If you had the chance, what business courses would you take to be a better PM?

annikagarbers's profile thumbnail
The business class that has been the most applicable to PM so far (for me!) was Organizational Behavior and Leadership, which introduced a bunch of frameworks for motivating individuals, developing teams, and changing cultures. A lot of it focused on how to develop and use personal power (rather than hierarchical power), which is super applicable to PM because you frequently need to persuade and motivate people that you don't have direct authority over. The curriculum was mostly comprised of HBR case studies, which was really helpful because discussing real-life examples made it much easier to understand the theoretical content.
daniroo's profile thumbnail
Hey Annika, thanks for chiming in! It does seem like leaning into organization behavior along with leadership/communication and management in general would be helpful.
samali's profile thumbnail
I am a product manager who just completed an MBA program this past May. The soft-skill courses such as leadership, public speaking, and power in organizations were, as you might expect, pretty helpful in improving one's ability to lead through influence. I would say the most impactful courses for me were the ones that were focused on identifying and presenting insights in an actionable way (mostly marketing courses) or solving unstructured problems in a methodical way. At my school, this unstructured problem-solving course was known as analysis of business problems -- super valuable. I also learned how to more effectively and powerfully present and sell ideas through the marketing and B2B sales courses I took. See if you can't get a hold of some of the elective/2nd year course catalogues for your target schools and think of how those classes might impact your ability to draw insights from usage data, identify and test hypotheses about your products, and so on.A significant component of the value you'll derive from an MBA will come from outside of the classroom, though -- you'll be working on randomly assigned teams of strong personalities and having to resolve conflicts on a daily basis, taking part in club activities directly related to your areas of interest, and learning from/networking with really smart and driven people within your cohort or within the faculty. I would definitely put some focus on these extracurricular components in your essay responses, as it is part of each school's "special sauce".
daniroo's profile thumbnail
Thanks Samali! This is super helpful, especially being in the essay/interview phase now. Much appreciated :)
emilypatterson's profile thumbnail
I finished my MBA about 2 years ago and the most helpful classes were the Data Analytics courses, the FInancial Analysis courses (really! understanding budgeting cycles and behaviors explains so much about customer purchases in B2B SaaS!), and a class I took called "leading in the middle", which was all about influencing without authority. Negotiations was also pretty important.Good luck!
daniroo's profile thumbnail
Thanks Emily! Negotiations seems to be a trend, really.