Choosing to study towards an MBA in your precious evenings and weekends is a major commitment, especially at a time when employees are expected to work ever harder during working hours. But there are reasons why completing a Masters in Business Administration is worth the time, effort – and money.
Perhaps the biggest boon of the qualification is the breadth of business knowledge it can impart. For an employee who may have spent their entire career engrossed in the IT aspect of successive businesses, having the chance to learn about everything from accounting and finance to marketing and human resources is invaluable.
"Completing an MBA certainly provided me a robust framework to help my decision making processes," says Alex Rammal, head of information systems at Fujifilm UK, whose studied at the University of Surrey. "(It also gave) me a more in-depth understanding of the wider business world which has been incredibly useful."
The message the qualification sends to senior managers can also be a positive one. Being willing to put in the extra hours shows that you are driven, ambitious and interested in widening your experience, which can mean the difference between being considered a potential strategic IT leader rather than simply an operational expert.
Stuart Birrell, CIO for Gatwick Airport, believes he would not have progressed from his role as an engineer to a senior IT role earlier in his career without his MBA, which he completed through distance learning with Warwick University. "It gives the language and structure of business decision making," he said.
Alan Mumby, a former IT boss who now heads the CIO/CTO practice at executive search company Odgers and Berndtson, thinks they show an employee's ability to be aware of wider commercial issues — though they are no substitute for hands-on experience and people skills.
"As recruiters we look positively (on MBAs) but the impact depends entirely on the ability of the individual to harness the learning an insight (on) offer," he says.
On a personal level, many CIOs say that completing an MBA has given them new knowledge and confidence which can't help but translate positively in the workplace. Whitbread IS and change director Andrew Brothers considers completing his MBA at Kingston University while working full-time his "greatest success" professionally .
Myron Hrycyk, CIO of Severn Trent, describes completing his MBA at Birmingham University as "the most absorbing and rewarding learning experience" of his working life. "The techniques and constructs that I picked up linked with practical experience have proven invaluable as I have taken on new challenges in my career," he says.
His advice to the 57 per cent of CIOs planning on taking an MBA course in the future?
"Completing an MBA requires a massive commitment of time. Though I believe the rewards are great my advice to anyone thinking of embarking on an MBA is to be very clear on why you want to do it and what your personal objective and motivation is for making such a big commitment."