– All you should know before choosing your Mini MBA
Networking, skill improvement, business understanding. Personal development, heavier management responsibility and a higher salary. There can be multiple good reasons to gain further qualifications and keep yourself up-to-date. With the vast amount of leadership / management courses and educational programmes available on the market, the opportunities are there for the taking.
But which of the many offers should I take? Should it be the big 3 year Executive MBA package or would it be best to start off with a shorter and not so intensive process?
If you are leaning toward the latter option the Mini MBA could be a solution. However, just like for the Executive MBA, there are numerous providers of the Mini MBA and similar programmes. They vary a lot in terms of quality and substance though. Therefore it is important that prior to your decision you make sure that you have fully understood what a Mini MBA is, what you are looking for and what your quality requirements are.
Below, you can read more about what the concept is and get inspiration for what you should be especially aware of when choosing a provider as someone looking for further education.
Not a protected title
A Mini MBA is not a protected title like the formal education programmes from universities and business schools are. Those need to be approved by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science before they can be launched. The same requirement is not applied to the Mini MBA as it is to the MBA, and the former cannot rely on national or international accreditation institutions for documentation of quality and relevance – for good reasons as there simply does not exist (at least not yet) an institution that is in charge of accreditation of Mini MBA programmes. For the same reason, a lot of Mini MBAs are launched and marketed as reduced versions of the full MBA, which often, but not always, makes sense.
If you want an indication on whether the Mini MBA in question lives up to your requirements for quality, substance and relevance, it can be a good idea to check the yearly ranks and reviews of Business Schools that both the Financial Times and The Economist are good at publishing, for example.
If the schools are ranked highly and the school itself or the foundation/institution that is behind it also offers a Mini MBA in their product portfolio, it will often be the same quality as the main MBA programme. The expectations should in any circumstance be that the Mini MBA course is on the same level or just under the MBA programme but in a smaller extent both in terms of price, time and academic depth.
The timeframe and approach to learning
To complete a Mini MBA requires time and prioritization, but, as mentioned above, to a smaller extent than the 3 year MBA-programme. Thus you do not need to sacrifice years to further qualify yourself and your family and workplace does not need to be without you for a longer period of time. However, there are big differences between Mini MBA providers in terms of expected studying time, amount of actual lecturing and their attitude towards learning.
While some providers focus on e-learning, self-studying, generic cases and mass lecturers in big auditoriums, others focus more on physical presence, dialogue, sparring and action-based learning in smaller teams with the ones company in focus.
For this reason, some Mini MBA programmes will have monthly meet ups that typically last a day, while others are based on distance and online learning, supplemented with sporadic auditorium lecturing with limited interaction and sparring.
You should therefore do a lot of research into which providers are offering what, when, where and how. Just like you should make up your mind on what is it you wish to learn.
The subjects, tasks and academic achievement
We have discussed how different Mini MBA providers have different teaching styles. There is also a difference in structure, substance and tone along with what is expected from the participants. The more serious providers will often build up the structure around the economics and management aspects as is known from the classic MBA. That means building the programme around modules such as Strategy, Process Management & Lean, Marketing, Change Management, Economy, Personal Leadership and Human Resource Management.
Some Mini MBA providers as well try to mix practice and theory, so the situations which arise at work are used in the lessons an can later on be applied in the organization.
The same applies to the assignments that you are required to turn in, and to the main assignment typically turned in at the end of the programme. Some providers require, or at least earnestly recommend, that you write your main assignment with a focus on your own organization. Experience shows that the learning process is improved when you are able to read off the results of your work in practice. It is not rare to see some organizations implementing the results of the participant’s course work. As such, the Mini MBA is of relevance and creates value for both the individual participant and the organization.
You should therefore take a good look at the substance along with the relation/combination between practice and theory, before deciding which provider to settle for – especially if you’re interested in a process where you can utilize the course work in a practical matter in your everyday workplace.
Read as well: Strategy by Daryl Dunbar
What are ETCS points?
The number of ECTS points are an indication of how much studying time is expected from a participant to understand and pass the course in question. The ECTS points do not give any indication of difficulty or quality. It is simply a measure of how much work is in the course. In Denmark, only educational programmes that have received accreditation will be controlled, so that the ECTS points are living up to the amount of work they are supposed to.
As the Mini MBA does not have accreditation, there will be no formal indication of the number of ECTS points corresponding to the course. If you still wish to get an idea about the number of ECTS points or work time that is required in the Mini MBA, we can start by pointing out that the European agreement is that 1 ECTS-point in Denmark matches approximately a workload of about 27-28 hours.
If we imagine that it takes about 25 hours a month to complete a Mini MBA (including teaching, preparation, exercises and assignments), and that the total number of studying hours is 150, we talk about 5.5 ECTS points. Nevertheless, remember that the Mini MBA at IME does not grant access to universities or business schools in neither Denmark nor abroad.
Again, the number of ECTS points is only an indication of how many working hours you should expect to spend on the course, and it says nothing about the quality or what you gain from the course which is what you should be researching to make the right decision.
Does a Mini MBA provide merit?
