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Why seasoned professionals should get an MBA

I've been an engineer and project manager in medical device industry for over 20 years. In that role, I have been on teams with marketing, sales, and finance people, but I was never impressed by their contributions. The marketing people always seemed to be glorified sales people that went around schmoozing their pet doctors and spending money on lavish dinners. They were almost never able to give the kinds of actionable information that the engineers and production staff needs to develop, set up, and run a production line. We need to know forecasts of sales so we can build molds with the right numbers of cavities, purchase components at the price points, hire and train production workers, and build facilities. Either we got over-ambitious starry eyed projections that left us with excess inventory or we got nothing and had to estimate for ourselves. At Carlson, I have been exposed to the right ways to do marketing research. There are, in fact, tools and techniques that can be used to study markets and develop sales campaigns. I always wanted to know more about them, and my Carlson experience has given me that opportunity.

Finance has always been a mystery to me. I've always been close to the product, either developing or products or processes. I've been concerned about material and labor variances, yields, throughput, and process optimization. I've never spent any time in the finance world. My core Finance class opened the door for me. This semester, I'm taking an advanced finance class and my team-mates include people that are full time financial analysts. It's a real eye opener to hear about their daily activities and their world-views. It's an opportunity that I would otherwise not ever have gotten. It's given me a new lens to view projects through and a new way of talking to management about project evaluation.

My advice to those that are considering getting an MBA is this; don't wait as long as I did. If you want to do it, it's is probably because you've got a limited view of the world and you know that you want a wider perspective. You know that you have more potential than your current position offers you. Don't wait, and don't go cheap. The difference between a top tier school, like Carlson, and an economy school is the caliber of people you will be working with. People don't go to a top tier school to get a piece of paper. They are more engaged and more driven.

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