A Chemical Engineer’s MBA Journey
By: Ahmed A. Youssef, Ph.D., MBA
It all starts with a question: “Where should I steer my career next?” That’s typically followed by more questions than answers, but a common one on the list is “Is getting an MBA worth it?”
Well, I did get one so let me share why I personally think it is worthwhile.
I rejected my status-quo prior to the MBA, refused to be indifferent, and decided to do something about it. That decision changed me. The campus (or online experience), the program, coursework, and the classmates will make an impact on you. And you’ll leave your own marks upon them as well.
In summary, three key aspects are key:
First, I have gained significant knowledge during the MBA program. I plotted supply and demand curves, discussed monopolists, the minimum wage, and hedging. I learned how to use T-accounts to build financial statements. I gained experience with value chain, value creation, and value proposition . Net present value, cash flow, portfolio diversification, and corporate valuation were consistent financial exercises throughout the program. Porter’s five-forces and blue-ocean strategies, Six Sigma methodology, probability distributions, and Z scores became tools I now often utilize. Investigating inventory management, flow time, game theory, insurance laws, zoning and contracts were not familiar prior to my MBA degree. How to understand organizational behavior, leadership, and motivation through case studies now impact my work in multiple areas. The list goes on!
The second benefit that you can achieve by completing an MBA is that you can both differentiate yourself and send a sound signal to everybody around you that you are serious about advancing your career, that you desire to achieve more opportunities, and you have the will to get the credentials to support that.
Thirdly, recent studies have shown that the future workforce will be one in which agility and adapting people to new skillsets are critical for organizational survival in an ever-dynamic and competitive business landscape. As ChemE’s, we’re trained for versatility and possess a foundation that helps sustain building pillars towards new horizons.
Now, make no mistake, the journey to an MBA will be long and complex, whether you elect to do it on campus, online, in the evenings, during the weekends, or full-time. That said, as chemical engineers, our education and background will make the journey undoubtedly enjoyable.
On a lighter note, you will certainly get some bragging rights when you ask for new business cards to add a comma and the three letter acronym next to your name!
I will leave you with a quote from the famous 1962 speech by the United States late President John F. Kennedy at Rice University who, by the way, had enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business to receive such knowledge after his B.A. degree as well.
“… and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…”