In long run, M.B.A.s worth time and money

  • 2003-05-29
  • Ieva Tuna

Though Baltic business minds are finding it necessary to flock back to the classroom to sharpen up their resumes, Latvia's personnel recruiters say that it is experience, and not necessarily education, that companies are looking for.

Uldis Pavuls, head of Fontes R&I's management consulting group, which specializes in human resources management and organizational development, said that while the value of an M.B.A. degree would increase in the future, for the time being it was not the crucial criterion for deciding on whether or not to hire potential employees.

An M.B.A. is a plus both during the recruitment process and while working at a particular managerial position, yet its value in reality depends on how well a person has studied while obtaining the degree and how much a company allows its employee to put that knowledge to use, Pavuls said.

In fact, in the process of headhunting, when particular employees of particular organizations are approached without public personnel selection, a person's experience and results at previous positions are more important than a degree, Pavuls said.

"The degree is a bonus, undoubtedly," said Ruta Lesnicenoka, personnel consultant with Komin MPS Latvija, a personnel solutions company.

"It offers a Western point of view on business problems and actualities, but it is not the crucial point in the decision to hire a particular candidate."

Lesnicenoka said that while higher education was in demand seven years ago, it was not a rarity or "the big plus" anymore.

Potential employees are now evaluated by their work experience and the group of clients they could give the enterprise.

Janis Vanags, spokesman of CV-Online Group Latvia, a recruitment company, said the M.B.A. degree was still not very popular in Latvia, and employers did not have a complete understanding of what it entails.

"There are several projects indicating that an MBA degree will be considered 'an advantage,' but there is no strict stance," Vanags said, adding that candidates were more likely to be evaluated by how successful past jobs were.

Still, while an MBA may not be obligatory to land a managerial position, the education is worth the effort, personnel selection specialists say.

Katerina Leidmane, a consultant with People Management, a recruitment and organizational development company, said pursuing an MBA degree is worth both the time and money.

While she stresses that work experience has been the key factor on the labor market, in the past two years education has been more critically looked at, since studying offers a way of systematizing and organizing the accumulated knowledge.

The best candidates for managerial positions are those with both the work experience and MBA degree, said Leidmane.

While salaries vary from company to company and project to project, MBA holders in managerial positions are generally paid between 1,000 to 2,000 lats a month, Komin MPS Latvija Lesnicenoka said.

"As the MBA programs are comparatively expensive, people studying at the moment are, in many cases, already holding managerial positions, and they have already achieved success at their companies even prior to obtaining the degree," Fontes R&I's Pavuls said.

"So the trend at the moment, arguably, is that many studying to obtain an MBA degree are doing so primarily not to increase their market value, but to acquire knowledge they feel they need at work in order to ensure better results," Pavuls added.

"There is also an added value that pursuing an MBA offers - business schools create a good environment for forming business contacts," explained Leidmane of People Management.

"It is worth investing in acquiring knowledge," said 27-year-old Mareks Veinbergs, who is spending approximately 3,000 lats on obtaining an MBA degree from the Riga Business School.

"The principle is not to acquire a degree, it is to acquire knowledge. I study that which I will be able use at work," said Veinbergs.