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Professors at Top MBA Programs Offer Advice for Incoming MBAs

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As MBA programs begin to kick into high gear, the Financial Times sat down with leading professors from some of the top business schools from around the globe to ask their advice on how students can get the most out of their education. These professors—from Chicago Booth, Oxford Saïd, IE Business School, Columbia, and other leading business schools—spoke about everything from focusing to trying different things, being patient to setting goals.

Focus on Your Education

Professor Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business encourages first-year MBA students to engage with their program. She says that students must be prepared to challenge themselves in the classroom and outside of it. “Put away other things in life, be in the classroom—and for that time there is nothing else,” she states.

Try Different Things

Kriti Jain, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at the IE Business School, suggests a different approach. She encourages MBAs to be open to a variety of viewpoints and opportunities. She warns students to not become too assertive but to continue to listen to others. And just as important is the idea that it’s better to try different things. “Take on courses that might not bring immediate returns but will be useful later,” she says.

Have Patience

“Too often students are very bright but not getting the most out of their MBA because they want instant gratification,” says Tim Morris, professor of management studies at the University of Oxford Saïd Business School. He goes on to explain that MBAs can get too caught up in the practical application of their classes and forget the hard material that is abstract. It’s important for MBAs to think more broadly and to reflect on what they’re learning about politics, international relations, demographics, science, culture, and more.

Take Risks

It’s easy to take a predictable path in your MBA, but lead faculty members at Columbia Business School encourage students to take risks. “The biggest rewards come to those who try something different,” they say. Don’t be swayed by the crowd, but, instead, choose activities, clubs, and classes based off of your own goals.

For more advice from all of the professors including individuals from Warwick Business School, Essec, and more, read the full Financial Times article.