55 The importance of education
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55 The importance of education


Graham Clark
is a senior lecturer in Operations Management at
Cranfield School of Management. He is talking about the importance
of education for a successful career. Why do people take MBAs
during their career? There are a number of reasons
why people take an MBA. The economists would say
it’s all about money, so most people
want to get an uplift in salary, if only to pay for the MBA Degree,
which is not cheap. On the other hand, I think
a lot of people will take an MBA because they want to get
an acceleration in their career, they don’t necessarily
want to change jobs, but they want
to get on faster. Others very clearly want to
become General Managers and an MBA allows people
to get an overview of all the business disciplines
within a year or within two years, so again
it’s an accelerated progression. And for still others
it’s about choice. What do I want to do? I’m not going to be confined
by where I came from. So it’s about career choice,
maybe a bit later on in their careers. What do employers expect
from job applicants these days and does it depend
on the industry? I think it depends
not so much on the industry, though it depends
on the company. So some companies
have very clear procedures that they will only recruit people
with a certain kind of qualification: an MSc or an MBA or a Chartered
Accountancy, whatever it might be. And in those kind of companies
then you need to know what the hurdles are in order to get
even an interview. Other companies
within the same sector may say, Well, actually, I’m really
looking at an individual, I’m looking at their desire to work
for us, and may give people a chance, even though the qualifications
aren’t always there. Though there are some sectors,
some industry sectors which, I think, do tend to prefer their people
with qualifications in their area. So for example, retail
organizations tend to recruit people who have
retail qualifications, people in the hotel sector
also tend to recruit people who have hotel
qualifications. But it really does depend,
I think, a lot upon the individual
organization as much as the sector. In your opinion, what is the best
path to a successful career, a strong educational background
or working your way up? I’m afraid I am going to give
the academic answer: It depends. I think
for some people they know almost straight away
what they want to do with their life. They’ve got a business idea,
a Richard Branson or an Alan Sugar, these are the sort of people
that know they want to get into wheeling and dealing
and they’re there straight away. Others,
they’re not so sure and one of the advantages of
a formal business qualification, in particular, it allows
people to really think about, so what
do they want to do, and gives them that start
which maybe they don’t have. So I think the other thing
I want to say is that the best leaders often have taken time
to really think about what they need to do, and again formal education
may help with that. Can you think of someone who has succeeded
in business without a formal education? Well, I suppose one of the world’s
richest men is Bill Gates. Bill Gates actually did start at Harvard,
but he dropped out, I think, after the first year, so I’m not sure that
really counts as a formal education. But he had a passion and
a business idea and, of course, that’s worked
really well for him. Can you think of someone
who wouldn’t have succeeded in business without
a formal education? One of the people in my mind
is a guy called Andy Harrison, who until recently
was CEO of easyJet. And if you look at Andy’s career
post doing an MBA, he became a consultant and then
worked for a number of organizations before becoming
CEO of easyJet. And what Andy would say
is that the MBA gave him, what he called,
the jargon-busting guide. So although he’s not an accountant,
he knows how to speak to accountants, although he’s not a marketeer,
he knows how to talk to marketeers, and the MBA did that for him,
and it also allowed him to get past the first
hurdle in his career. Post that, it’s all down
to his determination and it’s all down to his clarity of goals,
but there’s no doubt that the… the business qualification gave him
the first step on… on the ladder.

One Comment

  • Alexandre Clemente

    Video Script

    Why do people take MBAs during their career?

    There are a number of reasons why people take an MBA. The economists would say it’s all about money, so most people want to get an uplift in salary if only to pay for the MBA Degree, which is not cheap. On the other hand I think a lot of people will take an MBA because they want to get an acceleration in their career; they don’t necessarily want to change jobs but they want to get on faster. Others very clearly want to be become General Managers and an MBA allows people to get an overview of all the business disciplines, er, within a year or within two years, er, so again it’s an accelerated, um, progression and for still others it’s about choice: ‘What do I want to do? I’m not going to be confined by where I came from.’, so it’s about career choice, maybe a bit later on in their careers.

    So what do employers expect from job applicants these days,

    and does it depend on the industry?

    I think it depends not so much on the industry, though, er, it depends on the company, so some companies have very clear procedures, um, that they will only recruit people with a certain kind of qualification an *MSc or an MBA or a Chartered Accountancy, whatever it might be, er, and in those kind of companies then you need to know what the, the hurdles are in order to get even an interview. Er, other companies within the same sector may say well actually, I’m really looking at an individual, I’m looking at their desire to work for us and may give people a chance, even though the qualifications aren’t always there, um, though there are some sectors, some industry sectors, which I think, do tend to prefer their, people with qualifications in their area, so for example, retail organizations tend to recruit people who have retail qualifications, people in the hotel sector also tend to recruit people er, who have hotel qualifications. But it really does depend, I think, a lot upon the individual organization as much as, um, the sector.

    MSc – Master of Science. A Master of Science (Latin: Magister Scientiae; abbreviated MS, M.S., MSc, M.Sc., SM, S.M., ScM or Sc.M.) is a master's degree
    in the field of science awarded by universities in many countries or a person holding such a degree.

    So in your opinion what is the best path to a successful career

    – a strong educational background or working your way up?

    I’m afraid I am going to give the academic answer, it depends. I think for some people they know almost straight away what they want to do with their life – they’ve got a business idea, a Richard Branson or an Alan Sugar – these are the sort of people that they know they want to get into, er, *wheeling and dealing and they’re there straight away. Others they’re not so sure and one of the advantages of, of formal um, business qualification, in particular, it allows people to really think about, ‘So what do they want to do?’ and gives them that start which maybe they don’t have, so um. I think the other thing I want to say is that, um, the best leaders often have taken time to really think about what, what they need to do, and again formal education may help with that.

    *wheeling and dealing – the act of trying to make a profit or get an advantage using clever or complicated methods and often deceiving people or breaking the usual rules.

    Examples: It's an article about all the wheeling and dealing that goes on
    in financial markets.

    The project required years of intense wheeling and dealing.

    Can you think of someone who has succeeded in business
    without a formal education?

    Well, I suppose one of the world’s richest men is Bill Gates, er, Bill Gates actually did start at Harvard, er, but he dropped out, I think, after the first year, so I’m not sure that really counts as a formal education, but he had a passion and a business idea and of course that’s worked really well for him.

    Can you think of someone who wouldn’t have succeeded in business
    without a formal education?

    Er, one of the people in my mind is a guy called Andy Harrison, er, who until recently was CEO of easyJet, and if you look at Andy’s career post doing an MBA, he became a consultant and then worked for a number of organizations before er, becoming CEO of easyJet. What Andy would say is that the MBA gave him, er, what he called the jargon-busting, um, guide, so although he’s not an accountant, he knows how to speak to accountants, although he’s not a marketeer, he knows how to talk to marketeers, and the MBA did that for him and it also allowed him, er, to get past the first hurdle in his career. Post that, it’s all *down to his determination and it’s all down to his clarity of goals, um, but there’s no doubt that the er, the business qualification gave him the first step on, on the ladder.

    down to – BRITISH – Used for saying that something is caused by something else

    Example: Of course there are long delays, and it’s all down to a lack of planning.

    Compare that to, to Richard Branson, then clearly he had a determination to succeed and an eye for an opportunity. What Richard has done, I think, is manage to build around him a team of people who really support him and allow him to continue to succeed; that would be true for Andy Harrison, too. He would also say – getting the right team is really key to success.

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