Four Reasons Why Techies Should Earn an MBA
Deepika Mahankali | MBA Class of 2019 | Student Stories
“So, what did you learn from your MBA? Has it transformed you?”
I recently graduated from Asia School of Business (ASB), established in collaboration with MIT Sloan, a school globally renowned for both Technology & Management. As someone who has worked with emerging technologies in a top tech firm, I often encounter inquisitive youngsters with similar backgrounds deliberating whether an MBA can add value.
To this, I can say yes, my MBA program has been truly transformational. Through courses such as Building Successful Careers and Organizations, Leadership, Communications, Negotiation, and Ethics & Corporate Accountability, I started reflecting on questions such as the purpose of my life, my values, and my mission.
Working on projects with people from diverse backgrounds made me more aware of my working style, strengths, and personality. This self-realization changed me as I started appreciating and building on skills that I already had.
Specifically, the MBA has added value in the following ways:
1. The MBA provided me with exposure to multiple industries and multiple functions.
As someone with a tech background, I didn’t have formal training in Finance, Marketing, Sales, Strategy, Operations, or Managerial Analytics. I not only learned these subjects from some of the best faculty in the world, but also applied this knowledge outside of the classroom.
Through the program, I solved real–world business challenges across several industries in the form of Action Learning projects, which exposed me to the ways in which businesses operate. This exposure, combined with a technical background, gave me a unique skillset that allowed me to design and implement solutions. Not to mention, I could understand the business implications of these technological innovations.
2. The MBA enhanced my ability to work with a diverse group of people.
In my cohort, I had the opportunity to work with students from 16 countries: Canada, Denmark, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Taiwan, Turkmenistan, the United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. The 2020 cohort also included students from countries such as Australia, Botswana, Bosnia, Morocco, the Philippines, and Russia.
I lived and interacted with this diverse group for 20 months, working with them on high–impact projects. From these experiences, I learned the importance of establishing good team dynamics, becoming more adaptable, appreciating different perspectives, integrating cultural differences and becoming more inclusive.
3. The MBA made me a better storyteller.
I gave innumerable presentations and pitches to CEOs, department heads and investors during my courses and projects, becoming a more effective presenter. For example, here is a pitch I gave for a strategy project with Nestlé on YouTube.
Of course, those in technical careers also give presentations and deliver trainings. But through my MBA, I was able to present financial projections, business models, and growth strategies using a data-driven storytelling approach.
4. The MBA provided a structure for problem-solving and decision-making.
Throughout the MBA program, I analyzed case studies and learned frameworks that stimulated my thinking. Further, the common practice of cold-calling improved my ability to think on my feet and develop a plan of action with factual support.
Tools such as Cluster Analysis and Discriminant Analysis, as well as courses such as System Dynamics and Financial Analytics enabled me to make well-informed decisions and create cost-effective strategies. Also, courses on Entrepreneurship and Strategy improved my ability to deal with ambiguity and emerge from difficult situations.
These days, when discussing the Future of Work, soft skills are often acknowledged as the skills most difficult for machines to replace. At ASB, soft skills are referred to as smart skills (read this article to find out why). Through the MBA program, I acquired a lot of these smart skills along with what ASB calls sharp skills.
While I believe that techies without an MBA can still acquire these skills, I credit the ASB experience with the transformation I underwent over the last 20 months.