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33 year old planing to do MBA

#1 33 year old planing to do MBA
13/09/2012 12:50



I have 12 years of total experience out of which 10 years have been in various top products companies (OEM's) and last 2 years in a top Consulting firm. I work mainly on Embedded/Telecom side. I am interested to pursue MBA but I am wondering if I am too old for this? My current work earns me good money to support my needs but I am ambitions!

Has anyone been in similar situation before? What are your suggestions?



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#2 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
13/09/2012 13:58

DR79 to ACN2010 (#1)

Hi J,

I'm in a similar situation: 32, mid-senior manager in industry and becoming much more generalist in my work. This was guiding me towards thinking of an MBA to get some good theoretical grounding in disciplines (especially finance) that would be very helpful. However having spoken to a few people, it seems that for a standard MBA I’m now really just too senior – my experience counts for more and I would probably already have a better knowledge from practice rather than 1-2yrs of lectures!

I have looked in detail at an Executive MBA though – less time, and seemly more focussed on ‘topping-up’ skills. Perhaps better suited to you?

What ultimately has basically killed it for me currently is the acceptance that 75% of the value an MBA or EMBA is the network that you make during the course and the alumni you then have access too. Very useful as a consultant, but less so as an industry player like myself who isn’t yet looking to make a move.

I’m now focussing on finding some smaller (and cheaper!) courses that might give me the theory that I need, but at less time and expense that my company would be happier at supporting.

Hope this negative decision helps give the other side! For my particular circumstances at least…


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#3 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
13/09/2012 17:35

I to DR79 (#2)

Going to B-school at 33? At that point you are borderline between the regular 2 year MBA programs and the Exec MBA programs. I know someone who went at 31 in the US and was among the 5 oldest in the class, the US is regularly younger than European B-Schools, but if you do a regular MBA you will be pressing the re-set button on your career.

Exec MBAs- they are shorter, I know Columbia/LBS have a 1 year program and you are with a lot more experienced students. But in exec MBAs the emphasis is less on recruitment but more on leadership.

So really depends on what you want to do. If you are happy in your career/industry but want greater leadership opportunities then an exec MBA might be helpful.

But if you want to change industry/function/geography its better to look for a regular MBA. In this case EU schools INSEAD, LBS and IMD, which has the most mature/experienced students, will be the best bet.

Its never too late!

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#4 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
14/09/2012 11:25

Mr Cool to ACN2010 (#1)

My 2p worth. At 33 you have two options that make sense.

a) treat the MBA as a pure learning exercise. choose a relatively cheap part-time course that gives you the best education benefut with the least cost/loss of income. This will educate you and round you out, but do nothing much in terms of leapfrogging your career on any great deal.

b) go to Insead or LBS and graduate on the Dean's List (top 10 of class). That way you might get into a true MBB or be headhunted by a FTSE 100 for their talent programme; both paths being realistic routes to board level.

Going to Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, etc will be a 40k bill for a year or two of fun. No career or financial uplift likely.

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#5 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
19/09/2012 17:05

unizm1980 to ACN2010 (#1)

If you think that taking up an MBA would make your career grow, then don't let your age get in the way. Age should not be hindrance in your self improvement. But before getting an MBA, think a million times. It is not easy.

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#6 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
20/09/2012 16:12

baykus to ACN2010 (#1)

Do you have any view of what you want to be doing 5-10 years down the line? What are you hoping for a change to achieve?

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#7 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
23/09/2012 16:45

Camster to ACN2010 (#1)


I really hope this helps.

I myself struggled with this for quite some time. A decade in industry (telecoms/media) and then a few years in TMT consulting. This is what I did:


Looked at the top MBA programmes and its courses. Identified areas where I needed to improve. Having done a lot of marketing/pricing/supply chain/operations engagements, etc., I decided that I needed to improve on the finance/economics side of things. Or at least have such a qualification.


Accepted that the main value of an MBA was its network of contacts. So, I did the ACCA. Passed all exams, but no "proper work experience". Still, it has proved very useful, in terms of new offers that I received (which I believe to be as a result of this).


I was then sponsored for the LBS Sloan programme. Great programme! If possible, try to get sponsorship. If not, I'd still recommend it.


So, here I am. Still on the right side of 40 (barely!). But I just don't know what I want to do next.

Ask yourself what you want to do. Where do you see yourself heading? Which industries interest you? What you hope to get out of an MBA? Are there alternatives to an MBA?

Side note:


One of the things that made me choose the ACCA was... GMAT. Managed a good score eons ago, but it's only valid for 5 years! The MBA application process (for top schools) can be really cumbersome. Compare this with ACCA.


If you still decide to do an MBA, then please make sure you get into a top school. I can say with certainty that we don't hire outside the top schools.

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#8 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
23/09/2012 16:46

Camster to Mr Cool (#4)

Lol, did my first degree at Bristol. Definitely fun :)

Hmm.... maybe I should be a student again??? :D

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#9 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
24/09/2012 12:13

Mr Cool to Camster (#8)

What? How on earth could you possibly feel nostaligic for those days? Nine hours of lectures a week, getting drunk for a fiver, meaningless shagging with 19 years olds.

Thanks heavens we're all more mature now. Off to a very important senior, middle, upper management meeting on how to de-risk delivery of my clients project.

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#10 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
26/09/2012 09:45

Camster to Mr Cool (#9)

I wish! Read engineering, so it was more like 40 hours of lectures + labs a week. Enjoyed the other bits though :D *note wide grin*

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#11 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
26/09/2012 11:59

joeomahoney to ACN2010 (#1)

Do an executive MBA.

