J. Brian Anderson

technology. venture. learning. together.

- 13 - Why I went back to school for an MBA

I had been contemplating going to graduate school for about 5 years waiting for a right time, thinking about how, when, and where I would go to get my MBA.  Not to mention the existential question of what I expected to get out of the experience.  I admit, it was a tough decision with all that has been said about reasons not to go, I don't disagree with much of what those smart people have said, (for example link).  It's expensive, it can be overly academic and rarely even non-practical.  What's more, there is a huge opportunity cost in treasure and time.  Something that isn't often acknowledged is that most b-school programs have a decided educational bias toward management in large corporate organizations which may or may not fit with your long-term objectives.  


On the other hand there is well-studied, quantifiable value in going to a top tier school.  Great programs provide a breadth and depth of knowledge in every area of business; yes...  finance, marketing, operations, quant, accounting, strategy, legal, economics etc. (see the Kelley Core). You're surrounded by brilliant, hard working, A-type personalities that often bring out the best in you and your peers.  And if it's important to you, or you're switching careers, top programs have companies recruiting hard for their graduates, searching for the best and brightest to fill their ranks as managers and eventually be executives of the future.  But one of most important opportunities a full-time program gives its students is the opportunity to steep in subject matter, to soak up what you don't know and to take your time to fully absorb what you need.


All that aside I have reasons I'd like to articulate as to why it was right choice for me then and now.

  1. The Business Analytics major within the MBA offered at Kelley School of Business.  Specialization is powerful, this point was no more hammered home than at the Innovate Indiana Fund where the majority of our funding was and is geared towards data driven startups.  Most young companies either sell, distribute, aggregate or analyze data as a part of their core business.  Yet even in those savvy businesses questions about how to monetize and use their data are very frequently asked.  What do we do with the data we collect? How do we synthesize that data to make better product, cash, and customer decisions?  Where and how do we even begin to analyzing what we have?  With my econometrics background I knew how to frame these questions but my hope is that my focus within this program will even better arm me with a more relevant tool set and programmatic knowledge to aid me in answering these pressing questions.
  2. I can continue to work with the great entrepreneurs at the Innovate Indiana Fund that I'm working with today.  I can reasonably justify stepping back to pursue this curious, challenging, and enjoyable endeavor in part because I get to continue working with the fund, people, and entrepreneurs I am today.  This means cultivating new deals, helping entrepreneurs as I did before, and engaging with new communities more fully than I was once able to.
  3. Intellectual pursuit.  While it could have been possible to continue working full-time while completing a graduate program part-time, I didn't want to short change the relationships I could build and the intellectual freedom I might pursue while pursuing my MBA full-time. For many this full-time pursuit is not practical and doesn't represent the most financially prudent decision, but for me it was doable.  


In conclusion, for all the years that I have done well (or in some cases, not) and for all the good and even great companies and people I've had the opportunity to work with, I can do and be better.  During countless meetings with talented entrepreneurs, technologists, and companies, I've always been challenged by my peers to be better and consistently asked them to be better as well.  To strive for more, to learn faster, to set achievable and stretch goals alike.  My pursuit of an MBA was my opportunity to heed my own request, to take some of my own medicine, to work harder, learn more, and genuflect at the altar of knowledge.   I am grateful for the experience, skills, and wisdom.

That is all for now.  




[ Of course everyone has reasons for revising history to fit an agenda, to build a narrative that promulgates a story they would like others to believe, but I've truly enjoyed and gained much from my time at the full-time MBA program at KSB. ] 

[ ... and when I'm finished the program I'll be posting a full post-mortem on the experience, the good, the bad, and the ugly. ]

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