IE Business School Online Masters
Novel Tjahyadi
January 25, 2009

We finally did it! Yes, after 13 grueling months of study, we earned our MBA on an admitedly pretty impressive and well-organized ceremony last month in Madrid. Hundreds of graduates from several Master programs, including ours, International Executive MBA (IxMBA), graduated on the same day. It was a big crowd. On that memorable festive, I saw nothing but a big smile on everyone’s face, although I was not too sure how to interpret those smiles. Perhaps, for some, it was a genuinely happy smile. For others, however, it was just a bitter smile. A smile of pessimism…

We witnessed the air of excitement and the pride of being a new member of the prestigious IE and MBA alumni. But unfortunately, the excitement lasted only for a little while. The moment we stepped out of the ceremony, everyone knew that a reality was awaiting ahead of us. A reality that we all have to face. How would our MBA be worth amid the global crisis? For many, a big question drums into our heads. How long would we have to wait until we start to see a return from this expensive investment amid this downturn? (Good for those who had received sponsorships, as this might not concern them as much as it does to those who paid the MBA out of their own pockets or loans.) Or, would we ever see an ROI at all?

Sadly, we completed our MBA at an extremely rough period. Everyday all we see is heartbreaking news: companies lay off hundreds or thousands of their workforce, firms stop hiring, banks tighten loans, stock prices slump…. Lucky for those who got promotions after their MBA these days, whilst many can only hope and pray they can keep their jobs. What does this all mean to us? Does an MBA degree still make any sense these days?

I have to admit I regret completing my MBA in this time of the year, BUT I never regret my decision of doing the MBA at all… no matter what. For sure, I would have expected a better economic and financial situation than this when I passed out, whereas I could possibly have gotten more options… an option to demand a raise or a promotion, an option to swing my career as I had always wanted, an option to enter an entrepreneurship world… an option that we all had dreamed of before we commenced our MBA.

Left with very few options, what can we do now? Sitting and waiting? Naah… For the sake of encouraging my own self and all MBA wanna-bes out there (I mean you!), my only advice is simple: be optimistic! It is true that options are now limited, yet I would never imagine my resume without an MBA these days where competitions are getting even tougher and younger! Like companies, we should never stop brushing up our competitive advantage. It’s the key for survival.

If you are one of many people who are reasonably in doubt whether you should postpone your decision on participating in an MBA course, perhaps you should think again! Albeit the recession, there are still many good reasons why you should start your MBA course now. To name the few:

  1. In the class, you will have the opportunity to learn from this downturn and learn from others’ failures and mistakes in the financial industry, etc. Believe me, this could well be a priceless learning experience.
  2. Networking (you’ve heard this many times, so I won’t elaborate).
  3. As I said earlier: competitive advantage (yeah, how I like this term from our Strategy class!). Prepare yourself for the upturn. There is nothing more rewarding when you know you are more knowledgeable than before.

After all, MBA is an education. It is an asset that does not recognize age nor recession. If you are one of those people who always have the thirst for self-development, don’t be put off by the crisis. Just do it!


It might not be the prefect time to graduate BUT when things pick up again you’ll be ready to take advantage of it and move into a better position. What you’ve learnt will be just as useful in a years time so don’t worry!!!

Congratulations on getting through, now enjoy yourself a little!

Comment by Stephen Adamson — February 7, 2009 @ 1:37 am

Stephen – cannot agree more. I’m just trying to encourage people who are thinking of doing an MBA these days. Despite of the downturn, I still see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Comment by Novel Tjahyadi — February 10, 2009 @ 7:11 pm


I just got through boston college for a masters in social work. Im contemplating whether i should take it up because of the financial crises and the job proaspects there after. what do u you think? is it a good time for me to study? or should i wait another year and go next year?
please help

Comment by Aakanksha — February 19, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

Thanks for your question. Obviously, I do not know much about your personal situations, so it’s really hard to tell. But one thing that people have been talking about is that the year 2009 is the toughest. Many have forecast that things will start to pick up slowly in 2010. So, if are planning to graduate in 2010 or even later, hopefully the job prospects in the US are getting better.
That’s my 2-cents. Good luck with your future. Happy to discuss further.

Comment by Novel Tjahyadi — February 23, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

I’m contemplating availing of the current environment at work (not enough work, uninteresting projects, in other words I’m bored out of my mind!), and finally going for an MBA program, as I have been thinking about for the past 2 years. I’m interested in the online exec program since it will allow me to keep my job for needed income. Why do you I want to go for an MBA? I want to make a career change, need a sense of fulfilment, intellectual stimulation … My situation in a few words: I’m turning 36 in a couple of weeks. I moved to Paris 2 years ago (from NY, where I had immigrated at 18). I have a BSc in engineering, currently have a full time job and am married with 2 kids. My questions: Should I expect any part of my personal or professional life to “suffer” due to the intensive MBA schedule? What time of the day are classes, meetings, etc. typically held? How many candidates apply to/are accepted into this program? What is the average age of the accepted population? I’m going for the GMAT this summer; what’s the difference between it and the IE exam? Should I take the IE exam instead?
Thanks for all the insight you can give me, and thanks for the inspirational messages you’ve posted!

Comment by Robert — March 4, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

Robert, you have a few questions there that I’d be happy to answer but perhaps you could send me your e-mail address and i’ll reply in person rather than on the forum.

My e-mail is and I’m the admissions director for the online MBA’s at IE.

Anyone else reading this who wants to know more, feel free to mail me as well!

Comment by Stephen Adamson — March 8, 2009 @ 10:23 pm

Hi Robert

It was nice meeting you in person at the QS World MBA Fair on Sat. I hope I answered your questions. If you still have more, do not hesitate to contact me.
Best of luck with your future!

PS. Still can’t believe we’re indeed neighbors!

Novel Tjahyadi

Comment by Novel Tjahyadi — March 9, 2009 @ 11:52 am

Hi Robert,

It was nice to meet you!

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Comment by Andrea parker — October 24, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

Totally agree! With the economic downturn I’m using the opportunity to pursue other opportunities for entrepreneurship.

Comment by Ted — December 14, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

I think getting an MBA will pay dividends, in the long term, even if the economy is down right now. All things being equal, a student with an MBA is at an advantage against the student who doesn’t have one.

Lee – The GMAT Coach

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