The MBA (Master of Business Administration) is one of the most popular advanced degree courses in Kenya.
Each evening, we have hundreds of Kenyan professionals trooping back to class for this coveted qualification. They range from fresh graduates to experienced professionals. We have students who have taken loans while others use their savings to pay for the graduate degree.
The universities have taken note of the demand and virtually all of them have a town campus offering an MBA program. Some are offering distance learning to take care of students who can’t commute. To attract students, some go by the title of Executive MBA and universities like Strathmore and USIU have an exchange program with overseas universities where students visit to interact and share ideas.
As a recruiter, I meet many disappointed Kenyan job seekers equipped with an MBA but not securing jobs as they would have hoped to. Some have seen their careers stagnate despite being MBA graduates.
The reality is, pursuing an MBA is neither good nor bad by itself. It is the reason behind your decision that will determine whether an MBA will add value to your career and life in general. I’ll share some of the reasons why Kenyans pursue an MBA and why this tends to backfire.
I am guaranteed a job
The number one reason not to pursue an MBA is because it cannot guarantee you a job. I often see this with fresh graduates where after one or two years of job hunting without success, the individual decides to go back to class to ‘kill time’ and be ‘competitive’. For an entry level position you don’t need an MBA. Over 99 percent of all recruitments we do at Corporate Staffing require a first degree and a professional certification where need be. Very few employers are looking for MBA holders. And if they are, you’ll always see ‘MBA is an added advantage’.
I will get a raise
Another reason not to pursue an MBA is if you are looking for a salary raise. What you need to know is that you are as valuable as the contribution you bring to the company. Having an MBA does not necessary mean that you will contribute more. Employers look at your output. Qualifications will get you in but ultimately it’s what you do between 8 and 5pm that will determine your take home. The exception is if you work for the government, I understand they’ll pay you more for an MBA certificate.
It will boost my CV
The third reason not to pursue an MBA is the assumption that the MBA will make you competitive and that your CV will look good. Employers look at the skills you possess. If you know your worth and only have a diploma, employers will want to talk to you. As I have said before, employers will always consider candidates with more skills and less papers than one with advanced qualification and less skills. Instead of getting a loan and spending an evening in a class just to make your CV “competitive”, I’d advice that you become very good at what you do. Master your docket or profession and be the to-go person and I can assure that you will always be in demand.
For your information, Bob Collymore is a diploma holder and see where he is. Successful leaders and managers seldom have an MBA.
Taking an MBA should be a well thought out decision. Don’t go back to class because your age mates are doing the same. The decision to go for an MBA is not a simple one, and many factors should be carefully weighed to make sure it’s the right decision.
Perminus Wainana has over ten years experience in human resource management working with employers from different sector. Email firstname.lastname@example.org