Thursday, July 16, 2009

Science/MBAs: they're just like you and me!

As you can see to the left, the poll question "What do you think of bench chemists who get MBAs" has closed and the results are as follows:

"They're smart to get out of the lab -- it's a dead end": 46% (18 people)
"It's a good idea to expand your skill set": 20% (8 people)
"Good riddance. If you don't like the bench, get out!": 17% (7 people)
"Don't do it. The MBA is a brain-ectomy": 10% (4 people)
"It helps with climbing in a smaller company": 5% (2 people)

Overall, it appears that Chemjobber readers are positive on the idea of chemists getting an MBA.

==

One Chemjobber reader who seems to be very positive about MBAs is someone we'll call L.A., who is a EHS manager in industry. L.A. and I corresponded via e-mail; this post has been edited by me and run by L.A. for accuracy.

Why did you get your MBA? What kind of MBA program was it? Do you feel "transformed" from being a science-type, or just you're a science-type with a bigger skill set?

I pursued the MBA as a stepping stone for my career. Without it, my career would be purely technical and limited in mobility. The MBA is not the means to get away from environmental science; I want to be able to develop my personal interests in environmental science and have a good job, too. Having the MBA makes me more versatile and appealing to employers I admire.
The MBA program I chose allows students to individualize their degree according to their professional needs. It offered a thesis option and electives, which is different than most of your "pre-packaged" MBAs. All classes used Socratic method, another big difference.

Did you enjoy the coursework? What do you think was most valuable?

I did enjoy the MBA coursework. In particular, the finance and public relations courses were fascinating. It was nice to study alongside mature professionals. They brought their own experiences and points of view to the curriculum. It reminded me of the good qualities liberal arts graduates bring to an organization. All of my course instructors were from industry, no career academics.

The most valuable aspect of the chemistry/MBA combination is the scarcity of people who hold both degrees.

Where do you see your future? Do you see yourself as an EHS-er over the long term?

At present, EHS is a stable and rewarding field. Environmental science gives me happiness for doing something worthwhile and meaningful. As for the future, I may not always be employed in industry and I could see myself working in different capacities for organizations that apply science to promote resource conservation.

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