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Is an MBA the fast track to a career in IT management

Shoe City Thinker

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I'm tired of being an IT grunt. I've been in IT long enough to have my own vision and sense of systems architecture. I can continue to be an IT grunt until I'm promoted but I'm wondering if an MBA or Master's in IT would be the fast track to a vertical move in IT. Or would getting an MBA be a huge waste of money?
 

BC2012

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
I'm tired of being an IT grunt. I've been in IT long enough to have my own vision and sense of systems architecture. I can continue to be an IT grunt until I'm promoted but I'm wondering if an MBA or Master's in IT would be the fast track to a vertical move in IT. Or would getting an MBA be a huge waste of money?

An MBA from a top program for IS (MIT, Tepper, Stanford, Haas) will certainly put you in position to have access to recruiters that are looking for IS management types. Certainly, some of the jobs you'd interview for would be IT-focused.

Now, if you mean should you pull a Devry MBA and expect to be bumped to Director of IT then you're likely correct in thinking it is a waste of time/money. A part-time master's of information systems would probably serve you best if you couldn't do a full-time, top MBA program. A lot of people in my program were in IT and want out, but I know two guys looking to move up in the field and they felt an MBA would do it for them (although I'm at a school known almost exclusively for accounting and finance, so that might not work out for them).
 

maxnharry

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It's a mixed bag. Some companies prefer IT management with MBAs and some prefer folks with the right kind of experience. I would go for the masters. Along with that you need to be adding skills and experience to your resume. Try to get involved with different things where you work. We're doing a big ITIL push and younger guys are making a name for themselves by volunteering to be process owners and leading process teams. Good luck!
 

Flambeur

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Originally Posted by BC2012
An MBA from a top program for IS (MIT, Tepper, Stanford, Haas) will certainly put you in position to have access to recruiters that are looking for IS management types. Certainly, some of the jobs you'd interview for would be IT-focused.

Now, if you mean should you pull a Devry MBA and expect to be bumped to Director of IT then you're likely correct in thinking it is a waste of time/money. A part-time master's of information systems would probably serve you best if you couldn't do a full-time, top MBA program. A lot of people in my program were in IT and want out, but I know two guys looking to move up in the field and they felt an MBA would do it for them (although I'm at a school known almost exclusively for accounting and finance, so that might not work out for them).


what he said ^
 

bond928

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+1 to what max said.

The role you describe requires understanding of financials, contracts, requirements, demonstrated understanding of specific technologies (ie. Certs, MIS, years of experience), and all the soft skills and team dynamics you can learn via MBA or on the job. 3 to 5 years to get all this is reasonable. What I believe you should do is begin rounding out your resume profile. Also note that in IT you have to pay your dues as with any other career path.

These sound dumb but they worked for me. I am a project manager 3 years out of undergrad, but then again I work around the DC area where IT management jobs are reasonably common.
  • Wear suits to distinguish yourself in the laidback biz-casual office environments in IT: "dress for the job you want". Help your manager picture you as a manager.
  • Consider changing companies/geographies. Consider a smaller or bigger company but you want to change up your experience. Best decision I ever made was to get out of my first developer job after a few months and switch to a job with managerial potential.
  • Get a few certs or demonstrate that you are in the process of getting them. At the minimum, read the materials.
  • Look for local MBA (or joint MIS) programs that are somewhat recognized. Bonus if your company will pay for it.
  • Most of the systems architects and EA leads I've met have 5-10 years of experience and lots of certifications, some have MBAs, have changed companies, paid their dues as grunts, etc.
If after doing all this your management doesn't recognize your potential, go elsewhere. You don't sound happy where you are. There are enough IT, tech consulting, and program management firms that would want such a skillset.
 
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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
I'm tired of being an IT grunt. I've been in IT long enough to have my own vision and sense of systems architecture. I can continue to be an IT grunt until I'm promoted but I'm wondering if an MBA or Master's in IT would be the fast track to a vertical move in IT. Or would getting an MBA be a huge waste of money?
how old are you? how long have you been in IT? what degree do you have already? what kind of firm are you in now?
 

deadly7

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
I'm tired of being an IT grunt. I've been in IT long enough to have my own vision and sense of systems architecture. I can continue to be an IT grunt until I'm promoted but I'm wondering if an MBA or Master's in IT would be the fast track to a vertical move in IT. Or would getting an MBA be a huge waste of money?

