For every Jobs (Apple) there is a Donald Trump (The Trump Organization), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and closer to home, Anand Mahindra (Mahindra & Mahindra). While the list of the former cluster may dwindle, that of the second lot, armed with an MBA from a top school, continues to swell.
Child prodigies like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are rare and difficult to cultivate using traditional education methods – ask Harvard, they tried! If you believe you belong to their tribe, I urge you not to read ahead. However, if you, like me, believe you have academic prowess and more importantly have the drive to create impact, read on.
Why do you need an MBA if you want to be an entrepreneur?
This question tops the list of FAQ’s as students embark on their exploratory journey towards higher education and begin evaluating an MBA.
I am a Harvard Business School graduate and founder of a boutique admissions advisory, ReachIvy. Two years at business school made me dismiss any doubts I had about the efficacy of an MBA, given the high costs and time invested in it.
First, the cultural experience is unprecedented – one really gets to experience a ‘flat-world’. My home aptly has the moniker of an international hostel, as friends stop by from across the globe. Also, I believe that a lot of learning happens during travels. Most top Business schools organize trips to various parts of the world to learn from first-hand cultural and professional experiences.
Moreover, at school I had access to some of the finest minds in the world. Noble prize laureates and industry experts made up the faculty and the diversity of classmates was baffling. As Dr. Dipak Jain, former dean at Insead, mentioned at a ReachIvy event, “Having global experience is a necessity and an entry barrier to top schools. Hence, the difference is the quality of classmates. When you are at Stanford, Princeton, all of them are so brilliant.” Learning from other classmates who started their businesses is an asset when starting your own entrepreneurial venture. I had access to an eclectic mix of experiences and got a deep insight across several industries and functions in the short span of two years.
It is well established that an MBA is not a required pre-requisite to start a firm. However, most are not aware that business schools provide tremendous aid and resources as one embarks on this arduous journey. Faculty, students, investors and industry experts help you ideate further, making the foundations of your business model almost water tight. You can examine various business models and experiment within the safety walls of the school by participating in the myriad B-plan competitions hosted on several campuses. For instance, Wharton has a business plan competition, venture initiation program, entrepreneur in residence program, Wharton entrepreneurial program and other resources to support budding entrepreneurs. Similarly, other top schools have a robust support system to help ambitious individuals in starting their companies.
Lastly, the professional network that I became a part of is colossal. At ReachIvy’s Speaker Series, LBS alum Pratik Agarwal, VP corporate Strategy at Vedanata Resources rightly points out “In a business that I started I found that one of my potential customers who runs one of the largest broadband businesses is actually a classmate of mine.” Similarly, my professional network is very supportive when I reach out to them; I always get a response.
It has now been four years since I graduated; I continue to appreciate and understand the value of my degree everyday – and this is just the beginning.
The author, Vibha Kagzi is the CEO & Founder of ReachIvy, boutique admissions advisory.