Sure, some experts have recently sneered at the value of a Master of Business Administration degree, but the number of executives with MBAs is still swelling. A study this year found that nearly 40 percent of the CEOs leading the top 100 companies in America have MBAs, up from just 26 percent five years ago. And today, some 340 U.S. universities offer MBA degrees.
This is true despite some bad press for MBA execs. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University found that MBA degrees - with the exception of MBAs from certain top schools like Harvard and, of course, Stanford - don't help executives very much in their jobs and don't increase their rates of pay. In fact, former Apple marketing whiz Guy Kawasaki recently put the value of an MBA degree at "about negative $250,000."
Clearly, though, many executives don't buy those arguments. They counter that their MBA degrees have paid huge dividends, advancing their careers and providing them with skills, contacts, and knowledge they couldn't have gotten anywhere else. To that end, American Way recently discussed the MBA experience with several top-level executives from publicly traded U.S. companies with familiar names like Saks and Wyndham. Here's what they had to say.
Current position: Co-founder and chief creative officer, Electronic Arts Inc.
The company: A $3 billion tech juggernaut that stands out as the top video-game publisher in the U.S., with popular titles such as The Sims and Madden NFL Football.
Why the MBA? Gordon had parlayed his undergraduate degree from prestigious Yale University into a fizzling writing career, some off-Broadway acting stints, and commercial fishing work off the Oregon coast. Understandably, he went back to school.