WHY YOU NEED AN MBA
AUSTRALIA’S MBA INDUSTRY IS BURGEONING – AND WITH GOOD REASON. GRADUATES ARE NOT ONLY MORE ATTRACTIVE TO EMPLOYERS, BUT THE QUALIFICATION TRANSLATES TO AN INJECTION OF SERIOUS COIN.
There’s a well-worn adage that an MBA from ivy-league (and ivy-clad) Harvard Business School means a future milliondollar payday. And while that alone presents as desirable (especially if they throw in an oversized Harvard T-shirt), the reality of outlaying a hefty six-figure sum while losing income to study Stateside does dent its gravitational pull. Especially given the wealth of varying MBA programs – 69 and counting – on offer in Australia. Here at GQ, we’ve long likened MBA courses to a secret club offering entry to the upper-echelons of business via a secret tertiary handshake and the occasional drunken night with a wooden paddle (and perhaps a safe word). It’s an image that pushes a smirk across the face of Alex Frino, dean of Australia’s No.1 ranked – by the Financial Times – MBA program at The Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM). Still, he doesn’t shy from ruling out that top-tier networking informs this branch of post-graduate study. “A lot of people come in for the networking opportunity,” says Frino. “You’re going to be working and starting with a cohort of students who are like-minded and who come from different sectors – and you want to learn from them but also develop a relationship with each other. And with strong alumni programs they do tend to stay in touch and help each other out with work opportunities.” Beyond the handshake and prospect of future, leafy backyard barbecues surrounded by a sea of coloured polo shirts (collarsup, boys) and discussion of amateur ‘rugger’, studying for an MBA is about aspiring to become an industry leader. “That’s exactly what it is – it’s about leadership development,” says Frino. Largely aimed at 25-35-year-olds, each an undergrad with some realworld, office experience, most choose to study part-time (to maintain an income) though there are also opportunities to fasttrack things with a full-time 12-month program. Part-time studies, such as the one offered by MGSM, means an evening a week (and a half day on weekends) across four years. “You have to be dedicated and have got to want to be here. An MBA is for the person who wants to lead, but then how do they develop the necessary skill set to do so? That’s what we do.” While courses vary, top-flight schools build on the basics – technical training around finance, accounting and humans resources – to explore and develop character and personality. “Once you’ve done that core, then you step up and do the ‘soft skills’,” says Frino. “Most schools do it differently and some better than others – but once there, once at that level, it’s about working on ‘me’, on self-realisation and helping a person understand the strengths and weaknesses of [their] personality type.” It’s here that prestigious MBA courses tend to indulge experiential learning with practical elements that go beyond the classroom, what Frino terms “chalk and talk”. As for the costs – base programs start in and around $20,000, while loftier teachings, such as those presented by MGSM, cost $76,000. It’s no surprise then that 50 per cent of the current 20,000 Australian MBA students are fully-funded or subsidised by an employer. Still, the results seem to address the heady financial outlay with a solid ROI. “Should your salary increase?” asks Frino. “Yes. 40 per cent of the [school’s] ranking is driven by a person’s current salary and the [post-study] salary increase over three years. The average increase of salaries of the top 100 [MBA] schools, as written up in the Financial Times, is 100 per cent. And that’s just the average.” mgsm.edu.au
THE MACQUARIE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT’S ALEX FRINO.