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Why Pursue an MBA?

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On the question of why, the common theme was management. All three felt that an MBA would provide them with the additional skill set to work in management long-term (either within their current company or for their future entrepreneur ambitions). This included both project and team (people) management. As student engineers, we were taught to solve technical problems. For some of us, that training came with little consideration of real-world constraints like product marketability, cost thresholds etc. A business deMBAgree has the potential to balance out all the science and engineering we learned as undergraduates and provide a new perspective on approaching problem solving that can benefit work output.

The good news is that, depending on the employer, there may be company incentives for employees interested in higher education. The most common incentive was tuition reimbursement. So, if cost is no longer a limitation in obtaining an MBA, what's left? There are several options available for a person who wants to pursue an MBA. Some of these decisions include the type of program (business management vs. engineering management) and where to go (smaller or larger, well-known vs. no-name institution), then there is the choice of online vs. classroom (usually evening classes), time it takes to finish the degree (shortest was 18 months, longest was 3+ years). Most of these considerations will depend on one's purpose of getting the degree and the time he or she is  willing to commit to it.

Overall, all three thought their MBAs provided them with opportunities for future advancement and made them a well-rounded, more diversified engineer. It also provided them additional insight for project financial planning, business ethics, improved leadership and communication skills, multicultural understanding.

I would like to thank the three engineers that helped with this article: Courtney Fisk, Brady Lewis, and Kyle Teach.

Laura Pepple
University of Illinois
Livestock Extension Specialist

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