Does an MBA make sense?

Brief history - graduated from a top engineering program from a public university, and went to work for an IT consultancy. After 2 years, I was able to jump to Accenture management consulting (leveraged all of the process work experience on my resume) and now after 2 years I am part of a strategy group within one of the management consulting practices (not the pure strategy group).

Accenture recently gave off-cycle raises "to stay competitive with market realities" to the management consulting practice, so now I am sitting at 105K base. I will get promoted to Manager in September which will bring my base to 120 - 130K. I am only 26 years old. Surprisingly Accenture has treated me well. At the manager level, this is already above what MBA recruits come in at.

I travel every week and save a lot of money because of per diems, etc. so thats another 10k or so added to my base.

Question: Does it even make sense to go back and get a top MBA and try to get into MBB or PE/VC? The more I consider the opportunity costs vs. reward, it just does not make sense. Does prestige really matter to me? Not really... and I know Accenture is not the most prestigous place.... but 120K in the hole for tuition plus another 240K opportunity cost of not working? What would you recommend?


Comments (7)

Apr 16, 2010

I'm a consultant leaving my firm to pursue an MBA this summer, and I plan to stay in consulting after MBA.
At my firm, over 95% of seniors hold advanced degrees, and it's difficult to earn business development opportunities or promotions after a certain point without MBA/PhD degree. I know that this is a typical case at many consulting firms.

If you are confident that you can build a solid career track without leveraging the alumni network or an advanced degree, I don't think it's necessary to go back to school. As you pointed out, it is expensive and the opportunity costs are quite high.

However, I'm personally very excited to go back to school after working for 5 years..!

Apr 16, 2010

If you intend to stay within consulting, try to ask around. Do they expect you to pursue an MBA?

Also, partner pay is very good at those shops, on par with MBB as, even if your billing per head is lower, there are more analysts per partner.

Apr 16, 2010

The sacrifice of 2 years will enable you the added benefit of having an MBA for the rest of your career, assuming you go to at least a top 10 or 5. I am not talking about just having it on your resume but a powerful and well connected network around the world.

Apr 16, 2010

Just an FYI, newly graduated MBA's that join Accenture strategy start at 130k base salary.

Apr 16, 2010

Also, if you do decide to go back to b-school, tuition will be more like 80k, not 120k.

Apr 16, 2010

Even though Partners make a good living (salary wise, life is pretty stressed though), you should talk with those awaiting to get to that level. From my understanding, the pipeline is pretty clogged even with the recent trimming. And with the up or out, 10 years down the road you might have to look for exit opportunities anyway (unless you want to be Career Expert forever, stuck at $200K~ range). I'd actually suggest you take advantage of the tuition reimbursement opportunity. 18 months of lost income will be the only real damage.

Apr 28, 2010