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Is an MBA degree a necessity for HR Professionals ?

The role of HR has seen a major transition over the past few years after the opening up of the economy as a result of globalisation. The HR, who were mere recruiters, saw a shift in their role to being a partner in strategy decisions. The change in the work of the HR professional also called for specialised skills to make him adept in various situations. This article evaluates whether being a Master in Business Administration is a necessity for being a successful HR professional.

The success of the outsourcing industry saw much administrative work being transferred to third parties. The shift of the day-to-day jobs helped the HR professional to be more vigilant over the strategic decisions of the company. He has to understand the customer needs and ensure that the proposal submitted by the company will not be rejected for want of the people with the right talent at the right time in the right quantity. An understanding of the competitiveness prevalent in the industry helps to identify the obstacles in meeting people requirements. He should be knowledgeable to make the people forecast based on the sales forecast available and the potential technological changes using scientific tools and techniques. The HR professional is also expected to give the Board the right amount of people requirements for the future to aid budgeting. He is expected to have the necessary expertise to analyse the impact of his decisions in the future of the company. For instance, the recruitment of the people should be based on the kind of skill necessary after taking into account the changes in customer demand, the technological changes, and the changes in the environment affecting him. A wrong recruitment will add to the cost to the company. All these, according to those favouring an MBA, require the skills, tools and knowledge of an expert who has professional knowledge on the subject gained from the business schools.

On a personal level, an MBA gives him higher chances of getting recruited. It also paves way for promotion as the business schools are expected to provide opportunities to the individuals to gain better knowledge.

The advocates of the contrary opinion states that any HR professional is expected to keep track of the changes that are happening around him at any time. To quote Ray Tsai, “management is just too complex a human behaviour to be effectively taught in classroom”. A survey conducted by the International Institute of Human Resources on 50 global HR professionals revealed the following core competencies are required to be a successful HR professional. They are the maturity to maintain calm and take rational decisions under pressure, ability to deal with the uncertainty around him effectively, adaptability to the changes, willingness to accept the changes in ideas and practice, and the power to visualise the activities rationally. A good HR manager is to have excellent inter personal skills to persuade the employees perform efficiently, effectively and in an ethical manner. Most of these skills are in-born or can be developed through self awareness.

The need for an MBA varies with the individual and company perceptions. If a person has a thirst for new knowledge he will not need the backing of a formal course to make him a good professional. At the same time many companies are willing to adopt the services of an expert created and polished in a business school for utilising the tools available suitably.

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