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Management at heart of MBAs

In the final instalment of a four-part series on leadership training, Noel Dyson considers the value of Master of Business Administration programs.

MASTER of Business Administration programs have been growing in popularity for the past two decades, however on their own they provide graduates with no guarantee of landing a job in a leadership position.

Many universities are starting to expand on the traditional MBAs by offering speciality components or even targeting them specifically at senior executives.

Some human resources experts, and indeed some academics, believe MBAs are more suited to bolstering people’s management skills and not necessarily their leadership capabilities.

Robert Walters general manager WA Bruce Henderson said human resources companies tended to take a holistic view of a candidate and how that person matched with the needs of the role.

“If a person has gone off and done 10 leadership courses but never held a leadership role then they may not be a leader,” he said.

“However, if a person has been a project manager and done some training around that role, then that will be well received. We like to see that someone has been trying to update their education.

“With MBAs we’re looking at the institution the person received it from.

“An MBA course may not be a guide to leadership.”

TMP Worldwide practise manager Human Resources Consulting Group, Michael Curtin, said that, as an MBA holder, he had a biased view on their value.

“However, from a recruiter’s point of view, often an MBA doesn’t make a difference,” he said.

“From a candidate perspective, if you’re coming from an area that doesn’t have these skills [taught in an MBA] then it can be good.”

Mr Curtin said people considering an MBA should ask themselves why they wanted to do it.

“The statistics show that MBAs garner between $20,000 and $30,000 on top of what the person was earning before, but that depends on how the person pushes themself,” he said.

“In my experience an MBA gives a person greater flexibility.”

Curtin Graduate Business School Executive MBA program director David Blyth said the program was designed for people already in senior management roles.

Besides the Executive MBA, the university also runs a range of leadership and management courses, including a traditional MBA.

The Executive MBA course’s current intake includes senior managers from Robe River Iron Ore and BankWest’s chief operating officer.

“I think an MBA is a broad-based credential that gives a broad skill set that’s portable across a number of enterprises,” Mr Blyth said.

“The one we run at Curtin [Executive MBA] is different from any of the models run in Australia that I’m aware of. It’s a more intensive course.”

University of Western Australia Business School executive dean Paul McLeod said one of the biggest benefits from an MBA was the networking opportunity it provided.

“You have a cohort of like-minded people who think about business the way that you do,” he said.

“It’s also been a way of accumulating knowledge in a formal way. It brings a discipline to business thought.”

Dr McLeod said the dynamic nature of MBA programs, which ensured that they stayed current with business needs, was one of the main reasons for their longevity.

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