MBA: Valuable and Versatile
DID YOU KNOW...that Chris DeWolfe, one of the founders (and current CEO) of MySpace, has an MBA from the University of Southern California? According to Fortune magazine's authorized peek at Chris's MySpace page, he landed on his feet after his first venture failed, then invited new partner Tom Anderson (MySpace co-founder) to "Go figure out how to make money." (Looks like they got that covered.) Or how about Scott Adams, creator of the much-appreciated Dilbert comic strip? Adams's MBA is from UC Berkeley. Did you know that Tom Freston, one of the founding members of MTV, is a New York University MBA alumnus?
The Versatility of the MBA
The MBA degree originated in the U.S. at the start of the 20th century, after the country industrialized. The number of business schools increased rapidly and the MBA degree evolved into a highly-sought degree after World War II, when industry became interested in scientific approaches to management and business analysis. One great advantage of a good MBA degree is its applicability to a wide range of industries and organizations. The combination of a well-rounded MBA with a specialization in a particular field of interest can result in a versatile, useful credential.
Today, you have the option to earn your MBA degree online. The coursework will probably be just as demanding as that of a traditional campus-bound program, but the online format may allow you to continue gaining work experience on the job while simultaneously completing your degree. Just be sure that the school and the MBA Online program you choose is accredited.
Famous MBAs include:
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip. A member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Adams worked with corporate telecommunications engineers in California prior to his career as a cartoonist. He cites that experience as rich and fruitful food for his creative genius. Speaking of food, Adams is also CEO of his own food company, which makes the Dilberito, a vegetarian and vegan microwave burrito.
Arthur Rock, "the father of Venture Capital" who, along with Laurence Rockefeller, virtually founded the venture capital business. Credited with coining the term "Venture Capital," Rock helped to fund every major semiconductor company, including the first -- Fairchild Semiconductor -- and the biggest -- Intel. He was also an early investor in Apple Computer and Scientific Data Systems.
Tom Freston, one of the founding executives of MTV: Music Television, who, as the head of the Marketing division, created the "I want my MTV" ad campaign. Freston is currently on the Board of Trustees for Emerson College, a preeminent arts and communications liberal arts university in Boston.
Robert S. McNamara. McNamara is responsible for the application of systems analysis to public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis. He taught at the Harvard Business School at age 34, worked for the Air Force Office of Statistical Control during WWII, then joined Ford Motor Company upon his return, eventually becoming its first president from outside the family. From 1961-1968, he was Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, later drawing tremendous criticism for his role in extending the Vietnam War. He left the White House to become head of the World Bank, where he oversaw great increases in funding, a change in focus from infrastructure to meeting basic human needs, and improved methods for evaluating the effectiveness of funded projects. One notable project started during McNamara's tenure was the effort to prevent river blindness, the world's second leading infectious cause of blindness.
Tom Magliozzi -- "Clack" -- of the Tappet Brothers, co-host, along with his brother Ray, of Car Talk, the irreverent NPR radio show. A graduate of MIT, Tom earned his MBA at the BU Graduate School of Management. (He also has a doctorate in Marketing.) Tom also writes for CarTalk.com and runs his own consulting business. His big Hollywood break came in 2006, when he and Ray had cameo appearances in the 2006 animated movie, Cars -- Tom was a 1963 Dodge Dart.
Charles R. Schwab. Schwab pioneered first the discount brokerage industry -- demystifying the stock market and opening it up to the everyday investor -- and then online investing, capitalizing on the Internet to build the leading online trading company. Not bad for someone who had to overcome dyslexia as a student. Whether you actually talk to him or not, you can certainly thank Chuck that you're no longer paying one percent of the purchase price on every stock transaction.
Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder (along with Tom Anderson) of MySpace, the online social networking community. According to Alexa Internet Inc., which collects statistics on web traffic, MySpace is currently the world's sixth most popular English-language website, the sixth most popular website in any language, and the third most popular website in the U.S. As of September 7, 2007, there were more than 200 million accounts -- of which DeWolfe's was the sixth.
Peter Lynch, who managed Fidelity's Magellan Fund for 13 years, making it the world's largest mutual fund. Lynch started out as an intern at Fidelity Investments, in 1966. Similarly to how would-be authors are advised to write about what they know, Lynch recommends that non-professional investors invest in what they know -- that is, to research investments related to industries or topics in which they have already acquired extensive knowledge through personal experience.
Meg Whitman, President and CEO of e-Bay. When Whitman joined eBay, the company operated only in the U.S., with 29 employees. Today, eBay is a global organization with more than 11,000 employees. BusinessWeek cites exemplary customer communications as one of Whitman's secrets of success at eBay, particularly her emphasis on keeping customers informed about site changes and welcoming feedback.
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City. Before venturing into politics, Bloomberg founded a real-time news service for investors. Twenty-five years later, Bloomberg L.P. is the largest financial news and data company in the world, controlling 33% of market share and employing 9,000 people worldwide. Pretty impressive when you consider that Reuters and Dow-Jones had a 100-year head start.
Susan Decker, president of Yahoo! Inc. Before joining Yahoo! in 2000, Decker was the global director of equity research, a $300 million operation, at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and before holding that role, was an equity research analyst, receiving recognition by Institutional Investor magazine as a top rated analyst for ten consecutive years.
Phil Knight, chairman of Nike. Knight, who lettered in track as a University of Oregon undergraduate, is credited with putting an American company back at the head of the shoe industry pack after decades of being outrun by foreign competition. His strategy included expansion into multiple sports niches and marketing campaigns. Nike employs 22,000 people-- including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Michael Schumacher, and Roger Federer.
Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun Microsystems, which he co-founded along with three partners in 1982. Sun Microsystems was one of a group of successful startup companies in California's Silicon Valley in the '80s, but, unlike many members of the Silicon Valley community, McNealy's background is in business rather than computer science or programming background. McNealy is one of the few heads of a major corporation to have been CEO for over twenty years.
Thomas G. Stemberg, Staples chairman, who founded and built the chain of office supply stores into an $11 billion company. Fulfilling the proverb "Necessity is the mother of invention," Stemberg reportedly came up with the Staples idea (in the mid-'80s) on July 4th, in response to the frustration of not being able to buy a ribbon for his printer because all the stores were closed. Stemberg also a director of Petsmart, a chain of pet supply stores.
Arjay Miller, a Ford Motor Company "Whiz Kid" (along with Robert McNamara). The Whiz Kids were ten U.S. Air Force veterans of World War II who became Ford Motor Company executives in 1946. After 20 years at Ford, during which time he rose to become president of the company, Miller went to Stanford University Graduate School of Business to build it into one of the leading schools of business in the U.S.
Warren Buffett, the second-richest man in the world. Buffett actually has a master's degree in Economics rather than an MBA, but the different degree doesn't seem to have held him back. A legend for having made his fortune through investments in undervalued (and unexciting) stocks, Buffet filed his first income tax return at age 13 in 1943, deducting his bicycle as a work expense for $35.
The Value of the MBA
The value of an MBA is such that a number of executives, Bill Gates included, have attended short-course "Executive MBA" programs. Although Gates never graduated from Harvard -- due to the opportunity he saw in the personal computer industry -- he did attend a Harvard Executive MBA program during the 1980s.
1) Fortune Magazine and Fortune Magazine Archives, September 4, 2006.
3) Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
4) Chief Executive Magazine, Online.
5) "The Accidental Entrepreneur," by Gordon E. Moore, Nobelprize.org.
6) Google Answers