Growing your human capital Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2008

Today’s sluggish economic conditionsmay be just the start of a lengthy recession. And while experts point fingers and prognosticate, employers large and smallstill have a business to run.

To keep their doors open, employers aredownsizing through layoffs, enacting hiringfreezes and implementing early retirementpackages. It’s a scary time to be an employee.

“The question is, who is tough enough,capable enough and committed enough tohelp employers get through these challenging times?” says Anthony Rohach, Esq., MBA,J.D., associate professor, Delaware ValleyCollege. “An MBA can certainly provide astrong signal that you can.”

Smart Business spoke with Rohach aboutwhy now, more than ever, employees withadvanced skills will be in high demand.

How does an MBA add value?

An MBA improves the most importantsource of wealth for most people, ‘humancapital.’ Most people aren’t born with a well-diversified portfolio of securities and realestate holdings. Most people have to buildtheir own wealth by contributing what theyhave in most abundance — human capital —or to put it another way, ‘what can I do thatadds value?’ It doesn’t matter if the valueadded is for yourself, in the case of an entrepreneurial operation, or by adding value to anexisting entity as an employee. Added valuecan take the form of improved decision-making capability and greater appreciation of thebalance between business research andapplication. After all, an MBA isn’t going to behired to take tests, he or she will be hired tounderstand the underlying nature of businessproblems and bring together both theory andpractice to arrive at an effective solution set.

In what specific ways does an MBA enhancehuman capital?

The improvement to human capital that anMBA adds takes many forms. However, themain goal of enhanced human capital is toimprove productivity. Through an MBA, thisis accomplished by providing increaseddirect business knowledge and the ability toseek new knowledge by improving researchskills. MBA training also improves analytical and problem-solving skills as well as improving leadership development and superiorcritical thinking and reasoning skills. Writtenand verbal communication skills are emphasized because communication attributes —whether internal or external to the organization — are the cornerstone of an organizationthat understands marketplace needs and canexecute internally to provide those needs. Italso provides an important global perspective on business operations and strategy andhones strategic thinking skills. Futherenhancement to human capital occurs whenthe productivity of an MBA has a synergisticeffect on other employees, which alsoenhances total labor productivity.

Why is an MBA so critical during volatile economic times?

While pursuing an MBA, networking opportunities become available through classmates and teachers. This may aid in seekingemployment. And, even though the economyis going through a rough patch, not everyemployer is going out of business. Despitethe certainty of current layoffs and the probability of future layoffs, employers still haveto run their businesses. The significance of fitprovided by an MBA is important in turbulent economic times when employers tend to layoff employees who are marginal, but eitherkeep or seek new employees with qualifications that tend to be successful at their particular organization.

How does an MBA enhance personal successand well-being?

An MBA aids in helping individuals to findthe right job for their respective skill sets aswell as the right opportunity to utilize thoseskills. The training can facilitate finding anddeveloping skill sets they may not even knowthey possess. It’s only when people are in aposition where they have to accomplishtasks that they never would have initiated ontheir own do they truly discover what theyare capable of doing. For instance, most people are terribly afraid of public speaking andwill avoid it at all costs. However, most MBAprograms emphasize clear and effective communication techniques, including publicspeaking. It has been my experience thatmost people have some self-imposed limitations that come with well-established comfort zones developed over time. An MBA program places you in a position where youmust come out of those comfort zones to create a new personal and professional environment and a new definition of success.

What does an MBA really represent to potential employers?

An MBA operates as a signal to potentialemployers that as a possible employee, youpossess both advanced skills sets and adesire to be successful. This is indicated bythe willingness to spend the time, effort andmoney to gain such advanced training. Thissignal also tells employers that you are capable of understanding a wide range of business issues on an advanced level. After all, ifyou can’t understand the problem, how canyou provide an effective solution set?

An MBA signals that you are an advancedproblem solver capable of dealing with constantly changing facts to arrive at effectivesolutions. This capability allows employersto be confident that you can do the job.

ANTHONY ROHACH, Esq., MBA, J.D., is a tenured associate professor in Business Administration on the undergraduate and graduatelevel, Delaware Valley College, in Doylestown, Pa. Reach him at (215) 489-2929 or Anthony.Rohach@delval.edu.