The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the economy, leaving businesses large and small in a state of uncertainty and transition. Some industries and companies are thriving, some are not. While it may not be a great time to enter the workforce for the first time or to expect significant opportunities for advancement, it’s a perfect time to pursue your MBA.
This is the best time to position yourself for opportunities that will arise in the future and to bolster the value you bring to your current organization. The next few years will bring significant change to the way businesses operate and to the skills required in those tapped to lead this change.
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Many organizations will become leaner as they work to recover and the expectations they’ll place on those they retain will increase. They’ll keep and hire the very best employees, ones who can easily flex to deliver what’s needed in a rapidly changing business climate. They’ll need critical thinkers who can deliver results quickly and accurately. They’ll seek leaders with an analytical mindset who can inspire with empathy and creativity. They’ll rely heavily on self-starters who can succeed in an increasingly autonomous setting. And they’ll expect all of this in a single person.
“COVID has put us in an environment of autonomy,” explains Arvind Malhotra, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “To flourish in an autonomous environment, you need initiative and pliable skills. You need to change your mindset from a process mindset to an outcome mindset.”
“To be successful in business requires both breadth – general business knowledge – and depth – niche expertise.”
Successful entrepreneurs in a post-pandemic world will look different as well. Visionaries who can predict the needs of the “new normal” will launch, or pivot, products and services to meet those needs. Leaders who can manage lean operations will do so with a workforce that’s increasingly remote, mobile, and anxious. And, investors poised to take calculated risks will thrive in what’s likely to become a volatile climate of selective growth.
The right MBA, one taught by world-class faculty with strong research credential and proven industry experience, can provide you the skills and knowledge you’ll need to become a successful business leader in the next decade and beyond.
“To be successful in business requires both breadth – general business knowledge – and depth – niche expertise,” says Brad Staats, an operations professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler and the School’s associate dean of MBA Programs. “We think about it as developing ‘T-shaped’ individuals. The breadth allows individuals to innovate, make connections and work well with diverse teams. The depth enables individuals to create real value from their specialty.”
Not only will earning your MBA will help you emerge better prepared to take advantage of future opportunities, but starting now will also bring more immediate benefits. You’ll learn skills that you can apply right away to your work. You’ll demonstrate to your supervisors and leaders in your organization that you’re serious about professional growth. And, you’ll be investing in yourself during a job-market “lull” that will pay strong dividends later.
Whether your program is taught on campus, online, or in a hybrid format, it’s likely to include a virtual learning component. This experience will help boost your technical savvy and optimize your digital communication skills while you connect and collaborate with your peers. You’ll get real-world practice working from different locations and across timezones with teammates who draw on academic backgrounds and professional experiences far different than yours.
“I had been considering pursuing my MBA for a while, but the pandemic certainly accelerated my decision,” said Andrea Davis, President and CEO of Bridgestone Aircraft Tire (USA), and a new student in UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program. “To help my company navigate successfully through the next few years, I’ll need to make some key decisions quickly and my MBA will help me do so with enhanced confidence.”