Nowadays business degrees are a very popular choice for students starting university. However, more students doing the same degree also means more competitors for future jobs. Therefore, in this post I will go over a common concern: is a business management degree worth it in the UK?
Firstly, it is important to say what business management is and what studies it involves. Many people makes the mistake of not checking the subjects they are going to study. Why? I believe what attracts them is the image of “wearing a nice suit and having a meeting in a fancy office of a skyscraper”.
Let’s be honest, this is how business jobs are advertised, and therefore how degrees are too. Who would not like that? I have personally studied International Business & Finance at university. I’ll be honest, that future job perception did play a role in my choice.
What is Business Management
In order to assess if a Business Management degree is worth it in the UK, we need to cover its fundamentals. This is a life changing decision, you cannot just base it on a simple yes or no.
From my point of view the starting point for investigating something is always to learn the definition! I would recommend doing this for any “academic” task. I always started my essays and presentations by giving the definition the topic I was going to talk about.
Therefore, let’s start with the definition of Business: “A business is defined as an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities”. (source: Investopedia)
Hence, here a good definition of Management: “Management is a distinct process consisting of planning, organizing, activating and controlling to determine and accomplish the objectives by the use of people and resources.”. (G.R. Terry)
Now that we have the two definitions separately, we can combine them in simple words. All businesses, whether in the public or private sector, profit or non-profits, need capable managers to achieve their objectives. It is important to create your own definition, it is easier to remember if you understand it and put it in your own words!
Why a Business Management degree is important
Now things start to get interesting. There are different types of business organisation as I’m sure you know. We can identify three main areas: private sector, public sector and third sector. I assume know the main differences between them. Nevertheless, we can quickly go through the obvious just in case.
Private sector companies compete with each other to drive up profits, and they are owned by individuals. Public sector organisations are under the control of the government and provide benefits to the public community. Third sector organisation are non-profit and include volunteering activities, charities and social enterprises.
So what exactly will you study during those years? If you think that there are not enough arguments to cover, then you are wrong. The business environment is constantly changing, think about how it was just few years ago and how it is now. There is always the need of good innovative ideas!
Even at a personal level, are you still using the same technology? What about products and services, did they change at all? Innovation drives change, but good management is the key! I’m sure you know about successful companies, but there are far more that fail. Why? Poor management is often the reason..
Business Management studies
There is enormous amount of business literature. Researches have been following and analysing companies’ management practices and decision-making processes for years. You will study the most efficient ones, going through real successful and unsuccessful examples.
As opposed to a specific degree where you focus on one or few topics, a business management covers multiple areas. Just like a real manager day to day tasks, you will need to develop an understanding of everything that affects a company. From accounting to finance, from marketing to sales, from law to human resources.
Some of those areas have degree courses on their own. In many cases you can study those subjects in pair as joint or combined degrees. I will go through the most popular one in separate articles. However, as a business management student, you will cover the fundamentals of all of them.
Moreover, nowadays it is also very common to combine business studies with more “unrelated” subjects. For example, students might study business and history, or business and art and so on. This allows students to merge a passion they might have for a subject, with a more “employable” degree such as business.
Furthermore, combining a business degree with a foreign language is also particularly popular, mostly for those who are interested in working for a multinational or internationally. It is always a plus if you are able to speak an extra language fluently.
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Why are Business Management degrees so popular?
What is good about having a business management degree is that you will have the option to take several routes. If you realise that, more than being a general manager, you would like to focus on a particular aspect of a company (e.g. finance), you could easily make the switch. This aspect already makes, in my opinion, a business degree worth it.
Although this would likely require further studies and specialisations, it also means that you have much higher chances of employment. The business world is constantly evolving and it needs talent and skills, you can certainly get those in a business management degree.
However, let’s assume that your strongest interest is to become a successful business manager. You have clear ideas regarding it and you are not thinking about moving into other fields. Therefore, you only need to understand the most widely-used concepts and technique of those other areas, rather than the specifics of them.
What does a Business Manager do?
So what exactly does a business manager do? I can tell you is a busy but super exciting job! I have personally seen it myself, I have met and collaborated with many business managers in my current job.
In case you don’t know, I have found a job for a financial multinational after graduating in International Business & Finance. If you think it’s too late, I started university at 26 and graduated at 30. In case you want to know more about my story, you can find it here: “Starting University at 26 in the UK, my successful story as a mature student”.
Managers’ daily routine is unpredictable, they get involved in all aspects of business management. So, you might start the morning having external meetings with suppliers to negotiate contracts. Nevertheless, next meetings could be internal and completely different, such as revision of marketing strategy, future investments and so on.
It is an exciting job with comes with a lot of pressure. The exposure and reputation you get as a business manager is enormous. Imagine sitting with the heads of other departments defining successful business strategies for your company. Hence, managers’ decision making is essential in such competitive environment!
Why a Business Management degree is worth it?
These courses cover a vast range of subjects and provide students with many employability skills. As well as studying in detail the most successful management practices, you will gain skills such as:
- teamwork, doing group projects;
- presentation & communication, delivering presentations to panel of experts;
- written business communication, writing business plans & strategies;
- consulting, solving real business problems for existing companies;
- time management, dealing with tight deadlines;
Companies value these skills highly because they prepare you for the real business environment. Therefore, they tent to hire people with business degrees, from management to finance and all the ones we discussed earlier. Do you still think a business management degree is not worth it?
Furthermore, most universities have partnerships with companies, from multinationals to local SMEs. Together, they organise career fairs, insight days, conferences, webinars and gust lectures. As I said in many of my previous posts, you should really attend those!
They are a great opportunity for you to meet hiring managers and ask them all questions you have. Remember that networking is still one of the most efficient way to success. The more you expand your network with valuable connections, the better!
A degree is always worth it in the UK!
In the UK, regardless of the subject, a degree can give you access to the graduate job market. If you are not familiar with that, then you are going to miss out on thousands of job opportunities. These can come under the form of graduate programmes, schemes or junior/associate roles.
A degree is the first step towards career satisfaction and high financial rewards. I have talked about the benefits of going to university in another article. If that might interest you, I will leave it here: “Is going to university as a mature student worth it?”.
Moreover, so far we have only discussed your role as a business manager of an organisation. What about your own company? If you want to become an entrepreneur, a business management degree is definitely worth it. You will learn everything you need to launch your company and make it successful.
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Conclusion, is a Business Management degree worth it?
The answer to that is quite clear, in my opinion: yes, a Business Management Degree is worth it! If becoming a manager is the career you would like to pursue, then you are on the right track. Even if that is not the case, you will still have the opportunity to move into other areas.
Personally, I have seen many people starting their career through consulting. Usually, they would get a graduate job for a “Big Four” consulting firm: PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG. After gaining experience and exposure to the business world, they would get into business management.
Others prefer to undertake a longer academic path by doing a Master degree (postgraduate), or even further a PhD or MBA. You can choose your own path to becoming a successful business manager! From my point of view, either way is a win, although I went straight into the business world after my Bachelor’s degree.
However, please mind that there is a very high competition in this environment. Because it is a degree that covers the fundamentals of many areas, it is the choice of many “unsure” students. What I would say though is that if you have a genuine interest for business management, then you should not worry too much about competitors!
Always follow your real interest or you will regret it later! If you are still not sure about what to study, you might find this article helpful: “What to study for future jobs in the UK”. I hope you found my post useful, good luck on your future career as a business manager!
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