Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are growing in prevalence amongst c-suite executives. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review list of the best performing CEOs indicates more than one in four has completed an MBA. However, the decision to complete an MBA can be daunting. It requires a high level of dedication and commitment, with many courses requiring students to leave their job or take a sabbatical to complete their degree. But that isn’t to say achieving an MBA is impossible. Some colleges now offer flexible 12-month degrees, which can help busy executives advance their career with further education, without the need to take time off work.
This article highlights some of the most common tips from graduates who successfully completed an MBA while juggling full-time work and a healthy work-life balance. Once completed, MBA graduates commonly progress quickly through professional ranks and accomplish new business goals within the first 12 months.
Be disciplined and manage your time effectively
Planning ahead and setting an achievable study schedule will make a world of difference. Graduates and course lecturers agree that students should prepare a plan that includes a monthly overview, a weekly overview and a daily planner. Structuring your course this way helps split up large tasks, making them more manageable. It also allows you to prioritise and manage your time more efficiently.
Combining your study plan with a daily routine allows you to establish realistic micro goals. Importantly, once you have your daily routine set, stick to it. If you have planned to spend an hour on a task, try to complete it within that allocated time. This will help you identify any avoidance habits you might have developed and limit procrastination.
Create a support network and find flexibility
Letting family and friends know about your intentions to complete an MBA will help you develop a support network early. You should set expectations at this stage as well, letting them know the time commitment required. You’ll be surprised how supportive friends and family will be of your decision, helping you on your journey.
Involving your employer during the decision-making process will also help you gain support early on. An MBA arms graduates with specialist business skills, so many business leaders will encourage their employees to embark on a post-graduate degree. In fact, several of our graduates reported their employer offered occasional study leave or other support mechanisms to help them through their MBA.
Many education providers also support flexible study options. This can include external support, online learning and research resources, student networking opportunities as well as access to lecturers and course advisors. These support mechanisms, combined with the support from your network, can be tailored to develop the right study plan for you.
Be realistic and reward yourself
Help manage your stress levels by making sure you set achievable goals and reward yourself when you reach them. It’s important to take some time out to unwind, so schedule regular breaks for leisure activities when time permits. For example, if you study early in morning, take a small walk afterwards to refresh yourself and prepare for the day ahead. Also remember to reward yourself when you reach larger goals. Recognise your hard work with a small purchase or a dinner out to recharge, whatever will help you recharge and keep you motivated during intense study periods.
While an MBA is a big commitment to undertake, experience shows it can open new career opportunities within as little as 12 months. And with benefits including improved career potential, important business connections, practical knowledge and better job security, an MBA will open new doors for your professional development and help achieve your ambitions.
Joel Abraham is the Joint CEO and Marketing Director of the Australian Institute of Business (AIB). Joel has been with AIB for more than 10 years, and has played a pivotal role in establishing AIB throughout national and global markets as a market leader in practical business higher education.