Being a technology- and math-oriented self-proclaimed nerd, you might not be interested in more abstract, broader business skills. That’s a trap that a lot of STEM stars fall into. They’d soon come to realise that this perspective could be short-sighted.
While having specialised skills will get you far, the ones who really get ahead of the pack normally have skills beyond the designated field. At the end of the day, the only way to move up beyond middle management or just utilising your particular skill set is through leadership and people management. According to the NSW’s Future Workforce Trends report, the professional and managerial roles are unlikely to be computerised due to the ‘non-routine thinking and high-levels of creativity and originality.’
You have to be able to see the bigger picture and provide direction on the team’s (and the company’s) longer-term strategy in terms of its data and organisational architecture to ensure that the processes best support the activities of human and technological resources.
Agility and well-roundedness are two of the must characteristics for those pursuing leadership positions. When your scientific and analytical mind is combined with practical business skills, your future will be more within your control.
How does an MBA actually make me a better resource?
There are no clean statistics that demonstrate comparative performance levels between STEM workforce with more business skills vs. not.
Many tech giants such as Amazon, however, look for talents (product managers, for instance) among MBA graduates. If you have a STEM background and are enrolled in the MBA program, your access to all the tech giants becomes a lot easier.
Not only that, pursuing an MBA along with your technical skills shows employers that you are willing to get out of your comfort zone to continue pushing your own limits and that you are committed to becoming a leader.
In order to provide and execute the most sensible solutions, technical knowledge could only take you so far; understanding the business strategy as a whole is necessary to make decisions in the benefit of the long-term success.
Business acumen should also come in handy if you want to start your own business. You will be more equipped with knowledge and inspire more confidence in the investors that you are capable of building and managing diverse teams in your company.
All in all, being a STEM talent with an MBA will make you a force to be reckoned with.
Is it really worth the financial and time investment?
Back in the olden days, MBA required 2 year full-time commitment with hundreds of thousands of dollars investment. It was for the elite of the elites.
However, in today’s more decentralised environment, you can easily find a program that accommodates not just your career goals but your schedule, budget, and preferences. You can opt in for online programs where you may accelerate the timeline if desired and have a lot more flexibility in how you design the syllabus to ensure you get the most out of it.
You could engage with the larger community of fellow students both offline and online to help expand your network on your own terms. These programs tend to be a lot more affordable as well.
Am I qualified to apply?
Yes, as long as you hold an undergraduate bachelor degree and have some work experience under your belt, you are good to go. If you are a little nervous about joining a program, check out the advice from JCU online to see how you can best prepare yourself and make the most of your experience.
Any other advice?
Think about what you are passionate about. You don’t have to make all the decisions before you take the courses; be sure to keep asking yourself what you like and what you feel most enthusiastic about before, during and after. This will allow you to zoom in on areas of focus and delve in deeper more quickly.
For instance, if you feel yourself drawn to ad tech (marketing), then you can opt in for additional courses, training, or extracurricular activities in the area that would all eventually lead you into the field.
Do you want to focus on improving your interpersonal and communication skills? Find courses that will help you practice presentation and require a lot of group collaboration.
MBA is not just about the academic knowledge but the practical experience that will help cement the new knowledge. So be sure to sign up for additional projects, networking events, competitions and challenges, etc. for your own benefit.