When considering an MBA program, it is important to consider your return on investment (ROI) since you will be investing a significant amount of time and money. Part 4 of our TMMBA ROI Blog Series focuses additional career choice and increased confidence the panelists gained through the TMMBA Program.
Want to learn more about the ROI beyond this blog series? You’re invited to attend our upcoming TMMBA ROI Roundtable event on Tuesday, July 19. Click here for event details and to register.
Since graduating from TMMBA, do you have great confidence about the future of your career? Why?
Viveka: I’m going from this very sort of limited area, biotech, to applying to companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, that have life sciences sort of married with IT. So it widens my vision of my future career; I now have a gamut of choices in terms of the next career path that I will be choosing from.
Bhaskar: If I look at it in terms of numbers, I think it’s almost already paid for itself. For me I think the ROI comes from a couple of different places. I think personality-wise, I’ve actually changed after the program. In my 10 years previous to joining the program, I was your typical developer and I didn’t really have much knowledge about the business side of things and leadership and management and those areas. I also didn’t have very much drive towards those things. And I think being exposed to a lot of people who have a similar kind of drive, people who have been successful in different areas of their professional lives, and being exposed to guest speakers and professors, who are taking a very rigorous approach to business frameworks, that made me a lot more focused, a lot more goal oriented, a lot more results oriented.
During the program I actually changed jobs, I moved from a developer to a program manager. And that was a great move for me because I realize that one of the strengths I have is communication with, both verbal and written, something that I probably would not have learned if I had stayed in my development role.
From there, I moved out of Microsoft into Expedia. That’s another big leap, which if you’ve been at a company for a long time like I have, it’s kind of scary, right? And it was going into a whole different environment. From there I become a technology lead. From there I became an engineering manager. All of those things happened fairly quickly. And I think it was because I was able to do things which I hadn’t had the chance to do before, exercise muscles around collaboration, around working with other teams, around managing teams and getting people aligned and all these things that as a technical person, you’re not really measured on those things. But as someone who is of great value to the organization that you work for, that’s the sort of thing they look for.
And so, if I look at my professional life before and after the program, I can see a distinct change. I think before the program, I would characterize myself as doing well, but in a narrow area. I think now I would be much more likely to try something new, something which is way outside my comfort level. Speaking in public or volunteering for some kind of leadership position – these are all things which are not out of any single class, but it’s definitely something that you get out of the program as a whole.
Amitai: For me, I don’t need to crunch the numbers, I’m sure I’m making less now than I was before. I’m not expecting to make as much as I did. I believe during those years and this year and next year, I could have just been better at my job, gotten more promotions and probably made more money at the end. But it really is that last point of the utility function of the money, right? I mean you go and you buy a car that doesn’t make any sense financially, right? But you still go with that because you get some utility out it because you’d rather be in your own car than maybe take a bus or whatever it is. Even if someone shows you how it’s cheaper. For me, it was the confidence. It was opening up, just having these amazing discussions during class. Even if I can’t show how I’m using it the next day, just learning from others. Again, coming from big corporations and then seeing the world from smaller companies, medium companies, people who are in the military, people who were in biotech, people who are all over. That really was a return on investment.
Todd: Do I have greater confidence after the program? Yeah, absolutely. I was in a position where I was going to be refined to IT, I was going to be doing just IT. And now I have other opportunities. The program didn’t help me get my new job, but it helped me be more successful in my job and I have more doors open now because of the experience and the types of people I’m reaching out to and talking with and the network that you have at the program. It’s just opened a ton of doors. So I don’t feel as locked down as I was. Even my friends say I’m happier than I was. I don’t know if it’s a direct result of the program, but it’s been really valuable from that perspective for me.
Mike: My confidence level has gone up enormously. I’m not saying that having an MBA is a guarantee to get a job. There are opportunities for you all over the place. You just have to find the right one and I’m confident that that would be the case for any of us because of what we learned in this MBA program. There are a lot of MBAs running around out there, but it’s this program. The value of this program is not just that great set of professors and the great network and the credentials and the raises and that sort of thing. It’s the fact that you’re learning how to apply that knowledge in a high-tech environment. There are a lot of case studies and content overlaid on the MBA curriculum that helps you orient your mindset towards how tech companies have done things in the past. It’s not all tech case studies but it’s a good chunk of them, so I think that’s super valuable. And for me, it’s given me a strong sense of confidence.
How did the program help you gain confidence related to being an entrepreneur?
Amitai: The program really opened my eyes, talking to people, hearing their experiences and then specific to curriculum itself, especially the last two or three quarters. There’s a lot of classes about entrepreneurship, whether it’s leadership, whether it’s from VCs, whether it’s from the finance of it. So I got that bug and I was like whoa, I can actually do this, right? Sure I could have done it before and there’s a ton of successful people who didn’t go through this program or any other MBA program, but it really gave me that confidence. This is attainable and here are the steps that you might want to take to do it. And then, what are the best ways to do it, what the different ways to do it. That really helped me. And it was the network itself. The minute I decided okay, I’m leaving Microsoft, I want to do my own thing or something small. I had this network of people that I could just call up and meet for coffee and hear about their experience. So that’s what I did for the first probably two or three months. I just literally every day had a few meetings with people. I started from my network, then it’s a friend from that TMMBA network who introduced me to another friend.
Mike: I would add to that and say that there is a huge emphasis, which I personally loved in the program around entrepreneurialism and all the VCs. We had classes where you learn how to get a deal funded and put together a term sheet and get your seed funding and your series A, series B. I didn’t even know what a series A or series B was when I joined the program, but I kind of got the bug like Amitai as well. Except I took it back to my corporate environment and said hey, I want to run a startup, and my boss was like, “You don’t have to leave. You can run a startup right here.” The program teaches you some of the fundamentals that work at startups because there’s a lot of dysfunction in corporate America and you kind of learned how to cut through some of that.
So I think there’s some element of preparation if you want to be in a startup or run a startup, there’s a lot of a great applicable skill that you’ll learn in the program for that. But if you don’t, I would still take those startup skills back to your corporate environment because they’re very much needed in a lot of different places.
What led to the increase in your confidence or your behavior change?
Bhaskar: For me I would say it’s the opportunities to start doing things like taking leadership roles within smaller groups, being in a safe environment, that was important, because the whole attitude was it’s okay to fail, you know, it’s okay to completely go down in flames and that’s okay because you know everyone in the room. Once you have that mindset that you’re going to try and take every opportunity you can to learn and grow, then you start volunteering for things, for presenting, for doing a spreadsheet thing which maybe you’re not that comfortable doing, and once you start doing that and you start seeing that it’s okay, you feel really great. It becomes a virtuous cycle where you start doing these things because you know you can, so I would say it was the opportunities that lead to the increase in confidence for me.
Todd: For me it was the cohort because you can rotate leadership roles, and the teams are as mixed as possible so there’s some assignments that they’re going to leverage your strengths for, other assignments you’re going to leverage somebody else’s strengths for, and you all kind of grow off each other and eventually you get to the point like “wow, I can really do this” and everybody’s given an opportunity to do presentations in front of classes and you get almost immediate feedback on some of those things, so again it’s the cohort and the ability to just test in a safe environment. That’s what really helps, for me, anyway.
Viveka: So for me it was actually the international component, well-rounded program, and the fact that the cohort was so authentically global. And then of course the international study tour. We had been to Peru, to Cuzco and Lima, and it was amazing, because you learn about the cultural nuances of the different land and how you would apply it in a global business.