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which degree is more suitable for person better in mathematics,aptitude: Engineering or MBA?

Sumith Prasad
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 17, 2014
Posts: 4
I am a software engineer. Although satisfied with my job having worked for 6 years now I want to analyse my career. I have always been better in mathematical and aptitude kind of stuff more than the technical stuff.When I see some entrance exams in my country (India) for MBA colleges I feel more confident seeing the mathematics and aptitude and data interpretation questions. So just wanted to know which career is more suited for person better in mathematical and aptitude kind of stuff out of the two: Engineering or MBA? My logic is if I am better in MBA kind of things I should think about doing MBA if I am not I should just continue with that I am doing.
thank you.
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1706
    
  14

Sumith Prasad wrote:I am a software engineer .... I have always been better in mathematical and aptitude kind of stuff more than the technical stuff.

Sounds like you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are you happy being a software engineer? If yes, then don't worry about changing careers until you know what you want to do instead.

  • If not:

  • What would you like to do instead of being a software engineer?
  • Why are you considering doing an MBA? It's a demanding and expensive process, so you need to be sure it will give you the opportunities you want and feel suited for.
  • What other alternatives have you considered?

  • From your brief description, you might like to look at "data science", which is supposed to be the sexiest job of the 21st century and combines aspects of software engineering with machine learning, statistics and scientific data analysis. If you're curious, you could start with Jeff Stanton's free online textbook Introduction to Data Science, or the free online courses in data science and related topics at Udacity or Coursera. Coursera and Udacity both offer data science "tracks" or "pathways" where you can pay a fee for extra support or to get a certificate, but you can also take the courses free of charge (e.g. the "free courseware" option on Udacity) if you're happy to study on your own.

    PS: Welcome to Javaranch!


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    Roger Sterling
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 06, 2012
    Posts: 426

    MBA is a stepping stone to get you an interview for a job. What jobs require MBA ? Management, sitting behind a desk, telling people what to do, writing performance reports on your subordinates, handing out raises (or not), hearing complaints, etc. That does not sound exciting to me. And to boot, MBAs (especially in India) make less money than good developers.

    Managers make horrible systems analysts or systems designers. Anytime a manager has ever gotten involved in a project, it goes south pretty fast. They have the authority but not the brains. Technology moves so fast, without hands-on development experience daily, managers cannot keep up with the pace of technical brilliance.
    Jayesh A Lalwani
    Bartender

    Joined: Jan 17, 2008
    Posts: 2376
        
      28

    If you are a software engineer, there's no point in getting an MBA that gets you into middle management. You should really be aiming for upper management by trying to get into an Ivy league school. Also, at upper management, management is less about numbers and more about planning. MBA entracne exams test your mathematical aptitude because people have seen that people with good mathematical aptitude tend to have good problem solving and analytical skills. That doesn't mean that after you get into an MBA, you will be doing a lot of math. You might use math-like-thinking, but you may not do any math, or might do very little math.

    Really, if you want to be a hard core mathematician, and want to solve equations all day, you should really do a MSc or a Ph.D in Mathematics. A degree in Mathematics has a lot of real life applications:- finance, space, cryptology, genetics research, blah blah. Heck if you have a computing and a mathematical background, you are very valuable because it means you can work closely with developers to build practical applications of mathematical techniques. For example, I know a guy, who first started out as a phycist, realized that what he loved most about physics reseach was writing computer programs. So, he became a software engineer. Then he realized most of the work building software is rote, and he got bored, so he got his PhD in Mathemtics. He calls himself a Quant, and he got a really good high level managerial position in the Finance industry. basically he vuilds models that predicts the future of the bank's assets. Another good example of a kick ass mathematician is Nate SIlver. With the growth of cloud computing, and big data analytics, we have started to scratch the surface of what we can do with maths. A lot of mathematical theories go unused simply because using those theories is not cheap. It takes a lot of computational power. Well, we have computational power on the cheap now.

    SO, yeah, long story short, I don;t think MBA will be good if you have interest in mathematics. If you want to do math, get a degree in math. If you truly believe you are kick ass in math, then you will do something kick ass.
    Sumith Prasad
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Feb 17, 2014
    Posts: 4
    chris webster wrote
    Are you happy being a software engineer? If yes, then don't worry about changing careers until you know what you want to do instead.

    If not:

    What would you like to do instead of being a software engineer?
    Why are you considering doing an MBA? It's a demanding and expensive process, so you need to be sure it will give you the opportunities you want and feel suited for.



    I am at software job because I cleared the entrance exams(mainly maths physics chemistry maths questions) for engginearing and then did engineering and then cleared interviews to get into job. Suppose I am at level XYZ.

    Now suppose:

    Case 1:

    suppose I am at level XYZ for MBA (entrance and job), I would continue to do the same software job.

    Case 2:

    I am below level XYZ for MBA (entrance and job),, I would continue to do the same software job.

