Maverick technologist Elon Musk riled many recently when he criticized the practice of hiring too many MBAs by US firms and focusing on meetings and financials instead of product development.
The second richest man on Earth said that an “MBA-ization of America” was underway with too many MBAs on board.
“I think there might be too many M.B.A.s running companies,” the Tesla Inc. chief executive said on Tuesday at the Wall street Journal’s CEO Council annual summit.
“There’s the M.B.A.-ization of America, which I think is maybe not that great. There should be more focus on the product or service itself, less time on board meetings, less time on financials.”
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The criticism didn’t go unnoticed, especially among the faculty members teaching the course at business schools, who countered Musk’s statement saying that not all MBAs were obsessed with PowerPoint presentations.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for Elon, but he’s wrong to focus the blame on M.B.A.s,” Robert Siegel, a lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business told WSJ.
“I think he’s got a strong element of truth of what leaders should be focused on, but he is completely off base talking about M.B.A.s.”
Former dean of Columbia school Glen Hubbard also disagreed with the billionaire, who said MBAs ground graduates in the essential know-how of running a business as well as the ability to execute a vision.
“He is a visionary, but many CEOs do well at vision and execution with the benefit of an M.B.A., or with a strong team of M.B.A.s,” Hubbard said.
Among the top 100 CEOs in the Fortune 500, roughly a third holds a master’s in business administration, according to the U.S. News Best Business School rankings, WSJ reported.
This was not the first time Musk had shot down MBAs with a snide comment.
In 2013 also, Musk had claimed that he hires people “in spite of an MBA” during an interview with the American Physical Society, a nonprofit professional organization.