There was a time when I seriously considered going for an MBA or picking up those old CFA books I had. But then before making the plunge, I had to go through this decision-making process; is it worth the investment in time and money for a piece of paper that will return nothing in my field. So perhaps I need to quickly explain that.
I work as a contractor in projects and by nature, the work is transient in that there’s usually work only for a set duration. Once the project is delivered, it’s done and one would usually move on. Another piece of paper will not increase the value in my day rate so why bother? (note: this statement might not apply to other parts of the world).
In the land down under, experience counts more so than a piece paper. And your value moves up a notch if you have worked with another industry player e.g. bankers love other bankers. And considering there are only 4 major banks here, you usually come across the same people moving around. So if value is determined by experience and knowing the right people, then why bother with spending time and money?
That’s when it hit me when I really thought about it. The problem was not so much about education but more about how I approached personal growth. If I look at education like business managers look at NPV then my cash outflows, which are the costs associated to an MBA, must be less than my future cash inflows, which is my day rate (for as long as I remain working on projects as a contractor). But as stated earlier, if project rates are determined by the markets based on experience then why bother?
Here’s where I answer my own question: Because I believe in personal growth. So how in the world do I approach this?
Well the beauty of the net opens this up:
- we now have a lot of resources out there; and,
- we can show the world where we’re at.
What do people usually do after completing some type of education? They usually stick it on their CV, online profile and show the world. So if I take that same approach and undergo some self-study and note it on my online profile then effectively I am doing the exact same thing a person who is studying their MBA. Of course a lot would argue an MBA is an MBA whereas DIY growth will just not stack up against a proper MBA. This is probably true if you go to a top MBA school and hook on a tier 1 consulting firm. But for most of us, myself included, it’s probably time to really think about the numbers game here: we’re going through a period of low growth, and the chances of re-branding your career in mid flight as a management consultant off the back of your MBA, within a business environment that will likely hire less of people-like-you…well, it’s probably time to wake up.
So what am I doing? I am reloading my brain with new information (Rails web app framework) on a self-study course on the net. The lecturers come in video format meaning I can STOP, PAUSE, PLAY whenever I choose. The best thing about it is that I have something tangible to show as I go along (I am going to create some online notes of progress to date and at some point, parade the web app). And the great thing about the net is that you can join communities that support one another; you start helping others and they do the same. Hey, you might even get a ‘like’ for it and these matter when you’re building a new skill.
And I might sound a little biased here but there is growth in the web development space particularly for those that can marry up the business and technology sides. It’s also one of those skills where you can collaborate online with anyone anywhere anytime. At the very least, it will add on to my technical skills particularly when I run in to projects of this nature. But I’m not aiming for ‘at the very least‘ here!
Oh and did I say reload?
That’s what my brain looks like after the initial learning-curve hit! Well may be it’s not as elegant as that just yet.
Thought are welcome as always.
p.s. for the record, I am not implying jumping from High School straight to the workforce here. In the instance that you do go down that road, at some future point, do get that piece of paper. That’s an exception and that does matter.
p.p.s. thanks to Timoni for The Matrix.