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#12 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
26/09/2012 13:29

Mr Cool to Camster (#10)

Should have done a business degree. Eight (yes 8) hours of lectures in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year. The rest of the time was semi-optional tutotials and self-study in the library.

First year was tough though. 10 hours a week if I recall.

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#13 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
27/09/2012 14:42

Jono to ACN2010 (#1)

Hi J

I started my distance learning MBA at 37. It has definitely improved my knowledge by vast quantities. I would certainly say I didn't know what I didn't know.

Now feel more knowledge will help career. It does matter what you do with it. Headhunters won't knock your door down to give you a big well paid job.

Age wise it is better to do after some experience or it is just theory like any undergraduate degree.


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#14 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
29/09/2012 16:40

pipol to ACN2010 (#1)

I did INSEAD when I was 33. The age should not matter much, there were a buch of us of the same age.

My suggestion is that you make sure what you want to get out of the MBA because it is not obvious it will improve your career per se.

Great thing to get into MBB consulting & banking and networking for the future, but otherwise you need to carefully plan what is the target, specially if you already have a nice position in your company. You will have a lot of fun, and the experience is simply amazing, but it is expensive and takes you out of the market; it is not the same looking for a job while employed than unemployed.

So maybe a cheaper mba or something you can combine with your job is a good option


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#15 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
08/10/2012 15:04

I to pipol (#14)

Pipol, I'm applying to business schools.

I have heard that its easier to get into MBB if you do your MBA from a top US school (Wharton, Kellogg etc), where you have a chance to do an internship, vs. INSEAD. Is that true?

Also, can you really develop a strong network in under one yr (at INSEAD)? I would think one needs more time (2 yrs?) and effort to get to know your fellow classmates!

Finally, what did you get out of your MBA at INSEAD? Are you and your fellow classmates happy that you did an MBA at INSEAD?

I have been to MBA fairs and haven't received honest answers. So will great if you could share your experiences :)

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#16 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
09/10/2012 07:48

Camster to I (#15)

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#17 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
09/10/2012 09:55

I to Camster (#16)

Camster: I think the results of this survey are biased.

"The important caveats are that this methodology excludes data for people who joined these firms post-MBA and have since left; and similarly includes those people who were with McKinsey, BCG or Bain prior to their MBA, were sponsored through an MBA and now have returned to their employer as part of the sponsorship deal (without having to undergo the MBA selection process)."

I suspect most INSEAD MBA grads who go to MBB are sponsored. It is difficult to change careers in a one year program I have heard

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#18 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
11/10/2012 12:59

kapadiamanish to I (#17)

I am doing my Exec MBA at 37 and this is the average age of my cohort. I am finding that it is helping me:

1. in meeting new people - cohort, faculty, guest lecturers, members of marketing / strategy clubs - and I can go on.

2. understanding what I don't know. In the last 9 months I have studied case studies from all parts of world and marketing, accounting, strategy, economics in many industries. Again, it depends on which areas you want to focus on and what you want from the MBA

3. graduating to the next level of business. The whole MBA environment takes you to a new level of business and management thinking. Would you have delved into Nokia's and JLR's strategy and how Semco in Brazil is re-defining organization culture in your day to day life - I doubt it!

4. in stepping back from my day to day service delivery and programme management thinking to think bigger and global

I also know of a few people who are re-looking at their choice of careers and opting for one which they could not have done without a MBA; a choice which they had never thought about – from IT to marketing, from IT to not-for-profit etc.

The MBA is not going to assure you loads of money and the best job in the market, it will enable it.


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#19 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
12/10/2012 03:12

international traveller to kapadiamanish (#18)

What is very important is for you to have a sense of where you want your career to go. Choosing an Executive MBA might be a better option than a fulltime MBA. You are clearly thinking in terms of a career change but you are not sure of what this should be.

Do you need an MBA or specialist Masters degree? An MBA is more general than a specialist Masters degree.... BUT an MBA from a great business school is well worth the extra investment. I completed an EMBA in the early 1990s and then a specialist MSc by distance learning a few years ago. The EMBA was certainly a worthwhile exercise but the network at my school was not too strong. If you are considering EMBA programmes then consider schools with very strong reputations and good outcomes for graduates - e.g. Top schools - IMD, IE, INSEAD, LBS, Oxford, Cambridge - and second tier schools such as - Warwick, Cranfield, CASS, Manchester and Imperial. Also consider Ashridge. Remember that a an EMBA is more about personal development than anything else. Allowing you to meet people of a similar age with different experiences... It will no doubt change the way that you view the world. It is as much about peer group learning as it is technical learning from academic / practitioners. It will certainly change the way that you think. You will need to perform the research yourself and look at the various programme outcomes and look at the support that is available to you - will partial sponsorship be available from your current employer? What about time off? There is an interesting approach to salary packaging on the Cranfield School of Management website - where they suggest that the EMBA becomes more affordable to the employee and employer through salary sacrifice programmes.

Should you decide that a good quality EMBA is not an attractive option there is always the DL/Open learning mode. Although this will not have nearly the same impact as an EMBA. There is also CIMA - Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - which is probably a more business focused form of ACCA.

The choice may seem bewildering - which why you need to be thinking about your future plans with some clarity.

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#20 RE: 33 year old planing to do MBA
20/10/2012 15:23

mes4af to ACN2010 (#1)

I just finished the Durham MBA a month ago at 37 and was not the oldest person in my cohort. I'm from the States and what most employers see from my experience is a willingness to travel, not an older student. I'm having decent luck finding jobs now, getting calls, etc., and I've only been looking for three weeks, so it's how you work your education / experience on your CV more than age. However, I did take off my first few jobs so that if employers are trying to guess my age, they'll likely guess 30ish rather than 37. Hope that helps.

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