Gaining a worthwhile top-level business qualification has long been thought of as a sure-fire way to the Boardroom. But how can you compare two equally good qualifications, that each claim to be the better option?
Masters in Management (MiM) or MBAs? Which comes out on top? A recent article in the Financial Times claimed that MiM graduates will earn an annual average of £25,000 more than their counterparts if they have relevant work experience. Similarly, MBA students will enjoy a higher starting rate.
The FT spoke to Paola Bellis, an MiM graduate who secured an internship at Illycaffè during her degree. Afterwards she managed to land a job at the coffee company, and saw her salary jump by 60%. Typically, an MiM graduate can claim back fees and expenses with their first year’s pay – however, an MBA grad would take three years to see the same pay back.
Yet, MBA graduates have usually spent more time climbing the career ladder than MiMs on their exit from University, meaning their starting salaries will be higher - making the choice more difficult. For now, however, the choice seems to be a personal one as to how those with boardroom and business leadership aspirations believe the choice will impact their career path.
Andrew Crisp, CarringtonCrisp’s Co-Founder, gave his view on the choice between the two, to the FT: “Despite data suggesting the MBA is a good return on investment, the fees look expensive up front. As a prospective student, you may also think that if you need an MBA later, your employer might pay for some or part of it [or] that the future of personal development is more likely to be based around short-course non-degree programmes delivered online.”
Dr Kellie Vincent, MBA Director, Westminster Business School explains that as most ‘students’ undertaking an MBA have boardroom aspirations, many favour this route.
Speaking to The Association of MBAs, she said: “The final ingredient in a ‘route to the board’ comes as a result of spending time not in a classroom but in an actual MBA boardroom. Demonstrating you can perform in any kind of boardroom is essential for career agility. It has been illuminating to review different styles of boardroom - corporate culture and brand identity seem to seep into the fabric of this very special space.”
Yet, the value Vincent is placing in MBAs is often as a result of the boardroom experience they offer. When clients are looking for the leaders of tomorrow, it essential they have this but an MBA isn't the only route.
As Vincent said: “Demonstrating to employers that MBA graduates have the skills and attributes required to be a successful board director is possible because they have not merely been ‘studied’ but fully ‘experienced’." The experience is genuine boardroom exposure - something that businesses desire.
For the Executive Search firms involved in hiring, it could be easier to sell a client a prospective Executive if they’ve got a business qualification which involves actual experience. It might be that all post-graduadate business qualifications start providing their students with this so the route to the boardroom is quicker.