5 ways an MBA can transform your career

Want to accelerate your professional progress? Here’s why an advanced degree could be the high-octane fuel you need. Says one communicator, ‘My MBA changed my life.’

The advantage of getting an MBA for PR pros

If you’re like most communicators, you love your work.

You’re passionate about sharing your organization’s purpose with your audiences, but you’d also like to increase your income—and influence.

An MBA may be the game changer you need to take your career and confidence to new heights. Here are five reasons to consider taking that next step:

 1. Strategic thinking unlocks the door to the C-suite. “An MBA provides a strategic mindset,” says Amy Wong, marketing director at Harness.

“It helps you break down complex problems and understand how corporate functions work together,” she says. “Without that, you could be seen as just a mouthpiece.”

Wong has held several senior digital marketing roles at companies such as DocuSign since earning her MBA with an emphasis on accounting and IT management. “I’m now perceived as more well-rounded and realistic,” she says, “because I can visualize operational challenges and business processes.”

Veteran communicator Beth Hardy says an MBA could be your key to the C-suite.

“Today’s PR pros must understand business underpinnings to make valuable contributions and earn a seat at the table,” she says. “An MBA can give you the competence and confidence you need to take that seat and keep it.”

She should know. Hardy earned her MBA two years ago and was recently promoted from PR and community affairs to an executive role as manager of corporate health planning and sales at Gwinnett Medical Center.

 2. Speaking CFO boosts budgets. An MBA provides insights into key accounting concepts, capital budgeting and operational processes.

“For me, that meant my conversations with the business press were more efficient and on point,” says Hardy. “My CFO no longer needed to explain business concepts to me.”

Charlene Sarmiento, a senior communications manager at Goodwill Industries, agrees.

“I know many communicators who don’t like math, but you have to brush up on those quantitative skills,” she says. “My MBA helped me feel more comfortable speaking the same financial language as my colleagues.”

She’s not alone in that affirmation.

 “An MBA elevates your financial literacy,” says Frank Ovaitt, CEO Emeritus at the Institute for Public Relations. “It helps you to use hard numbers to advance your arguments, your case for budgets and your career.”

3. Alumni contacts provide real-world access. An MBA can also help you build a network of contacts and supplement your real-world experience. Wong, for example, toured numerous top-tier companies while earning hers.

“I met alumni executives at companies like Cisco and eBay and got to see how they worked,” she says. “So, my advice is to look for MBA programs with deep alumni networks who provide the financial resources to support the program.”

4. Degrees can boost personal income. The average MBA graduate increases her salary by 77% after graduation, according to the “2019 Global MBA Rankings.”

Hardy warns not to anticipate that kind of salary jump in the short term. There are significant intangibles, however.

“I received a percentage increase upon program completion,” she says, “but more important was the respect I gained as a manager. I was suddenly part of the succession planning at my organization, because I had shown a deeper professional commitment.”

Ovaitt agrees. “My degree was a turning point for me financially,” he says. “My income increased because I was able to better pinpoint and close on opportunities.”

5. Education protects your future. Wong says you begin to see real ROI for your MBA investment when you’re more selective about the opportunities you pursue.

“We could be heading into a recession,” she says. “So, you need to know if you’re going to join a company that will succeed or fail. An MBA helps you assess companies during a job interview and not the other way around. It lets you to ask the right questions to see if there’s a sustainable business model there.”

The threat of recession also means you should be confident that an MBA is the right investment for you to make at this time.

“You can expect to spend up to $120,000 over several years,” says Wong. “So, do your homework. Find a mentor or shadow an exec so you know what you’re getting into.”

She also suggests asking whether your company will contribute to your educational costs. “In my case, an employer paid for about $5,000,” Wong says. “Anything helps.”

Sarmiento agrees. “You’ll need a supportive employer,” she says. “I couldn’t have done it without my supervisor, who cheered me on and occasionally let me leave early from work to get to classes on time.”

Hardy recommends seeking out scholarships. She received a Women’s Leadership Scholarship from the University of Georgia and another from her sorority.

“Money should not be a hindrance to personal growth,” she says. “If you’re interested, it’s worth pursuing. My MBA changed my life. It’s the gift that keeps giving.”

This article is in partnership with King University, which offers an online Masters of Business Administration degree. Study management, research, ethical practices and more in a flexible program that can fit easily into your schedule, and no GMAT is required.


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