    Case 3:

    Suppose I am above level XYZ (Suppose I do great in entrance exame which are mathematical and aptitude mainly ), then in that case should I not be doing the thing I am better in?

    thank you.
    Ulf Dittmer
    Marshal

    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 41839
        
      63
    Roger Sterling wrote:Managers make horrible ...

    This needs to be qualified as "Managers without technical knowledge...", as it's perfectly possible that someone with technical experience becomes manager, with or without obtaining an MD along the way.

    Sumith Prasad wrote:Suppose I am above level XYZ (Suppose I do great in entrance exame which are mathematical and aptitude mainly ), then in that case should I not be doing the thing I am better in?

    Doing well on some test is very little indication of whether you would be good at a related job, or whether you would like doing such a job. Management needs a different skill set than engineering, and consists of different types of work than engineering, even if you'd still be working with technologists and technology.


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    Roger Sterling
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 06, 2012
    Posts: 426

    Ulf Dittmer wrote:
    Roger Sterling wrote:Managers make horrible ...

    This needs to be qualified as "Managers without technical knowledge...", as it's perfectly possible that someone with technical experience becomes manager, with or without obtaining an MD along the way.


    Au contraire', Messr. Marshal. The most dangerous of this breed is the one that has technical knowledge, or thinks he does, but the shelf life of that knowledge is dated. At a small insurance company in Nebraska, one such bear drove the project around in circles because he did not understand what Web Services did and forced every transaction into an alternate transport. People who have supervisory authority should not be making technical design decisions, especially when they do not understand the implication of those decisions. The lack of foresight caused almost all transactions to time out because they were being processed sequentially and not in parallel which if Web Services were used, could have avoided the oversight. Just because a manager once developed Java code many years ago does not validate his ability.

    People who are subordinate to managers that make bone-headed design decisions are reticent to challenge their supervisor, because they would rather get a raise than be put on probation. This results in technical debt that snow balls out of control and perhaps causes the business to loose so much money that they have to outsource their policy administration to a insurance professional third party. When margins are high, small businesses like this can tolerate exponential technical debt service. But in stringent economic times when margins slim way down into the single digits, if such debt service is not addressed promptly, the business won't be in business for very much longer. All because some manager could not understand what Web Services do, and why they are important, because his technical experience was so long ago before RESTful Web Services were in existence, and could not wrap his mind around the concept.
    Ulf Dittmer
    Marshal

    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 41839
        
      63
    Not sure what brought all that about, but anecdotal evidence to the contrary does not by itself invalidate something.

    I stand by my opinion that "Managers make horrible systems analysts or systems designers." is a generalization that makes too many assumptions to be valid. If you prefer "Managers without current technical knowledge..." to "Managers without technical knowledge...", I would agree to that.

    Of course, all this assumes that the manager would take on roles that are usually handled by an architect or lead developer. In my experience that doesn't happen so often as to make it easy to generalize upon.
    chris webster
    Bartender

    Joined: Mar 01, 2009
    Posts: 1706
        
      14

    Sumith Prasad wrote:Suppose I am above level XYZ (Suppose I do great in entrance exame which are mathematical and aptitude mainly ), then in that case should I not be doing the thing I am better in? thank you.

    Well, it sounds like you need to take responsibility for your own career. You're an adult, an experienced software engineer, and it's your life. Don't make decisions based on test scores, or what people on an internet forum tell you to do. You haven't said anything about what you want to do (or don't want to do), and why. So why not figure out what you want to do, what you will find rewarding, and then find a way to do that?

    If you decide you're happy being a software engineer, why not carry on doing that? Equally, if you think of something else you'd rather do and could realistically hope to achieve (I'd rather be an astronaut, but that's never gonna happen!), why not go and do that instead?

    But if you can't even take responsibility for managing your own career, you're probably not going to convince an employer that you would be a good manager for their business, even with an expensively acquired MBA.
    Sumith Prasad
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Feb 17, 2014
    Posts: 4
    chris webster wrote
    If you decide you're happy being a software engineer, why not carry on doing that?


    My logic is :

    What ever I get in life from my career I get it because I could perform to a certain level in engineering entrance exams and then complete engineering then clear interviews. All these things were technical.

    Now I am better in aptitude and mathematics than I am in technical things.

    So If I am able to do lot better in MBA entrance exams(because I have more easy in aptitude and maths than I have in technical), then shouldnt I get things accordingly.

    In Engineering since I am not much good in technical I am always lagging and struggling to compete but in aptitude and mathematics I am better and and even my friends know its my strength rather than technical. So in technical I am somehow doing things whereas in aptitude and maths I will be way ahead of many.

