Considering the right MBA for you

There used to be a time when the basic qualification that you had to have in order to get a good job was basically a Degree.  Times have changed, and the requirement now is for a MBA and people are clamouring to get their qualifications fast.

What factors should you consider when choosing the right MBA for you?  This article hopes to present a few thoughts, ideas, and arguments.  Consider what is presented here and make the best choice for yourself.  Don’t always listen to what the marketing people have to say.  Ultimately they are looking to make a sale, and they really don’t care what happens to you afterwards.

Should I do a MSc or a MBA?

If your career is in a technical field it makes sense to do a MSc Degree, and in some companies this would be a requirement for you to advance to senior positions within the company.

Generally, I advise people as follows.  If you are now twenty something years old, and in a position such as Software Engineer, how long do you hope to be in that field, in that specific area?  As you get older, you would need to move into management if you are to be gainfully employed.  You can’t really be a 45 year old Software Engineer, but you can be a Manager, Senior Executive, Consultant, etc and it is your managerial, leadership, marketing, and other skills that will get you there.  Doing a MBA therefore makes sense as a future investment.

Should I do a local one or a foreign one?

Ultimately, that does not matter.  If the awarding institution is recognised, and thereby the qualification is recognised, that’s all that matters.  A MBA from a local university may be cheaper, but be mindful that British ones are also available in the 4xx,000 price range.  Also keep in mind that getting selected for a state university MBA programme may require you to face an entrance examination and a tough round of interviews so that they select the best people.  Gaining entry into a private sector MBA programme would be easier.

Indian, British, or Australian? Which should I do?

Ultimately, that’s your choice and it would probably be based on your affordability as well.  Let’s take an analogy for that.  There are many cars on the roads.  Which ones turn the most heads?  Are they the Indian cars or the European / Western ones?  Choosing a MBA is also similar.  You want a qualification that will add value to you and bring you recognition.  Not one that devalues you.  Having said that, the counter argument would be that Jaguar and Range Rover are owned by Tata which is an Indian company.  Very true.  I am not in any way saying that Indian MBA’s are bad.  There are actually some very good ones, if you look around.

Another way to look at it is, what’s the end result going to be?  A few years ago some representatives from an Indian University met me and a few others to promote their MBA programme and they were saying that those that complete the MBA can find work as Sales People in showrooms and so on.  Hence what he implied was that the curriculum of the MBA was focusing on that area.  MBA prospects here in Sri Lanka are much more different.  Do you do a MBA to become a Sales Person or to become a better Manager and a Corporate Leader?

Another example, there was an Indian organisation that contacted us asking whether we would partner with them to offer their MBA in Sri Lanka, and we politely declined.  They subsequently partnered with someone else, and are now offering a MBA below 300,000.  Choice is yours.

Lot of my friends did the MBA from XYZ Institute.  Should I go there?

You should not choose a MBA based on popularity and how many people are doing it.  Instead, it should be based on the recognition of the university and the programme and also based on how it is conducted.  Based on the argument that a lot of people are doing the MBA at XYZ, my counter argument would be that some models of cars are very popular and seen everywhere.  Then you have some makes and models that are rare, and they are the ones that people turn their heads to see.

This is basically your personal choice,  If XYZ is doing a good job, there’s no harm in doing it.  But when it comes to employment, you might wan’t to stick out from the rest.

What about Reputation, Recognition, Ranking?

Again, don’t look at the marketing hype.  Instead, look around.  Factors you may want to consider:

  1. UGC Recognition – check the UGC website and see whether the University you have chosen appears in either the Commonwealth Universities Yearbook or the International Handbook of Universities.
  2. Ranking of the University – not all can afford to go to the top rank universities like Oxford and Cambridge, so the rankings are not really worth talking about.  Rank is not that important, although it is a selling point to say that you are from a top university. Keep in mind however that there are various organisations that conduct rankings and that they are not done by a Government Agency.  Most are done by newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian
  3. Who can get into the MBA programme – If you are a senior manager, and you’re learning next to someone who is a fresh graduate, that doesn’t seem right.  Most MBA programmes would ask for a certain number of years of experience, to ensure that the qualification remains exclusive.
  4. Accreditation – some MBA programmes are accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) UK which adds extra value to your qualification.

What’s an Executive MBA?

A full MBA would generally require about 3 years of study, and this is aimed at fresh graduates.  However, for those with work experience there is no need to go through the full programme and hence you have accelerated MBA programmes which are known as Executive MBA’s.  If the MBA is 18 months or less, it is generally considered as an executive MBA.  Is this less recognised that a full MBA?  No it isn’t.  It simply means that you entered into it with qualifications and experience and did it fast, compared to a fresh graduate with no experience, who has to learn more.

Should I do a General MBA or one with specialisation?

A MBA prepares you for a higher performance threshold and sets your mentality at the higher executive level.  Unless you are working in an organisation in a very specific field and hope to go higher in that exact same discipline it might make sense to go for a specialisation.  Generally, I look at it differently.  If you are already working in HR, you have HR qualifications and experience.  Doesn’t really matter whether you do a MBA or a MBA with HR specialisation.  In the long term, it makes sense to go for a general MBA since it will keep options open for you.

12 or 18 month MBA?

As I said, these fall into the executive category.  With the work commitments that you have, would you be able to complete everything in 12 months?  Wouldn’t 18 months be safer?  Also, wouldn’t you learn more in 18 months, than what you learn in 12 months?  The general assertion here is that the longer the duration of the programme, the better the perceived quality and recognition of it.

Have a MBA, or Be a MBA?

If you’re simply looking to add the post nominal letters ‘MBA’ at the end of your name, there are plenty of cheap options available out there.  If you’re looking for a MBA programme that will transform you into a different type of professional who works and thinks at a higher level, then there there is a bright future open to you.

We generally do an entrance interview for those that apply for the MBA that we offer, and I usually do most of the interviews.  I often ask the candidate why they want to do a MBA and recently one of them said that all he wants are the letters MBA.  He also said that XYZ had offered him placement for less than our fee and was bargaining with us.  I told him to go to XYZ and that we don’t want to take him, and that I would even call XYZ and arrange a better discount for him!


Don’t make a hasty decision as you may regret it later.  Instead, choose well and invest your time and money.  Do the MBA for the right reasons, from the right place, and you will see that is transforms you into a completely different person.

Further questions

If you have any queries, either leave a comment and I shall try to incorporate the answer to the article, or send me an email at info @

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