Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is my MBA worth it?

I have just completed my MBA degree at a local institution which has lasted for 18 months and I thought I could share my experience with the program for the benefit of those who are interested to get one.
To begin with, there are always two sides of a coin. While there are people who are pro doing it, there are people who are against it on the other side. In this post, I will try to balance both views from my experience with the program.

My Experience
I started off applying for the program much younger during the days. I was 26 when I submitted my applications along with my GMAT score and was contemplating choosing between taking an overseas or local degree and the opportunity costs for each of the program. At the end, I decided on a local institution which allows me to complete the course on a part-time basis and they are located near the town area so I can commute easily after work. Even then, I postponed the admission until a year later due to marriage and job change factor during that year.
Midway through the course, I was juggling between work, school, family (with a kid) and blogging at the same time. There were some really busy times when I thought I would have given up but I did not. As a result of these grinding experience, I have become a much better allocator of time where I had to do things very productively with little time to waste. Until today, I still bring this to apply to my everyday life.
There are different set of objectives for the people who chose to do their MBA program. Some wanted to change career while others wanted to land an investment banking or consultant role or simply a higher paying job. For me, I wanted to improve on my self-efficacy throughout the program so I could be a better person myself. My objective was clear throughout the program so I just had to focus on it.
Thinking back, I have no doubt that taking the course have led me to become a more complete person. For instance, on soft skills, I had become more outspoken and confident giving presentations to the upper management which was not the case prior to the program. The fact that every single module in an MBA class requires at least one project presentation helped to mitigate the fear and get used to it. In terms of the hard skills, I started to look and analyze things on a deeper level and from a different angle, something which was not too apparent to me previously. Also, I learnt that for every decision I made had to be supported with justifications which in some way helped me in my investing because I no longer had to depend on gut feels.
Is the $69K MBA worth it?
However, to make the argument more logically balanced especially for those who are interested to get one, the MBA is not all rosy as what the media or internet suggested.
One of the biggest opportunity costs for taking the MBA is the tuition fees which does not come cheap. I paid $69K for the program over 3 instalments during the 18 month span and $69K can buy you many things, including knowledge. There are also people who will argue that you can learn the course online on your own. Through experience, I affirm that is a true statement. However, what you will miss is the interaction with fellow classmates and professors who will give you different inputs based on the same objective. You probably will also need to be really determined to learn things by yourself and not lose focus along the way. For me, the program was sort of acting as an enforcement to ensure that I adhere to all these commitments without losing focus to the external noises.
There are readers who have asked me previously whether the huge tuition fees is worth going for. To me, there are certain financial efficacies in life that should be prioritized first. Basic needs and emergency funds are one of those that I would place a greater focus above anything else. Once these financial issues are sorted out, only can we think about whether the tuition fees are worth going for.
There are also some people who think that the MBA is a gateway ticket to higher paying jobs. While to some extent that is true, many will be disappointed if the sole focus is on achieving a high paying dream job.
Overall, the MBA is a great program. Taking the MBA is akin to investing in growth companies with potential growth catalysts incorporated into the high target prices set by analyst. It will be up to us to ensure that our own intrinsic value match the expectations at the end of the day. Now, whether or not they are worth going for will depend on your needs, goals and financial situation in your life. Are you game?


  1. Congrats on getting your MBA! I'm sure the MBA will pay for itself, but it's really up to you to apply what you learn and leverage the degree. Now go change the world!

    1. Thanks Henry.

      I was hoping that the skills learnt would have a multi-attitude impact to how I perceive things in life. I hope to become a better person that could impact this world by that little bit of things hopefully.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Uncle CW.

      You will be seeing your son graduate too pretty soon ;)

  3. Hi B,

    I think the best part of an MBA is the connection you've made. Hence the knowledge part, which is easily obtainable through self learning, is not the main point. If you've made a lot of connections while studying, that makes all the difference. Hence there's a lot of diff between taking an MBA overseas in a reputable uni compared to a local one. Maybe i'm just biased ;)


    Haha :)

    1. Hi LP

      Ah ha!!! You still remember about that CFA thing I mentioned!!!

      Before I started the program, I had the same thinking too that MBA is all about connection. But I realized that there is something more than that. In fact, throughout the course, I seldom interacted in seminars and events because I had to run other errands at the same time.

      I must say that the knowledge I gained from the course is pretty well taken since I gained different inputs from people who come from different industry with faculty members who had PhD from all over the world. But still, knowledge is knowledge, it can't work alone.

  4. Hi B,

    Congratulations on completing your MBA, It is definitely not an easy course, but you have endured and completed it. Well done!

    Money would be an issue for most people. When I was younger, I was thinking of whether to do a MBA or take a professional certificate like CFA. I chose to pursue the latter, because the CFA syllabus is quite rigourous and it helped to build my foundation in Finance. The MBA curriculum is more general in nature.

    1. Hi SRSI

      Thanks for your well wishes.

      The MBA is indeed a more general program, but in life we do need diversity in every bit of knowledge in whatever we do. I did take CFA program too in the past and I must say the technical knowledge far outreach the MBA program. It's for a different needs I guess.

  5. Congrats
    You made the best investment
    Investing in yourself :)

    1. Hi Jimmy

      I guess many tend to overlook the importance of investing in ourselves.

      It may seem easy to overlook but humans are the best investment one could make to ourselves.

  6. Hi B,
    Gratz on getting our MBA. Im sure with MBA in your resume, you will get a much higher paying job. But of course more responsibilties comes with it. Gd luck! :)

    1. Hi Hayden

      Thanks for your well wishes.

      The MBA program does help in my career in the sense that I was ready to step into a more management position but I wasn't really going into that direction in the long run. I guess different sets of objective this time.

