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Old 09.10.2014, 14:41
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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There is one very good business school and that is the IMD. Uni St. Gallen has very good MSc/MA programs, their MBA is so-so.

An FT MBA is only worth it in this country if it's a) a very good school, b) you have some decent work experience (i.e. more than just some 2, 3 years), and 3) you already work in the "right" industry and job.

Even then, the degree has nowhere near the value it has in the US and UK, where it is always pretty much a guaranteed career booster.

The CFA will be of much more use here than an MBA from a mediocre school. And if you are actually interested in the content of the degree and learning itself rather than advancing your career immediately and/or getting more money asap, you'll be much better off by choosing a different degree and/or the part-time rather than a full-time path
I keep on hearing about IMD and am wondering if any EF member has first hand experience on this? As for CFA, I am not sure if it is suitable for someone with technical background?
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Old 09.10.2014, 15:12
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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I keep on hearing about IMD and am wondering if any EF member has first hand experience on this? As for CFA, I am not sure if it is suitable for someone with technical background?
It solely depends on what you want to do career-wise. IMD is a great school if you want to become a leader in a manufacturing (including pharma) or services company, mainly in Switzerland but also across Europe.

IMD is not a good school if you want to work in strategy consulting or in highly-desired finance jobs such as investment banking. IMD also has a weak recognition in London (mainly in finance) and in the USA (in general).

CFA is a completely different thing. It's a certification for those who want to become specialists in investments areas, such as asset management. MBAs can choose to work in AM too, but they receive a more generalist education on it since there are other subjects (strategy, marketing, operations, etc.) than only finance.

I don't want to be simplistic but in very short terms, MBA is good for someone who wants to advance in his/her career or switch careers/function. CFA is for someone who is already working in finance and wants to stay in it.
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  #63  
Old 09.10.2014, 16:18
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

The QS MBA tour is coming to Zürich on the 20th October. My alma mater will be there represting the E-MBA program.

http://www.topmba.com/events/qs-conn.../europe/zurich


I did my MBA at Kellogg-WHU whilst living in Zurich. Every year the class has several participants who travel from Switzerland. Logistically this works due to the program structure, timing of the modules and well priced transport connections. Many of the modules are based at the Kellogg international partner schools.

I was extremely happy with my experience at Kellogg and WHU. What I especially love is the ability to go back to the school to take classes even though I am now graduated.

The decision on where to study depends a lot on where you see your future life. If you know 100% you are going to stay in CH, then go to St Gallen for the network or IMD if you are older and more senior. If you have or desire a global career then go to a school that has a strong global partner program and a strong brand. How I have mostly benefited from Kellogg-WHU is the depth and strength of the network. Being able to tap into expertise on every single aspect of business is very powerful.

I personally don't get the value proposition of second and third tier schools at their current price point. They are still very expensive, but don't offer same quality of network or brand of top tier institutions. If you just need the education do a cheap online or local MBA and you will learn the same things.

Kellogg is also a highly collaberative environment which means the study itself is very enjoyable. If I had to make the same decision again I would do it in a heartbeat.

I think the CFA (and CAIA for that matter) is a worthy qualification, but certainly not a substitute for a good MBA. If cost is as important as value for money then the PMP for project management is also a valid option.
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Old 09.10.2014, 21:57
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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I keep on hearing about IMD and am wondering if any EF member has first hand experience on this? As for CFA, I am not sure if it is suitable for someone with technical background?
Yeah, I'll stick to my reservations about the Swiss educational system. I also think IMD, like all Swiss universities is not particularly well recognised abroad. And the trouble with rankings is that they're rather volatile, so even where people do look at the rankings, it may not necessarily help in the longer term.

I can provide any specific information on the CFA, having completed it this year. It's specific to finance and considered to be roughly equivalent to a master's degree. There are three levels and each of these is tested by a six hour exam (available in Zurich). Of course, the fact that it's distance learning means it's very cheap compared to taught courses, though you can buy lots of extra teaching or materials if you like, but you do need to find your own motivation. No individual part of it is exactly hard, but it does cover a lot of ground, so you need to learn quite a lot, especially if - like me - you had no finance knowledge at the beginning. As an indication, only around 10% of those that begin the first level obtain the charter, and only around 2% do so without any retakes - for which you generally have to wait a year since exams are only sat in June (except level I which is also available in December). The other thing to bear in mind is that though you can do the exams any time you like, provided you have an acceptable degree of some sort, you can't get the actual charter till you have four years' work experience.

Any other questions on CFA, feel free to ask!
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Old 10.10.2014, 04:49
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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I keep on hearing about IMD and am wondering if any EF member has first hand experience on this? As for CFA, I am not sure if it is suitable for someone with technical background?
I know two guys with IMD MBAs. One was a former boss of mine, the other a colleague. Both did exactly what you expect an MBA to do - work as middle manager in a MNC. (I was directly reporting to one while I was in a rather junior position, so they were not exactly at C level...).

