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Why MBA Specialisations Matter

Why MBA Specialisations Matter

MBA specialisations allow you to carve out your own niche.

Joseph LiPuma, MBA director at EMLYON Business School throws some light on the subject.

Choosing the focus of your MBA degree

An MBA degree is necessarily generalist in nature. It has to cover general aspects of management, such as finance, marketing, accounting and strategy for example. Historically, many schools have offered a functional specialisation – in finance or international business, for example – which helps candidates choose a specific area of study that could help them follow careers of their choice.

Today, however, specialisations are little more nuanced. At EMLYON, for example, a wide range of MBA specialisations that cut across the four major groups in the programme are on offer. Four new specialisations have been added to bolster this portfolio; multinational management, new venture management, innovation in life sciences and luxury management. Those broadly represent the contexts of work into which our graduates go.

Top schools continue to focus on generalist programs. The next tier from the top is developing a stronger focus on MBA specialisations in their programs in order to make their programs distinctive or different through the provision of specialist knowledge.

Candidates need to remember that it’s not just a matter of getting an MBA; it’s what you want to do with it afterwards – perhaps you want to move into growth area like the life science industry, or you’ve always dreamed of working in luxury management –  and finding the programs that cater to that dream.

For those who don’t opt for the larger generalist schools, it is worth thinking about how one can utilize MBA specialisations to give themselves a competitive advantage in the market, echoing the battle of the business schools themselves.

The life sciences industry

The already huge life sciences industry is rapidly growing. And the good news is that it is not just the remit of those with a background in biology or engineering. Issues like supply-chain management, logistics and technology all come into play, calling for those with business acumen as well as sector-specific knowledge.

A life sciences MBA specialisation would aim at giving you a better understanding of what the current issues are and how the life sciences industry is changing,

With this knowledge as a base, candidates can then take a step back and look at their own history and background and see how what they know can be applied in a life science career.

Entrepreneurship in the life science industry

Entrepreneurship is another more traditional business discipline which is very relevant to the life sciences industry.

It was through the lens of entrepreneurship that life sciences first came to EMLYON – the journey of innovation, from conception to funding to clinical trials and then hopefully mass adoption.

The opportunities clearly exist; if we look broadly at life sciences as a whole, it broadly represents 16-18% of GDP in the US and EU, and 6% of GDP in India. The objective of any good MBA specialisation is to help people recognise this, and helping them to tailor their skill set to take advantage of these opportunities.

A lot of opportunities in this space are not going to come from the historically large players; they’re going to come from small, new entrepreneurial ventures, and will come from people who have a knack for entrepreneurship and ideas coming from different industries and diverse backgrounds. This is bound to drive a lot of the growth in different ventures.

Entrepreneurship and luxury management

People don’t necessarily think of luxury management as an entrepreneurial environment, with so much cachet given to traditions and big names. But this is not necessarily the whole story.

An MBA specialisation in luxury requires students to take core courses in finance and management and then specialise by taking a course in luxury branding, luxury management, or intellectual property related to luxury.

For a specialisation like this, schools like EMLYON, based in France as it is, and therefore proximal to luxury industry players – both the manufacturing and the brand sides of the coin – have an advantage.

Studying MBA specialisations can give you the dual advantage of being a specialist and a generalist. In the competitive modern job market, the advantages this affords one should not be underestimated.

Want to know more about the specialisation offered in the International MBA, visit the programme website

Written by QS for EMLYON Business School

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