Should MBAs Learn to Code?

mba professionals increasingly learn to code

Technology is changing the nature of the workforce, and it’s impacting what many MBAs will focus on in their career’s future. For students and graduates looking to pursue a career in product development or the tech industry, the question of learning to code has become a pressing one. Entrepreneurs like Vinicius Vacanti and Steve Blank have weighed in with their own views on the benefits of learning to code. But do these benefits really impact the average MBA student?

mba professionals increasingly learn to code

Here’s the thing: coding is hard. And to many MBA students with an already hefty workload, the prospect of adding yet another course, or even extracurricular endeavor, can be overwhelming. But the reality is, if you’re an MBA looking to land a job in the tech industry, learning to code will greatly improve your communication skills and your chances of finding a better job. Plus, at its most basic level, learning to code is learning to build things and solve problems, and these are most definitely skills that can be utilized in any industry. In an ideal world, everyone would learn programming at an early age; it teaches practical and adaptive thinking that can be applied throughout life.

A recent GMAC survey pointed out that U.S. employers see technical and quantitative aptitude as the third-most important skill set for MBA students. Coding on your MBA resume shows employers that you’re a logical thinker and are attentive to detail. It also shows recruiters and employers that you are better equipped to communicate effectively with technical and engineering staff. MBA graduates confirm this. Recently, Harvard Business School ran a survey of students who enrolled in CS50, the introductory computer science course at Harvard College. Of the 18 survey respondents who went on to work in the tech industry, 83% said taking the class was worth it, 17% said they weren’t sure, and none said taking CS50 was not worth it.

Despite the desire from employers to hire MBAs with some technical skills, most B-schools are slow to catch on; many offer no coding classes within the MBA curriculum while a few elite schools are only just adding electives to existing programs. A coding bootcamp can help bridge a gap for MBAs looking to enter the tech industry or pursue a career in product management. With an MBA, you’ve clearly gained the skills to understand what a customer wants. However, the technical skills that come with learning to code will help you communicate those insights to the engineering team, making you more employable and likely simplifying your job’s responsibilities.

In the end, there’s no question that programming knowledge is a valuable commodity to have. Even for graduates who don’t go on to become startup founders, a basic understanding of coding can have considerable impact on your job prospects. Literacy in coding is a major advantage in our technology-driven society and any determined MBA student should ensure they don’t get left behind.