Building a case for sponsorship to your employer

4 minute read

Coming out of a pandemic into the great resignation, a global recession and ever increasing tuition and living costs, doing an MBA is a bold move. Deciding to invest in oneself is a reflection of one’s faith in the long term, and the need for continuous learning in an ever-changing global market and non-market environment. Those who pursue MBAs locally or internationally, recognize the need to ride the wave of change, instead of being thrust by it in different directions.

The MBA is a personal journey, that comes at a great cost, but with the right support structures and an enabling environment, it is attainable. If you are already considering it, you are better off getting on with it because that hunch on your back will never go away. Funding is undeniably the most obvious cost and key consideration, but it is not a qualifying factor in the application process, and as you apply you should start considering your sources of funding. As you await scholarship decisions, dial into the bank of mom and dad, or even consider one of the student loan providers, one of the most immediate and effective sources of financial and non-financial support as you take the leap of faith will be your employer.

We spend most of our waking lives in the workplace, and a lot of our personal energy is poured into these spaces and in many ways, they shape who we are, or who we become (inadvertently). Those who live in cities know that the question 'What do you do?' almost supersedes other questions about who you are in social contexts. Sometimes, the answer to this question will determine your 'value' to the next person. Naturally, your employer is one of the key stakeholders that can propel your goals of doing an MBA. Employers are key to an MBA's journey in several ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Your professional experience and career progression within your current firm is considered as part of your MBA application, it naturally builds your career narrative and forms your toolkit of insights and experiences that you will share with the MBA class.
  • Your key references will come from colleagues you had worked with extensively. For me, a team leader I worked with on many deals when I started off as an analyst and progressed to deal maker, and a project leader I worked closely with in a portfolio transformation project in my latest role, were my top picks for references. Senior team members you have day-to-day interactions with are most likely to make the most colorful professional and personal references and have a clear view of your career narrative and your general outlook on life.
  • If you are fortunate, your employer can also be one of the biggest investors in your personal and professional development, through its learning and development department and your line manager. Take your personal development plan seriously and use your performance management discussion to motivate for a continuing professional development budget. You could use this to secure financial support for your GMAT exams, time off work for exam preparation and business school interviews. Creating this transparency will also make it easier for your line manager to support you after you receive your offer letter.
  • When you do receive an offer, be prepared to write a proposal for funding support from your employer, build a case based on your experience within the company, highlight the importance of doing the MBA for you, but more importantly indicate what benefit you would bring to the employer post the course itself. Some employers recognize the value an international MBA brings to their talent pool, and already have programs that provide full support for promising employees on their accelerator programs, others might not have such a program but could provide partial support which significantly bolsters your funding package.
  • Lastly, use the professional skills and experiences you learnt to your advantage as you put together your funding package. When making a deal, it is easier to negotiate for additional funds when you have skin in the game, and support from your employer is a great signal to the business school, university, and other potential funders that you are worth investing in.

A truly global program is one that has diverse young African faces, voices and perspectives embedded within it. By supporting one of their own young, ambitious future leaders join the Oxford MBA, employers will also help reframe the African narrative while deepening global linkages.

Oxford MBA