CEO Q&A: Preparing for Leadership: MBA or On the Job?
In each issue of Franchise Update magazine, we profile franchise CEOs and presidents, asking each the same set of questions. Throughout the year, we'll be selecting one of those questions -- and providing answers from the previous year's profiles. If you'd like to learn more about these franchise leaders and what they have to say on other topics, just click the link to read to their full profile. This week they discuss the pros and cons of an MBA school vs. OTJ training in preparing them for their leadership roles.
Nicole Ossenfort, CEO and President, Liberty Tax
I would never discount the value of a solid education, but I've learned my greatest leadership lessons on the job. Read full profile here.
Larry Oberly, CEO and President, SpeedPro Imaging
I think both are important. I feel my MBA education helped add to what I had already learned and gave me a new set of tools that I would need after I sold my Baskin-Robbins stores and joined RE/MAX in the corporate franchise operation. I feel the transition would have been much more difficult after stepping away from the "office" for the six years I ran my BR stores. My advice to aspiring leaders would be to first get an undergraduate degree, then work in your first "real" job or two. Then go back for the MBA. That timeline really worked for me. However, the experience and benefits will be different for each person. Read full profile here.
Rob Price, CEO and President, School of Rock
I learned irreplaceable skills, techniques, and decision tools in my MBA. However, leadership is best learned through doing, facing consequences, feedback, and mentorship. Read full profile here.
Michael Poates, President and COO, Mr. Gatti's Pizza
School of Hard Knocks. There are lots of exceptional stories of leaders with years of education and endless success, but life in the world of "Ideal" wasn't my path. I have learned through failures, mistakes, and challenges. I have now been doing this long enough that simply remembering pain points won't allow me to go down roads I know will not be fruitful. Read full profile here.
Shannon Hudson, CEO and Co-Founder, 9Round Franchising
Personally, I received all of my leadership experience and training from hands-on experience, so I think OTJ is the best way to fully immerse yourself as a leader and to become most comfortable with that role. Of course, that's not to say going to an MBA school is not a valuable experience, but there are situations you will come across in a leadership position that no textbooks or classes can truly prepare you for the way real-life application can. Read full profile here.
Jon Nobis, CEO, Two Men and a Truck
Education is important, don't get me wrong, but I learned much more in a summer watching a team of 20 people with entirely different skill sets and styles interact as they tried to solve a complex manufacturing process than I could ever learn from MBA school. Read full profile here.
Brian Petranick, CEO and President, RiseMark Brands
I think both are important. There are certainly the academics of leadership that are important and that help build a foundation. However, leadership is really honed in the work environment. That is where the execution of strategy and its nuances can be learned, adjusted, and evolved over a career. Read full profile here.
Tammy Whitworth, Chair and CEO, Window World
Regarding my own experience, I hit the ground running from day one. I've been with Window World since early on and actually started working in our Wilmington, North Carolina, store. So I've done nearly everything that could be asked of our general staff. While an MBA can certainly be of great value in the business world, there is something admirable to be said for learning about the business firsthand and working your way up the ladder one rung at a time. Our stores maintain a vast knowledge of the remodeling industry because many of our owners began their days in the business selling or installing windows. They know the business from front to back, and they know what it takes to create a memorable and rewarding experience for our customers. Read full profile here.
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