MBA education helps you step into leadership role |

MBA education helps you step into leadership role

Dr. Richard McIntire

Baby Boomers make up more than a quarter (26 percent) of the U.S. population and are reaching the retirement age at a rate of 10,000 per day. Some have postponed retirement, but not indefinitely. As they leave the workforce, their skills and accumulated knowledge built during decades of employment are not easily replaced.

There are opportunities for individuals who can step into these leadership roles, and master’s in business education is one of the ways workers and employers are bridging the human capital knowledge gap. MBA education is unique in that its benefits transcend industries. In fact, MBA classrooms are made more dynamic with diverse students and faculty.

Professionals from engineers to entrepreneurs to healthcare workers to marketing managers are pursuing MBA education to help them differentiate themselves and step into leadership roles.

Why an MBA?

A recent University of Phoenix graduate pursued an MBA when he decided to take over the family business. At the core of his decision was his own internal pressure to not let his family down. Like many potential entrepreneurs, he had a specific skill set that could help the business, but he needed help identifying and addressing his knowledge gaps. In a family business there is knowledge that can’t possibly be passed from one generation to the next; part of long-term success is determining how to evolve and grow the business without losing its unique culture. He realized an MBA would help him develop into a more well-rounded business leader.

An individual taking over a family business, an entrepreneur or someone assuming a new company role, may understand the products and how to deal with certain issues. However, the individual may not understand how the numbers come together or may need to find customers in a new way. An MBA education can help address experience gaps and push a professional to look at challenges and opportunities from a variety of perspectives and angles.

Start with a career plan

An MBA can help open doors, but candidates need to be realistic and understand how MBA education fits into a career plan. The most successful graduates will consider how an MBA paired with collective professional and life experiences, sets them apart and makes them more essential to organizations. Similar to a consumer product a professional has a brand, and that brand is enhanced with experiences that make a job candidate or employee more relevant to a business. An MBA can provide the tools, but it is up to the graduate to paint the picture.

Professionals should start with a career plan. At the basic level this includes setting goals and timelines, assessing skills and experiences, and identifying roadblocks that could prevent an individual from achieving professional success. The prospective student should identify the diverse knowledge and experiences that will help him or her become a better-rounded professional. This analysis shouldn’t be done in a vacuum a boss, mentor, faculty member or MBA graduate can provide valuable insight. Having this foresight will help an MBA candidate not only plan, but get more out of their program.

Who are the stakeholders?

Most MBA students balance work, family and education obligations. It is important to gain the buy-in of the individuals who will help students achieve their education goals. This will not only help the student stay accountable, but also carve out the time necessary to pursue an advanced education.

Prospective MBA students should make a list of the stakeholders in their lives spouse, family, boss, co-workers and discuss education goals and action plans with these individuals. There are many benefits to this approach. This can help a boss see that an individual wants to grow and the advanced notice can demonstrate the employee’s commitment to the organization. Families can plan around study needs and even work together to achieve family education goals.

How does advanced education fit into a busy life?

Successful MBA students have a plan to integrate learning into their often busy schedules and leverage the resources available to them. Education today is not limited to a desk or a classroom. There are many technology resources available that help students study, research and participate in class discussions 24 hours a day.

University of Phoenix, for instance, has one of the largest libraries in the world, and it is completely online. Students can access this content from computers, tablets and smartphones. An iPhone application allows students to contribute to class discussions from anywhere in the world. The university also provides resources such as the Centers for Math and Writing Excellence to brush up on key skills, particularly for adults who haven’t been in a classroom in awhile.

All universities provide academic counselors who can explain the realities of beginning the MBA journey and provide realistic expectations throughout the field of study. A well-maintained family calendar can be an effective tool to balance classes, study time and family obligations. Planned family study sessions can help children see the value of education and hold all family members accountable for learning.

Practical education

Problem-solving and critical thinking in practical settings is at the core of University of Phoenix MBA curriculum. Being able to talk about all types of models is not very valuable unless an individual can apply them to the world. University of Phoenix business faculty members are practitioners meaning they work in the industries that reflect the content areas in which they teach. Many are leaders in the private and public sectors in the Northern Nevada business community.

Employers see value in MBA graduates they tend to be problems solvers, they are open to learning, and they are trained to think critically. For more information about the MBA program at University of Phoenix and to access prospective student planning tools, visit

Dr. Richard McIntire is the campus college chair for the School of Business at University of Phoenix Northern Nevada Campus. McIntire earned a doctorate in economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He became an associate faculty member at the university in 1998 and a full-time faculty member in 2011.