What Are They Teaching MBAs These Days?


MBA Profiles
As scores of would-be students scramble to submit applications for graduate business schools this fall, MainStreet caught up with some current MBA candidates around the country. All pretty much admit they’d rather be in school right now than working in this tumultuous market, but will their new degree prepare for what will inevitably be a changed business landscape in America?

Jean Abou-Eid, 26
University of Michigan – Ross School of Business
Class of 2010
I hope the two years in the MBA program will reward me with financially secure job opportunities and connect me to a strong network of smart and influential people.
The most important lesson from my finance professor: “Risk will always bite you if you become too comfortable with it.”

Asoka Dissanayake
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Class of 2010
Wharton will help build my credentials. I came here for better career prospects and flexibility to change careers/jobs/locations in the future.
What are the lessons your professors are teaching you in the midst of all this financial craziness?
Risk management!

Matt Gallagher, 29

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Class of 2010
I came to this school for the education and brand name. I came from a liberal arts and IT background, so I never learned the practical business knowledge that is so crucial in the working world. I intend to pursue Strategic Consulting after graduation.
What are the lessons your professors are teaching you in the midst of all this financial craziness?
Just yesterday several of our professors hosted a panel discussion about the recent market turbulence. According to them, the low Federal interest rates during the middle of this decade enticed a lot of speculation in the real estate market. Since real estate in the United States had never really dropped in value, investing in bundled mortgages seemed like a relatively safe bet and companies failed to perform the necessary due diligence. Therefore, investors piled onto the market and lost track of the inherent risks, even doubling down their stake when values began to drop.

Ben Getto, 28

Georgetown McDonough School of Business
Class of 2010
I've been very fortunate to have had great jobs in consulting and in government, but I'm still very young to be able to move to the next level. I hope the Georgetown MBA will give me the credibility I need to take that step in my career.

Mia Saini , 25
Harvard Business School
Class of 2010
My dream is to be a financial broadcast journalist. I believe to be a strong and credible financial journalist, it is not only important for me to understand how the global financial markets work, but also to understand who the key agents are and how they are making decisions within their respective company. I hope my MBA will give me the opportunity to better understand the plethora of decisions a manager has to make (from marketing, to operations, to accounting). I also think that with an HBS degree I will have a better of shot of being a financial journalist, since most journalists don't have one. In addition, HBS has a strong alum network that touches many industries.
What are the lessons your professors are teaching you in the midst of all this financial craziness?
Don't ignore the parts of running a business that you are not comfortable with... if you are a marketing guy, put yourself in the operation team's shoes and vice versa.

Brett Scheiner, 30
Columbia Graduate School of Business
Class of 2008
I went back to business school to broaden my knowledge of sectors in which I had not previously invested and to gain a greater understanding of the workings of the capital structure in various industries. The MBA experience provided that knowledge and I'm hopeful this will have made me a better investor two years out.
As it became more evident that the credit bubble was popping, some professors stressed the need for a healthy margin of safety when investing in volatile markets. Others highlighted the need for a rigid understanding of the fundamentals of an investment opportunity with a focus on potential risks. Most valuable was professors' having been part of numerous cycles such as this over decades - that perspective was insightful.

Zachary Walkine, 23
University of Miami School of Business
Class of 2009
As someone who wanted to be an investment banker I think that it’s unrealistic to think that the market will heal anytime soon. Being at a non-target school means being as realistic as possible and exploring careers in related industries and accepting what is there for the time being. By the time I graduate there will definitely be a glut of available labor on the market and that is where great things can happen.
I hope my MBA will allow me to get a job that is a meaningful part of my life story and can pay me well enough, but right now everyone has to be realistic and will probably have to make compromises.

There is always money to be made somewhere.

Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8 p.m.

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