    Ulf Dittmer
    Marshal

    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 41839
        
      63
    I think you're still missing the point: just because you might possibly score higher in this exam rather than in some other exam does not mean you would be better at the work someone with an MBA typically does, or that you would enjoy it better. You might well be good at it, and you might enjoy it, but that's a big decision about the direction of your life, and like Chris said - you shouldn't base that on exam scores or advice from strangers.
    Chan Ag
    Bartender

    Joined: Sep 06, 2012
    Posts: 1017
        
      15
    That bit about MBAs not being paid well in a certain country is no fact.

    And you don't study business administration to just manage a project like project managers in an IT company do.
    Even if you're talking about the project managers, there is a lot of difficult and smart work involved
    in making sure the the project goals are achieved. And there are project managers that are technically very smart.

    Roger Sterling
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Apr 06, 2012
    Posts: 426

    Chan Ag wrote:That bit about MBAs not being paid well in a certain country is no fact.

    And you don't study business administration to just manage a project like project managers in an IT company do.
    Even if you're talking about the project managers, there is a lot of difficult and smart work involved
    in making sure the the project goals are achieved. And there are project managers that are technically very smart.



    Beg your pardon, developers make 44 percent more than Managers in IT/India.

    http://kellyservices.co.in/uploadedFiles/India_-_Kelly_Services/Documents/India%20salary%202013%2014.pdf

    Note page six where an MBA makes 500,000 rupees and page 35 a Java Developer makes 2,200,000 rupees.
    Chan Ag
    Bartender

    Joined: Sep 06, 2012
    Posts: 1017
        
      15
    Beg your pardon, developers make 44 percent more than Managers in IT/India.

    http://kellyservices.co.in/uploadedFiles/India_-_Kelly_Services/Documents/India%20salary%202013%2014.pdf

    Note page six where an MBA makes 500,000 rupees and page 35 a Java Developer makes 2,200,000 rupees.


    I will make no claims based on such publications; not in favor of it, not against it.

    We are talking about people who have an MBA ( preferably from a renowned institution ), not about just managers. I have worked with 5 project managers till now. Only one of them had an MBA.

    The MBA guys I know are into other things. They aren't managing IT projects. And they have a different profile and a payscale altogether. My experience of knowing people says that skilled and smart guys ( includes engineers and managers both among others ) are respected and paid well in most industries.

    Yeah we aren't talking about my acquaintances/friends and I'm not saying MBA guys are paid better than smart programmers/software engineers/architects.
    All I'm saying is you can't generalize things like that. Even if the statistics are trustworthy, everyone is capable of being an exception. And when we talk of managers, there are all kinds of managers to talk about.

    How did you get that 44% number? From kelly services again? I wouldn't claim something based on such publications. All I'm trying to say is we must not generalize things. There are MBA and engineers that are paid extremely well. If one is good ( or very good ), they could always be one of those few.

    As a side note, I never even once considered compensation related things while making my decision of choosing what to study. What I enjoyed doing the most and what could keep me interested for a long time were my most important criteria. Then came things like will I be able to get a job and support myself. Will I be able to switch to something else if I realized I didn't enjoy what I was working on. Will I be able to keep up with the technology changes and such things. So I might be just one of those who happen to have a different viewpoint.
    Jayesh A Lalwani
    Bartender

    Joined: Jan 17, 2008
    Posts: 2376
        
      28

    There's middle management and there's upper management. All management is not equal

    Middle management is focused on tactical management, and generally make same as or less than software engineers. Upper management is focused on strategic management, and the pay is generally tied to performance of the company. In the US, staying in tactical management/software engineering will get you into the 6 figure range (unless you get early in a startup and get a huge payoff in the end). Getting into strategic management opens up opportunities that take you to 7 figures and beyond. It entirely depends on how effective/convincing you are

    If you are a software engineer, getting an MBA that gets you into middle management might be worthwhile. You might be "managing" a team, but you will on average earn the same money as them, and that is after spending couple of years in school, and paying for the MBA yourself. It's not worth it unless your employer sponsors you, and/or you are very much interested in getting out of programming and into managing people

    If you are a software engineer, getting an MBA that gets you into upper management is most definitely worth it. You need to get into an Ivy school to do that. Also, most probably you will not be doing any math once you get into upper management, even if the entrance exam is math focused. You will more focused on planning
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30526
        
    150

    I agree that you shouldn't make career decisions based on the entry exam. Do note that the entry exam (GMAT) isn't just match. There is a verbal section and a writing section too. You'll need to study those in addition to the math to get a good score.


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    Sumith Prasad
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Feb 17, 2014
    Posts: 4
    chris webster says
    What would you like to do instead of being a software engineer?
    Why are you considering doing an MBA? It's a demanding and expensive process, so you need to be sure it will give you the opportunities you want and feel suited for.


    I am fine doing software engineer job. But I would love to do something more interesting in life. I want to find a way to balance between what I do and what is my dream job.I know that MBA opens up many options and entrepreneurship too.If I were to dream I would like to be associated with music or writing. Those are things which give me happiness.But I know that in practical life to earn money the work can be anything.I know that MBA can open some doors to either be associated with interesting things or some other interesting work better than just sitting in front of monitor.
     
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