There have been articles on here before about the sometimes abysmal quality of the game industry management. We have seen evidence of this recently with the senior management clearouts at Take Two, Infogramme and EIDOS. But it pervades at all levels with people being promoted with no training for the management responsibility of their new roles. This is a great pity because the whole industry would work so much better with the application of a higher level of management skills. Development, were most money is spent, is often woefully inefficient with team sizes well beyond what is really necessary and with stretched development timetables.
There are solutions and one is in the postgraduate MBA (Master of Business Administration) training and certification. These courses cover a wide range of skills required for the science of management and prepare graduates to advance up the management structure of an organisation with competence. They are so effective that many organisations have glass ceilings beyond which managers will not be promoted without an MBA.
The business schools that offer MBAs realise that their students usually have jobs and so most offer courses that can be done alongside regular employment. In fact some people think that these courses are better than full time courses because what is learned can be applied in the real world as the course progresses. These part time courses are called executive MBAs and there are also distance learning MBAs. The cost is several thousand pounds a year, but employers will very often meet all or part of this.
The benefit of your MBA isn’t just the training and qualification. There is also the social networking which can be even more important. By the end of your course you will know a lot of senior managers in lots of industries throughout the world. These connections are incredibly powerful and most business schools put a lot of work into fostering them. Not just during the course, but afterwards with all manner of alumni services. As a manager this is immensely useful. You can do things that would otherwise be impossible.
One problem with business schools is that they are not all equal. Some are world class institutions turning out fantastic managers and others are just qualification mills. Because of this there are lots of independently produced league tables. Be very careful about doing your research before selecting your business school, they have different strengths in different areas and choosing the right one can make an enormous difference to your career.
To give you an idea of the realities, my wife is currently in the middle of a distance learning MBA at Warwick Business School, which is rated third in the world for distance MBAs by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The course is over three years, costs in excess of five thousand pounds a year and involves between ten and twenty hours study every week. The more study you put in the more you get out of the course, this isn’t such hardship as the course content is mostly extremely interesting.
In terms of career advancement some people get promotions just on the strength of being on an MBA course. Certainly upon qualifying you should expect a substantial promotion to reflect your enormously enhanced value to your employer. Your career will then advance far more quickly than it would have without the MBA. Quite simply you will be doing a better job and will have the skills and competence to continue delivering after each promotion. Exactly what the games industry needs more of.