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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Not all MBAs are evil ...

If only more people listened to the advice of "Not hiring MBAs" began one comment I got yesterday. It was from Phillip Burmeister who told the story of a mine in South Africa that had to close thanks to bunch of newly employed MBAs screwing it up. They never thought they needed to include driveways for trucks to the extract the ore... That was after they fired all the mining engineers because the engineers didn't know enough about business.

The second from Brian Steele told the tale of the MBA boss in the West Country who was so “busy pouring out spreadsheets by the dozen that he missed the fact that the company was losing money hand over fist and after a blazing row I left as did most of my team. Just six months later the business went into liquidation with almost 80 good people losing their jobs. As you might imagine I'm not over keen on MBAs although I'm sure there are a few good ones about.”

He’s right there. My old boss Sir Martin Sorrell has a Harvard MBA, if my memory serves me right. But that is not what impressed me about him. He has three far more important characteristics besides native talent. First, he never gives up even when most people would go into a corner and curl up. Second, he works astoundingly hard. Third, he always replies almost immediately to messages - or he has to mine - which is astounding in someone so busy running round the world.

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