Kelvin Chong is a manager in the transactional services division at Robert Walters in Hong Kong.
I have a degree in computer sciences and for several years I’ve been managing an IT department in a small company. I can’t really see much future in my role and am wondering whether an MBA might open up more management roles or start-up opportunities where I have more freedom. However, some colleagues tell me MBAs are an outdated concept and I should rely on my hands-on experience instead to get a job in a bigger company. Are MBAs really a waste of time?
There is always a strong demand in the market for skilled IT candidates. When it comes to jobs in the IT sector, skill sets and relevant work experience in specific software is generally the most important hiring criteria. Hands-on experience is definitely important when it comes to job-hunting due to the need for IT workers to undertake practical tasks. %The lack of skilled workers in the market is also a factor.
From my point of view, an MBA might not offer an immediate advantage when seeking a new job or start-up opportunities, but it is also not an outdated concept. There are increasing numbers of MBA courses in the market offering those who work and learn the chance to achieve higher academic qualifications. However, you need to be sure that the long-term investment of studying for an MBA will add to your potential for achieving a management position in the future, and provide self-enrichment.
The core programme of an MBA involves a two-year course covering various areas of business operations, including accounting, marketing, HR and general management strategies. It is best suited for individuals with a few years of work experience.
The general public has certain misconceptions about an MBA being a direct qualification for higher pay and promotional opportunities. In my view, an MBA best suits entrepreneurs in a start-up, or mid- to senior-level management staff who are required to oversee and review the general operations of a team or a company. It may not always be the best choice for technology or knowledge-based employees – such as IT, accounting and legal professionals – who usually require specific skill sets or recognised professional qualifications.
If you feel that there is limited career development at your current company, you should speak to your supervisor about your concern. There is also no harm in starting to explore other opportunities in the market.
With regards to studying for an MBA, give it more thought before making a decision. You should think about your career goals and how you can benefit from studying for an MBA. There are many other qualifications and courses that can help to expand your skill set and aid career development.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Will an MBA open up more tech management roles?