Full disclosure: I never applied to nor attended business school. I never thoroughly studied the frameworks that MBA graduates can spout. While I can recite the three C’s, the four P’s and Porter’s five forces from memory, I chose not to.
Over the past 15 years though, I have hired, promoted, managed, fired, mentored and collaborated with countless MBA graduates across various start-up settings. In the past 14 months alone, I have worked with 88 founders of 37 early-stage health-care companies that have been accepted into one of our four accelerator programs. Forty-two percent of these start-ups have a MBA-recipient founder.
Does this mean that I have a framework to determine if an MBA grad is a better hire for a start-up? Not even close.
When building a company, you need to view each new hire as essential and critical, regardless of position. You must find quick learners with strong analytic skills that complement the culture and collaborative nature of your current team. MBA graduates have the appropriate technical skills to excel in any start-up setting. They have spent an average of two years expanding on their quantitative and qualitative capabilities, building financial models and analyzing cases across industries. Not to mention, they can move around networking events better than anyone.
Business school does not make up for management or operational experience, nor does it mean that the graduate is prepared to roll up her sleeves and meet with investors today, oversee web development tomorrow and move furniture the day after that. MBA graduates possess unique talents that can be valuable for your growing company, but this degree should not be seen as a reason to hire someone that otherwise is not a fit.
While I am not an expert at business school frameworks, I have always appreciated one take-away from Porter’s Five Forces: the overall attractiveness of each industry does not imply that every corporation in that specific industry will return the same profitability. The same message can apply to the decision for start-ups to hire MBA graduates. No two MBA graduates will have the same value to your start-up, and you must look at each of them individually.
Nina Nashif is the Founder and CEO of Healthbox. Nina brings 15 years of experience working within entrepreneurship and healthcare management, applying expertise to the overarching global healthcare ecosystem.