Poets and Quants: A New MBA Ranking and Career Planning Tool

This week, a new wave of MBAs are descending on campuses all over the world, eager to take the next step in their career planning strategy.  For the majority of these new MBA students, MBA career planning means 'getting' THE degree that will lead them to a high salary, a high degree of decision making, and to long term job security.  For a minority of these new MBA students, the career planning strategy revolves around earning an MBA as a way to learn management skills and the language of money, both of which they will then use to get business done better.  These MBA students are likely to have gravitated towards some of the most progressive and responsible MBA Programs that Harry Stevens has recently reviewed in our justmeans social enterprise section.

This minority of MBA students who want to get business done better has based their decision to attend a specific MBA Program on specific ranking systems, including the Beyond Grey Pinstripes rankings from the Aspen Institute, the Net Impact Business as UNusual guide, or the sustainable MBA rankings.  These MBA rankings offer a valuable alternative to the traditional MBA rankings that the majority of MBA students (and business school professors and administrators) pay attention to.  These traditional ranking systems include the BusinessWeek Rankings, the Financial Times Rankings, and the Princeton Review Rankings of MBA Programs.  Of course, all rankings are flawed and can only capture limited parts of the whole MBA experience (for a great perspective on the MBA experience, see a recent post by  Amelia Timbers in our justmeans corporate social responsibility section).  Some flaws are bigger than others though.  A major flaw of the traditional MBA ranking systems is that they measure the MBA return on investment (ROI) based on short-term gain (i.e. average salary of their MBAs at graduation).  This is of course a convenient and easy data to gather, which is why this flawed practice perdures.

As of yesterday though, there is a new website that offers an alternative to the traditional MBA ranking systems.  The new website is called 'Poets and Quants'.  This site offers a refreshing perspective on the MBA experience, and puts a welcome emphasis on MBA education as a way to develop a combination of out-of-the-box thinking with the strong quantitative and management skills needed to get business done better.  John Byrne, the site creator, is not new to business school rankings or to business education and practice.  Indeed, he is a former BusinessWeek Executive Editor, and has written a number of business books, most notably a memoir in collaboration with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

The goal of Poets and Quants is to provide an additional career planning tool for aspiring MBAs.  Poets and Quants is definitely a step forward from traditional MBA rankings.  It enables users to post comments, and to interact with like-minded community members.  It also offers school 'smackdowns', directly comparing two specific MBA programs (e.g. Kellogg vs Booth) on detailed features such as program size, culture, teaching methods, and hiring data.  Another advantage of Poets and Quants is its community groups, which include ongoing conversations on Post-MBA Hopes and Dreams, Social Entrepreneurship, and the MBA Oath.

Overall, it is too early to tell whether Poets and Quants will move the needle in terms of providing individualized and fair career planning advice to aspiring MBAs that want to get business done better.  However, it is worth a try!  As always, I look forward to your comments and career planning questions!

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