I would say it really depends. I have done my MBA from the Ivey Business School (part of University of Western Ontario) and in Canada that is the most prestigious school there is. It has value. I used to get interviews because of that school name just. But I am also doing my CFA mainly because I feel that while the MBA opened doors and has gotten people interested in hiring me, the CFA will prove that I am not just the regular bloke who does a Bachelors, works, does a MBA, and then believes themselves to be entitled. I also always say that I am committed to lifelong learning, so what better way to prove it then to continuously upgrade your skills?
Now why I said it depends is because the school is everything. The last place I was working, I was helping in choosing potential candidates for a role and I was surprised at the criteria for school. The name means a lot because it tells you the type of education the person got. So, for example, a particular school’s MBA was marked as “do not consider”. I won’t name the school because I didn’t agree with the HR team, but basically anyone who had a MBA from that school was immediately discarded no matter how great their experience. When I asked HR why, they explained that this school skipped over basic finance skills that are important to the role.
That’s one depends. But the other one, and the more important one, is ranking against the competition. Let’s say A has a MBA from Harvard, 3 years of experience working at an investment firm based in the US, and believes that he/she is entitled to be promoted to a senior level already because of the MBA (I’m not joking when I say that I’ve seen this). Let’s say B has a MBA from some online school, a CPA, 6 years of experience in Deloitte in their Vancouver office, and now wants to transition into the finance industry and so is planning to register for CFA. Who would you hire for a role in investment banking associate role? Yeah B might have completed the MBA from some watered down school, but he/she is showing that they want to learn. They’ve done a CPA. They’re ready to do a CFA. Does it really matter where they did their MBA from then?
My point is that yes MBA is becoming watered down and very popular. It’s like every other person now has a MBA. But it should all come down to the experience around that MBA. If someone has a prestigious MBA that doesn’t make them the best candidate to hire and if someone has a MBA from an unknown university that shouldn’t automatically exclude them from the role. And as my mentor once said to me: “It’s not about getting those 3 letters after your name, but about what you want to do? Do you want to keep learning and taking on tough programs or do you just want to relax now that you’re through regular school? It all depends on you.”