Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

The Risk-Averse Career Choices of MBAs

If I wanted to link-bait this post, I would've titled it "Are MBA's Risk-Averse Scardey-Cats?" I didn't do that, though, because this topic is actually serious if you think about it. I'm an MBA at Michigan Ross and many friends of mine are currently studying at Business Schools around the country. Almost invariably, the most highly-desired career paths after graduating from our "elite" MBA programs are Banking and Consulting.

Notice, that these two paths are professional services, more or less (especially consulting). In these careers, you don't have to deal with the masses. You're not on the hook for business results creating value for consumers. In other words, when you're at a Bank or a Consulting firm you don't have to take the risk of winning in the consumer marketplace, you just help your clients do that.

Oh, and you get paid a lot.

So what it comes down to is getting a big reward (gobs of money and "prestige") while minimizing risk (because you don't have to create value on the front lines in consumer markets). And that's exactly what business schools generally teach their MBAs to do, increase rewards while minimizing risk.

This isn't to say that consulting and banking aren't good career choices. I'm merely pointing out that our supposed brightest business students are largely funneling into careers that don't create value in consumer markets and that Business Schools are huge supports in getting them there.

Is that really what we want? Is that really good for society or even for "the market"?

Also, another question - does this mean that us MBAs are risk-averse scaredy-cats?