Will an MBA Open All the Doors?


In today’s workplace there are plenty of leaders who don’t have an MBA – they just got in the game and did something significant.

Here’s a recent 48 Days On-Demand Radio question:

Dan, I am 32 years old and I have just started an MBA program at Auburn University because I have spent the past 5 years in a very technical/engineering position at the bottom of the corporate ladder. I picked the MBA route because with each company I have evaluated a lot of the upper management had their MBAs. Since my desire has always been to be a market leader, I just assumed that an MBA would be a requirement.

What really separates a resume/person from a CEO position in a fortune 500 company? -Hopeful Trish

Trish, I commend you on moving forward and not being content with the status quo. You are right to question what is it that separates a “resume person” from a CEO. And it’s never just a matter of having the right degrees. Actually, it’s less that now than ever before. In the last year at 48 Days LLC we have engaged a social media director, product fulfillment manager, webmaster, graphic designers, blog coach, podcast consultant, speaking coach, marketing director and several other positions. In not one case did I ask for a resume or even inquire about degrees or certifications.

More likely I am going to look for:

  1. Notes of recommendation from 3 people I know and respect.
  2. A past project I can review.
  3. Media buzz about what that person has already done. (What will I see if I Google you?)
  4. Leadership of a group on a social networking site.
  5. A regular blog that is compelling and engaging.
  6. A high EQ (Emotional Quotient) vs a high IQ

You may say, Well, I don’t have any of those things. Then that begs the question. Why would someone see you as an outstanding candidate?

Unfortunately, the MBA has become a very common and generic degree. No one knows what it really means other than you have shown the discipline to stick with a program for a couple of years. It is also the degree most often added to a resume dishonestly. Seldom are degrees checked and there are thousands of people who have added MBA to their resume, hoping for a little extra edge.

I would encourage you to be building your reputation in ways like those noted above that will get attention and open doors all around you. The days of a great resume being enough are over. You have to be remarkable in some tangible way. In today’s workplace there are plenty of “market leaders” who don’t have an MBA – they just got in the game and did something significant.


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