Yes, I get it. Many folks with MBAs did leave their ‘Ivy League’ school for outrageously high paying jobs in finance on Wall Street and ostensibly cause the financial crisis of 2008. Yes, I get that many of them actually invented the CDOs that were at the heart of the melt down.
Yes, I get that some MBAs leave school with a superiority complex and tend to abuse their privileged positions of management – by either being incompetent or abusive or worse both.
Yes, I get that many created dot-bombs in the 90s with the expressed purpose of just raising money in the boom boom days, and hiring ‘lowly developers’ to create their star product and go public.
Yes, I get that many VCs and finance guys have MBAs and have become the scorn of the entrepreneur. Yes, I get that VCs have abused their power which bred resentment.
I get all of that.
But when did wrong begett wrong? When did it become acceptable to paint with a broad brush and label all MBAs as the cliche’d stereotype?
It is very disappointing to see many people, within the tech industry, that I have previously looked up to make such a mistake as generalizing.
Saying that MBAs are not a good fit for startups, is like saying that doctors, lawyers, teachers are not good for startups. What rubbish is that?
I am a geek, by almost any standard, but I also love business. After completing my CS degree, I decided to go to Business School because I figured it couldn’t hurt. Guess what, it turned out to be the best decision of my life.
Separate and apart from the core business analytical skills it taught me – i.e. statistics, how to read company financials in & out, the fundaments of economics (micro and macro), etc. – more importantly it taught me what it is like to work in teams, constantly. Many times under severe pressure with looming deadlines and a ridiculous amount of work. It taught me how to deal with that nimrod on my team that doesn’t know how to communicate and how to do simple tasks that any high school grad should be able to do. It taught me how to step up to the plate when there is a leadership vacuum and everyone else on the team is afraid (including myself) of the large task ahead. It taught me how to step back when there are too many leaders and know when to follow when someone is better fit in a situation than I am.
It taught me how to encourage strengths and replace weakness on a team. It taught me how keep track of key milestones, deliverables and the likes, to get to a key goal on time. It taught me how to negotiate (with teachers, other students, administrators, bosses, financiers). It taught me how to be resourceful in finding the funding to complete my education when in the last two semesters, my main source of funding dries up at the beginning of what we now know is the Great Recession.
It gave me a passion for economics and finance. It taught me about the VC side of the transaction (how to run a VC firm and what they are looking for) if I am ever looking for financing. It taught me about free markets (both their perils and wonderful advantages). It taught me how to balance all of the above while working part-time (remotely) and being married (and going through a pregnancy and first year of my child’s life).
All of which I am certain will help me in all ventures I pursue in the future (not just startup opportunities – but non-profit teams I will be a part of, any political organizations I join, sports team I coach, etc.). It has drastically changed my world view, and I am all the more grateful for it – especially when I watch the news and see all the shenanigans going on and understand what is happening – knowing when the politicians (on both sides of the aisle) are simply playing games and misleading the public.
So yes, we MBAs have been jerks in the past. I apologize on their behalf. But, I beg of you…please…please…let’s stop with the hasty generalizations and the MBA bashing. Time to put that meme to rest.
P.S. Image courtesy of adobemac on Flickr.