I am a double MBA from IIM Lucknow and ESCP-EAP Paris and then did another super MBA (Sloan Fellow) from MIT Sloan. And I am an Engineer from IIT Delhi.
That was then – when MBAs were the rage and pretty much all engineers would try to either get a Masters in Engineering or an MBA; the latter much more than the former.
Remember – all these choices were fundamentally driven by job availability. MBAs would earn much more than engineers and would have a better employability index over long term.
Now, all of this has changed (or is changing). As Andreessen Horowitz puts it so succinctly, ‘Software is Eating the World.’ One of the founders of this very successful VC firm told me that they don’t like MBA cofounders (as opposed to Engineers). The reason, he told me, is that an engineer can be taught marketing, sales or strategy but it is very hard (almost impossible) to teach an MBA to code.
In today’s world, undoubtedly, there is a premium on engineering skills – ability to make (engineering) as opposed to the ability to sell (MBA). The proverbial wisdom of you making a better mouse trap and the world beating the path to your door is running true. Well, almost! The entry level salaries of engineers are still lower than that of MBAs, but the peak engineering salaries are way higher than their corresponding MBA peers. (Remember theGuy Kawasaki equation to value a company – pre-money valuation = 1MM* (No. of Engineers) – 500K* (No. of MBAs))
Now here is the essence of this blog. As you decide on the courses that you pursue, think beyond MBAs or Engineers. You are readying yourself for a career in 2020s through 2070s – think of what skills would be at premium in that world…? That’s a world of driverless cars (100 MM jobs gone!), tellerless banks (already happened in many cases), and completely automated factories with 3d printed products and robots manning the scant supervisory roles, if any. It’s a world of AI and Machine learning and many jobs or skills which are at premium today would have become completely obsolete by then!
You need to invest in building skills that are sellable in the world which has changed fundamentally from the world of today!
I think that you need to invest in skills which have rich dimensionality and multi-discipline import. Design Thinking, Financial Engineering, Nano-Engineering, education design, Game design, negotiation and conflict resolution – could be some of the subjects which may be relevant in the years to come. Try to incorporate elements of these in each of the course/ university program that you pick up and I am sure you not only enhance your education experience but also prepare yourself for 21st century careers in a robust fashion.
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