May 4, 2009

How many MBAs does it take to run the world?

The answer is about 10,000 people. That, according to Peter Kiernan (Darden 79), a well known wall street executive and a New York philanthropist.

Kiernan made the remark in the context of pep talk to new admits to Darden over the weekend. His point was that a handful of leaders are catalysts for what happens in the world. Darden MBAs will be looked upon as leaders, and as such, we can expect to be either one of the 10,000, helping someone become one of the 10,000, or advising a member of the 10,000.

While I understand the nature of his remark about the opportunity before us, I couldn't avoid thinking how elitist that sentiment is. I supposed that as the chosen (which I gather may include other brilliant minds and MBAs from other top schools) run the world, they will iron their own shirts, look after their own children, mow the lawn, brew their own coffee, and pave the roads when the potholes get too large?

But, I think the lesson is that there is a need of leadership at various levels in our world. And getting an MBA, while not a guaranty, likely will help open up doors to leadership opportunities in the corporate world (though MBA schools generally do not limit the claim to the corporate world, which is a bit presumptuous - an MBA isn't like to turn out to be the next Isaac Newton).

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