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Do you need an MBA?

Byron Connolly | Nov. 27, 2014
Three IT executives discuss why they pursued a master of business administration qualification, and can MBA stand for ‘marriage breakup assured?

Many CIOs don't have an MBA. Maybe they don't think they need one. So what is the attraction for those who have lost sleep and precious family time earning a master of business administration (MBA) qualification?

For some IT leaders with highly technical backgrounds and minimal business experience, an MBA may be an important step towards gaining a better understanding of the mechanics of their organisations.

Others may simply use an MBA to stand out from the crowd when competing with hundreds, possibly thousands, of candidates for that highly paid, plum CIO role.

Paul Munslow, IT program manager at Tennis Australia is an aspiring CIO who is studying for an MBA at Melbourne's Chifley Business School. He has worked in IT for more than 15 years in the public and private sectors and has been a program manager for the last nine years.

"I very much aspire to become an IT leader," says Munslow. "I've had some great mentors who are very successful."

Munslow says the changing nature of an industry where IT people need to understand business, and feeling unfulfilled academically because he didn't have an undergraduate degree prompted him to pursue an MBA.

"It is no longer satisfactory to understand IT only — it's moved to becoming a business partner, and to gain respect and have a 'seat at the table', business skills are required," he says.

"My recipe for respect and success is to become knowledgeable in IT and business, and I see an MBA as a vehicle for achieving this. The modern CIO needs to have many skills in the arsenal. It's is my hope that an MBA will give me a competitive advantage in the future."

Munslow says he is sacrificing social and sporting activities "to get this sucker complete" in August 2015, when he says he will re-introduce himself to his family — including two young children — as well as his friends.

Paul Keen, GM, information technology at retailer, Dick Smith, says he was told MBA stood for "marriage breakup assured." He says although it's not that extreme, an MBA requires commitment and understanding from the entire family.

"There's many weekends and public holidays I lost to my study," he says. "One thing I did learn though was that procrastination on assignments doesn't get any better with age."

Keen completed his MBA at Macquarie University's Graduate School of Business in 2012.

He started studying for the qualification in his mid-20s when he was got a "breakthrough role" and realised that the next 10 years would be a critical period for his career which would determine how far he could rise up the corporate ladder.


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