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Is this the right time for an MBA?

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 10:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 10:37am

Many business schools arrange information sessions in Hong Kong at this time of year and attract further attention with promotional ads at the airport, on trams, and even as banners on your computer screen. The basic aim, of course, is get people who have a few years’ work experience since completing their first degree to ask themselves: is this the right time to do a MBA?

MBA also requires preparation for and active participation in workshops, group projects and out-of-class events and activities

Personally, I decided the time was right shortly after I switched to my current job in 2012. Like many others, I initially struggled with the decision and then with the extra study commitments. But an essential part of the MBA training is time management. You learn how to balance your work, studies, personal and other commitments – and then you just get on with it. I started my programme in early 2013 and, soon after, was elected to four more non-profit committees – making a total of six – which I serve in addition to doing my full-time job. It makes for a challenging, yet exciting, range of responsibilities.

There are various unofficial guidelines on what to do and what not to do during an MBA programme. What I can see, though, is that in the last 18 months, one-third of my 30-strong intake have either changed jobs, accepted a promotion, moved home, started their own company, relocated to another city, or had a baby. Unlike my sister, who took a year out earlier in her career and did a full-time MBA, most people can’t now afford that luxury and take the part-time option instead. An MBA involves a serious commitment of time and money, and it is something of a risk to put one’s career on hold while studying.

One questions often heard in MBA information concerns the amount of study time needed each week when taking the part-time option. There is no golden rule, since it depends on one’s priorities and other current commitments. However, everyone should have the discipline to draw up and follow a regular study schedule. And remember that an MBA also requires preparation for and active participation in workshops, group projects and out-of-class events and activities. You will also be invited to attend numerous networking opportunities to extend your contacts and help your career.

In brief, there is never a perfect time to take an MBA, so deciding on the right time comes down to answering the “how” and “why” questions as they apply to your own case. In Hong Kong, many programmes using different modes of learning are available. When choosing, the key is to take time studying the prospectus, attend information sessions, and get satisfactory answers to every question. In the end, everyone chooses to do an MBA for a different reason – better career prospects, self-actualisation, networking, acquiring new skills and knowledge. But whatever the motivation, it is a significant commitment and should be thought through very carefully.