Should MBAs Learn to Code? Do you often wonder about the skills one must acquire in MBA? Are you losing sleep over keeping pace with the demands of the industry? Further, are you worried about the conundrum – Should MBAs learn to code for future prospects?

Should MBAs learn to code

Probably you might have searched a lot on Quora or called on your seniors. You also might have asked for help from your peers. Well, you just might have just bumped into the right place at the right time. This article has been tailor-made specifically for such queries and concerns.

Nevertheless, I am sure after reading this piece, you will be well-informed and aware of all possibilities that lie ahead. I am sure that you’d have sufficient information to contemplate the answers to the question - Should MBAs learn to code?

Let’s start by assuming that you want to make a career in Marketing. Necessarily, this field demands creativity and consistency at the highest level.

You put in a lot of hard work, blood & sweat to get to the B-school of your dreams. You assume that once you’re into a business school, it will translate to a high-paying job and splendid future.

That’s where the assumption ends. When you start to find your feet in a business school, you discover stiff & constant competition instantly.

You realize it is not a cakewalk but rather a marathon. A marathon, where if you don’t hydrate yourself with relevant skills, you won't finish up.

That’s the reality check many students wake up to in their MBA journey. It's time to realize the same and educate yourself with new-age skills. Acquire it in your MBA apart from your regular subjects. So that, at the end of it you land that lucrative dream job you have been dreaming of.

So, Should MBAs Learn to Code ?

Let’s tackle this eminent question upfront! Does an MBA graduate really need coding to step up and dream of becoming a CXO one day?

Ideally, the answer is a No. You can achieve great things as an amazing marketeer without having any knowledge of coding. No pressure there!

You can start applying your learning when you start your career post MBA. There are a plethora of career trajectories such as Branding, Category Manager, Sales Manager, Advertising, etc. And they do not necessitate much technical know-how.

As long as there exists a demand for consumer products and services, such marketers would always flourish. Of course, Digital skills are a necessity as we switch to a digital economy slowly post the pandemic.

Marketers of the future and current B-school students should always analyse the market trends and identify the non-negotiable skill sets to be adopted. Digital Marketing and analytics are set to become the heart and soul of brand campaigns with increasing internet penetration throughout.

Hence, one can do harmlessly without turning to coding in terms of a marketing career trajectory. You can easily understand and work on Marketing analytics with a host of tools that are available out there. Alternatively, can we go a step ahead and take the path that leads to greater possibilities & newer avenues?

When one decides to learn more, they grow more eventually. That’s exactly what inspires many modern-age marketers to take a plunge into the field of Analytics and hence turn to code at some point in time.

Data is more equivalent to oil in terms of value in the current era.

You are a deadly combination if you know your way through data. If you can make sense of raw, unorganized data, manipulate it for your benefit, you are golden.

The bigger question is – Are these skill-sets pertaining more towards the technical front (generally unconventional) for MBA graduates really worth the effort?

Before we answer this question, how about we address the various new-age skills that seem to become more and more desirable for marketers of tomorrow.

Must-Have New-Age Skills for Marketers

It is a shame that MBAs don't believe in acquiring skills beyond their classroom. In actuality, MBAs will require diverse skills that will impact the way you think about business strategy.

You can gain a competitive edge over others if you support conventional exposure with these skills. In case, you want to really learn marketing and transform your passion into skills & clear understanding, you would love this course offered by Super Heuristics- Five Steps Ahead -Course to Ace Marketing in 5 simple steps.

You can actually apply Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning if you were to make a plan for bagging that dream job.

Firstly, make segments of the jobs you want to apply for amidst the broad universe that exists.

Next, you narrow down (Targeting) the options that you are aiming for based on your strengths, conviction, or interests.

Lastly, the tricky part is to position yourself with those skills that make you stand out from the crowd in front of your interviewer.

Seems easy right? This is your ideal plan to brand yourself and come out as a marketer adept for the future.

Survey Results conducted among MBAs:

Super Heuristics conducted a market survey with an objective to identify the top challenges faced by four segments. The segments included MBA aspirants, MBA students, recent MBA pass-outs & marketers/entrepreneurs in the industry.

