Did I misjudge the might of an MBA?

A new MBA graduate has seen no sign of a payrise. Did she misjudge its power?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 27 Mar 2014

Q: I completed a part-time executive MBA a few months ago, which cost £20,000. My boss has been very supportive and encouraging throughout the course but there's been no mention of a pay rise, a promotion or putting my new-found skills into practice. Did I misjudge the might of an MBA?

A: In itself, an employee's MBA is of little immediate value to an employer - unless, of course, the employer is a consultancy of some kind. Consultancies can legitimately charge their clients higher daily rates when their consultants have business qualifications.

So as you've already discovered, an MBA doesn't automatically lead to advancement. Try looking at this question through the eyes of your boss. He was happy to give you support and encouragement while you were taking the course, and must have accepted with good grace your inevitably divided attention. I assume your salary was unaffected. Now that he's got you back full-time, with no distractions, he can see no immediate need to pay you more or offer promotion. Indeed, he may very well feel that you're to some extent in the company's debt: it's not an entirely unreasonable attitude. What he should be doing, however, is looking to put those new-found skills of yours to work - and that, rather than instant promotion, is what you should be angling for.

If what you've learnt enables you to complete difficult and important tasks successfully, then you'll earn that pay rise and qualify for promotion; not because you've got some initials after your name but because you're better at your job.

To get any immediate return from your MBA, you'd probably need to move to another company; and that, it seems to me, would be a bit rough on your current one.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Email him your problems on editorial@managementtoday.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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