VIVEK WADHWA: I have no doubt that my M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business was one of the best investments I ever made. It helped me climb the corporate ladder and become an entrepreneur. As a tech executive, I would readily pay a premium to hire B-school graduates. I also used to advise tech startups to strengthen their management teams by recruiting professional managers from M.B.A. programs.
I no longer advise startups to hire M.B.A.s and I discourage students who want to become entrepreneurs from doing an M.B.A.
That’s because I have seen a growing mismatch between the skills that business schools teach and what fast-paced startups require. And corporate management isn’t the best path to entrepreneurship anymore—the best way is to work for a startup.
Most business schools are geared toward churning out investment bankers and management consultants. That is who they put on the pedestal. In his new book, “Turnaround: Third World Lessons for First World Growth,” the dean of my alma mater, Peter Blair Henry, goes as far as to prescribe that countries measure their success “through the lens of their stock exchanges.” This is the same lens that business schools use to measure the success of their students.
See what other startup mentors have to say about the pros and cons of hiring M.B.A.s.
Indeed, by offering ridiculously high salaries, companies like Goldman Sachs and McKinsey always get the top pick of the graduating M.B.A. crop. M.B.A.s who don’t get the plum jobs sometimes feel like they had to settle for less when joining a startup. They start their careers with inflated perceptions of their skill and value. And then they undergo a harsh period of adjustment from the elite world of business schools to the rough-and-tumble world of startups.
I have seen this far too often.