MBAs replacing experienced leaders

My current company has decided they needed to hire all MBAs at the higher management levels. I am sure in some positions this is a great value add. However, I am seeing these people, who have come from a variety of business backgrounds, come in like a bull in a china shop and completely disregard industry norms.

I am currently on my 2nd VP of Supply Chain, neither of which came from apparel or have any manufacturing experience. They do not know anything of the development and production process, have never been to factories, and cannot work through issues with vendors when they come up because of their lack of experience.

I have heard from others that this is happening industry wide. Has anyone else encountered these situations personally? How have you worked with and/or around them?


If this is happening to all companies then fashion will drown and nothing will be fixed. What is wrong with this place?

Not that this is a good situation ( I have seen this happen a few times myself) but leadership in the Fashion Industry is full of unprofessional and lazy leadership. Many people work their way up the ranks without any learning experiences managing PEOPLE or doing things ETHICALLY and without promoting TOXIC behaviors…this is where companies should be investing their time and money.

I totally agree. At least some of these people have a larger business perspective. It seems that very few execs these days know what they don’t know and are afraid to hire the knowledge they don’t have. Maybe it’s just me, but I always hire people that know things I don’t. How else can I make sure we have a good breadth of knowledge within our teams?

That’s interesting considering that when I completed my MBA at a top business school, after having had over a decade of experience in apparel product development, nobody was calling me! They see “MARKETING EXPERT!” “SUPPLY CHAIN GURU!” and think these people can adapt to fashion. Yet in other industries, they know so little about how this industry works, (which is completely different from one company to the next) that they’d see my resume and assume I couldn’t possibly figure out how to do anything they’d need. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

As a good friend of mine often says, MBA stands for “Master of Bullshit”. Not sure what he expects the A to mean, but that’s the gist of it. The worst is when an apparel company goes public. That’s basically the death knell for creativity there. It’s so awful how Wall st. has ruined so many once great brands. And putting an MBA in upper management, they’re only going to be thinking of their exit strategy, because that’s what we were taught. Not to nurture a company and let it grow organically, but to pimp it out and sell it to whichever hedge fund or conglomerate is looking for a new victim to bleed dry and leave dead on the side of the road.


Looking back on it, would you have gotten your MBA?

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Well, that’s the million dollar question. If I had been psychic, I’d have done things differently. But what I really should’ve done is taken that OK job in North Carolina, worked there for a couple years, then moved on. But I was mad that the university refused to change my status to in-state the second year because (it was rumored) they don’t count on single students to stick around. It’s in North Carolina and EVERYONE is a family. Except the undergrads! I was also scared I’d get stuck there like some of the alums I’d met. It felt very Stepford the way they all said they weren’t planning to stay but…

So yeah, taking the first relevant job offer out of school is the best strategy in my opinion. I just started reading “Personality isn’t Permanent” after Matthew McConnaughey praised it in an interview. Basically what I failed to do was act on behalf of my future self instead of my petulant present self who wanted to get the heck back to California!

Living in Chapel Hill made me realize I really need diversity. If a city doesn’t even have a gay district, it’s just not diverse enough to me. And I’m not gay but when you grow up in frisco, you know how that benefits the city’s culture.