There are many considerations of course that define the real value of an MBA such as the university and its curriculum, the quality of faculty and their academic and industry exposure, etc. But here is an essential truth about acquiring an MBA that not many people are going to tell you: what you put into the MBA in terms of your own engagement with the subject matter and assessing the potential application of theory is what will largely define the real value of the MBA to you as an individual and as a professional.

In general, there are three ways to look at the real value of an MBA program:

a) How this affects you at a personal, individual level
b) How this impacts on you as a professional in your career
c) How this impacts the financial rewards in your career

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

1- Personal Motivation

For many people who have been thinking about an MBA, more people will postpone the decision to do this than those who decide to take the plunge. One reason for this is just not having the time, opportunity or sometimes the finances to get going. But this feeling of wanting to do the MBA stays and becomes more pronounced with each year that you put it off. The feeling is like something is missing. Perhaps it is feeling a lack of achievement or perhaps there is a nagging worry that it is the lack of an MBA that is holding you back in your career. In some ways, completing an MBA is like getting a marathon under your belt. It provides a sense of satisfaction and personal motivation that you are now ready to take off on a new personal development trajectory.

2- Professional Benefits

The professional benefits are significant and can vary from person to person. For some, an MBA and an international one at that can open the doors to job opportunities that did not exist before. For others, getting that promotion they had been seeking for some time is no longer problematic because they have the necessary qualifications required for that position. For many, the MBA provides opportunities for either a change in industry or perhaps an international placement in their own organization or a new one.

Experienced professionals, particularly those with technical degrees, who are managing teams or who have supervisory positions start to develop their own ideas about how to lead and manage their people and resources better. They become much better at analyzing, formulating, reporting, decision-making and time management. Quite a few MBA graduates start to see beyond what their Bachelor degrees and exposure to date had taught them. They see the world and the opportunities available through a completely new lens that was just not there before. It is almost like new windows have opened up in the brain to provide visibility on new vistas.  For example, some may start thinking about teaching for the first time in their lives.

This is essentially a change of mindset. Sure you have heard stories about people who dropped out of their MBA to form great companies but haven’t you also heard about the thousands of young people who have done their MBA then set about to start innovative new businesses around the world? Main reason: a new motivation that does not believe in personal limits and a new, confident mindset that understands the world of organizations, management and business.

An MBA was never designed to make anyone a business or management expert. That is something only experience can provide. What an MBA does however is to provide huge confidence in knowing the game and the rules of business.

3- Financial Rewards

An MBA is not in itself a ticket to a higher salary or financial remuneration. But study after study shows that MBA graduates start getting recognized as being more competent and valuable in organizational roles very soon after they graduate hence the financial worth also starts to increase. Although a lot depends on the brand of the MBA, country, industry and type of position, it would be a general truism that professionals recover their investment in a good MBA within the first 3-4 years of completion.

In the older days, the traditional MBA methodology required an individual to leave the job and “go back to school”. This was a huge decision and involved a very significant trade-off. Now, with international programs that come to you, you do not need to leave your location, job or personal commitments. This is no longer the huge investment it used to be so the financial return is more substantial and faster than ever before.