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MAKING THE MOST OF AN MBA: More than a badge

How can you tell someone has an MBA? Because they try to reorganise their family into a team-based organisation. They refer to dating as test marketing, and divorce as a divestiture. And they write executive summaries on love letters.

Studying for a Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree should be a "transformational" experience, says Nicola Kleyn, deputy dean of University of Pretoria's Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS Business School). Not only for the practical business lessons it teaches but also for the way it alters students’ view of the world around them. "You should not go out the same person you came in."

Wits Business School director Steve Bluen says a properly applied MBA teaches people to "think round corners".

In theory, you go in a raw managerial recruit and come out senior officer material. But it doesn’t just happen. Many students drop out before their MBAs end. Some find the work too difficult, others can’t cope with the intensive time demands. Personal life often has to take a back seat for the duration.

Even if you do make it through to graduation, there’s no guarantee you will come out fulfilled. As market research for the Financial Mail’s Ranking the MBAs shows, every year graduates are often disappointed that the degree does not bring all the benefits they expected. In many cases, it is because those expectations were unrealistic. Alternatively, it could be that the student chose the wrong school. Or perhaps they shouldn’t have studied for an MBA at all; another degree would have been more appropriate.

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