Does an MBA develop the soft skills that a manager needs for work?

By | June 26, 2014

Guest blog by Mohit Soral, Vice President – Market Operations (Revenue Optimisation) at Emirates .  Mohit is an MBA alumnus of Bradford University School of Management on its Dubai programme

In her book, Becoming a Manager, Linda Hill argues that, based on her research, ‘the education many business schools provide does little to prepare managers for their day-to-day realities [at work].”

This is surprising, as certainly from my Bradford MBA, it is the soft skills that I perhaps developed the most through the programme and have found the most useful at work.  I was also putting them into practice even as I was studying.

Julian Rawel, in his blog on ‘Does your MBA give you a competitive advantage?’ covers many points about an MBA that I would agree with.  But there are more.

So what did I learn from my MBA that has been the most use at work?

1.      An MBA gives a wider perspective at work

I have worked for Emirates airline for 11 years and before that with another leading airline for seven years.  This has given me great experience on how airlines work – but sometimes it is good to challenge the accepted way of doing things.

This is what the MBA did.  Our programme had a great mix of people from all sorts of sectors.  We did projects together and this wide perspective of views and experience really got us all thinking differently and tackling challenges in new ways.  Now I am back at work, I often call on those debates to rethink how we do some things.

2.      Time management

If anyone is in doubt that an MBA does not develop your softer skills, you should go on one and see how it improves your time management!  This is something that you can take with you for the rest of your career.

An MBA gives you a structured outlook on your working life.  The mix of assignments, self study and projects to complete alongside your job (if you are doing the Executive MBA, which I did), is extremely demanding.  You will only succeed if you manage your time very efficiently.

How has that translated to work?  I now prioritise my working days far more efficiently than before.  In an organisation like Emirates there is a constant demand to attend meetings – we have 50,000 employees and that generates a lot of activity!  As in most large corporates, you have to stay very focused on which meetings you will add most value to and which are essential to achieve your job – and the MBA definitely helps focus this thinking.

3.      Networking is a critical job skill at work

Networking is often seen as such a ‘soft skill’ as to be irrelevant to the success of a business.  But overlook it at your peril!

I found that I built social groups through the MBA and had to learn to interact with a much wider range of personality types than we had in the relatively narrow airline fields that I had worked in to date.










The role of our department is to maximise the profitability of every seat ticket that we sell.  So we number crunch endless data, looking at the relationships between price, volume of sales and how many seats per flight we are achieving.

It’s very easy to become completely focused just on the data – when we need to include other aspects such as the travel agents selling tickets for us and wanting the lowest prices; special promotions that our marketing team may want; and the overall ‘branding’ of our airline in the marketplace.

The more we get out of our office, the better the results we achieve for the overall business as a whole.  And waste less time arguing cases internally, instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome.

I am really proud to be working for Emirates – in 2013 we won ‘World’s Best Airline’ awarded by Skytrax who polled 18 million business and leisure travellers from 160 countries worldwide.

The challenge for each of us as individual employees is how we make our own small contribution to ensure we stay at the top.  In my case there is no doubt the MBA helped me to do that.

I would love to hear comments from other MBAs as to what skills they have found most useful at work – and did your MBA prepare you for the realities of daily work?!

One thought on “Does an MBA develop the soft skills that a manager needs for work?

  1. Pingback: How can an MBA benefit your professional development? | Bradford Management Thinking Blog

Comments are closed.