As the Mini MBA is not a part of any official education programme in neither in Denmark nor abroad, it does not transfer or provide merit in any official way. Some providers of the Mini MBA or similar courses will however mention that they do grant merit to some courses in other programmes, which the respective providers will have in their product portfolio.
As an example, you get to skip similar educational courses in the providers’ other programmes, as long as you have taken your Mini MBA at the same or a similar provider. It should be noted that not all providers like this idea, as it can be hard to compare the substance and difficulty of the technical courses. Instead, they give financial merit, in the sense that with a Mini MBA on your CV, you get a reduction in price on an Executive MBA as an example. For instance, if you take the Mini MBA at IME Denmark/Singapore you get a reduced price if you decide to buy the Executive MBA at IME Denmark.
What does a Mini MBA cost, and how can it be financed?
If you choose a Mini MBA that lives up to both your own and your workplace’s needs, it will be easier for your manager to allocate resources (time and money) to you and your education.
If the Mini MBA is put together correctly, it becomes a win-win-situation where the company gets an real solutions to real problems, renewed know-how and a more motivated employee, while the participant, among a lot of other things, has his/her qualifications increased, his/her network extended and his/her personal management skills strengthened.
The exact cost of the Mini MBA can be hard to tell. The prices vary a lot and with some providers are not very transparent. Offers such as ‘Buy before the week is over and save xx amount of money’ or ‘Enrol today and get a free IPad’ make it hard to tell the actual base price and what it covers. Are the materials included? Is the quality good? What about the service? These are some basic questions that can only be answered by the individual provider. Ask about alternative funding options. For example, in Denmark, most get their Mini MBA paid fully by the workplace while others use a so-called gross salary scheme. With this, you pay for the Mini MBA yourself but at a reduced price as the money is taken from your salary before taxes.
Who lectures, who participates, and what are the opportunities for networking?
A good lecturer can do wonders. The good lecturer is inspiring, motivating, knowledgeable and preferable has one foot planted directly in the private sector. It will certainly be a plus if the lecturer has obtained or is currently working on an MBA, as the MBA-anchoring of the Mini MBA programme can be ensured that way. Often they will be consultants, advisors or experts within a certain business discipline, but the quality will vary from one Mini MBA to another.
So do take a look at the providers’ websites where there will often be presentations of the lecturers and their professional backgrounds. Also compare who you can expect to study with. Will it be managers, team leaders, project managers and/or specialists? Will they come from the HR industry, consulting industry, pharmaceutical industry, or somewhere else entirely?
The individual providers will be able to tell you who they typically target, and how easy it is to network. The small teams and the high degree of participant involvement will increase the likelihood that you can strengthen your personal and professional network.
A good Mini MBA programme will not only offer excellent lecturers and highly professional content, but there will also be active sparring, knowledge sharing and interesting discussions with committed fellow students from a wide range of industries and organizations. It will provide you with new perspectives and help you increase your strategic understanding and personal insight. You should therefore be aware of the maximum number of participants that the various providers allow in their classes, and also note whether something is done especially to facilitate the formation of a lasting and profitable network, for example by calling for active participation and exchange of experience in LinkedIn groups and the like.
Read as well: HR by Andrew Jones
One of the most important management tools is yourself
Finally, you should examine whether leadership and personal development are also a part of the programme. We live in a rapidly changing world where markets and competitive conditions change from day to day, and where the demands on you and the function for which you were hired, rarely stand still. For the same reason, we must be flexible and adaptable, and we must be able to navigate in and conduct the many change processes that have become a fundamental condition in almost any business. It requires continuous upgrading of skills and awareness of own values, skills and personal preferences.
Management is not only about structure, economics, and strategic skills. Such virtues as integrity, personality, values, and authenticity are at least as important. A good Mini MBA programme will – in addition to the professional toolbox – also dress the participants to take responsibility for their own personal development and individual leadership.
The good Mini MBA animates the participants to take a step back and reflect on themselves, their lives, their careers, and the choices they have made and will have to make in the future in order to realize their full potential in the best possible way. This is why you should consider the possibilities for personal development and strategy when you are choosing which Mini MBA to do. Especially so, if you want a better life balance, increased self-awareness and an enhanced ability to prioritize and take control of your own life.
Upgrading skills and continuous training are important for whether you can bring your organization new knowledge and contribute to sustainable development. Targeted skills development is also important if you want to increase your ability to change and be eligible for the most attractive positions in the labour market. With the right Mini MBA you will receive a programme of high professional standards and lasting relevance, and obtain a network from which you may eventually derive lots of benefits.
But look carefully before selecting which Mini MBA you want. The supply is large, and quality varies.
As a part of the Foundation for International Management Education, the IME Mini MBA’s foremost task is to build bridges between academic and personal development. The foundation has been successful for more than 20 years. With an IME Mini MBA you will get the tools to think outside your own functional area and to understand the operation of your organization as a whole. You gain a better understanding of the key concepts in business, and the strategic decision-making procedures applicable to your business. It makes you a greater asset which benefits both you and your organization.
Find more about IME Mini MBA in Singapore here