In this survey, they formed a set of challenges that pertained to all the four segments based on the relevancy for those segments individually.

The results of this market survey prompted that MBA aspirants and students worried a lot about results in terms of converting colleges and jobs. They wanted to know more about certifications and how they could add more value to their CVs to become a well-rounded MBA student. That would most probably translate to outcomes in form of summer internships and placements.

However, the MBAs in the industry wanted to learn more about integrated marketing plans and campaigns and how to learn data analytics as their jobs deemed it necessary. As they spend more time in the industry, they were expected to be updated with the technological advancements of the era. Thus clearly, we suggest that Digital Marketing and Analytics are the two broad skill-sets marketers of tomorrow must acquire.

You can understand in-depth why digital marketing accelerates your prospects in this article below. Why Digital Marketing for MBA?

Why Analytics Makes a Difference?

Initially, you probably would assume that analytics is a purely technical subject and has a lot to do with coding.

This is absolutely not the reality. There is so much more to Analytics than programming languages.

Is programming required for MBA? Are programming languages relevant for MBAs?

The answer to both the questions might not be binary but programming only represents one of the facets of analytics.

Marketing analytics is something that finds application in everyday life for brands and businesses. In this era where more and more brands are adopting digital, analytics is increasingly crucial.

Just try to search for the top companies in the world or the top 5 start-ups in India in terms of revenue.

Should MBAs learn to code

You might find Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Facebook, Walmart, etc and Paytm, OYO, Ola, Byju’s & Swiggy in the top 5 Indian start-ups.

Think hard about what’s common for all of them!

They are all some way or the other technology companies and are increasingly adopting digital/online mediums for their products/services.

Necessarily, these companies might prefer or value marketers who have a hang of technology (AI, Analytics, ML etc) over ones who don’t. Technology has accelerated the growth of these big shots gradually over time. Besides, the COVID pandemic has accelerated the big shift to adopt the digital sphere for their business.

Hence, the demand for analytics has never been higher. More and more schools and colleges are encouraging students to take up digital marketing or AI or analytics courses to prepare them for Industry 4.0 which revolves around data.

 I hope you are slowly understanding the potential one can unlock with these skill sets and find your much sought-after answers to the question – Should MBAs learn to code?

Analytical Skills for Industry

When we talk about analytics, it is a huge field in itself. One might take years to master it but yet the demand for data scientists in this age of digital is immense.

E-Commerce, FMCGs, financial institutions, and retail are just some of the industries that are slowly being heavily reliant on analytically driven business insights.

The demand forecasting, predictive analysis, consumer sentiment post-COVID as well as the order numbers determining SKUs and shelf space figures are real-time applications of Marketing analytics that you might be asked to perform today.

It is exactly this section where you might just get all your answers about the pertinent question - Should MBAs learn to code? Follow this link to understand how sales forecasting is made easy using tools- Sales Forecasting using Excel & SPSS. Some of the skill-sets most MBA graduates wish to acquire these days are listed below.

  • In order to be well versed, one might turn to program languages such as Python, R, SQL, Hadoop, etc. Refer to this article to understand how learning R can make a great difference - Benefits of learning R
  • Apart from this, marketing professionals who are adept at business analytic tools such as Excel(advanced), SPSS Tableau, Power BI, Salesforce, Qliksense, etc also make great fortunes for their respective companies.

Understand how you can leverage Excel for marketing analytics in the link given - Marketing Analytics using Excel.

  • Business intelligence Dash-boarding and visualization techniques along with some advanced statistical techniques such as regression analysis, predictive analytics, and machine/deep learning are also regarded as hot analytical skills.

Wrong Assumptions about Analytics

It is an ignorant assumption that Analytics is all about coding and programming languages.

MBA graduates often wonder that they would not go back to coding as it is a technical aspect. They should keep track of how employers are increasingly preferring data-literate candidates over others. Moreover, elite Indian B-schools are acknowledging the trend by incorporating separate analytics programs offerings.

Probably, you might have understood how Analytics is central to the business world and how it helps to answer the question – Should MBAs learn to code ?

So the choice is yours – a Marketing specialist or a ‘well-rounded’ Business graduate passionate about Marketing ?

