Importance of MBA in the civil serviceChen Wan Lim
The MBA programme has always been typically thought of as an essential qualification for ambitious executives to scale the corporate ladder. The programme has also been synonymous with people with strong technical competency who wish to transition to a managerial and leadership role. However, the MBA programme is much more robust and there’s more that can be done with this qualification – for example, in the civil services domain.
According to Professor Zahir Irani of Brunel University London, “MBAs don’t provide technical skills, but they build people’s ability to become good leaders. Critically, they provide the opportunity to think about your own style of leadership – not following the model of your boss or the departmental norms, but finding what suits you and is going to be most effective in progressing the government’s agenda. Thinking through how you behave in different situations, and what’s important to you in terms of values, is fundamental to getting your leadership style ‘right’ and clear in your mind.”
So here’s where an MBA can benefit those involved in the civil service:
1. The MBA programme is robust
Unlike other specialised MSc. or MA programmes, the MBA programme is designed to be flexible, generic and robust. In other words, the programme is tailored to fit into almost any vocation, even in the public service department. The programme provides the basic essentials or handles for candidates to effectively run and manage an organisation. Similar to running a business, the area of public service is in the business of running the country and having its citizens as clients.
2. The MBA programme creates leaders
It is often said that leaders are not born, but made. The MBA programme is built on the foundation of resilience and stamina in the face of challenges. As the course is designed to be intensive and demanding, candidates are trained to persevere through tight datelines and seemingly impossible tasks. Likewise, in managing a public office, leaders have to be an inspiration to their subordinates and to be able to execute plans under stress. In addition, good leaders are able to maneuverer around often tight budgets and to deliver projects to their respective stakeholders.
3. The MBA programme helps candidates understand business
If a civil servant is attached to the ministry of trade or any other ministries pertaining to economic development, then he or she must be proficient in understanding the mechanics of business itself. Having undergone an MBA programme prepares candidates for exactly just that. Candidates are able to interact and to learn from people involved directly in the business world, be it senior management or entrepreneurs. Understanding how business works will make civil servants in public offices better decision and policy makers.
4. The MBA programme helps candidates to transition to private sector
If for any reason, a candidate from the public sector intends to transition to the private sector, then the MBA programme might help do exactly just that. As was mentioned earlier, the MBA programme is a robust programme applicable to almost all industries and sectors. But more importantly, the MBA programme allows candidates to be in contact with other candidates from different backgrounds. This is where connections are made and friendships built and opportunities for career advancements exist.
To put it simply, the MBA programme is not confined to people who are directly dealing with businesses or involved in the corporate sector. The MBA programme is a course structured to challenge oneself and to prepare for challenges ahead, expected or unexpected.