MBA Specialization Vs. General Business Skills: Vault Weighs In

On Vault’s MBA blog Thursday, Madison Priest tackled a subject that will really get you thinking if you’re interested in CSR and torn between whether you should specialize in sustainability during your MBA, or just go for generic business skills.

Priest polled colleague Aman Singh Das, Vault’s corporate responsibility editor, and discovered that even though sustainability solutions require specialized knowledge and specific skill sets, executives still prize traditional business skills such as the ability to think systemically, understand complex legislation related to sustainability and financial analytic skills. 

As Singh explains from the company’s perspective: The reality of the current market is that an MBA is good for generic management skills, not specialization, when it comes to sustainability and CSR….

Companies say they don’t necessarily need someone who has done two years in-depth study on CSR guidelines and regulations. They have more value for someone who has managerial skills–someone who can lead departments and work sustainability into their role as an accountant, an analyst, etc.

Carolyn C. Wise, Vault’s senior education editor, adds her belief that when it comes to MBA specializations, you don’t want to close yourself off.

“If you’re totally set on one type of job, then absolutely specialize–particularly if you worked in that industry before…But if you are a career-changer, and you don’t know precisely where you want to go, specializations can sometimes hurt rather than help,” Wise says.

For more ideas on how to brand yourself and your specialization, and to learn Vault’s take on whether the rebounding market will generate more or fewer pure CSR jobs, read Priest’s original post here.

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