I said it before and I'll say it again: Anyone buying into sweeping statements like "only top schools are worth it" or believe in some ranking without understanding how the ranking has been made is in my eyes not leadership material. Or only in the Dilbert sense... different programs meet different needs. I for example did my MBA in a distance course, seriously mostly on the train between Zurich and Bern on my daily commute. Did not get me any network but the business knowledge I was looking for as well as the title. I know I could have learned the same and read the same books without paying a decent five digit number - but the reality is that the title did help me substantially in making career progress. I know how the schools bang on "the network" - I have been to the roadshows and talked to a lot of the sales staff. It was really funny to see how they kept on position themselves as if they were choosing me, but actually desperately selling the seats in their program (and why it is much better than the other ten on offer at the same roadshow...).

I'd be very interested to hear a concrete example of one of the people who went to a traditional school how the network really helped. If you go to IMD will you study with some 20 people from around the world who afterwards will go back to their very different jobs in very different industries. Even with some alumni events - this does not sound anything like my professional network I have to painfully build up in my specific niche over years... and if I am looking for a job am I sure that the latter would probably deliver more meaningful offers...

CFA: My wife did it. I do not agree that it is comparable to a masters at all - it is very different in every aspect. Yes, even from my distance program. She got a huge pile of books every year to study through and then you sit in an exam with a four digit number of people in Zurich alone. It is 100% about knowledge, multiple choice tests and some essays. (On a side note: I went to the exams to bring the wife and her friends some lunch - if you want to see 1000 freaked out young bankers at the brink of a nervous breakdown... it's a spectacle!)
My masters on the other hand was mostly conceptual. My weekly job was not to memorise a ton of formulas and be able to spot the right one in a multiple choice test... it was to explain the concepts in discussions and long, argumentative essays. A large chunk of the degree is the masters thesis which even in an MBA has to follow very strict academic rules. A very different beast.

I am in no way saying that one is better or more difficult than the other. For me personally would the CFA be the much bigger challenge. For others would it be the MBA. For some jobs is one much more important than the other and vice versa.

P.S> On "do technical people do a CFA" - the wife was in banking IT before and it was her ticket into the business side of banking.
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Old 10.10.2014, 09:03
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

Full-time MBA ranking from The Economist has been released:

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Old 10.10.2014, 10:48
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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I said it before and I'll say it again: Anyone buying into sweeping statements like "only top schools are worth it" or believe in some ranking without understanding how the ranking has been made is in my eyes not leadership material..
I disagree. It is about opening doors. For front office roles, leading investment banks generally recruit from a limited number of highly ranked business schools. So you may be the best leadership material around and they will still filter you out. This is certainly unfair, however it is how it works at the moment.
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Old 10.10.2014, 11:23
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

I have no idea about leading investment banks as I am not a banker. I am not one of the guys who did the MBA in his early 20s, but 30s instead.

All I know is that one of my closest colleagues in the multinational telecom software company I am working with right now went to one of the top five schools according to list above. Since he is my colleague of somebody as common as me and in no way making more money or a faster career than me do I think the "network" factor is a bit oversold. Same was true for the two IMD guys I know... very frankly: many of the US programs are the extreme end of the US education system with vague promises and bizarre costs. I don't buy the story of vague network promises and somehow mystically better business knowledge and many other continental Europeans won't either. An MBA helps in Europe but it is not some magic key.
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Old 10.10.2014, 11:40
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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I have no idea about leading investment banks as I am not a banker. I am not one of the guys who did the MBA in his early 20s, but 30s instead.

All I know is that one of my closest colleagues in the multinational telecom software company I am working with right now went to one of the top five schools according to list above. Since he is my colleague of somebody as common as me and in no way making more money or a faster career than me do I think the "network" factor is a bit oversold. Same was true for the two IMD guys I know... very frankly: many of the US programs are the extreme end of the US education system with vague promises and bizarre costs. I don't buy the story of vague network promises and somehow mystically better business knowledge and many other continental Europeans won't either. An MBA helps in Europe but it is not some magic key.
The "network factor", as you say, can have huge differences even across the the first top ten schools, but it still is only one thing that accounts for the overall "return on investment" on a school. That being said, the biggest post-MBA employers, such as Mckinsey, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Microsoft, etc., have "recruiting alumni teams" in which the current employers, who graduated from those schools, participate in selecting the recent graduates. In other words, every top school almost have a "quota" of new hires in that firm. As correctly mentioned by Sash_, some companies will only go to the top schools to hire for front office or leadership positions.
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Old 16.11.2014, 11:56
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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If you go to IMD will you study with some 20 people from around the world who afterwards will go back to their very different jobs in very different industries. Even with some alumni events - this does not sound anything like my professional network I have to painfully build up in my specific niche over years... and if I am looking for a job am I sure that the latter would probably deliver more meaningful offers...
Yes, it is exactly my concern. I think IMD is famous among foreigners than Swiss, afterall they are all English-speaking. If someone sees his/her future in Switzerland, I am not sure if IMD or the normal Fachhochschule 20k course makes more sense....
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Old 16.11.2014, 13:06
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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Yes, it is exactly my concern. I think IMD is famous among foreigners than Swiss, afterall they are all English-speaking. If someone sees his/her future in Switzerland, I am not sure if IMD or the normal Fachhochschule 20k course makes more sense....
Without going over the top on which program is best etc., I think it is as important to see where you can get it.

