Harvard Business School recently published an op-ed from OpenGov Director Ellen DaSilva, who argues that the MBA still holds incredible value for many like her, despite ongoing criticism of the degree program.
DaSilva says the tech industry in which she resides turns up its collective nose at the practical reasons one might pursue an MBA—a way to climb the ladder, switch careers or build upon business skills. In fact, she was advised by Silicon Valley friends and colleagues to forego business school altogether. “Tech moves so quickly,” she was told. “It won’t be the same when you return. Taking two years away from the workforce is risky.”
DaSilva ignored her colleagues’ pleas and considers it one of the best decisions she ever made.“The MBA has taught me not only how to see many sides of the same problem, but also important it is to include voices different from my own in every conversation.”
First and foremost, DaSilva says HBS is where she learned to lead and be led. “Every day I could walk into the classroom, put myself in the shoes of a case protagonist and decide exactly what I would do and how I would do it. It also meant living with the consequences of that decision, something all leaders must face in their careers.”
DaSilva also wrote that her time at HBS allowed her to reflect and understand her authentic self. “Authenticity is a critical part of leadership, and the course taught me how to re-center myself when I stray from that authentic path. I leave HBS believing that I understand my purpose better than I did entering, and have the tools to continue on that path of exploration.”
Last but not least, DaSilva says business school is ultimately about the “people you meet and the friends you make during the experience.”
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