MBA or not MBA
Thread poster: Anna Fangrath

Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:06
Mar 30, 2012


Is here someone who did an MBA and works in translation industry?
Would be great to hear from MBAs, especially who work in Europe, UK and Germany.
What can a translator actually do with MBA? Its great broad knowledge but can I use it?


ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:06
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Masters Mar 30, 2012

An advanced degree is a window of opportunity in today's professional life. It gives you tools that can not be acquired elsewhere. I do not have an MBA but I have Master of Science in engineering. I would definitely recommend an MBA, particularly in the United States if you can afford it. It is possible today to apply to schools online. Of course, the challenge is the tuition.


Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:06
Re Mar 30, 2012

Hi Atil,
there is a great program at the Edinburgh Business school (distance learning), well yes it is a bit expensive. It's not a problem but I'm not sure if there is a big demand for managers in translation industry.
A degree in engeneering is great. Here in Germany there are only few Master Porgramms that I could choose from with my linguistc first degree. MBA wouldn't be a problem. Well, if I decide to go for it, I'll be able to report on the outcome within a year or so!


Maria Lila  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:06
French to Spanish
+ ...
MBA Mar 30, 2012

Hello Anna,

I did an MBA during my first year as freelance translator, it was a bit stressful, but I manage well in both. If you can afford it and have a great sense of time-management, go for it.
Managers are needed in every industry (serious translation agencies have financial managers, business development managers, etc.). And besides you are you own business manager. I'm my own accounting & tax dept. and I can assure you that I do use what I've learned.
From another perspective, I found very interesting to write my own reports about markets trends, business offers, consumer's behaviour, etc. and to conduct qualitative interviews!
Now, whenever I translate a marketing text, I do not simply care about the wording (of course, I do care), but I also put my marketing flair on!
And while I was studying, I began to build my own glossaries about finances, economics, etc. (in English, German and Spanish) with textbooks, teacher's comments, exercices, case studies, etc., which have proven to be really useful afterwards. And I keep enriching them.

I advise you to enrol on an English programme. There are many international programmes in Germany, taught by international professors (US, UK, and many more) and students.
Best, María.

[Edited at 2012-03-30 15:11 GMT]


Anna Fangrath  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:06
MBA! Mar 30, 2012

Hi Maria,
I didn't even think of that, well yes, being able to do your own accoung and knowing what you are doing is a great thing!:))
Thank you for sharing your experience, makes the decision easy - I have been sceptical for couple of years and assumed it to be another hype but it shows that anyhow its a plus.


The Misha
Local time: 05:06
Russian to English
+ ...
If all you have in mind is being a better translator, it's an overkill Mar 31, 2012

It's like getting a law degree if all you want to be is a legal translator. I am an American, and all my experience is from the US, but there has to be some similarities. I did an MBA on my own dime about 10 years ago because I wanted to go into finance and investment management. It cost about as much as an average used car altogether and took 4 and a half years part time (I dropped a course once and had to retake it later, hence the extra 6 months). My biggest mistake was going to a blue collar state school because, as I discovered later much to my chagrin, no one really wants general purpose MBAs from blue collar state schools, not in the US anyway, and not anywhere where they pay real money. Plus, of course, tons of other folks from dozens of other blue collar schools had similar ideas about getting into finance and other juicy areas. Plus, the NASDAQ crushed at the time, and the entire dotcom industry went the way of the dodo. 'Nuff said.

On the positive side, while most freshly minted MBAs starved, drove taxicabs or lined up at the entrance to job fairs, I had a business that helped put me through business school in the first place and still threw off a considerable amount of cash. The brown stuff hit the fan some five years later when the business finally went kaput, and I found myself with a diploma that no one wanted and a career path twisted beyond any recognition (What? No five year experience at a Fortune 500 company? Phew!). After a while, I simply went back to what I knew best: flipping words, from one tongue to another. Sure, knowing basic finance, investment theory and accounting helped, but in all fairness I have learned at least as much running my business and day trading as I did in business school. That said, I am now fairly happy about how it turned out (hey, I don't have to beat the rush hour traffic into the city, and they can't fire me), and if I had to, I'd do it all over again.

Lessons learned:

1. Forget about it if all you want to be is a better translator. Just get yourself a subscription to a couple of business magazines such as Forbes or Fortune, of whatever you have in Europe for that, and also read books and watch business news regularly. Most of what they teach you in business school is also available from Wikipedia and such, and it is all free.

2. Before you select a school, try to find out what your employment prospects would be once you graduate, such as the average salary for their graduates, what kind of companies recruit from the school, etc. The real value of business school is in schmoozing, i.e. the kind of people you meet there, and in the brand name on the credential you get. That's why everyone wants to go to Harvard or Wharton even though it's a frigging rip-off.

3. If you do go for it, specialize, and then specialize again. General purpose MBAs are a dime a dozen, but if you can come up with yet another fancy CMO tranche, they'll give you a million. If, on top of that, you can speak another language or two, they might just give you another one. Now, what was that again about being a translator? What's a translator?

4. In the US at least, distance learning programs are a joke and no employer worth its salt takes them seriously. Of course, they may work if you already have a job and simply need a credential for better advancement prospects. Still, I'd tread very carefully here especially if there's serious tuition cash involved.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you.


Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:06
English to German
Thank you for sharing so much personal information. Mar 31, 2012

Hello The Misha,

Thank you for sharing so much personal (and amusing) information.
I'll just wait until the snowbirds are gone and decide then what I will do...




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