When is an MBA Valuable?

Danny Miller, a professor at HEC Montréal business school, and Xiaowei Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island, studied 444 CEOs who had appeared on the covers of Forbes, Business Week, and Fortune over nearly four decades - from 1970 to 2008.

They analyzed the performance of the companies headed by these CEOs for the period after the magazine appearances.

The companies headed by MBA's performed significantly worse than those without MBA's - with a 20% greater market decline after 3 years - and the performance difference remained 'significant' after 7 years.

Yet the MBA's' compensation increased more than non MBA's' - a rise of about 15% faster after 3 years, and they were paid about $1 million more each year - I guess the "getting yourself a fat pay rise even when your company is sinking" is a well-attended class at MBA school.

Jokes aside, there are some phenomenal MBA's out there, I know many personally. But, IN GENERAL, they are phenomenal despite their MBA's, not because of them.

However, an MBA is often valuable to the person that does it - if you don’t have a strong brand on your CV, an MBA can be a great way of buying that brand and getting a job that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get - but ironically it generally won’t help you do that job. That is the best reason to do an MBA, in terms of career.

Listen, an MBA really is a mindset disadvantage - "most MBA graduates are not useful… unless they come back from their MBA studies and forget what they’ve learned at school, then they will be useful." - Jack Ma.

Bob Norton is a long-time Serial Entrepreneur and CEO with four exits that returned over $1 billion to investors. He has trained, coached and advised over 1,000 CEOs since 2002. And is Founder of The CEO Boot Camp™ and Entrepreneurship University™. Mr. Norton works with companies to triple their chances of success in launching new companies and products. He helps established companies scale faster using the six AirTight Management™ systems. And helps companies raise capital.

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