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T&T Companies Need People With This MBA — Are You Qualified?

“Are entrepreneurs wired differently from managers?” asks visiting MIT professor Maurizio Zollo in a post on the MIT Sloan blog following a 2013 study of how entrepreneurs think.

According to Zollo, brain scans from the study showed that “when entrepreneurs performed explorative tasks, they used both the left and right sides of the frontal parts of their brains, the entire so-called pre-frontal cortex. In comparison, managers tended to use primarily the left sides of the frontal part of their brains.”

Here’s how these brains might look in the real world: Your service business needs specialised talent to claim market share from outsized competition, but you just can’t find the A-class people you need. What do you do? Do you go with a lower quality product, at lower prices and grow faster or do you threaten future growth by waiting until you find the right people to deliver a higher-priced premium product?

The answer may differ if you ask an entrepreneur or a manager. The manager will likely go with the first option; he’ll do what he knows can be done, hire the best people he can find, lower the price, close more sales. This is the logical brain.

Not so entrepreneurs. Faced with the prospect of carving out a prized niche for a premium service, he may try to find those A-class people overseas, probing the capabilities of every technology he could get his hands on. Or he may try to find people on Mars. But whatever he attempts, he’ll get creative figuring out the unknown — what Zollo refers to as explorative tasks — while exploiting all the known variables. Here, he taps both the logical and creative parts of the brain and such a thing—entrepreneurial thinking— is entirely teachable these days.

That’s why we recommend you do an MBA in entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial management, because if entrepreneurs are born and not made there’s trouble coming for Caribbean businesses that rely on play-it-safe managers.

Whether they’re new ventures or spin-offs within big companies, firms that want or need to innovate must hire people who think like entrepreneurs, people who can actually solve problems and create value. These are the risk-takers and believers, the make-it-happen people who see what no one else sees, or in the words of the great Steve Jobs, the ones who think different. But where do you find such people?

You can’t. The majority of these natural born entrepreneurs are busy being natural born entrepreneurs. They are busy creating the next thing and even if that thing will never be big they will regard it as an empire no less. The rest of us must be trained.

This kind of training will benefit local businesses. Entrepreneurial thinking, for example, can be applied to local energy companies faced with sustained low oil prices and capex cuts. Entrepreneurial management can help energy firms make gains in deepwater exploration, what we’re already calling Trinidad and Tobago’s next frontier.

It can change the game for retailers struggling to compete with online shopping.

And entrepreneurial management might create a new business model for local media companies trying to stay relevant in a nanosecond news environment where the story breaks on Facebook and the advertising dollars follow audiences there.

These scenarios apply to living, breathing local companies at this very moment. At a time when many of their challenges are related to business strategy — our dismal ranking on the global competitiveness index proves it — an MBA in entrepreneurial management makes for a compelling line item on your CV. Here are more ways it can work for you.

Help your company grow

This is the MBA to do if you want to prove to prospective employers you have the skills to bring about growth. The data shows that in tough economic times companies do better when the people in management have been trained to think like entrepreneurs, trained to use both logic and creativity, able to switch between both at will.

Especially in periods of slow growth or recession, it turns out startups —entrepreneur-led, scalable entities — are the real drivers of growth. It has everything to do with how their founders think. This is what companies need. Your CV ought to address those needs. We’re fans of specialised MBA programmes like this one because they improve your value proposition considerably to prospective employers.

Run a better business

Maybe you plan to launch out on your own. So many of us do, but truth be told, we’re not all “born with it.” A school like CTS College of Business and Computer Science, for example, offers an MBA specialisation in entrepreneurial management precisely because they know many business owners who need to beef up entrepreneurial acumen.

This isn’t your typical MBA. It’s an accelerated programme — just 12 months — designed for people who need to fit a course of study into their already busy lives. But we don’t sacrifice course content. Decoding entrepreneurship is hard work. The payoff comes when you measure the impact on the company you lead.

Force a change in culture

For all the marketing around MBA programmes, most graduands don’t start businesses. This is not a bad thing necessarily because it means people are being hired across the public and private sector. These qualified people are in the best position to force a change in culture at their organisations.

Imagine the impact on a state enterprise staffed by managers who know how to identify opportunities for innovation and achieve growth. Imagine a management team at one of the conglomerates with people who know how to bring new ventures on stream and get them to work. People with ideas.

These opportunities are out there. Even if they don’t realise it yet, organisations need to hire people with entrepreneurial management skills to seed a culture of idea generation within their walls. This MBA opens the door.

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