It is considered a sign of good tone to badmouth about Russian MBA among many people. They say that Russian MBA programs teach wrong and in general there can’t be a good business education in Russia. To some extent, these reproaches are probably fair. There are no ideal things at all. The problem, however, is that often, Russian business education and MBA are criticized by those who did not study and know about it only by hearsay.

How fair are critics?

I agree that some of our business schools discredited the MBA brand. That some of them just stamp diplomas, not requiring graduates to have real knowledge. But does this mean that all Russian business schools teach poorly? And can it be said indiscriminately that all Russian MBAs are bad? – Not at all!

Independent ratings show that there are decent business schools in Russia. Their MBA graduates show a high level of satisfaction with learning. These schools usually are included in the "Narodny Ranking of Russian Business Schools", which is formed on the basis of interviews of graduates. What's more it's not just graduates, but people who graduated from the program a few years ago so they had time to evaluate the effect of the education received. This rating is difficult to blame for biasing because schools themselves doesn’t influence on them.

Thus there are good MBA in Russia and it is a fact. I wouldn’t take seriously unfounded doubts of those who do not have their own experience of studying.

But what about the claims from those who still studied? – It’s an issue to discuss.

The main thing that you should understand is that in the case of an MBA, like any other product, everything is simple. If you want to get a good MBA you should go to a good school by ratings and do not fall for all sorts of cheap "analogs" in a passionate desire to save money.

I can provide a vivid example. A man was looking for an MBA. At first he contacted a good business school. He was offered several programs to choose from – MBA which is cheaper, and Executive MBA which is more expensive. A few days later he returned and said that he found a business school at one of the regional universities where MBA was 2 times cheaper and at the same time the number of training hours there is 3 times more!

He was explained that the number of hours can be 100 times more but this does not mean that this is a quality business education. Most likely, under the guise of an MBA they offer set of standard university courses... Equally the price can be 10 times lower, but if business can school for such money invite high-quality business coaches to the program. These arguments were not impressive ...

A year later I met this man, I asked: "Well, how's the study?" In response: "Nonsense, only theory!" (I have to politely convey the message). And he is indignant over all MBA programs, not specifically the one that he has chosen...

Is anyone surprised? I’m not. Logical thinking and self-analysis are not the strongest points of homo sapiens...

In addition to a strong addiction to unreasonable economizing, there is another possible reason for dissatisfaction with the MBA. People choose programs that don’t suit them. And sometimes the MBA programs are attended by those who shouldn’t.
MBA is definitely useless for those who are not ready to spend a part of their lives to a career and making money i.e. for the majority of people. Many people prefer to dream about beautiful life but they are not ready to put any efforts to its construction.

For such people MBA diploma will be a disappointment. On its own as well as the knowledge behind it, it does not give money or a career. MBA is a good help for ambitious careerists. They gain knowledge and skills that make them more effective, accelerate and simplify their work. But nobody except for them will go through this way ...

I also think that MBA doesn’t suite for those owners who have got their business dishonestly. Business education for such people, with some exceptions, is a pampering. They are not engaged in increasing efficiency and developing their business, they try to maximally quickly drain money from the assets they have received they plan for a very short term apparently because they are afraid that sooner or later dishonestly acquired property will be confiscated. That’s why they don’t see the sense of investing in improving management efficiency.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the MBA doesn’t teach robbing companies and countries. MBA is about efficiency and development.

So, who will benefit from the MBA and which program to choose?

Using the business school I head as an example, I can say that the most impressive benefit of an MBA comes from owners who created their own companies and want their further development, as well as employees who want a career and money growth and they are ready to work like a dog.

The portrait of an ideal MBA student, according to my observations, is a person of 25-35 years, careerist, at the beginning of the journey, usually the junior or middle level employee, hard worker, has particular goals in life and business. They want money and are ready to make money. They know that a career requires knowledge and a diploma.

At the same time, the Executive MBA, so-called top level MBA, has a different audience. They are for older people and for more experienced ones. Typically, its audience is in their 30th or 40th. They are established owners or top managers. Also, there are middle managers who are preparing to be promoted to the top positions. Motivation among students of the Executive MBA is significantly different from the goals of regular MBA students. These people are less in need of career growth (which is already impressive), but they are interested in improving the efficiency of the companies they manage as well as in their own professional and personal development. Therefore a good Executive MBA is about growth and development in all aspects of mature business.

If you, the dear reader, have seen yourself in the described examples and think about the MBA then you will be definitely interested in examples when people don’t need to go to study.

You shouldn’t go to the MBA, as long as you do not know how to build a career. I.e. you don’t have at least a general plan. The hope that after receiving a diploma you will find yourself, and you immediately become a top manager of Gazprom Neft - forget about it. MBA is an excellent assistant in building a career but for this help to work you must move in a clear direction and don’t wait for a sign. I know several people who after receiving a good Western MBA diploma and returning to Russia were very surprised that employers didn’t line up to them. In the West, by the way, they were also not needed.

Also you shouldn’t go to study to find yourself following the principle: "I'm lost in life, I'll go to learn so I can find myself." MBA is definitely not a treatment for a delicate nature of those who lost in life, this is about a tough, effective business. There no one will bother with a person in an attempt to revive him.

Summarizing MBA is a rarity, an elite business education. If a person badmouth about MBA it means that this person either has chosen the wrong school, or got the wrong program at the wrong time in his life or as mentioned above they did not need to apply to the MBA at all. But such critics, in my opinion, are minority; the absolute majority of graduates of top-rated schools are satisfied with their education. More often those who didn’t study don’t have any experience. Why do they badmouth? - Apparently they like this to badmouth.