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Getting an MBA at 70: Why You're Never Too Old for Business School

Getting an MBA at 70: Why You're Never Too Old for Business School main image

While you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, the recent growth in lifelong learning opportunities is showing the same definitely isn’t true for humans.

The importance of lifelong learning is obvious. It keeps our brain sharp, opens our mind to new ideas, and - if we’re being philosophical – it gives us a sense of purpose too.

But don’t take our word for it – we spoke with Harish Jani, who graduated from Cass Business School at the age of 69, about what motivated him to return to the classroom and get an MBA.

A monumental milestone

When it comes to breaking the status quo, Harish Jani has smashed societal expectations by heading to business school so late in life.

A Chartered Accountant by trade – qualifying at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales in 1973 – it had been a while since he spent time in a classroom. For the last 11-and-a-half years, he had worked full-time as the Head of Finance at Crystal Palace Football Club.

However, Harish admitted to us that he had been mulling over the idea of doing an MBA for quite some time. When he finally decided to do it, his employers were more than supportive and provided financial assistance and encouragement.

On his decision to go back to school, Harish told us: “I think all scientific evidence suggests that the more you exercise your brain in a positive way, it continues to function well. It’s a use it or lose it scenario.”

The best choice for him

At any age, deciding on the best institution to study for your MBA is a big decision, and Harish researched a few business schools before deciding Cass was the best fit for him – and location played a huge factor.

He said: “I looked at Imperial College Business School and London Business School – I didn’t want to be too far away from London.

“I had also looked at Saïd Business School, Henley Business School, University of Reading, and Cranfield School of Management too, but it was too far to commute.”

Once his decision on which business school he would attend was made, and he had taken the GMAT and passed his interview, it was full steam ahead. Harish said: “The timing was tight. I only got a go ahead from Crystal Palace in early August and Cass’s term started in September.”

Why an MBA was right

Harish thinks the format of his MBA program at Cass enabled him to better build on his business acumen. The MBA covered 12 subjects, with four blocks (each lasting about two months) of three subjects during the year.

He said there were lots of work projects and papers on each subject, formal exams, business subjects, electives with coursework requirements, which he said: “Ultimately you had to write a 10,000-word dissertation on a subject, so it was pretty full on.”

But Harish insists the experience was a worthwhile one – namely for the opportunity of learning alongside classmates many years his junior. He said: “[The MBA] has connected me to formal education and I had a chance to mingle and do projects with people half my age. It somehow energizes you. It’s tough but worthwhile.”

Having now accomplished a lifelong ambition to receive an MBA, Harish has praised the help of fellow students and a few promptings from excellent professors for helping him through – as well as the support of his family and wife.

He said: “Let no one tell you that baby boomers' work is complete, there’s lots still to do. After nearly 50 years of professional life as a Chartered Accountant, an MBA was an eye-opener and has added something to me. I call it a sabbatical with a difference, and I’m already looking forward to the next challenge!”

With such an achievement under his belt, Harish is taking a much-deserved short break and will be celebrating his 70th birthday in just a few weeks.

He said: “I wanted some downtime for a few months and then I am ready to go again. I am in touch with Palace so will probably do some projects with them or with other clubs. I will be open to offers. My aim is not to go back to full-time work now but continue to help businesses on a project or consultancy basis.”

Harish, you’re putting us all to shame.

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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