Unlocking Gates to new Careers: Pursuing an MBA for non-business professionals

 For many professionals, an MBA is an opportunity to upskill and advance up the business hierarchy. Certain programs are more attractive for professionals who may not have dealt directly with business operations in the past, but use the MBA as a way to fill the gaps in their knowledge and embark on a new career path within a certain business function. In this post, we will look into the ways in which MBA for non-business professionals opens the door to careers that would not have been open without the ground business knowledge delivered by MBA programs.

The competitive landscape of modern job markets puts new demands on future employees and whilst the transition between Bachelor into Master studies and then the workplace is quite smooth, this may not necessarily be the case once somebody enters a profession. From then on, it appears that there is no going back and the once selected career is to stay with a person for a lifetime. This has been the case in the past however considering the demands of modern workplaces for specialist skills means that engineers, medical professionals, creatives and many other professionals not related directly to business functions have to cover both sides of the coin, not only in terms of the practical knowledge of the job but also the operational functions. This blend becomes ever more important and makes MBA degrees attractive among non-business professionals. It’s possible to say that two forces act on the popularity of MBA degrees, first one being the push of dynamic job markets which prize highly skilled professionals in wide spanning skill sets. On the other hand, non-business professionals are pulled towards careers outside of their existing jobs for higher salaries, better position in the hierarchy or simply exciting projects that await, providing extraordinary opportunities for personal and professional development. In this second context, we see the increasing recognition of the value that is added by completion of MBA studies by engineers, doctors, technology professionals or any other sectors or industries of interest. Simply put, an MBA on top of extensive and applied technical experience, puts those candidates higher up in the selection shortlists for better positions and supports their growth not just in terms of academic rigor but also soft skills.

“In addition to the subject knowledge gained in class, I learned stress management and enhanced my negotiation and collaboration skills. The MBS lecturers are all highly qualified and motivated, and the learning atmosphere in all my courses was great. The case study discussions, classwork, assignments and presentations brought the best out of me.”

Sachin Bansal, Quality Management System Expert,
Lead System Auditor Quality BMW Group, Munich

MBA for professionals is often taken at face value as an MBA with specialization, however, this is far from the truth and in reality, professionals willing to make the most of their MBA, should be looking into the direction of General Management degrees. The reason is simple, why specialize in an area we work in when the objective really is to gain a grounding knowledge of business operations that we may not have had a chance to experience before.

From the perspective of certain professions, it is understandable that some modules offered within the scope of MBA programs are more relevant i.e., supply chain management is likely to have more relevance to engineers than professionals in the creative industry. This is why typically MBA studies sport a range of modules that are fairly standard at delivering the ground knowledge on accounting, marketing, financial management or leadership. Where business schools differ is optional modules and value adding elements relating to the curriculum and/or careers. What also matters is experiential learning where theoretical knowledge can be applied in practical situation, for example through business projects or highlights of the program. At Munich Business School, one such initiative is called the C-Suite Live Simulation where students are subjected to an intensive week consisting of an Accounting Bootcamp followed by a 3-day C Suite simulation of a crisis situation. The simulation provides an opportunity to test a range of skills from hard accounting delivered in the bootcamp and an online component developed by Harvard Business Publishing, to skills such as leadership, team work or decision making.

“Most MBA programs focus on key areas of business – accounting, finance, operations, marketing, organizational behavior and leadership, to name a few.  However, the real world of business and management is more nuanced. Making decisions often requires the integration of multiple areas.  In reality, business problems and management decisions are mostly multi-disciplinary, requiring the analysis of data, knowledge of one or more business areas, plus wisdom and judgement in an environment of uncertainty and ambiguity.  That’s the real world of business! 

C-Suite Life at the Munich Business School develops key management decision making skills in a simulated “real world of business”.  Students take on management roles and are faced with a range of situations (predictable and unexpected; straight forward and complex etc.) requiring their attention. In a real-time environment, students need to make decisions for their simulated organization. This requires the interpretation of accounting and other information, consideration of the business strategy, attention to customer needs and awareness of workforce skills, amongst other things. The efficacy of their decisions isn’t reflected in a score from the professor, it’s reflected in the financial statements that show improved or worsening performance.  Good decisions lead to improved market share, better employee engagement, happier customers and increased profitability.

The C-Suite Life roleplay & simulation is also good fun – students enjoy being challenged in an intense, rich and competitive learning environment.”  

Haydn Pound
Module leader for Accounting for Management Decisions
and co-facilitator of C-Suite Live simulation at Munich Business

MBA studies for professionals are designed in such way as to break down barriers which may put potential applicants off such as lack of foundational business knowledge, time and financial concerns. These are tackled in several ways, most fundamental being designing a curriculum that from the outset assumes none to low level of business knowledge and intensive coverage of business knowledge gaps. These are usually MBA General Management programs which do not aspire to develop specialist in any particular business field. Instead, they are MBA studies that deliver wide range of skills that are applicable in executive level roles covering fundamentals and advanced concepts, with focus on application. When it comes to time and financial constraints, the variety of modes of study available, partnerships with organizations that support financing can be available with the right school and programme. In addition, typically MBA scholarship support is available and discounts which tend to lower the costs so that the only remaining constraint to consider is the time.

One of the main reasons for many applicants to pursue an MBA programme is making impact on their careers with salary increases, assuming more senior positions and elevating career satisfaction post-MBA graduation. Impact is a crucial word in that respect and an MBA for non-business professionals can really make a difference for an individual. What also matters is the career support throughout the studies and for that programs such as the Triple M Career Pathways – an integral part of MBA General Management at Munich Business School are an excellent support element. By way of looking at the student’s strengths and weaknesses, support through bespoke career coaching and sessions on resume writing, application tailoring or LinkedIn, student then look at the needs of the market and its requirements. The final goal is matching the person with the right employment opportunity and support them in a seamless transition from campus to career. In the case of experienced professionals, the career typically leads to executive positions and higher responsibilities that also support the individual’s growth.

In summary, investment into MBA for non-business professionals is an excellent way in which through tailored content, one can grasp business fundamentals and shift careers into business functions of either their existing business or move into another sector/industry and make impact there. The knowledge acquired complements in many ways the existing knowledge of students and sets them apart due to the existing technical knowledge. This aspect is particularly important in positions demanding decision-making skills, project management and any other disciplines where the technical meets the business which is the real dealbreaker and the most beneficial sweet-spot for post-MBA careers of non-business professionals.

Maciej Kapron
About Maciej Kapron 26 Articles
Maciej Kapron has been a Study Advisor as well as Program Manager for the MBA programs at Munich Business School since June 2023. Previously, he was also responsible for the DBA program. He holds a BA in Diplomacy with Law and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University and completed part of his degree at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon. During his MSc degree, he focused on marketing, specifically within the area of brand management and services marketing however, in his thesis he evaluated entry strategies to new markets of a global automotive manufacturer.