Up Front - The Publisher's Column
Adding Value with an MBA
What’s the value of an MBA?
In the old days, great companies such as General Motors and DuPont emerged before educational programs in business administration existed, though they had their own “scientific” methods for training executives. More recently, some firms such as Microsoft were started by college dropouts. But today, even tech companies guided by visionaries employ businesspeople with advanced degrees such as MBAs.
That makes a ton of sense. In retrospect, it’s amazing how much I learned in my own MBA program. The formal instruction came in classes on finance or taxation or marketing, all of which taught specific techniques, specific regulations and specific protocols.
But the real learning came in a deeper understanding of what “business” is all about — creating products that people want and will pay for. In MBA programs, students learn that business is a worthwhile endeavor, that profit is an honest motivator and that collaboration is necessary if you want to bring home the prize. In simple terms, the programs teach how to think in a businesslike manner and how best to evaluate the myriad choices that each of us faces in our professional lives.
Each year, Florida Trend explores the MBA programs offered in the state. What was once a fixed two-year regimen now ranges from the traditional schedule to weekend programs, online programs, accelerated programs and all manner of combinations. This year’s report starts with a focus on how professors integrate their real-world experiences into the classroom. Textbooks and tax tables are a necessary evil, but the fun of business comes from the hustle and bustle of real companies making real products for real people.
This year, the two-month Legislative session starts March 4. But committees have been meeting since last September in anticipation of the heated frenzy that will play out over the next 60 days.
Florida Trend writes about the session in this edition. We lead with Amy Keller’s article on gambling, an issue that will be contested by a host of big-money players. The atmosphere has every component that thriller authors like Carl Hiassen would want — money, tourism, addiction, religion, internationalism, dogs, horses and family values. Did I mention money? As you will read, the fact that it’s an election year makes it unlikely that the state will see wholesale changes to our gambling laws. At a minimum, however, this session will preview fights that will play out in 2015.
Amy writes about other important topics as well. Lawmakers will have more money to spend — how much will they give back to citizens through tax cuts? Will Florida’s bond indebtedness fall again? After a few tight years, can our universities and state colleges count on more funding? What about K-12 public schools? Will environmentalists be pacified by more money for the Everglades and other natural habitats?
While all of these issues are important, I believe we should look at the state’s finances on a long-term basis. Two particular topics come to mind. One is pension reform, the need to make sure that state and local governments don’t promise more than they can deliver over the coming decades. Call me a pessimist, but I’m concerned our governments are incurring debts that our children won’t be able to pay. And second is the internet sales tax. Out of fairness to our local retailers, we must collect the taxes that are already due for online or mail-order purchases.
Pension reform involves the cost side of the business, while the internet sales tax would increase the state’s revenue. As any businessperson knows — or as any MBA soon finds out — the strong executive works on both sides of the ledger sheet. Florida should, too.
— Andy Corty