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How an MBA Can Help You

How an MBA Can Help You

Jennifer deJong, Monster Contributing Writer

September 09, 2009

Credibility. Confidence. A big-picture perspective. Appreciation for other points of view. That’s what MBAs say when asked what the degree has done for them.

“It gave me a broad perspective of the business world — how the economy works [and] how my industry works,” says Susan Odegaard Turner, founder of Thousand Oaks, California-based consultancy Turner Healthcare Associates. Her MBA, from California Lutheran University, helped her acquire a total understanding of organizational behavior, of human relations.

Turner took MBA courses at night while working full-time as a nurse and supervisor at a hospital. Interacting with her fellow MBAs in the classroom gave her skills that she applied on the job.

One of Turner’s memorable courses was business ethics, made up almost entirely of male engineers. “I was often the only female, the only nurse,” she says. Listening to her classmates — and having them listen to her — taught Turner to “look at the world from the other end of the funnel. Engineers tend to think in black and white, but nursing is all about shades of gray.”

Disagreeing, Politely

Learning to respect classmates’ views is central to virtually every MBA experience. “I began to learn how to listen,” says David Fetherston, who earned his degree at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and now directs the college’s MBA Center for Career Development. “[My MBA taught me] how to challenge politely, to know when to back off.”

Exercising good manners isn’t just polite. It’s good business, too. “When we listen and treat each other with respect, we get a better decision,” says Yale University MBA Laura Tully, who heads Laura Tully Coaching. She credits her MBA experience with helping her understand the psychology of people and organizations. “If you can understand what is happening, you can change it,” she says.