If I start quoting real-life examples, the highest salaries offered to students in my college were from Paytm and Microsoft for analytics roles in their respective business verticals.

In fact, companies like Microsoft expect their MBA hires to be well-adept on the technological scale, have a decent understanding of coding as well since they would be working closely with technical products,

Even if you’re willing to be a Product Manager, you’d be asked to interface with Engineering teams who might easily fool you if you lack the technical skills.

Say after all this and only if you wish to expand your horizons as a Marketer, you decide to learn coding. It opens a plethora of options in front of you. This is what we would discuss in the next section.

Programming Languages for MBAs

If you were an engineer and then opted for an MBA, coding might not seem alien. However, for those with no technical background, coding is not that easy.

Furthermore, you might not be asked to write lines of code for hours, rather you would be asked to work with a team of coders and supervise them and take decisions, informed ones.

Coding skills might just actually improve the ROI of the marketing department that they have been longing for.

Let’s discuss a few brief pointers on why Marketers should learn to code.

Also Read: Why Marketers should learn to code?

Data driven world

Marketing in this era of consumer-driven strategies is largely dependent on data. This means that, the more one can analyse ‘rich’ & ‘cleansed’ data from various marketing automation tools collecting insights, the better we serve the consumer.

Matching wavelength with programmers:

More often than not while working on an advertisement or social media campaign for your brand, you might come across programmers.

It may become difficult for them to explain some of these technical terms if you don't have any fundamental knowledge about them.

Example - You wish to change the functionality of one of the pages on your e-commerce website. But a minute tweak might be enough if are well versed with coding.

Power of Python:

Coding is not only about making amazing email campaigns or jaw-dropping social media pages/websites. The functions performed by digital marketing can be conveniently aced by programming languages like Python with automation.

Is Python useful for MBA? Absolutely yes.

Check out this link to know more about you can learn Python to become a Data Scientist - Become a Data Scientist with Python.

Python serves as an effective tool for business analysis for MBAs and along with SQL and R, one can make a decorated career in the field of Marketing Analytics. In fact. many B-schools offer Python for MBA as elective courses to help candidates stand out among the crowd.

Analyse Metrics Efficiently:  

Undoubtedly, one part of the tasks of a digital marketer is to analyze results of the metrics being tracked which is visually presented in a dashboard using any analytics platform like Google Analytics.

Marketers learn to code to properly understand web analytics report and metrics such as Bounce rate, Page session, Visitors, Page views, etc and understand what influence these results.

Make Quick Fixes a possibility: 

If a paragraph in your designed email campaign or FB ad isn’t performing what it was set up for. When a YouTube video you're embedding is just huge or a landing page is facing high bounce rate for mobile users, you might just perform a quick fix without making a call to the programming team.

This saves budget as well as time and makes a marketer independent of handling such loop holes.

MBAs should learn to code

Improve chances of getting hired

The companies are aiming to reduce costs in the aftermath of the pandemic & hence they prefer a T-shaped marketer to a specialist.

One can understand the benefits of a T-shaped marketer from this article - Benefits of a T-shaped marketer. The two skills, marketing and coding in a single candidate pose a great bargain for companies looking to reduce their costs.

Python for MBA students

As we are talking at length about how learning to code paves way for new age marketer, we should focus on Python.

What is Python? 

For a marketer’s point of view, it is a programming language that can get more insights from your data & thus make informed data-driven decisions.

It can help to boost the return on investment from your marketing campaigns as well.

How is Python relevant for Marketers?

As a modern day marketer, there is huge upsurge in the competition a brand faces in order to retain its customers and fetch profit margins.

Traditional marketing methodologies are falling flat on their faces. Everyone is coming up with content, email and social media campaigns to build engagement. It becomes complex to establish one’s brand amidst this crowd.

The metrics and the raw data you generate every day from your marketing automation tools can be empowered and put to use by Python. Owing to its simplicity and easy to implement nature, its perfect for amateur coders.

Marketers thus are enabled to make valuable visualizations from raw data and streamline data collection and analysis through various channels. It helps us cut down on personnel in terms of content & design specialists or consultants.

