MBA/ Business degree for Engineers
This week's videos were about different types of businesses and corporations you can work for or begin as an entrepreneur. For many engineers and scientists (myself included) I have never explicitly learned about the different types of businesses. Do you think that as an engineer or scientist, to successfully begin a business you would need an MBA, or some other degree/certificate? In my opinion, it could be done without it if you put in time and research to learn the technical knowledge of the laws/inner workings of a business, but would the connections that come out of a business school help with securing funding and advice to build a successful company? Do you think that the degree would help with credibility as you build up your business? If you have working experience as a scientist or engineer investors may trust that part of your plan but be skeptical of the business side. I would love to know what you guys think, thank you!
This is a great discussion topic! I believe that as an engineer, you do not necessarily need an MBA or an advanced business degree to start up your company, you do need the right knowledge and connections though. This is the same as saying an MBA would not need a PHD in engineering to start up a medical device company, because each company has multiple managers that come from their own area of expertise. I didn't have much business knowledge before going through the business 101 lectures and I feel that putting in the ample time into learning more advanced business topics and networking properly can allow you to start your own company without a MBA. The connections we both are referring to wouldn't only be available at a business school or scene only either, as a matter of fact you can make these connections at any company in their business units or even know friends or family who have an expertise in business and can provide you the knowledge. I think it is totally possible and achievable to start your own business without an advanced certificate or degree, I'm interested in hearing the opinions of others on this as well!
This is a great topic for discussion. I definitely don't think that you would need an MBA or certificates to start up a company. Yet I think it would be helpful to have as a way to be more knowledgeable on running your company as well as enhance its growth. I think that as long as you do the research and design a good plan for starting your company, the certificates or a degree could always come after. Also, you would never be running your company alone. You could hire managers, CEOs, and supervisors to help manage all the work in the lower levels and you could hire those with the backgroups necessary for your business to help it prosper as well as help give ideas on how to better the company as a whole.
This is a really interesting discussion topic because some believe that only people with an MBA are qualified to start their own businesses, and I can understand why. As a student in engineering, others expect that I’ll work in an engineering firm. Someone with an MBA is most likely expected to start/run businesses. However, what isn’t clear to others is that for a business to run, there are several essential roles and specialties required for the business to be successful. For example, if an engineer wants to start a medical device company and he/she does not have an MBA, then they can work with or hire someone who does for assistance. This doesn’t only apply to engineers. We have businesses all around us, ranging from grocery stores to medical device companies, but not everyone who runs these companies has an MBA. In fact, most successful business leaders started their business without an MBA (source linked below). Will an MBA increase your company’s chances of success? Of course. As a business owner, familiarizing yourself with business essentials and taking the time to get an MBA may also save your company money in the long run since you won’t need to rely on others to keep the business running. However, an entrepreneur without an MBA can be just as successful as one who does have an MBA. Does anyone know of any entrepreneurs that don’t have an MBA, but do have successful businesses?
I believe that while it is unnecessary to have an MBA or a certificate, it would give you an advantage when working for these corporations and starting up your own business. While in school, you would be able to network and build connections with teachers and business speakers that visit the school which would give you an edge. I believe that making and continuing your relationships from your time during your senior year of capstone would benefit you as well as advisors are more than likely familiar with the business world already. Ultimately, what you can learn in school, you can teach yourself when it comes to business. At the same time, you can also hire others who have that knowledge in your start-up company to help make better decisions.
I agree with the majority opinion in this discussion thread that getting an MBA or any kind of business certificate is not necessary in order to start your own business as an engineering major. Though obtaining either of these would not be a waste as you are gaining knowledge and becoming more familiar with what comes with starting and/or running a business or company. However, as mentioning prior, a company is composed of different sectors and parts run by different people with specialties. Take for instance a company like Johnson and Johnson: they have a multitude of different departments within their company from HR, business, technology, R&D, etc. and even within those departments they have different sectors and within those sectors there are teams for different projects. Each employee at that company doesn't know how to do every aspect of their company, but they all know how to do their job well because they are trained and specialized in it.
This is what makes a successful business: not just one person running the whole show, but rather a team of people with their own set of skills and knowledge that help the company run. Even at NJIT, we can see students of all different majors, including just engineering, creating their own startups at VentureLink. There students can make teams with other students from different backgrounds and get funding for their projects which could end up with making their own startup. VentureLink and likely other places too provide workshops and mentors to help those who many not have a lot of business experience to start their own company. All in all, an MBA or certification can't stop you from starting your own business if you just have an engineering background. There are plenty of resources out their that can help you get started.
As it was stated in the question, I do think that while it may not be completely necessary for you to have the MBA, it does really help with credibility. As others have stated, a big part of a successful business will lie in the connections you have and the network that you are able to create. Having the MBA will really help with expanding your knowledge of very important topics that you will face when starting your own business, but at the same time, this is all knowledge that you can learn yourself with the right resources and time. At the same time, you might meet valuable connections when going for your MBA as many of the people there will have similar ambitions as you do. This might help create a better network and help you learn valuable things from other people's experiences. There are pros and cons to both sides of the equation, whether it is financial, opportunity cost, or in terms of gaining experience. But I think the important message here, as many others have said as well, is that an MBA is not necessary but will greatly help not only with the knowledge of the material but also help get a grasp on the more social side of starting a new company.
