‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ said the English author Edward Lytton. Taking a cue from this famous adage, it would not be out of place to say that in today’s world ‘The net is mightier than the jet’. Having completed a reputed program for senior executives from the top Business School in UK, I feel that blog would be a great medium of expression for reaching out to people and sharing my thoughts with those who might be interested in reading this.
Since the last one year many people have approached me to find out what the Sloan experience has been like, with the obvious question at the back of the mind ‘Is it worth investing a huge sum of money for a one year management program at a mid career stage in life?’. Honestly it is difficult to have a cookie cutter answer to the question because a whole lot of it depends on what a person aims to achieve in that one year and how he or she is able to leverage on the learning while building on the past professional experience. I will attempt to pen down the aspects that a person may want to consider before taking the decision to go in for a mid life academic retooling.
The reason that people opt for mid career management programs is primarily because they want to explore different career options such as the option of changing industry or job function or else reaching a higher level within their existing careers, exploring entrepreneurial options or expanding their existing business. These could be people who have harboured the ambition of going to the best B schools earlier on in life but could not do so, due to some reason or the other. Some who feel monotony setting in their current jobs are desirous of acquiring the skills that will help them to enhance their career growth prospects and make a transition to a different function or a different industry or to the next higher level. For such folks, a one year management program is generally the most favoured option, considering the opportunity cost i.e. forgone salary and repayment of loan, particularly when the candidate is not on a company sponsored sabbatical.
While considering the choice of the program, aspirants may want to look at the ones that offer insights into the best and current business practice and research, helps in building a global network, offer a diverse peer group and a good brand name. After attending the Sloan program, I can easily vouch for the fact that such programs help to widen one’s knowledge horizon, challenge one’s thought process, encourage lateral thinking and may ignite the passion for entrepreneurship. It is a riveting experience to hear from and interact with the top business leaders in the world, to understand and appreciate their views on policy and business matters. We learn to work in diverse groups consisting of people with different backgrounds, from different countries with different work cultures. The program is so engrossing that at times the means looks more important than the end. It involves a lot of hard work and before one realizes, the year gets over and one returns with the hope to get the opportunity to put into use the knowledge acquired during the year.
The other side of the coin to be considered is the placement options available after completion of the program. Here I must say that a lot of patience, determination & clarity is needed for chalking out the future career path. Prospective candidates are expected to have a mature mindset as the program prepares people for long term success. Such program cannot be looked upon as a short cut route to make quick bucks.
Unlike the MBA campus recruitments, the campus recruitments for mid career program are limited and very few in number. So it is advisable that the location in which a person wants to work is taken into account while selecting a B school program. Residing in the same geography in which a person wants to work gives visibility to the market and the recruitment scenario.
One has to be aware of the fact that recruitment consultants work on company mandates and they are likely to position a candidate only they see a great fitment of your profile with the requirement in hand. So consultants may not be the best route to take if one is looking for a change in industry or function.
In B schools a substantial emphasis is placed on networking. In order to effectively network it is crucial to understand the sector in which the person wishes to work & network accordingly. While for some it may yield quick results, for others it could be a long time before one gets good leads, contacts or references. It would be good to know the number of self sponsored alumni who could make a successful transition. Contacting alumni could be a good way to know how to go on about making the desired change.
Finally a candidate should not discount or rule out the possibility of joining back the same company as the one in which the person worked prior to joining the program. This is due to the fact that if one is looking for a change in function, it is easier done in a company where the person has worked before. After all it is easier to convince people with whom one has worked before than convincing a different set of people in a new environment.
With all these considerations, I believe, a person can make an informed decision to take up a mid career academic program.