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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 18, 2009
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MBAs in Demand
February 18, 2009   
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Master of Business Administration (MBA)programs are directed at people with professional experience who have clear career goals.

MBA studies offer three basic advantages for students. First, they offer opportunities to acquire knowledge and important skills such as project management, business development skills, and the ability to function in a multicultural environment. Second, graduates can count on higher salaries. And third, they will become more valuable for their companies after they obtain an MBA. Also, MBA programs offer many new contacts that can be useful in graduates' further careers.

The MBA yesterday and today
If you compare the present situation in Poland with that, say, 10 years ago, you can see that previously MBA programs were more elitist in nature. Ten or 15 years ago there were far fewer of them in Poland, and they were relatively far more expensive. Today there are also many programs that schools call "MBA-type" courses. Unfortunately, these often have little to do with the real thing. Sometimes a school may change a postgraduate course into an MBA program, but this does not involve a different curriculum, only a new name. Such moves erode the prestige of MBA programs as a whole.

Combining theory and practice
MBA studies combine theory with practice, including specialist knowledge and concrete management methods. These courses should be aimed at senior and mid-level managers, never at fresh college graduates with no professional experience. MBA studies involve both classes and a range of other activities, such as foreign trips, visits to other colleges, and work on a project with foreigners who are also MBA students. At least a part of the MBA program should be taught in English (or French or German). Also, MBA programs last longer than postgraduate courses, with at least 400 hours of instruction over four to five semesters. Meanwhile, postgraduate studies are designed to transfer knowledge fast, most often in order to enable students to acquire new professional qualifications and skills.

Why an MBA?
It is worth taking an MBA program when you believe you do not have sufficient knowledge about human resources management (soft skills) or planning and controlling (hard skills). One should realize that knowledge is changing and developing, so it should be refreshed every few years. And it is not about attending a new MBA program every few years but about shaping one's professional career on a regular basis. The decision to take an MBA program testifies to a person's professional maturity and means that they plan their career in a professional way.

It should be remembered that a desire to acquire new knowledge is an insufficient reason to attend an MBA program-in that case, a postgraduate course or a training program should be enough. But if one feels strongly that they need to learn new problem-solving techniques, this is a good reason to take an MBA course.

Requirements for potential MBA students
A person wanting to join an MBA program should have the qualities of a good manager-primarily, conceptual skills (an ability to determine goals, make plans, and create new ideas and projects); interpersonal skills; and technical skills (an ability to use management tools). And one more thing: a person wanting to enroll on an MBA program should be prepared for hard work. They should be disciplined and have good time management skills; otherwise they will be unable to combine work with studies.

Case studies are key
Since MBA programs combine theory with practice, one of the most important activities during such courses are case studies. And that requires not only theoretical knowledge, but primarily professional experience. You need the experience of solving problems on an everyday basis. As a result, such students have better communication with lecturers, becoming their partners in discussions and in seeking solutions. Communication is faster, and it is easier to find the right solutions. Let us remember that our students are usually people with very busy schedules. Although they do not complain of a lack of contacts, they often limit their professional contacts to the bare minimum. When attending an MBA program, they have to find time for classes, contacts with other students and lecturers, and for an exchange of information, knowledge and experience.

Besides, one should realize that often one's professional contacts are limited to people from just one industry who have similar professional problems and similar ways of solving them. Meanwhile, at school one can meet people from different market sectors, which makes the exchange of experience particularly valuable and can help work out innovative methods. MBA studies allow one to look at things from many different points of view.

MBAs in Poland
Today one can safely decide to study an MBA course in Poland, without the need to go abroad. The programs here are less expensive than in Western Europe or the United States, while the quality is comparable, and there are no additional costs involved (travel, accommodation, food expenses and so on).

It is worth stressing that good MBA programs in Poland offer high quality teaching. This results from the fact that Polish curricula have to meet international standards and at the same time they must be adapted to the conditions here-the environment in which a business organization and manager operate. After all, some of the methods that work globally may not necessarily be effective in Poland. It is impossible to transfer all the models directly and apply them in Poland. So MBA programs available in Poland are often superior to those at foreign schools in that they take into consideration specific local economic practices.

How to choose the right course
Before selecting a program one should check who the course is targeted at (college graduates or people with professional experience, and what managerial level they represent). Other important factors include the curriculum and the number of classes assigned to specific subjects, as well as methods of teaching, the school's foreign partner, the price (good and very good MBA programs are never cheap), and the professional and academic achievements of the lecturers.
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