Therefore, it keeps you more confident about your individual growth in your organization and debunk the myth about the question - Should MBAs learn to code?

Why should MBAs learn to code in Python?

Because Python through its in-depth analytics can tell you what can make your product offering stand out? Which feature needs to be abolished and which to amplify.

It allows a brand to create an ecosystem. ML and AI can enable marketing models to decide in real-time topics- what, when and to whom to feature! And Python makes it possible.

That’s the power of having a Python-knowing marketer in your ranks!

How can MBAs learn to code in Python?

Python for business students is a modern-day revolution in the field of MBA. The sheer dominance of python applications in the industry out there has lead to this scenario. Every  MBA student is expected to know basics of Python for any analytics role.

Python is a fairly simple and easy-to-learn programming language because of its basic syntax and user-friendliness.

It's perfect for beginners who might not have coded prior to MBA. You can find tons of online courses claiming to teach Python in as early as two weeks to two months.

One needs to identify what's the best-fit for you as a marketer. As you are not looking to become the best software engineer but rather a well-rounded marketing professional.

Thus one should curate the courses they pick for learning Python carefully. It should focus on implementing the analytical applications and interfacing with tools such as R, SQL etc.

You can try these quality and relevant courses from Datacamp, Pluralsight, Coursera etc :
1. Marketing Analytics with Python
2. Data Analytics with Python
3. Python -Pluralsight
4. Marketing Analytics : Coursera

I am sure by now, you might have a good clarity about the questions – is Python useful for business students or Should MBAs learn to code ?

Opinion- Is Coding the only option ?

Well, there is no one correct answer out there. And there is a lot of competition you need to face even after you acquire these hot skills.

Say – you want to not go back to those coding lessons in your engineering (if you are one). It is perfectly flawless to think like that.

Even if you don’t will to get into coding, you should just be fine flexing your digital marketing and analytics skills. Some tools like Excel, Tableau, SPSS, Dashboards make a great fortune working for the top brands.

But as new age marketers, one must try to expand their horizons and be ready to take up a challenge.

I would suggest an MBA student who aspires to be a Marketer to see this skill building exercise in two stages-

The first stage is about creating Pillar Skills.

You should acquire the skills that will create your identity, maybe for the coming placements or generally for your long career ahead of you.

In the second stage, you should target Digital Marketing and Data Science.

The way to prioritize them depends on your inclination or your first job. One might also never learn Data Analytics and still pursue the dreams of becoming a Marketing expert in their domain.

There is no hard and fast rule about marketers learning or knowing how to code.
Probably, the most decorated marketers for the top brands have no association with coding and that’s rather apt.

However, you’re going to battle it out with the best managerial talent soon.  Start galvanising your arsenal with differentiating skill-sets now.


Here you might have got better clarity about your career ahead as a marketer. I have tried to simplify the discussion around – Should MBAs learn to code?

We analyzed the various skill-sets one might pursue to fit in the competitive environment in the industry. You now understand how the industry perspective is once you complete your MBA.

We tried to deep dive into the two skill-sets – Digital Marketing & Analytics for the new age marketer. We also discussed in depth how can one improve and become an efficient marketer with analytical abilities. I hope you realize that coding is not synonymous with analytics & one can go to great lengths learning Marketing Analytics through various platforms and not writing a single line of code.

If you know programming languages like Python and R, you can efficiently complex technical aspects of the product you’re selling. It's always advantageous if you’re technologically backed up. However if you don’t, no pressure and nothing to worry about. Your skill sets as a top-notch marketer would be your ability to sell. Now you can adopt the digital wave and analyze consumer insights and data.

I hope all those who are already underway with their B-school journey have identified what different they would do in order to stand out from the crowd of MBA graduates from elite colleges. Furthermore, it answers the big question - Should MBAs learn to code?

Hopefully, all this makes you think once more about your existing skills!

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About the Author:

Tamal Sarkar is an MBA student at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT). Tamal graduated as an Electronics & Communication engineer from Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology, Kolkata. He has worked as an Assistant System Engineer in the CPG domain at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Hyderabad for 22 months. Along with being a marketing enthusiast, he also has great interest in product management & strategy.
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