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How Having an MBA Shapes the Way I Do Business

How has your MBA helped you in your career journey? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jake Schwartz, CEO and Co-Founder of General Assembly, on Quora.

How has your MBA helped you in your career journey? I get this question all the time and it's always a tough one for me. The nature of life is that it only moves in one direction, and it's very hard to know where other paths would have led. Being as honest and true as I can possibly be here's what I think about the benefits of my MBA:

  • I learned "best practices" around managing complexity and organizations at scale. While this was not really that helpful in the early days of a startup all, as we grew into the company we are today, I definitely have used whatever frameworks and knowledge that I can remember from Wharton to solve those problems.
  • I gained the confidence that there was no "secret" base of knowledge about business that I lacked. This sounds trivial but I think is actually really big - confidence around what is "known" and "unknown" in business helps in seeing through the Matrix and being able to call bullshit when you see it, and chase opportunity when you identify it.
  • Being at Wharton gave me the idea that eventually became GA's business model. Because I had been a graduate student, and seen all of my classmates motivations and desires, and saw the ratio of actual content vs. time spent on an MBA, the opportunity for a different model seemed more real and possible to me. The entire idea of ROI-based education came from the way Wharton was pitched to me, and from the uncomfortable questions I asked myself and others during the experience.

Because I now run a company that I love with a mission that I feel passionate about, and that came from a series of events that included getting my MBA, it feels disingenuous to say "I wouldn't do it again if I could go back." But at the same time, I very much feel that the ratio of value to cost (both in time and money) was quite out of balance, and that's why GA exists today.

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