Will an MBA help me get into business side of a creative company?
August 25, 2009 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone out there work on the business development side for a creative company (design firm, architecture firm, fashion, etc)? Do you have an MBA and/or do you think it would help someone break into that type of work?

I am 25 and looking towards my next step. I have a background in the art world, on the sales and management side, but my idea job would be in the business/client development side of a creative company, preferably in design (even in product manufacturing). I am thinking an MBA is the best way to get myself into this line of work, but want to hear from any others out there. Any advice?
posted by mexcellent to Education (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've worked at interactive firms, web agencies and PR firms that sell design and technology services to big companies, and never encountered a biz dev guy with an MBA and don't think it would be particularly helpful. What you do need is an ability to network, build client relationships, make effective sales presentations and proposals, and close deals. Since these are complex projects, it also is very helpful to have a deep understanding what you are selling. Getting a job at such a firm would be more direct and faster than getting an MBA.
posted by lsemel at 9:45 AM on August 25, 2009

I am a biz dev guy with an MBA, and I've worked for a few web agencies over the years. I don't think the MBA has had anything to so with my success. Your success in biz dev is going to come from your ability to understand the challenges faced by your customers and then effectively communicate how your firm solves those challenges for them. Certainly an understanding of accounting and finance and the other functional areas of a company helps to understand how your product or service may impact the customer. Being smarter and/or more educated is always a benefit, but I would not spend $50K or more on an MBA just to get a job on the business side of the creative business. I think you can work your way there from your current spot quicker and faster.

One odd thing about an MBA that I noticed, the effort of getting the degree (particularly if you are going to night school and working all day) has more cache than the actual degree itself. When I was suffering through 18 hour days (work plus school) people were impressed. Once I had the degree, I was just another guy with a MBA.
posted by COD at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2009

The biggest value of the MBA comes from the other people you will meet in school. After that, it's not worth much. You could stay home and read books, and you'd be ahead of most MBAs I know.

(Not counting COD, of course, who by being here proves he's a certified superhero.)
posted by rokusan at 1:40 PM on August 25, 2009

I have an MBA and I come from a marketing background. My answer is that it depends. If you haven't got much understanding of business, your employer's business or your clients' businesses, it can definitely help to step outside your silo and learn about a wide range of businesses, industries and business competencies (e.g. finance, marketing, accounting). Since getting my MBA, I've found that it's an easy way to signal to people that I have a certain fluency with business subjects and a certain approach to looking at problems. I also found that my professional abilities grew during the program and that I became new and improved. There are many other ways to do these things, of course. And it really depends on where you are in your career and where you want to go. Me, I run a marketing consulting company and I most certainly use my MBA every day. However, I also have two kids and I use my MBA with them every day too. Depends on how you look at the world.
posted by acoutu at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

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