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When Is The Right Time To Get An MBA?

Find out when is the right time is to pursue an MBA and learn how to have the best chance of career success after graduation


By  Laura Wise

Mon Jul 24 2023

Choosing an MBA is all about timing – it is a significant investment of time and money so it’s important not only to choose the right MBA, but to start it at the right time in your career. It adds real value when you have built up enough workplace experience to make the most of the MBA journey and use it to full capacity to leverage onto the next level of leadership, management, or entrepreneurship.

BusinessBecause spoke to Sabarish Satish Kumar, MBA student at the University of Liverpool Management School to find out how he knew when it was the right time to start his Liverpool MBA. 

We also spoke to Bernie Lyons, MBA Career and Leadership Development Coach at Liverpool Management School, to understand how students can make the most of their MBA and elevate their careers. 

Gaining experience before your MBA 

Gaining an MBA can be a critical success factor in reaching the next level in your career, particularly if you have hit a professional ceiling in your current role. Staying in the same role, perhaps at the same level, might eventually stunt your professional growth and restrict your ability to reach your full career and professional potential.

 It may be you seek a managerial or leadership role, want to shift into a new sector, a new role entirely, or explore starting your own enterprise. The MBA is all about transition and change, offering you additional tools in your professional toolbox to take control of your career trajectory.   

Applying for an MBA requires significant, relevant professional experience with responsibility for teams, budgets and/or projects. On average, MBA applicants have a minimum of three years’ work experience in a managerial, leadership or business role.  Outside of that, MBA students come from diverse backgrounds, cultures, sectors, life, and work experiences, which is part of the value of the MBA journey – the opportunity to join a global professional community and learn from each other. 

The University of Liverpool Management School offers two MBAs with a requirement of a minimum of three years’ substantive managerial, leadership or business experience in the private, public or third sectors.

Sabarish worked in various capacities in the information technology (IT) sector prior to the MBA. Fresh out of his bachelor's degree, he joined Wipro, a multinational IT services and consulting company, initially in the revenue team, before moving into several leadership roles.  

During this time Sabarish completed the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification and became both an Associate Chartered Management Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant before accepting a role at a multinational IT consultancy, Capgemini.

“That's when I hyper-focused my talent and found an interest in pricing IT sector deals. This is when I realized, I needed to develop further to reach a managerial level as well as attain specialized knowledge. An MBA is the optimal way to attain that," Sabarish says.

Building your skillset 

An MBA allows you to build on your existing experience and then upskill to develop the capabilities to achieve your career goals, whether to move into a more senior strategic role, improve the performance of your existing organization or start your own business. 

Given the impact an MBA can have on your career, choosing the right MBA is imperative. Sabarish researched thoroughly, first choosing to study in the UK then consulting the QS World Ranking before opting for the University of Liverpool Management School. 

He weighed up several options, including a Master's in either Accounting or Finance, but ultimately decided the MBA would provide the depth of experience and knowledge he sought. 

"I was looking for an MBA because it gives more practical knowledge and an understanding of what I can do in real-life scenarios."

During his MBA, Sabarish found the modules on Leadership and Management were particularly valuable. These helped him to reflect on his strengths, and areas where he could develop.  Doing so has been extremely valuable for his career development, says Sabarish.

"When you're getting into the real-world, you feel equipped with the right knowledge and skills to face any given scenarios," he explains.

He also particularly enjoyed modules in Strategic Management Simulation and Management Consulting. 

The Strategic Management Simulation module at Liverpool requires students to work in teams on multiple tasks centered on strategy, finance, marketing, and operations, to develop their strategic decision-making abilities. 

Management Consulting offers students first-hand practical experience working on a live project with a client organization. 

"We were directly interacting with the clients, delivering presentations, discussing our recommendations and ideas on how their organization could improve," Sabarish says.

Preparing for the future after your MBA

Simply having ‘MBA’ on your CV is not enough. If you want to realize your career aspirations of becoming an effective leader, or to deliver impact for your organization, or create a successful, sustainable business, then it is critical to embrace the full MBA experience and engage in all the activities on offer.   

The University of Liverpool has a specialist Career and Leadership Development facility dedicated to guiding MBA students to design and put into action their own bespoke strategic career development plans. This support starts before they arrive on Campus. 

“Before our students arrive, I have started to gather data about each student’s professional background and their aspirations. I have a CV and an ‘aspiration statement’ from each, and in the first few weeks I meet with each individual to outline a career strategy plan, so they have clear actions to make sure they realize their goals,” says Bernie Lyons who is Liverpool’s dedicated MBA careers and leadership coach.

This allows her to focus on students' goals and tailor their needs accordingly. 

Bernie says that she focuses on three main areas: self-awareness and skills development, market awareness and, “effective articulation of self and skills to employers”. 

She explains: "My philosophy is that the same skills, strengths, and competencies that are deployed for successful career management are equally critical ingredients in effective leadership.” 

Able to reflect on his strengths, and areas where he can develop, Sabarish has found this extremely valuable for his career development.

"When you're going into a real-life scenario, you feel equipped with the right knowledge and skill to face that particular scenario," he explains. 

Despite the extensive support on offer, an MBA is just one part of success Bernie suggests. You need a learning mindset, curiosity and a willingness to fully engage, she says.

“Having an MBA on your CV can help to differentiate you from other job applicants, but the value comes from having a learning mindset and taking full advantage of every opportunity, every guest speaker and networking event – you never know who you might meet or what you might learn.” says Bernie. 

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