Editor's letter: Why an MBA still makes sense

Canada needs your skills just as much as we need nurses, teachers and scientists.

These are hard times to call yourself a business person. Aside from all the economic turmoil, all you need to do is flip on the TV and you’ll find managers, bankers and consultants vilified and ridiculed at every turn. Signing up for a master of business administration degree seems crazy. You might as well major in masochism.

We’ve seen this before, of course. Every recession and market crash brings waves of self-righteous anger aimed at the excesses of the suit-and-tie crowd. Back in 1987, the producers of the film Wall Street showed impeccable timing, releasing their indictment of the greed of the 1980s just about two months after the Black Monday stock market crash. It was immediately embraced by an audience eager to heap scorn on the fallen Masters of the Universe. No surprise, a sequel to Wall Street is now in the works, focusing on evil hedge fund managers.

This too will pass, but it’s nonetheless discouraging to see business people indiscriminately tarred. To be sure, this crisis has exposed its share of miscreants and rogues. But the likes of Bernie Madoff and Richard Fuld have become gross caricatures used to paint the business class as inherently suspect.

At times like this, it takes some courage and conviction to commit the time, money and effort required for a high-level business education. And we ought to be glad that, in spite of all the vitriol out there, people are still making that choice in ever-increasing numbers. A recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council showed that most U.S. programs are seeing an increase in applications despite (or perhaps even because of) the grim economic situation.

Is it greed that drives people to make business management their vocation? Read this year’s MBA package and you’ll find the answer.

Your typical MBA student is neither amoral nor money-obsessed. They are people like Mayank Thapar and Cian Knights ? people who see commerce and business as a way to build a stronger, more prosperous and more progressive society. They see it as a way to build a better life for themselves and their families, and also as a way to build a country that can afford to make its own way in the world. Of course, making money is part of it, but it’s not the whole picture.

That is, in large part, why we publish our annual guide to Canada’s MBA programs. For one thing, this country is lucky to have some of the best business schools in the world, attracting top talent from around the globe. Just as important, the future health and dynamism of our economy depends upon our ability to develop the next generation of business leaders who will find paths to sustainable and responsible growth.

If you’re thinking of going to school to get your MBA, more power to you. Canada needs your skills as much as we need nurses, teachers and scientists. And we hope that this year’s MBA Guide will provide all the information and inspiration you need to launch you on your journey. Just prepare yourself to fend off a little misplaced scorn once every economic cycle.