  7. Hi B,

    Congrats! Definitely worth it!


  8. Hi B,

    Last time Strength is power

    then become Money is power

    Now, Knowledge is power.

    with that knowledge im sure there's more value then a $69k as you can apply it on your daily life everyday.

    1. Hi jfree

      You are right.

      We are in a world where knowledge accedes money and power. Learning never stops at 20 or 80.

  9. Why not get a scholarship? You can have the best of both worlds.

    1. Hi DH

      I would have jumped at the chance of a scholarship but unfortunately I wasn't good enough to get selected :)

  10. Congratulations B,

    Whether it is worth 69k I do not know, but I am sure it is a achievement to be celebrated and with real benefits.

    Wish you success in your future Coporate climb. I remembered you mention u want to try your hand as a teacher. I am quite sure the ministry will like to see someone with MBA ... LOL

    1. Hi Sillyinvestor

      Yes I do like to try one day to become a teacher. You still remember that!!!

      I think a specialized Master program would have been more relevant to becoming a teacher. I'm not so sure about the MBA program though as it was meant more to corporate world set of environment.

  11. B,


    Job change, marriage, children, MBA, investing and blogging!!?

    Congrats on having an understanding wife!


    1. Hi SMOL

      LOL!!! You congratulated me on a good wife.

      But you are right. She's been very supportive all these while and I wouldn't have made it alive if it wasn't for her.

  12. Congrats on the MBA B!

    Personally, I think having the right intentions of getting an MBA is crucial.

    Someone who just wants to get a high paying job ONLY should not get an MBA in my opinion. It is so much more than making more money.

    I spent 4 years doing an undergrad and ended up in a job that requires no education. Ended up with 30k of student loans and debt for something not exactly applicable to my life.

    Looking back if anything, I should have just not gotten my undergrad and started work right after school whilst learning personal finance.

    1. Hi Jeff

      I hear what you're saying.

      Many of the jobs do not appear to require any formal knowledge or education but if we take a look closer, they actually require a lot of the intangibles we don't see. Things such as hard work, perseverance are all things overlooked which we build upon in school.

      I still think going to a formal education is important with the right purpose and intentions.

  13. Hi B,

    Congrats! I am always amazed by your juggling skills and hopefully you can have a bit more of "we time" with your understanding wife next year!

    Maybe a second child on the way? *wink*

    1. Hi 15hww


      I definitely will have more we time now that one big hurdle is taken care of.

      A second child will not be so soon. I need some room mentally and financially to get prepared for the second child. Hope to see you and mrs 15hww have one soon next year though ;)

  14. Hi B,

    Congrats. MBA = Mr. B Accredited!

    Many of my friends, colleagues, incl. my brother took MBA. Some think it can help them get a better job. Some want it to reflect on namecard. Some want to tell others they had masters! Some worked in a job with more time and decide put their excess time into learning something.

    Ultimately, we must be adaptive to "learning" whichever ways, it is ok. But the reason must be valid suiting to each individual and better still if it for self-improvement. For getting an MBA is not the end, but start of a longer journey of "real world application"!


    1. Hi Rolf

      You've summarized it very well there.

      An MBA is definitely not the end its the beginning of something great, something I demand from myself to do better in my own self reflection over the next few years though it may not come necessarily from climbing the corporate office ;)

  15. Congratulation B!

    It is not an easy task to complete the MBA part-time. You had my most admiration.


    1. Hi David

      Appreciate your kind words.

      I've still got a lot to learn from the community and you as well for the option trades ;)

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  18. hi B,
    first things first... congrats on the MBA (though its a long time ago.. haha)

    i am at the stage of contemplating a career change... coz i feel i am stagnant at my current level. and i wish to do something different and what i have always been interested at. and i whittled it down to MBA, as it seems more interesting to me.

    however, the stumbling block is the fee. like you mentioned is 69k.. which is hefty. may i know which local uni did u go for? since u mention town, i assume its S** ? any reason, why choose this uni out of the others?

    after 4 years of grad, with benefit of hindsight, given a choice again, do you think u would have done it ?
    also is this 69k worth it, till now. have u seen the "ROI" on this?
    whether its both tangible or non-tangible.

    1. Hi FC

      Thank you :D Indeed it's been a long time since I completed my MBA.

      When I decide to take the MBA, the hefty fee was also a stumbling block for me, hence I decide that I would take it part-time so at least I won't have to give up my day job and get to benefit at the same time. Turned out it was pretty tiring with both working and studying at the same time.

      I chose SMU because I like what they did with the curriculum there. For me, the ranking does not matter as much and I wanted to get as much exposure locally and internationally and I think across all the 3 local MBA it went pretty well.

      It's still difficult for me to make a judgement if it's worth it or not in terms of the ROI. For sure, I have seen benefits when I go for interview and some networking knowing that I am part of that alumni but it's not a showstopper if you didn't have that. With $69k a big money at that point in time, this could have been used for investment purpose and I might suspect this might work out to be rather fine as well.

      In your case, since you wanted a career change, I think the MBA will benefit you more than it did to me so I think if the fee is something you can afford it, should go for it :)

    2. B, quick response there on a weekend. =)

      i kinda narrowed down to ntu vs smu... price is slighty cheaper with ntu, since i took my B.eng there, i got a smallish discount. (every dollar counts =)
      ranking wise, i am not too particular either. like you said, the curriculum and the networking and the post graduate prospects is more impt to me. ranking is dynamic anw, it changes every year.

      and i am leaning towards a FT MBA, coz it means, i can grad faster. but it also means, i wont have an income. so now its 12mth vs 18mths. whether the 6mths earlier completion will have more adv.

      for smu curriculum, which part was of it attracted u the most?

      for me, as i dont have a finance background, which of the two would you think have more benefits?

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