When I’m interacting with classmates in my MBA program, especially when I’m meeting someone new, I am often asked “what is your concentration?” Many people answer that they are pursuing the finance track, or economics, or perhaps operations. I say that I am pursuing the management and leadership concentrations (they are two separate ones).
I have to admit that I always feel a bit like an underachiever when I answer that way. Like back in my undergrad days when I said I was majoring in History. There was always this dangling question of “oh, and what is your “real” major?” Now it’s as if learning about management is some kind of fall-back or perhaps even illegitimate field of study for someone getting an MBA.
Part of this is because I am in fact not very good at finance or economics, though I’m deeply interested in both. I would love to be able to gauge beta and risk and how to create arbitrage scenarios while managing a hedge fund, or spend my day (seriously – my entire day) looking at how macro-economic policies shift our currency trends and overall national conditions.
But, those aren’t my strengths. I’m not sure I’m a great leader or manager so maybe my strengths aren’t there, either, but “running things” is something I’ve generally been good at since I was in high school. Allocating resources, creative problem-solving, working with others – that’s just breathing to me, most of the time. In the end, it may turn out I’m a management asthmatic, but for now I feel it’s what I’m good at, and it’s what I am pursuing.
But it is kind of weird to say that I’m studying how to be better at management. Too broad or something.
I didn’t have an MBA concentration because my electives were too diverse! I was interested in lots of topics and didn’t feel the need to limit myself for the sake of some artificial designation. Just like no one NOW ever asks what your college major was (I can barely remember mine!), no one will ever EVER ask you what your MBA concentration was when you are done. They ARE impressed with my 4.0 GPA in grad school, though. That was far more important to me because it was something I never achieved any other time or place. Learning to be better at management is a skill it will take my whole life to develop – and I will NEVER master it!
So…you’re not an under-achiever at all. You just don’t need the tag to make you feel good about who you are and what you’re doing. Bravo.
Well, the MBA office is quite blunt that no one will really care about whether one has successfully completed a concentration or not, so I’m not concerned about that professionally. They tell us it’s really for helping us design our class schedules more than anything else. And almost everyone agrees that having management skills is useful and critically important but I just feel…less “cool” when I don’t say I’m going after a finance concentration :-).
4.0! Nice. I’m at 3.8 and far enough that no matter how I score from now on I have too many units in to really pull that up…:-(