Executive Q & A: MBA Programs

Executive Q & A: MBA Programs

The decision to pursue an MBA is a big one. The San Diego Business Journal recently spoke with three university administrators about master of business administration programs, and how to evaluate the merits of competing MBA programs. Read on for their thoughts:

Q: Why pursue an MBA?

A: MBA programs provide you with the breadth of knowledge and experiences that give you an edge in growing your career and the company unit at your workplace. In early stages of your career, you need depth in one field of expertise which you can utilize to contribute in your job. As your responsibilities in your position grow, and as your ambition for promotions in your career grow, you need a broader base of expertise. You need to understand the interdependence between financial, marketing, personnel, technology, and operations departments. A broad base of knowledge and understanding allows MBA graduates to leverage several tools and manage the power of a wide array of opportunities to grow their careers and companies. As a manager, MBA graduates have a competitive edge.

Evening options for pursuing an MBA are popular. The California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) at Alliant offers an evening MBA which allows you to come to campus in the evenings while continuing to work. Two evenings a week will allow completion of Alliant’s MBA in one year. CSML also offers Specialized Masters programs such as the MS in Data Analytics, MS in Healthcare Analytics, and MS in Information Systems and Technology.

Q: What are the top three things to ask about an MBA program?

A: An MBA program should lead to upward mobility in your career. It should strengthen your resume for your next promotion or for your next job. For this, the MBA program should be reputed and well-established, so, the first question to ask is about the accreditations the university and the management school possess. Alliant has been accredited by WSCUC for more than 25 years, and the MBA program is additionally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

A second important question is to ask whether the courses give you exposure to applied and hands-on work which will help you establish credibility and expertise in interviews and on the job. Alliant’s MBA courses include applied projects and internship opportunities which build your confidence and strengthen your resume and portfolio for that next job or career. Our Professional Practice Capstone courses involve projects for real clients in current markets and contemporary management environments.

The third question to ask is about the profile of the program faculty. Alliant’s MBA instructors have classroom experience and are professionally qualified, working in companies relevant to the demands of your future job and career.

Q: Technology seems to be driving new, idea-based business ventures. With so many technology-focused business plans, is there a greater need for people who understand the business process — namely, MBAs?

A: Technology has been the driver of several new ventures, and these technology products and businesses—in fact—highlight the need for managers and business process professionals even more.

MBA programs provide the exact skills needed for these businesses to become a success. Where would Amazon, Instagram, Tesla, Netflix—as just a few examples—be without those who understood marketing, consumer needs, operations, technology, financial implications, and business planning rolled into one professional?

MBA skills are needed now in this era of technology driving innovation more than ever before, and interesting changes have developed in MBA curricula to support the needs of this era. Alliant’s MBA curriculum has included more exposure to data-driven management and to business planning for technology-fueled products and ideas. Additionally, Alliant’s specialized degree options from CSML, such as the MS in Data Analytics, MS in Healthcare Analytics, and MS in Information Systems and Technology have included two management-related courses covering subjects such as financial planning, marketing, strategy, and organizational behavior. Alliant’s Doctorate in Business Administration also introduced a specialization in Information and Data Science.

Mohammad Oskoorouchi

Associate Dean & Director

of Graduate Programs

California State University San Marcos

Q: Why pursue an MBA?

A: MBA is the Swiss army knife of degrees. It provides a broad understanding of all functional areas of business. Professionals should pursue an MBA to increase their earning potential, unlock opportunities for leadership roles and gain a strong professional network. The average MBA graduate will double their salary within three years of graduating and receive a promotion within the first year of receiving the degree. An MBA provides advanced business knowledge and critical skills in business environment that allows graduates to move up in their organization and even transition to new industries.

Q: What are the top three things to ask about an MBA program?

A: The question to ask is who teaches in the program. Faculty should be well versed in current trends and either be conducting relevant research or have substantial experience in a leadership role in the area that they teach. What is being taught is the next important question. MBA curriculum should build a bridge between theory and practice. The practical application of theory on real-world projects should be present throughout the program. The final consideration is, how is the curriculum taught. The delivery method of an MBA program should allow collaborations between students and networking with the professional community. For example, online MBA programs, while convenient, may miss this important component.

Q: Technology seems to be driving new, idea-based business ventures. With so many technology-focused business plans, is there a greater need for people who understand the business process — namely, MBAs?

A: There is absolutely a greater demand for technology leaders who understand the business processes. Even as technology progresses at a rapid rate, there will always be a need for management of the highly technical workforce. We are living in the world of endless data, and even new idea-based ventures need someone to make sense of the information in front of them and make a calculated decision.

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Jamie M. McIlwaine, Associate Dean of Graduate Business Education, Point Loma Nazarene University

Q: Why pursue an MBA?

A: An MBA is a great degree for someone who wants to elevate their career options. An MBA prepares students for executive level positions and they learn to see how all of the business functions are interconnected. At PLNU we also focus on helping students understand their unique strengths and how to leverage those in their career. The motto in the Fermanian Business School is “more than the bottom line.” For us, it’s important that our business students are prepared to make a difference in the work place and in the world.

Q: What are the top three things to ask about an MBA program?

A: Ask for a class visit or to talk to an alum. This will give you a good idea if the school is the right fit for you. Ask about accreditation. At PLNU we have regional accreditation along with ACBSP accreditation, which allows us to have a teaching focus in the business school. Ask about student career growth. 75% of PLNU MBA students see upward movement in their career even before graduating from the program. One more - ask about scholarships! We have scholarships for women in business, entrepreneurs, international students and high academic achievement.

Q: Technology seems to be driving new, idea-based business ventures. With so many technology-focused business plans, is there a greater need for people who understand the business process — namely, MBAs?

A: Absolutely! Understanding the business process is the best reason to get an MBA - it allows a high level understanding of how business works and how the functions are part of a greater whole. Technology is driving change in all industries. Having an MBA gives students greater options in their career should they want to move to another industry or up the corporate ladder.