Tuesday, February 03, 2015

If I had to do it all over again...

MBA bashing is the only constant in an otherwise changing world. Every year, I read at least one article with over a hundred thousand likes and ten thousand shares (just guesstimating, like a typical MBA), that lynches the mad MBA race, with the author going on to regret having spent time and money on a management degree.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I always was the kind that couldn’t make up my mind. Sometimes, it was music, sometimes writing. Some other times, it was history, only I never wanted to sit around excavating remains of 14th century Ming dynasty. Biology? Couldn’t draw to save my life, so the whole medicine business was out of the window. Look at me, calling medicine a business!

I wanted to specialize in languages, particularly English literature. It was promptly vetoed by my super-conservative-we-will-go-to-US-for-PhD family. So, I was left with little choice but to generalize rather than sit and code on Java and J2EE and .Net (I know those names, I am a ‘specialist’ Computer Science Engineer). 

I don’t remember much of my MBA. I think it had some vague terms like Black Scholes, law of diminishing returns, marginal utility, MBTI etc. But, I made a lot of very intelligent friends there whose brains I pick now (for free) to learn the answer to life, the Universe and everything (which apparently is not 42). And, somewhere down the line, I started liking being this generalist-nobody who doesn’t commit to specialist things, but just brings things together and packages them well for the market. 

So, what’s the harm? Some of us, perhaps many of us spend a good decade or two of our lives as confused souls with no knowledge of what we want to do and hence end up being generalists. And a few of us, after having got into specializations, are worried sick that we will become obsolete. And, consciously move towards the general with a management degree in hand.

The MBA is actually a consequence of our confusion, not cause for our confused careers. The MBA is a consequence of our risk aversion, not cause for our incapability to do innovative things. So, before bashing and blaming an inconsequential degree (for that’s what the "bashers" believe it to be), let us take a minute to reflect whether two inconsequential years can really wreck our lives so much that we will spend the rest of our lives writing about “If I had to do it all over again”.

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