What exactly are you doing right now?
 

Shoe City Thinker

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Originally Posted by deadly7
What exactly are you doing right now?

Systems administration. Been doing it close to 10 years. I have a BSc in communications and I'm in my late 30s.
 

GQgeek

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
Systems administration. Been doing it close to 10 years. I have a BSc in communications and I'm in my late 30s.
Have you at least moved into larger and larger environments, or are you doing basically the same thing in the same way as you've always done with the same narrow skillset? Are you senior level and do you manage your team? Do you even know if you're any good at managing people? Lots of people on the tech side of IT that were good to decent techs move over to management because they think it'll lead to higher pay, but they're crappy managers for a whole variety of reasons. Is it just about money? Really good techs can make well over 100k, so i wouldn't dismiss it necessarily, but you do have to put in the effort and some people just don't have what it takes to reach that level. How much project management experience do you have? What scale were the projects? You've got lots of questions to ask yourself before making a shift. The grass is always greener etc. Personally, I don't enjoy managing people. I'm in a sr. admin position now and see myself first moving to large enterprise environment and then moving into the design side with a move into consulting (maybe on my own) one day. Also, sometimes just changing jobs makes a big difference in day to day enjoyment. Also, switching focus might lead to something you enjoy more, though depending on your position that may involve a temporary pay cut, or not, depending on how you sell yourself and what your past experience is. Oh and FWIW, I can't imagine you don't know this already, but the best way to get a promotion is to certify at a higher level and then find a new job. It's absolutely dumb to stay put in one place for too long in IT, especially if there's no room for you to grow. This is MUCH more cost effective than an MBA or MIS, but you have to figure out why you want to change and what your strengths really are first.
 

BC2012

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
Systems administration. Been doing it close to 10 years. I have a BSc in communications and I'm in my late 30s.

Hmm, the MBA at the top schools is likely out of the question. 26-30 is the prime age range most schools choose to admit. So you'd be looking at Exec MBA or lower end MBA programs. I know nothing about exec and I'm pretty sure the lower end ones will be a money pit.
 

Metlin

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You could start your own company.
 

Droog

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You can get masters degrees specifically in IT management/leadership. I don't see how an ordinary MBA would help you along if you wanted to work specifically in IT that would require at least some technical knowledge. I work for a huge IT services company BTW.
 

thenanyu

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OP, where do you live and where are you willing to move?
 

Shoe City Thinker

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Originally Posted by GQgeek
Have you at least moved into larger and larger environments, or are you doing basically the same thing in the same way as you've always done with the same narrow skillset?

I'm at the advanced level trying to get to senior level.

The last year was a big step for me. I went from small installations (less than 100 servers) to an client-facing production job that handled some serious IP video traffic. I executed a few small but important projects. I've never held an official management role before. The closest I got was the small consulting gigs I did years ago. Nothing Google-scale but did involve requirements gathering, planning, budgeting, and presentation skills.

Money? Would be nice to earn more so that I could buy a few pairs of Edward Greens or put more money into my retirement savings. But that's not the focus. I feel like I'm being held back and my career is stagnating. I fear that I'm going to be stuck working in the same dead-end companies with nearly no opportunity to advance my skillsets and experiences. I seem to have an uncanny knack of falling into companies that run on duck tape, bailing wire, undocumented Perl code, and infrastructure that's well-past their vendor's EOL schedule. Or companies that are past their prime like Sun. Working for Sun was cool back in the day but nobody cares about Sun anymore. The problem is that once you're in this trap of crap jobs, it's hard to get out and move on to the something more awesome.

Personally I feel I'd be a good manager and have the passion and interest to do it. Also some of the grunt work is getting mundane. I'd like to branch out into more systems architecture level stuff. I've worked under some awesomely bad managers so I've learned what not to do.

I'm trying so hard to make that transition to Sr. SA. Yet the feedback I'm getting is that my skill set and experience is not quite there. At this juncture, I'm going to put my job search on hiatus and focus my "funemployment" time on banging out my RHCE, VMware cert, and taking courses at EMC. I can't count on landing the right job that's going to allow me to learn the skills on the job that I will need to advance.
 

deadly7

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker
I seem to have an uncanny knack of falling into companies that run on duck tape, bailing wire, undocumented Perl code, and infrastructure that's well-past their vendor's EOL schedule.

Wait wait. You've been working in IT for so long and yet this surprises you? I call bs.
 

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