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A major in Business Management seems secure, and yet, it could be easily rendered an obsolete concentration. If Business Management were rendered obsolete, it would have adverse implications on the economy, on issues related to social justice, and on the ability for organizations to thrive. Especially during an economic recession, the need to develop future business leaders becomes apparent. Interviews with successful managers who were once students in an MBA/Business Management program highlights some of the reasons why business management education remains relevant, and what would happen if business management were to fall by the wayside in the academic community.
Background of Major
Business management is often a subset of a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) or Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA). Some dedicated colleges of business offer a special concentration in Business Management. For example, the Stony Brook University (2012) Business Management program offers undergraduate students "a solid foundation of essential business concepts and applications." The major is multidisciplinary, and students at Stony Brook need to minor in an area other than business (Stony Brook University, 2012). The various functions of business are covered in coursework, to provide a firm foundation in every aspect of business management. These areas include accounting, finance, marketing, management, communications, and operations. Interviews with former business management majors, who are now successful heads of corporations, note that every aspect of the business administration degree has some direct bearing on the daily operations of a business. The degree is therefore one that has a clear application to the working world. "With an art, English, or anthropology degree, your options are severely limited in terms of what you can do with your life. Your career could flounder for years, and you might wake up one day to feel utterly dissatisfied. With a business degree, your future is bright," (Oakes, 2012). Anderson (2012) adds that business management majors can lead to lucrative careers that are rewarding financially as well as personally: "Grads can earn top dollar, even up to six figures soon out of college."
The Individual's Professional Experience
Joshua Oakes spent the first five years of his career working as a finance manager for a small local entertainment firm in Seattle, Washington. Oakes (2012) notes that when he applied to graduate school in business, the program required applicable coursework as an undergraduate but not necessarily a business management major. A degree in a finance-related field, such as the MBA, was a prerequisite for the financial manager position. He would not have been hired otherwise; it was a specialized position requiring intimate knowledge of the information systems and procedures used for financial management.
Oakes (2012) notes that firm foundation in business management was not necessary for his second job, though. As O'Shaughnessy (2011) points out, business majors do not necessarily learn what they need to, in order to prepare for specific jobs in any given sector. When Oakes (2012) went to work for the FedEx Corporation, he was hired as Assistant Finance Director for a region of the United States. His predecessor and several of his colleagues had not received MBA degrees; they had received training that FedEx Corporation paid for later, but their position was earned by moving up vertically in the company.
Five years ago, Oakes (2012) was solicited to become the Chief Financial Officer of a large brewery in Canada. "This was when my MBA really started to come in handy," Oakes (2012) notes. The newly minted CFO relied on some old contacts he made while studying at business school. Networking was one of the most valuable aspects of receiving a business degree; perhaps more important than the specific skills taught in classes related to financial management. As Anderson (2012) points out, a business degree "places you in the network of future business leaders." Networking with the potential future leaders, as well as the current business leaders, of the world is invaluable experience. This experience is more likely to arrive in graduate school, but even undergraduates majoring in fields like business management are likely to meet mentors that remain with them for years to come. Moreover, business management majors might learn about specific job sectors that they are interested in. Universities like Stony Brook see to it that their students in business get exposed to multiple fields of study. This is so that the potential for contributing to the business world expands, even at a relatively young age (Stony Brook University, 2012).
Personal Experiences that Provoked Second Thoughts
Second thoughts about the efficacy of a business management major will naturally arise, as there are serious concerns about the applicability of the major to the real world (O'Shaughnessy, 2011). A major in business management might be premature, considering the wealth of opportunities available to study business management in greater depth in business school in a post-graduate framework. However, recent reflections on the importance of a business management undergraduate major yield promising results. A business management major can prepare the individual for the best possible business school. A business management major can also prepare the individual for a position in a firm that might prove invaluable to the future of the career. A business management major makes it so that the future MBA candidate performs better than his or her classmates in graduate school: a shining star among students.
Oakes (2012) also had some personal experiences that provoked second thoughts about the value of a business management major. An expensive degree program left Oakes (2012) broke and in a lot of student loan debt. The first position that Oakes (2012) had with the local Seattle company did not pay well. Oakes's (2012) experiences trying to repay student debt while earning a meager salary correspond with what O'Shaughnessy (2011) states about the myth that a business degree is necessary for success.
A Ten-Year Outlook on the Major
"Graduates with business majors are coveted and actively pursued by financial, retail, healthcare and service industries, the hottest markets with the best employment trends according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics," ("Why a Business Degree Is So Important In Today's Economy?" n.d.). Although there may be some lingering doubts about the efficacy of a business major, one need only look at the Harvard Business School's model for business education. The Harvard Business School transformed the way business is studied, by introducing academic rigor into the process of doing business ("Our Mission" n.d.). By incorporating the well-written case study into business research methodology, business schools are training students to become more ethical, informed, and capable future businesspersons.
The interface between business and politics also highlights the future importance of the business management major. A business management major has limitless potential applications. Oakes (2012) notes that a person who majors in business administration could end up easily in fields as diverse as public policy or land resource management. Business is the backbone of the economy of the world, and that economy is linked with social and political issues. The ten-year outlook on the major is also strong because of the nature of globalization. Globalization has transformed the way educational services are delivered. Students from around the world can major in business management and receive a high quality education that prepares them for real-world scenarios. Problem-solving skills, analytical skills, creative thinking skills, and communications skills are all part of the business management major.
"The MBA is not essential for a leadership role in business -- plenty of top executives got where they are by moving up through the ranks -- but business school can be a great way station on the road to a leadership-oriented career," (Anderson, 2012). Business management is far from being outmoded as a college major or a graduate school academic concentration. Far from it, the study of business management at the level of higher…[continue]
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