A question from a reader:
Q: Is an MBA necessary to advance in Product Management to the Senior level, Director level, or beyond? Or can one compensate for the lack of a Masters with strong analytics and high-level strategy and presentation skills?
A: The Cranky Product Manager specializes in cynicism. Thus, her answer: it depends. It depends on whether your boss and boss's boss have MBAs.
If yes, then advancing your career will likely require this illustrious degree. If the big cheeses thought an underling could do an adequate job without forking over $100,000+ for the MBA designation, then you might force them to regret their own education investment. And we can't have that! No sireee.
If your higher-ups don't have the degree, then they probably pride themselves on their own awesomitude: their innate, genetic business prowess – the kind of natural aptitude and raw talent that would only be hampered by book learning. This kind of uneducated boss regards the MBA as a huge waste of money and time, and MBA holders as ungifted, inexperienced, intuition-challenged, unimaginative drones.
So, the Cranky Product Manager's advice to you: if you think the LEARNING will be worthwhile for you and will help you become a better product manager, then go for it. Because the piece of paper itself, etched with that marvelous "M.B.A." designation, does not yield any automatic benefits in software product management. In management consulting and investment banking it does, but not in software.
Yours as a fountain of useful career guidance,
The Cranky Product Manager