To School or Not to School? That is the question.

March 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm 1 comment

Christina headshotPenned by Christina

“Should I go back to school to do a sustainable MBA program?”

I hear this question a lot.  And by a lot, I mean A LOT.  People are not just wondering about sustainable MBA programs but also whether they should enroll in a part-time program, certification class or just enroll in classes on a one-off basis in areas such as renewable energy, green/social marketing, engineering or environmental science.  If you are finding yourself in this position, remember that making educated decisions about educating yourself are made by educating yourself!  In other words, arm yourself with as much information as possible to make the best decision based on YOUR situation.

For example if you are interested in pursuing some sort of management or MBA program, consider:

Are you interested and in a position to pursue a full- or part-time program?

a) If you are interested in doing a full-time program, do some research and get on the email lists of programs you find interesting so you at least start receiving their announcements.  The Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes Global 100 rankings is a great place to begin.

b) If you feel that you are more inclined to pursue a part-time program, you need to look around and find out what’s available in your area.  Here at BGT, we were very excited to see UC Berkeley Extension’s spring schedule that included a number of classes within the Environmental and Sustainability Management program.

Do you NEED to go to school or not?

Tricky to answer, I know.  The best way to determine this is to talk to as many people as you can who currently work in what you want to do and ask them what they think.  The more of them you talk to you, the better overall picture you should be able to paint to determine how necessary schooling is for you. 
It’s also important to talk to people who are in the programs you are looking at.  (The administrative or admissions offices should be able to connect you to those people.)  Why did they choose that program?  How do they feel now that they are in it?  What are they going to do when they are done?  Do they feel that they couldn’t have done that without enrolling?

Finally, if you were to go back to school, will you be motivated, excited and capable to get the most out of the experience?

No matter what type of class or program you enter, you will get out what you put in.  Will you be excited to be there or will you just be “going through the motions?”  As a good friend of mine who now works at GE within Ecomagination recently told me, going back to do the dual MBA/MS program at U of Michigan was the, “best decision of my life.  I never thought more clearly…the program gave me a second chance at life…though it is only what you make of it.”

I understand that answering these questions could potentially confuse you even more, but I also know that avoiding them will certainly not put you in a better position!


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Peter  |  March 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Great comments.

    In regard to Q3, I have 8 years experience in the Australian Property Industry working in New Business and mixed-use project delivery for one of the larger developers.

    Having recently resigned and moved to London from Sydney (for love;-), I have landed right in the proverbial and can’t even get a gig doing eel pies and mash.

    The beginning my strategy for employment in the property sector was:

    1. Use two property specific recruiters;
    2. Canvas my own ‘beer and coffee’ network; and
    3. On ground research.

    This proved unsuccessful June to September last year so the scatter gun approach was employed. This too has proved unsuccessful.

    If I had arrived 07/ early 08 apparently my skills base would have been in high demand and the candidates market would have given me a number of opportunities.

    What has proved successful is two things:

    1. Realising the many recruitment agents I have met haven’t learnt anything from the current crisis. That is relationships should need to be borne, fostered and maintained for best outcomes. The best developers increase marketing and networking during a poor market which creates brand equity even if sales are down and gives them highest seating on the ‘ski jump’ for when the market returns. Very few agents have maintained contact or provided consistent feedback, even if negative. What happens if I secure work and am seeking further candidates? Why are they short term in their views? Having said that perhaps my Australian accent is an issue….

    2. The skills I picked up at my pervious employer in sustainable urban development have led me to research the green building sector.

    Picking up on point 2, the issue is my skills gap. Many jobs in the international green sector i.e. Project Management Roles with Vestas through to carbon footprint assessments require a Masters Degree. I have a Bachelor of Commerce and Applied Science Diploma therefore am underqualified.

    The research I have carrying out for an MBA in renewable enterprises or modern energies in the UK and US, has however been extremely refreshing. A recent MBA day in London revealed quite a few schools moving in that direction, one in particular was Warwick Business School. The US is streets ahead from what I have seen.

    Anyway, sorry for the blurb but it appears some upskilling will be required for this sector and the question of ‘shall I do one’ os answered by simply reviewing requirements for targeted jobs. If it needs Masters then perhaps that is the oath, however a MSc or MBA for someone in my position is something perhaps answered by the crew at BGT.



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