At first glance, business administration and information technology (IT) may seem to have little in common. Both are important skills and instrumental to success in any organization, but one focuses on overseeing business operations in a general sense, and the other is laser-focused on managing and safeguarding the systems that process and exchange all kinds of data.
Look a little deeper, and you’ll find that the two fields are complementary — studying both may give you an advantage in the workplace over those who have expertise in just one area.
CIO Magazine puts the issue in stark terms:
“Yet the days when an IT boss could blithely ignore business issues to focus on optimizing IT technologies and services are rapidly fading into history. In fact, IT leaders who don’t fully understand and support their enterprise’s business goals generally find themselves looking for a new job.”
Here’s how you can benefit from balancing your MBA with specialized knowledge in IT:
You Can See the Overall View
Running an organization can sometimes feel like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has a specific and important purpose, but it’s hard to succeed unless you visualize the big picture.
The Association of American Colleges & Universities says that employers want workers who can balance the small details with the big picture, which can be beneficial for career development: “While they may prioritize key skills over a job candidate’s field of study, the majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success.”
You Can Gain Valuable Soft Skills
Today’s MBA programs are designed to go beyond fundamentals like balance sheets and cost-benefit analyses — they often prioritize communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and listening skills.
These are the types of soft skills that experts agree are in demand — and hard to find. That means employees who learned these skills in college or graduate school may stand out in their workplaces. LinkedIn explains why soft skills are so valuable:
“Soft skills facilitate collaboration in the workplace. Employees with certain types of soft skills are more productive, use their initiative more frequently, and handle frustration well. There is scientific research that shows companies that focus their hiring criteria on soft skills will end up with higher levels of production over those that emphasize only hard skills in their hiring practices.”
Combining an MBA with a focus in IT may help students find a good balance of soft skills (those that focus on behaviors) and hard skills (those that focus on specific industry knowledge).
You Can Combine Both Areas Into One Degree
Now that you understand the value of studying business administration and IT, you might wonder about the next step. You might begin by researching MBA programs that have specializations in IT. These graduate-level programs add IT-specific classes to the standard MBA curriculum (which includes finance, accounting, marketing, economics). An MBA with an IT specialization typically can be completed in the same time as a conventional MBA.