Thomas MacKay, the assistant director of IT at Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia, asserts the authentic business boost an MBA gives to an IT management career. Below, his 10-point argument in favour of earning an MBAs:
1. It gives you credibility with your business peers.
Having an MBA demonstrates your commitment to the business because you've invested the substantial time and energy required to obtain the degree. It shows that you value the business perspective and recognize that the technology you implement, support and develop is intended to enable business activities and is not an end in itself. An MBA also indicates that you've mastered a certain level of knowledge in business management, which gives you the ability and confidence to speak on equal terms with executives outside of IT. Because IT touches nearly every part of the modern business enterprise and because IT managers are increasingly involved in business processes, the MBA adds credibility to your perspective when you're discussing technical solutions to business problems with your colleagues.
2. It teaches you to think like a business person.
As technologists, we're used to thinking in a linear and logical fashion: "If this, then that." This logical mindset is essential to writing good software, troubleshooting technical problems and managing projects. Business people, on the other hand, tend to think in terms of strategies and value, and human (customers and investors) reactions. The business perspective, by its nature, tends to rely more on estimation and trial and error. The ability to think like a business person is critical for technology managers, especially those of us who wish to position IT strategically within the company. We need to know how to plan, design and build an information architecture that is capable of supporting the business as it adapts to a changing marketplace. Without this business mindset, a CIO is at risk of creating an IT department that is too rigid, too slow or too restrictive to fully support the company's needs.
An MBA teaches you to look at problems and opportunities holistically. It also provides analytical frameworks, such as risk assessments, cost-benefit analyses and strategic plans, that you can apply to any problem or opportunity you encounter, whether in or beyond IT. The business mindset that an MBA gives you becomes habit because you use those frameworks repeatedly in a rigorous academic environment, and you see how they can be applied in a variety of situations from one course to another.
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