Top tips for choosing your MBA

09 January 2023

Executive MBA participant Alistair Bounds shares his top tips to take into account when choosing an MBA.

I really enjoyed choosing my MBA. It forced me to think very carefully about what I wanted to study, how I wanted to study, and who I wanted to study with.

Why I’m doing my MBA

I want to develop medical technologies that genuinely help people. During my time in academia, I saw firsthand that the barrier to new technologies isn’t often the technology itself, it’s the ability to translate it into real-world practice. My MBA is a key part of developing the skills to get new technologies from concept into practice.

When I had the opportunity to do an MBA, I spent quite a long time looking at different business schools. The key things I looked out for were the course content, the approach to learning, the cost, and the people.

Course content

I wanted an MBA that would give me a good range of topics, but also afford me the opportunity to specialise. What drew me to Warwick Business School (WBS) was the breadth of the eight core modules giving me a taste of everything, coupled with the opportunity to deeply specialise with four electives chosen from a much wider range than I’d seen at other business schools. I am working at a medical engineering start-up, so the specialisms in both entrepreneurship and healthcare were very appealing.

Some MBAs have a lot more emphasis on specialising in finance than WBS. I have previously worked for a Big Four accountancy firm, so I was confident I could already manage financial topics, but wanted more exposure to other topics. Ironically, a lot of the entrepreneurship elective modules that I have picked are focused on entrepreneurial finance, but I am confident that they will be the right areas of finance for what I want to learn, rather than being too generic.

Approach to learning

I know how I learn best, and I wanted an MBA that reflected that, which made me prioritise longer periods of face-to-face teaching. The WBS Executive MBA offers that with the Warwick campus, with 4-day modules rather than being primarily evening- or weekend-based. I also liked the flexibility that WBS offer – by having two campuses teaching the same core modules, it means that when I have been unable to attend modules at the Warwick campus, I have been able to move modules to the London campus without needing to delay my studies.

Cost and value

There seems to be no end to how much you can spend on an MBA, and I couldn’t see how much more I’d get from an MBA that was four times the price of the WBS MBA, but I still wanted to study somewhere with good pedigree, strong rankings performance, and that attracted the best people (students, academics and professors of practice). I felt the WBS MBA offered a very good balance. There are a couple of MBA programmes that strike a similar balance, but I ruled out a lot of MBAs on price alone. The scholarships that WBS offer also appealed to me, and I was awarded a Change Maker Scholarship, which I felt really validated my decision to go for WBS.

The people

A major part of the MBA is the people you study with, and I wanted to ensure I had a good range of people alongside me. WBS publish breakdowns of the industries of their cohort, which demonstrated the breadth of their intake, but also publish a breakdown of candidates, which allowed me to see how impressive the alumni are. I have really valued the diversity of intake, as it makes it much easier to find new perspectives and evaluate different ideas.