Think Forward: Finding my true reasons on pursuing an MBA as a mid-career professional – looking beyond short-term benefits

By Willbert Angrendo, MBA2025

“While others might have figured out their ‘Why MBA’ easily, for me, it was a year full of contemplation before I found my true reasons of pursuing an MBA. Yet, I am glad I took the time as it allowed me to reflect deeply on why this transformative journey is the path I need to take.”

The dilemma of a mid-career professional: Critical questions that I asked myself.

A few years ago, I was a senior associate at a consulting firm in the Middle East. The idea of an MBA had always been there, but when I moved from Indonesia to the UAE in 2019, my focus shifted to building my career. Surrounded by talented MBA graduates at Kearney, I experienced the benefits first-hand from working with them. However, as I stepped into a managerial role, finding my true purpose for an MBA became more difficult.

In early 2022, I struggled to justify the MBA. I analysed the trade-offs and the potential return on investment. However, all this number-crunching left me without a clear ‘why.’

It wasn’t until the second half of the year that I started digging deeper, asking myself:

  • The personal aspect: What are my ‘personal’ priorities in life and why?
  • The professional aspect: What do I want to achieve in my career and why? Is it really what I want or I am just following others?
  • What do I need to achieve them? Is an MBA really the right platform to make them happen?

Reflecting on these questions, and with support of my family and colleagues, I realized that my personal priorities were just as important as my professional goals in making my MBA decision. For me, an MBA allows me to explore new career paths, open doors to a career where I can be closer to my family, and to study together with my spouse – all of which led me to deciding to pursue my MBA at London Business School (LBS).

A few months into my MBA journey at LBS, I’ve met many mid-career professionals who faced the same dilemma. As it turns out, many of them share similar stories on how they reflect deeper on both personal and professional aspirations to find their true reasons. Therefore, reach out to LBS students or alumni who share a similar background as you and they might shed some light on their journey.

The forward looking vision and the hockey stick effect

It is easy to get fixated only on the immediate benefits of an MBA – a career switch, a promotion, or a bigger pay check. Nevertheless, the true value of an MBA also lies in its long-term impact. Pursuing an MBA requires a significant investment of time and money, which can feel like a dip in your career trajectory.

But the goal is to emerge from that dip with the skills, knowledge, and network to propel you further and faster toward your aspirations – a phenomenon I like to call the “hockey stick effect”.

My advice? Don’t just define that an MBA is beneficial solely if you land a lucrative job after graduation. Think about where you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years, as well as the lifelong network of friends/ colleagues you would have. An MBA is a long-term investment in yourself, one that can help you achieve your boldest dreams.

6 months into my LBS MBA: Writing my own definition of success

In my first month at LBS, it was easy to get caught up in following what everyone else was doing – joining all the recruitment and social events. But I quickly realized the importance of remembering my primary reasons for starting this MBA journey – which links back to why it is critical to have the right reasons for pursuing an MBA in the first place.

Even more importantly, I learned that I have the ability to define my own success. Whether it’s exploring and validating your career decision, building an extensive network, excelling academically, or developing entrepreneurial ideas, don’t let anyone else define what a successful MBA experience means for you.

“Stay true to your own goals, write your own definition of success, and don’t measure it against someone else’s standards. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for charting your own course through this transformative experience.”

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