A couple of years back in Cape Town, I had a conversation with a friend telling her about my plan to pursue a Ms in Civil Engineer, she seemed not too impressed and asked me why I didn’t go for an MBA instead? At that point, I didn’t know much about the MBA besides the meaning of the acronym, “Master of Business Administration”. It is only a few years later when I joined an international merchant company working in Sales Engineering, Strategy, and Marketing that I started researching seriously about the MBA program. Today, almost a year after starting my MBA, I realized that I couldn’t have chosen a better path than this.
An MBA, why?
I must admit that this wasn’t the path I dreamed of as a kid. Growing up in Mbuji-Mayi, a “poor” small town but extremely rich in natural resources in the middle of Congo, I didn’t even know that an MBA degree existed. So the plan was quite straight forward, becoming an engineer like my parents and settle. But the world is a changing place, the industry’s needs are growing and everyone aspiring to become a Manager needs to make sure that he is on the right side of the information. To quote one of our Professors – Paurav Shukla – the information imbalance is one of the biggest problems in the current society. After almost 10 years of a career in Engineering, and Project Management, I moved toward Sales Engineering and Portfolio Management, this required quite a lot of knowledge in Marketing, Strategy, and Finance. One could think that these types of knowledge are only important for CEOs. This is not the case. An Engineer who is an entrepreneur needs to have all this knowledge. Besides, if you want to climb the corporate ladder in many modern companies you would need to develop managerial skills and show that you understand the business as a whole.
An MBA, but where?
Between the conversations I had with my friend in Cape Town and my search for a suitable MBA institution, many things had changed. I got married, I left South Africa and I was working full time in a town where I had never lived before: In Lubumbashi, the only choice I had was to take online courses with Universities outside the country since there was not a single institution offering an MBA program on the ground. This wasn’t what I needed. I wanted face-to-face classes that allowed me to keep my work-life balance. Then I learned about Frankfurt School and that they offer an MBA programme in DRC providing an international degree. Although COVID has affected all of us in 2020, the journey has been great so far. Learning from one of the top private universities in Germany and Europe has given me a chance to challenge myself and gain completely new knowledge in Strategy, Marketing, Change Management, Ethics, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and the Global Business Environment. My classmate are from several industries, which bring different types of experience in the discussions. From a Business perspective, this is a very great team with a big potential for networking.
What’s next for an engineer with an MBA?
The best part of this program is that you can apply what you are learning in your everyday work. As a Project Manager, you need to understand properly how HRM works, how to motivate a team, and how to build a “working” one. As a potential entrepreneur, you need to know how to build a strong business case, how to sell it and how to pitch it professionally. As a manager, you need to build a foundation in Finance, Accounting, and Operations Management and understand how the Global Business Environment works. An Engineering degree plus an MBA will definitely open up doors to multiple companies in different types of industries. I can even go for a PhD or a DBA since I feel it is one of the best ways to give back to the community by working in academia.