Have you done your GMAT yet (most schools require it). If so, is the mark good enough for the schools you are looking at? What does your professional career path look like so far (promotions, increased responsibility, geographic experience etc.). If you are looking for a specific type of experience such as a very international group of students, those schools will want multiple languages. If you are looking at a school in CH such as SG that may teach in English but have high percentage of German speaking students, I would want to have a good level of German. The same would be for the MOT program at EPFL where it is English, I would want French as a lot of people would have French as a first language.

Keep in mind, the top schools have their choice of candidates. If you are aiming in that direction, you marks, GMAT, recommendations, path so far had better be of the level.

P.S. IMD offers information on what their typical MBA candidate profile would be. http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/admissions/

They also offer you the possibility to see if your profile would meet their selection criteria before you apply. http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/admissions/ayc.cfm
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Old 16.11.2014, 18:45
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

Yes CFA is a good alternative, provided you want to do that kind of work. There are very few of them out there.
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Old 16.11.2014, 18:51
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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Without going over the top on which program is best etc., I think it is as important to see where you can get it.

Have you done your GMAT yet (most schools require it). If so, is the mark good enough for the schools you are looking at? What does your professional career path look like so far (promotions, increased responsibility, geographic experience etc.). If you are looking for a specific type of experience such as a very international group of students, those schools will want multiple languages. If you are looking at a school in CH such as SG that may teach in English but have high percentage of German speaking students, I would want to have a good level of German. The same would be for the MOT program at EPFL where it is English, I would want French as a lot of people would have French as a first language.

Keep in mind, the top schools have their choice of candidates. If you are aiming in that direction, you marks, GMAT, recommendations, path so far had better be of the level.

P.S. IMD offers information on what their typical MBA candidate profile would be. http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/admissions/

They also offer you the possibility to see if your profile would meet their selection criteria before you apply. http://www.imd.org/programs/mba/admissions/ayc.cfm
Yes. I have done my GMAT and my score is fortunately within the range (by the way, if anyone is looking for GMAT books I am still getting off mine
(Sale in Lausanne) : 2 GMAT books)

Yes, I know IMD is hot. I am just wondering because not many people around me, even those in Lausanne, know about the school (compared to EPFL etc.)....well, you may say they are not in the real business world then...

p/s: No, CFA is not what I am looking for as I do not intend to switch to finance totally (from a technical background)
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Old 17.11.2014, 03:00
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

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Yes CFA is a good alternative, provided you want to do that kind of work. There are very few of them out there.
Few? Maybe I have the wrong friends, but I see quite a lot... I know that most don't pass the tests, but in Zurich alone was it a four digit number of students at each test - and they have one test every six months. Only place big enough to hold the tests was the expo center...
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Old 17.11.2014, 08:41
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

The reply depends on which MBA you are going to do (reputable one or not). You have several ranking from several institutions available to make your choices.

Would it be a move from a professional point of view ? It depends again on several factors :

1) how old are you ? most people do a MBA in their late 20's, very early 30's. If you are over 34, you start being old (especially if you consider a 2 years MBA) for it (executive MBA always an option but I do not like it) but it also depends on point 2.
2) what do you expect from it and what do you want to do after ? starting your own business, doing consulting? some MBA are more oriented toward entrepreneurship than others. For consulting, if you are tool old, the doors might be more difficult to open (but never impossible)
3) what is your background ? finance, law, engineering ? how big is the professional changes you expect from your MBA ? Your MBA will add something to your cv but it wont' miraculously change what you have done until now ie what you can do with it depends on what you have done until now.
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  #76  
Old 21.11.2014, 16:40
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

Interesting article:

http://www.businessinsider.com/mba-degree-cost-2014-4
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Old 29.10.2015, 15:25
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Re: MBA - is it worth it ?

Bump up.

Having read the entire thread I'm somewhat torn. I'm coming from an IT/Telco background. Call Centers' hw-sw, Server Farms, IT infrastructure stuff. I did everything from presales to consulting to implementation and support as well. Always had a well paying salary, no issues finding new jobs, so far always above the "EF poverty line" in the last 3.5 yrs of my time in Switzerland. I can consider myself very lucky, I think. Nevertheless, I could never get to a management level of actually having people reporting to me. I think being 35 is the time to move away from a console and start focusing on people or organizations better than technology. The question is, how to make the first step as all leadership roles actually require some years of leadership...

The question for me is whether an MBA helps to bump someone with a technical background from the current carreer phase to the next, not-so-much technical one. And considering I prefer to do this part-time rather than full time, are the E-MBA's as good as the real fulltime ones?
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