Articles from Chicago Tribune

A/B testing is so yesterday — and so’s your MBA...

e New York Times recently ran a piece on how traditional MBA programs were under growing pressure because — in addition to questions about the actual economic value of such costly offerings — their emphasis on corporate finance and strategy is increasingly seen as irrelevant to the skill sets required in today’s competitive marketplace where success is largely driven by speed, constant iteration, and the rapid abandonment of bad ideas. It’s possible that, in the next few years, the stigma attached to the MBA may even increase. And if that happens, I’d say it’s no great loss. This has been coming for years, and it all began when the top schools became more concerned with inflating their annual rankings in a single magazine (U.S. News & World Report) than with the rigor and relevance of their courses. But what really bothered me about the article was the description of the ongoing, frantic, and utterly expected and lemming-like responses of the business schools to the problem. According to the Times, these schools are going to “follow Silicon Valley into the Data Age” by adopting the best practices from the outside world and adding courses in stats, data science, and A/B testing. Focusing on A/B testing — as if it’s the new tool in town — when the rest of the world (powered by high-velocity, real-time computing and a flood of data drawn instantly from the marketplace) is simultaneously testing and evaluating variables ranging from A to Z is so backward and embarrassing that it’s almost hard to believe. The only thing more frightening is the idea that some of our best and brightest students at these schools are being trained by faculty members who are so far behind the times...

The value of an MBA: Chicago entrepreneurs weigh in...

you ask yourself: Is an MBA worth it? To answer that question, you must ask yourself what kind of work you plan to do or continue doing. Do you plan to work in banking, consulting, marketing, finance or insurance? MBA new hires in 2014 are expected to earn a $45,000 salary premium over new bachelor’s degree recipients in the U.S., according to the 2014 corporate recruiters survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council. The anticipated median starting salary for Class of 2014 MBA new hires stood at $95,000 in the U.S., the survey showed. “With every level of education, people increase their lifetime earnings and increase their career stability,” said John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “It’s easier to move positions, and (MBA holders) tend to see fewer periods of long-term unemployment. MBAs, in particular, come away with skills and a stamp of approval and credentials that businesses and employers value.” But what if you plan to start your own business? In either case, you must be willing to pay handsomely. Tuition at many programs costs about $40,000 per year — and much more at elite programs. “It’s never been proven to me that having an MBA leads directly to success in a startup,” Jill Salzman, founder of The Founding Moms, wrote in an email response to questions to leaders of Chicago’s startup community. “Success’ greatest predictors are in the personality, temperament and patience of the people who are running it.” Here is a look at how Chicago-based entrepreneurs have done with and without an MBA. Joseph Sheahan, co-founder and CEO of Savvo Digital Sommelier Solutions, which matches shoppers with wine at the point of purchase. Sheahan earned an MBA in 2012 from...