I think if you dream of being a CEO of a company, MBA is needed. If you want to be in a research and technology sector of a company, you don't need MBA; an engineering degree is enough. So yes, if you want to do business, I think doing an MBA is also necessary for engineers.
From my granted limited experience, I think an MBA is a must if want to start a business. You can be the best engineer in the world but without the MBA it will be very difficult to make up the gaps in your knowledge without a structured university program under your belt. That being said I think if you really dedicate yourself you dont necessarily need the degree but the knowledge behind that degree is a must.
I think that getting an MBA as an engineer is a waste of time, especially if you are actually a talented and smart engineer. Networking is the most important skill for an aspiring business person. You make connections with people who do have business experience and can help you set up a business. A farmer doesn't build a tractor from scratch to be able to farm. If you are genuinely interested in business and you want to learn, then go ahead, but if you are a passionate engineer who wants to make things themselves, get help with the business stuff from someone else. That's a much better use of everyone's time and energy.
I agree with the majority here that a MBA is not necessary, but helpful degree for an engineer starting his/her/their own firm. Contrasting with some of the cited reasons of credibility and networking, I feel the ability to communicate your idea in terms of return on investment to be a critical skill gained with business classes. For example, if you are starting to scale up the production of a medical device and needed to expand your facilities and add equipment, it is unlikely you will have the capital to do so. You consequently get a loan from a bank, who will naturally ask when they can expect the loan to be repaid. Being able to communicate your earnings expectations, justify the assumptions that went into them, and negotiate the terms of the lease are all necessary skills to have in that conversation. My engineering classes have not gone into any detail of this to date (with the exception of this class), but my business classes have.
I agree that a MBA is not required because the knowledge you should have before starting a business can be learned through other ways, such as online courses and videos. However, completing a MBA program will not only help you network with other students, but also allow for opportunities for you to interact with and get advice from professors and other individuals who are in the industry. Trying to get in touch with these experts on your own would likely be difficult if not impossible. In addition, if you are starting your own business and require funding from investors, they are more likely to trust you with their money if you have some form of certification or expertise in running a business. The easiest way to do this would be to have a MBA.
From this thread it seems that we can all agree that one does not need an MBA to start your own business. However, an MBA would obviously do no harm and be extremely advantageous when it came to an engineer wanting to start their own business. This raises me to question when is the best time to get an MBA if you wish to start your own business? Is it best for an engineer to get their MBA directly after completing there specific engineering degree, or should they get a job first and get some sort of experience with a well established company before going back for an MBA to then start their own business. I personally believe starting a business is a marathon and not a sprint. The combination of work experience and then returning for an MBA would give an engineer maximum credibility and knowledge to help kick-start their very own business. I am curious to see what other students think on this topic as consensus believes an MBA is not necessary but extremely beneficial.
I first gained exposure to principles of business through an introduction to business management course that I took during undergrad. Since then I went on to learn about entrepreneurship through the NSF I-Corps Site Program and more recently, the national Teams Program. From these experiences, I would say that an MBA degree is just as valuable as any other degree one chooses to pursue since the purpose of a degree is credibility and to build a foundation of knowledge and acquire a set of skills that one can apply in their future career. That being said, I do not believe the value of an MBA is the ability to build ones network since you can do that with any degree and I do not believe that a degree is necessary to obtain the same knowledge or acquire the same skills, however, the roadmap/formula to do so just may not be as clear. For any medical device to be considered a business venture worth pursuing, it is important to build out a business model canvas with a set of hypotheses about the customer segment, value proposition, customer relationship, channels, key activities, key partnerships (i.e. lawyers to protect IP and help with filing patents, regulatory consultants to help get FDA/other regulatory agency approval, key opinion leaders), key resources, costs, and revenue streams which one refines through customer discovery. By getting out of the building and expanding ones network to include industry experts and mentors across the United States and even internationally, one is able to better understand the niche ecosystem their medical device would make the greatest impact in and establish product-market fit in order to appeal to a set of early-adopters with just a minimal viable product when starting out. Other factors that influence commercial success include market size, revenue models, reimbursement, and pricing tactics, as well as customer acquisition economics. Typically stakeholders such as venture capitalists expect clear answers to these topics and are also looking for a strong team with the background experience to successfully translate a product to market and launch an LLC. Aside from the framework, all the information you gain is not going to be taught in school and requires extensive time and independent research.
Like mentioned above, we all pretty much agree that an MBA is not required to create your own business. To answer kaf43's question, I think that it is best for an engineer to gain industry experience before obtaining their MBA. Generally speaking, for many it is easier to complete degrees one after the other as you are still in that "school/study" mode. However, for most MBA programs, you need to have industry experience to be considered for the program. Ideally, you would demonstrate that you are a top performer at your company and are mature in the field you are working in. I wouldn't say that there is a certain amount of industry years required, I think that you just have to be able to prove to admissions that you have had an increasing amount of responsibility in your field.
I think having an MBA and and engineering degree is a lucrative combination, especially for medical device companies or pharmaceuticals. I was on a LinkedIn rabbit hole after connecting with the VP of the subdivision of the company I worked for and saw that most of the executives held an MBA. Many had the engineering degree/MBA combo with industry experience in between.