Open evenings; chatting to alumni,faculty and current students; visits to the business school; word of mouth;research – there are a number of ways to investigate which business school isbest for you. Rankings, accreditation and faculty research output are also critical considerations when it comes to making a well informed choice. Ultimately, it boils down to making sure you do the homework.
Jason Myhill works with a leading duo in business strategy and scenario planning – Clem Sunter and Chantel Illbury, South Africa’s most renowned experts in the field. His success would not have been possible had he not sold his house six years ago and embarked on an MBA. Today he helps businesses, including some of South Africa’s biggest firms, to understand risk, and design and implement risk management processes.
My hill says the MBA was a challenging year, but worth every cent. “A highlight for me was the group work which challenges students to work within a diverse team – you learn a lot through the relationships that form, and it was rewarding to work well as a team.”
When he started the MBA, he was thinking of starting his own business. “I kept my electives broad, covering everything from HR to marketing, to get an all round good grounding for running my own business.”
After completing his MBA year, Myhill entered an exchange programme at a school in the US. Upon his return, he started Dynaminds. It was during this process that he got to know Sunter and Illbury,the authors of books such as The Mind of a Fox and Games Foxes Play. Dynaminds uses their strategy and scenario planning model.
Myhill explains that scenario planning is a powerful tool; the thought processes involved in getting to the scenarios have the dual purpose of increasing knowledge of the environment in which a business operates and widening the participants’ perception of possible future events.
Craig Yeatman is the founder and CEO ofthe WorldsView group of companies. Yeatman completed his MBA at WBS in 2006.“The business had reached a point beyond which it was not moving so I decided to get out of the way for a couple of years and grow my own skills.”
He set out with a general focus, recalling that all he wanted at the time was to actually complete the degree.The programme helped him to acknowledge that he was strategically very strong,with good structure and design abilities. “At the same time, I realised that I was short on EQ. The school set me on a development path to address that limitation. It may seem odd to get that out of an MBA degree, but the point is that it teaches you a huge amount about yourself. By becoming more empathetic, my life has improved as I experience far less stress.”
Yeatman notes that his MBA toolkit has changed the way that organisations are being developed within his group of companies. “The process is more structured and effective. The solutions that we find to opportunities and challenges are much richer as they are informed by global business practices.”
He believes in the value of an MBA regardless of whether times are good or bad. “If you can afford the experience from a time, commitment and financial point of view, go for it. It’s the right move if you’re aiming to improve yourself as a manager and a leader.
GIBS MBA graduate Sarah Babb is a partner at ReosPartners, an international organisation that builds capacity for collective action in social systems. Having completed a BA degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management, she ran her own business for 10 years.
“I had always wanted to do an MBA and I was attracted to GIBS’s modular approach as I knew the schedule in advance and could plan around it so that my work needs could be taken into account,” says Babb.
With two qualifications under her belt, the MBA rounded off Babb’s overall perspective on business. “In addition to that, we all got enormous value out of the networking opportunities, and the chance to meet people from a wide variety of different disciplines.
“As part of my work, I was investigating learnerships; my studies gave me the opportunity to take a step back and apply academic discipline to what I was doing. We don’t often have the opportunity to do that in the workplace.”
Babb stresses that the MBA programme enables students to apply what they learn to their jobs. “The assignments and practical case studies that you work on can be of great benefit to your employer.” She does caution, however, that you need to be committed from day one. “The pace never slows down and you cannotleave things until the end of the year. You have to make sure that people atwork and at home will support you every step if the way, because there are times when you will just not be available.”