Why an MBA doesn’t come with any guarantees

Shipra Sharma is used to change. Having already lived in several countries across Europe, North America, and Asia, she recently made England the fifth country she has lived in. She explained to MBAGRADSCHOOLS why the latest chapter in her life meant pursuing an MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School.

In short

Starting a new chapter in England

When Shipra Sharma wants to make a change in life, she changes everything. Born and raised in India, she moved to Vancouver, Canada, at the age of 17 to do an undergraduate degree in Business and Communications. After spending time in the United States and Europe, she went on to work in various marketing and event management roles. But the time had come for another change. This time, an MBA came calling.

“I was looking for change. So when you need a change in life, in my case I change everything: country, people, surroundings…basically I wanted to start a new chapter in life and for that I felt an MBA would be a good fit – also to meet new people and start afresh,” she tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. (02:11)

By now, Shipra was no stranger to change. Having previously spent time on vacation in England, she always had thoughts of returning on a more permanent basis. Eventually, she settled on Alliance Manchester Business School to do an MBA.

She says, “England was the country that I always wanted to study in since my undergrad time. So I was open to exploring those options, and finally, when Manchester Business School happened I was like, ‘Yeah, this is it!’” (01:43)

The Alliance Manchester Business School Full-Time MBA

The full-time MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School is a prestigious program. It’s ranked as the 4th best MBA in the UK, with 30 different nationalities represented in the class. But the prestige of the program also means it demands a lot from its students. Shipra explains the steps you have to take before you even start the program.

“Before the program starts there’s a thing called a pre-MBA period,” she says. “During that period they assign you two courses that you have to complete. They’re MBA preparation courses that you’re allocated to do, and you’re expected to do them before you arrive in Manchester.” (03:18)

One of the unique features of the Manchester MBA is its workshops. Each elective includes a workshop residency in one of the school’s global centers in Dubai, Hong Kong, Manchester, Shanghai, and Singapore. There are also careers workshops, where students can learn the practical skills to get a step ahead in their job search.

“The university organizes all kinds of workshops, from cover letters to resumés, and a general aspect of how it’s going to be when you’re an MBA student. They also introduce you to other alumni. In our case, because of COVID, we didn’t have a lot of face-to-face [meetings] in the beginning, but we did have virtual sessions, and that helped in the preparation,” Shipra explains. (03:40)

What do you learn in an MBA?

For some people, an MBA is a chance to learn the fundamentals of business: strategy, marketing, accounting, innovation. But Shipra approached the program from a different angle. What she truly valued was the opportunity to learn from her classmates, who had come from all over the world to study in Manchester.

“This is a golden opportunity, a chance to learn from different nationalities and cultures,” she says. (09:40)

“People have so many stories to share,” she adds. “If you ask them about their story and journeys [then] it’s amazing the kind of work that people have done. I find it very exciting because it’s a chance for me to learn from my MBA peers.” (04:32)

MBA programs tend to involve a lot of group projects, which means they’re a great way of improving your teamwork skills. Having entered the MBA with a range of work experience across different industries, Shipra felt well-prepared for the teamwork aspect of the program.

“For an MBA, one needs to understand that you would be working with people more than the classroom. You would be allocated to different team projects. So for that, if you have work experience outside of the classroom it really helps you add value to the team projects,” she states. (00:53)

How do you know if an MBA is right for you?

An MBA doesn’t come with any guarantees. It doesn’t guarantee a higher salary, or a new career, or a promotion. When deciding whether to pursue one, Shipra says it’s important to look at how an MBA fits into the bigger picture of your career. By doing that, you can start to think about how it can help you get to where you want to go.

“One of the myths is that people think an MBA is not important, that you don’t need it. Some people have the perspective where you can still be out there in the job market and still go to the next level if you work hard,” Shipra tells us. “My perspective would differ slightly. I take every program as an opportunity to learn, grow, and transform myself. I take it as an opportunity to learn from people more than anything else.” (09:12)

“More than anything it’s important to understand what your goals and objectives are, and what it is that you want to get out of an MBA…it’s about looking at yourself, what you want to do in life and where you see yourself in five years,” she says. (10:33)

Although change is sometimes needed to get to where you want in life, change itself doesn’t guarantee success – much like an MBA. Think instead about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. And if you see an MBA as part of the “how,” maybe it’s time to take the plunge and pursue one yourself.

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