Why Business School?

I get asked from time to time, why, when I already have a PhD, would I go back to school at night to get an MBA? There are many answers to this question, depending upon the day and my mood but I just read an article that reminded me why I think it is such a great idea. As an academic researcher, I’m dependent upon non-profit foundations, individual donors and the federal government to fund my research (if I can convince peer review panels that my work is more important than others to fund). Given the current federal lack of interest in the sciences in general, funding for basic biomedical research is decreasing. Thus one reason  for business school is to learn how to transition my scientific skills into something that would be useful in an industry setting. While joint MBA/PhD programs are beginning to spring up around the country, individuals with both degrees are still rare and thus the combination has a high likelihood of being marketable.

My other reasons are quite disparate & unconnected. I will list them here, in no particular order.

  1.  I wanted to learn how life outside the ivory tower of academia worked. Aside from a brief life guarding stint as a teenager I have always worked in academics.
  2. I thought that my boss mismanaged my institute, leading to its almost demise. Rather than criticize I wanted to learn how one would manage something well to make it blossom. OK and perhaps I thought I’d go for his job one day.
  3. My hubby is going back to school to pick up a law degree & I found myself with many free nights. I feared that I would become a lazy, brain dead, computer game playing, wine drinking, trashy novel reading lump.
  4. The university that acquired my failing research institute had a tuition voucher program…hmm free school; actually I ended up picking a program at a different institution but this helped to start the process.
  5. I’ve been working in research laboratories for 19+ years now & wanted to learn something new and different.
  6. Because no management skills are taught in scientific PhD programs, I made my first employee cry within a month. I definitely needed improvement in my managerial skills.
  7. The business section of the newspaper was a mystery to me. I knew that it was in fact written in English but it was as obscure to me as I suspect most of my scientific articles are to non-scientists.
  8. My hubby will at times talk blithely about us starting a business & the concept, due to its unfamiliarity, would fill me with panic. I wanted to know just what this meant & how to do it in the best possible way.
  9. Now that I’m more than 1/2 way through, I have to add, because it’s fun. I may grumble and groan about some of my classes but all in all it has been incredibly fun so far. Perhaps more importantly, I feel that I am developing new skills that could be applied anywhere, in any industry. Given the uncertainty of scientific funding, this is a great feeling.