Fancy the “VP of HR” title? Another acronym might be your ticket to the job: MBA.
Studying business strategy and advancing your skills as a decision-maker can make you more attractive to prospective employers, or help you leapfrog your colleagues en route to the C-suite in your current role.
“It's going to be like getting 15 years' of work experience,” says JD Clarke, executive director of recruitment and admissions for Ivey Business School
’s Masters programs.
“You could keep going in your career and keep getting interesting projects and developing that way, or you could do something like [an MBA], that is a very strong career accelerator, and imagine your career 15 years down the road – that’s where you are after you’ve finished the program.”
Clarke says there’s a lot that HR professionals can take away from MBA studies to prove their value and gain promotions at their current employer.
“You’re going to start contributing on a much more strategic level. Instead of being very much functional and ‘here’s the work that we have to get done to keep the lights on in the organization’, you’re going to become much more strategic. Naturally, as you start to think more strategically and contribute more strategically, roles will broaden, roles will accelerate.”
Melanie Peacock, an HR consultant and associate professor at Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business, says her MBA – which she studied at Ivey – gave her a “fantastic all-round business education”.
“That’s what helps me be a strategic and valuable HR practitioner, because I understand finance, I understand accounting, I understand operations management, I understand marketing.
“The depth and rigour that Ivey pushes students to, to give you that foundation of understanding business and having business acumen, sets you up so well in whatever specialization you go into.”
The commitment may be daunting, but even before they complete their MBA, candidates reap the benefits, by contributing to their business in ways they never thought possible before – including presenting their ideas to their company's board.
“I always say there’s never going to be a perfect time,” Clarke says.
“You have to make sure that things are balanced in your lifestyle and career-wise that you feel like ‘I can put the effort in’, but also think about the payoff at the end.”