Do you need an MBA? How important is it for your career, really? After all, lots of successful business leaders don’t have one. Not to mention, many MBA programs teach skills that seem niche (like biotech) or specific to certain career goals (like leadership).
Most people don’t jump right into an MBA—they think about it first, weigh their options, consider their career goals. If you’re on the fence, it might help to get a peek behind the curtain.
Every month, we’re sharing how faculty at GLOBIS University field questions from students at Japan’s No. 1 business school.
July 2021 Questions & Answers
Q: Why do I need to learn about leadership if I don’t have any subordinates?
A: If you’re thinking “Do I really need to learn about leadership?” you might need to change your perspective.
Consider your work environment. Every business in the world is facing a rapidly changing environment. No one can accurately forecast the future. Almost everything is trial and error. And that applies to everyone (even top executives) and every business (even yours). Companies, organizations, and individuals cannot survive without pooling wisdom and creativity—without working together. This is the world we live in now.
In this kind of environment, collaboration is key. It doesn’t matter how big or small your department is because it’s crucial to involve people outside your team or even company as collaborators. You’ll need their diverse wisdom and power to carry out your work. So even if you don’t have to manage subordinates sitting next to you, you will need to manage relationships with people outside. From this perspective, leadership is a necessary skill for everyone.
Now, you may feel that you understand leadership on a conceptual level, but don’t know how to actually be a leader. You might even feel you don’t have what it takes. But don’t worry. As Warren Bennis said, “Leaders are made rather than born.” There’s no such thing as a natural-born leader. We all become leaders over time through our experiences, including reaching goals and suffering failure.
I believe that anyone who is not afraid of failure, who learns from their experiences, and who strives (and struggles) to improve the way they interact with others is a leader.
Q: How can I create a good hypothesis for problem-solving?
A: Although there is no magic bullet for coming up with a good hypothesis, there are ways to increase the probability of creating a good hypothesis. As you can probably guess, one is to have good knowledge and experience.
It’s easy to understand why experience is valuable, so consider the importance of knowledge.
Knowledge is a key ingredient for thought. But the impact of knowledge is not just thinking. In Kant’s words, “The objects must conform to our cognition.” We cannot see what we do not know. Take the number of colors in a rainbow, which varies from culture to culture. In Japan, it’s seven, while it’s eight in some parts of Africa and two to four in some areas of South Asia.
Having a good hypothesis depends on how much useful information you can get out of what you perceive, which is very much limited by your knowledge. So the only solution is to build a network of structured knowledge, which is sure to help you create good hypotheses in the future.
Q: Digital biotech innovation sounds really niche. Is it really something I need to know about?
A: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a drastic reminder for most of us that health comes first. Currently, the frontrunner in healthcare improvement is biotechnology. The global biotech market is expected to reach 2.44 trillion USD by 2028, with a CAGR over 15%.
But in a totally interconnected world, even a cutting-edge sector like biotechnology has embraced the digital revolution, fostering affordable innovation and creating a plethora of new possibilities for intra- and entrepreneurs.
The traditional R&D scheme of big-pharma companies acquiring and financing startups is still relevant, but there are new disruptive factors. These include software platforms, massive investments from the FAANG, crowd founding, and breakthrough innovations like mobile medical devices. All of these have shaped a new reality and highly promising future. They’ll bring us personalized therapies; faster, more efficient R&D; and an overall improvement in healthcare standards.
But the challenges are equally as imposing. There are the ever-existing ones like clinical trial management, ethical issues, and pricing policies. But there are also new ones like data protection, virtual patients, cybersecurity, and an overall industry shift from company-based to patient-centered healthcare.
What an exciting sector, and what a bright future it has!
The title of this course says it all: digital ∙ biotech ∙ innovation. These three intertwined concepts are destined to have an ever-increasing impact in our lives.
Q: What’s the best way to study marketing and strategy?
A: If strategy or marketing were easy and the answers were already obvious (or easily found), every company would be doing it already. There’d be no need to study management.
That’s why I often find that the best answers lie in the sharing of ideas and perspectives. GLOBIS students come from a variety of different backgrounds—industries, countries, and vocations. So I always try to remind them that many heads are better than one. By being in the same room as all these people, we all get wiser—me included.
There are fundamentals you can study to get a head start, of course. In Essentials of Marketing and Strategy, we learn many kinds of frameworks—tools to analyze and understand any business. The whole point of frameworks is to answer questions affecting our businesses. Ultimately, the goal is to solve the challenges facing your industry, your company, and your career. And it’s by being exposed to ideas that work or don’t work in other industries that we all get stronger.