expenses associated with undertaking an MBA.

Besides teaching essential management skills, an MBA curriculum should be reflective of current economic conditions, both locally and globally, and influenced by ever-changing business trends.Milpark Business School recently reviewed its MBA curriculum to ensure that the focus of the programme remains firmly rooted in the South African context, with an additional focus on global events that influence the stability of the local economy.

We have focused on the critical skills that make our MBA graduates outstanding performers in the business environment. We also, importantly, want to create socially and environmentally conscious leaders, who consider what they can give back as much as they do the bottom-line,” says, Dr Cobus Oosthuizen, Dean of the Faculty of Management and Leadership.

Our MBA is about responsible leadership – the new curriculum includes modules that focus on insight and proficiency in the areas of business ethics, social responsibility, the environment and corporate citizenship.” One of the new modules focuses on the elements of global trade and the effect of trade on South African companies, especially with regards to the BRICS agreement.

In the most recent national PMR.africa survey of accredited business schools in South Africa offering MBA or MBL degrees, Milpark Business School was ranked in the Top Five, a fourth consecutive improvement in ranking. This consistent improvement in ranking may be attributed to the fact that Milpark keeps the MBA programme relevant and competitive through ongoing revision of the curriculum in response to changing business needs.

Milpark’s MBA teaches students how to lead effectively and to manage change in the business environment, with a strong emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and global-local thinking,” says Dr Oosthuizen.

An MBA programme does not belong in an ivory tower – it is as dynamic as the businesses it feeds, and it needs to adapt and evolve continuously to stay relevant.”

The annual Financial Mail - MBA Analysis was recently published, summarizing feedback from a number of institutions and their graduates with regards to their MBA programmes. The top two reasons for Milpark graduates undertaking an MBA include business education and personal skills advancement, which is consistent with the results of other business schools.

Another finding is that Milpark graduates saw an MBA as a means to improve their ability to think strategically, to solve problems, to conduct effective decision-making and to play a leadership role in an organisation.

Graduates reported on both the positive aspects of obtaining an MBA - improved strategic thinking ability, improved general business acumen, increased self-confidence - while acknowledging the negatives, such as little time for socializing and family while studying.

At such a high price, the effort has to pay dividends. An MBA that empowers you to meet the challenges of the current economic environment and anticipate future trends is a worthwhile investment.

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