Why is Studying Business A Smart Career Move? College of Business Part 1 (Podcast)
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At Grantham University, we believe in going the extra mile to help you prepare for a successful job hunt. Recently, our Career Services team met with Dr. David Marker, Dean of the Mark Skousen School of Business to gain insight into why pursuing a degree in business is a smart career move and how it affects your ability to manage others.

So, you’re in business. It’s a cliché, right? Thrown around when two people agree to terms of a deal … or that a company has finally opened its doors … or any number of things, really. It’s commerce. It’s capitalism. It’s the exchange of goods or services. It’s profit. It’s loss. It’s buildings. It’s people. It’s in everything. And it’s everywhere.

It’s just business.

According to Dr. David Marker, Dean of the Mark Skousen School of Business, it’s also well worth studying.

“If you think about what a business degree actually offers you,” says Marker, “from a freshman through senior undergrad, or even as an MBA or master’s, it offers you one of the most all-encompassing degrees you could have. You will study math. You will study natural sciences. You will study social sciences. You will study all these different kinds of ways of looking at the world, and much of it in a particular organizational context.”

Marker goes on to say that everyone is involved in some organizational or social context. Each student has something personal or contextual they can bring to business studies, helping us define the world around us.

But, what outcomes can we expect from studying business? What’s in it for the student?

Will Studying Business Make Me a Better Manager?

Short answer: No.

“Studying business will not make you a good manager,” says Marker. “Becoming a good manager requires experience. Becoming a good manager requires you be a bad manager at least once or twice in your life. You have to manage people. You have to see what somebody who’s been good at it has done. And you have to understand the mistakes you’ve made.”

“I like that,” says Doug Dimler, Career Services coordinator. “You have to be a bad manager to become a good one. Learn what doesn’t work to learn what does work.”

“There are mistakes I’ve made as a manager,” says Marker. “I’ve been a manager in enterprises and I’ve been a manager in academic settings. And there are a lot of mistakes I’ve made, and there are a lot of things I wish I could undo. But it’s important that people understand that.”

If It Won’t Make Me a Better Manager, What Will It Do?

“Business school teaches us a way to order the problems around us,” says Marker. “It gives us a vocabulary: the way people in business talk and the words we use. We know about balance sheets. We know assets. We know about debits and credits. We know about supply and demand. We understand how markets are affected by various economic factors and things.”

In other words, a business education gives working professionals the tools and vocabulary they need to recognize problems and form answers. It also confronts them with the theories of business that have worked … and with most of the theories that have not worked.

“My goal for our students is that they are able to develop what I call ‘their nose,’” says Marker, “so they can smell when something is not quite right and understand we need to be able to fix what it.”

Studying business helps you determine which theories, and which parts of those theories, apply to your situation. And, depending on the context of where you’re working, which parts of those theories won’t apply.

“Bottom line,” says Marker, “a good business school education will help students understand how to determine what the actual problem is and come up with solutions to that problem.”

Why Should I Study Business?

“Because,” says Marker, “it is one of the most relevant things you can do to prepare yourself for the decisions you have to make that affect other people’s lives.”

According to Marker, the decisions you make as a businessperson (and as a manager) will undoubtedly affect other people, from end-user consumers and other buyers to the staff who work with and for you. The decisions you make determine whether someone will buy a car, buy a house, change the city where they’ve lived their entire lives, move to another city, another state or even another country.

“I can’t think of many other professions that have a deeper impact on a day-to-day basis on individuals than that of a manager or businessperson,” says Marker. “It’s profound.”

Marker continues: “I often tell my students that I think of myself as a nice guy, that my colleagues, for the most part, think I’m a pretty nice guy. But when it comes to what we’re doing—running a business school, teaching classes—I take it very seriously because of that impact that people have on other people’s lives. And I don’t want our students to take that lightly.”

Bad Managers Lose Good People

Though studying business won’t teach you to be a better manager, it will give you insights into how to get there.

Jeremy Bell, Grantham University’s Associate Director of Talent Development and Career Services, believes in the power of good managers to keep good employees. And vice versa.

“When people make a decision to leave an organization,” says Bell, “it’s usually because of ineffective leadership or management. It’s usually that direct relationship with their manager that will determine whether they stay or go.”

“Gallup has it at 75 percent,” says Dimler, referring to the percentage of people who listed their manager as a reason why they left previous employment.

A good manager can keep a business thriving even in tough times. A bad manager can drive away the best employees in even the best of times.

Marker admits there were times he could have changed jobs to achieve bigger personal goals, but stayed because of the manager or because it was a project that he believed in. “I stayed because I really enjoyed what I was doing and who I was working for and believed in that process and that project.”

When we take a step back and look at all the forms of compensation—motivation, human understanding, contentment, etc.—managers have a greater impact on employee satisfaction than many of the other forms of benefits.

“A bad manager will definitely drive you away,” says Marker. “A good manager at least has the opportunity to keep you involved and interested.

He continues: “That’s the other part of having a sound business education—understanding the need to change is not a failure. The need to change and the ability to change is really important. You have to have the capacity to adapt to whatever is going on in your environment.”

“It’s how we develop,” says Bell.

“Absolutely,” says Marker. “And a sound business background – business education – will help you become fearless in that. And understanding that, yes, it’s change and, yes, we’re moving in a different direction. But we have to.”

It’s just good business.

 

Download Our Podcast

Now that you’ve gained some insight into why studying business is a savvy career move, take some time out of your day to listen in as Dr. Marker, Bell and Dimler continue to explore the many advantages of a business education.

About The Author

Brandon Swenson, communications manager, is on Grantham University’s editorial board. A veteran and college graduate himself, he understands the benefits and intricacies of government education programs, such as the post-9/11 GI Bill. Brandon earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City toward the end of his nearly two-decade tour in the United States Marine Corps.