Emerge ready for diverse opportunities
Business school opens the door to so many exciting professional paths. Where do MBA graduates end up in terms of job industries, roles, and remuneration? And from the employers’ perspective, what makes the MBA background of a new hire so attractive?
What do employers value?
The ultimate goal of MBA studies is not the degree itself, but gaining access to new career opportunities and climbing the corporate ladder, experts point out. So educational institutions design and deliver programmes that are attractive for employers and MBA seekers alike. The good news is that companies are happy with their decision to recruit MBA alumni.
More than 85% of employers regard the value of business education highly, the Employer Poll Report published by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in 2018 revealed. Another GMAC employability survey from 2019 confirmed a similar trend. Nearly 9 in 10 responding employers believe that business school graduates are well prepared to be successful in their company.
Corporate recruiters adhere to high standards when selecting their new hires. According to GMAC, companies pick out problem-solving skills and the ability to work with others as the most important aspects of the job. While the Covid-19 pandemic has upended many of our usual workplace practices, qualities such as problem solving and teamwork are more relevant than ever.
Soft skills have been on top of the list, but experts say that the current times of crisis will also require resilience, agility, and technical know-how.
“Graduates who can demonstrate strong online communications skills and the ability to manage teams and projects remotely will be in high demand from employers,” highlights Lisa Umenyiora, executive director of Careers at Imperial College Business School (UK), as quoted by Forbes.
Popular industries for MBA holders
The MBA degree is uniquely suited to serve diverse industries and subsectors. This is one of the strongest advantages that inspire people from all walks of life to pursue the prestigious qualification. Consulting, finance, and technology are some of the industries that more commonly look for MBA experts. The companies in these industries are also most likely to have plans for growth and expansion, says GMAC in their 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey.
But what is the likely impact of Covid-19 and the resulting economic crisis on top MBA sectors? While analysts forecast that the tourism and transport industries will suffer, technology, healthcare, and consulting are expected to thrive in the current situation.
“Key sectors that we believe will provide graduates with opportunities include technology, technology consulting, and big data,” says Neil Armstrong, senior manager International Engagement and Careers at Durham University Business School (UK), for Forbes. “This is due to the need for increased collaboration, efficient business operations and insight to make better decisions in an unpredictable environment.”
Many business professionals enrol in business school with a different goal in mind: to set up and manage their own company. One in ten alumni are entrepreneurs, says GMAC.
Demand for management talent bounces back
Overall, recruiters project an increase in demand for business school graduates, with Europe leading the pack, according to the 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey. A total of 91% of recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2021, a level comparable to pre-pandemic 2020 projected hiring (92%).
While consulting and finance/accounting industries expect a robust increase in demand for business school graduates, almost all technology companies (96%) plan to hire MBA talent in 2021. At the same time, more recruiters from the technology industry agree that leaders in their organisation tend to have a graduate business education.
The growing importance of the MBA degree in the technology sector is actually in plain sight. The CEOs of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, as well as the COO of Facebook, all have MBA degrees. Meanwhile, Amazon is famous for its insatiable appetite for MBAs, having hired as many as 1,000 full-time and intern holders of the degree per year in recent times.
Salaries per region, sector, and function
Beyond career development, there is one technical detail every business school prospect would be interested to learn about: the post-MBA salary. The qualification is well-known for opening the door to highly paid jobs. In the US, companies planned to offer new MBA employees a median annual base starting salary of USD 115,000 in 2021. The most recent survey did not disclose salaries in other regions, but the 2019 edition did. In Europe, this number was USD 95,000, and in Asia-Pacific – USD 45,000.
Although salaries will differ depending on various factors such as company size and the qualities of individual candidates, the report highlighted another positive trend. More than half of the employers who took part in the survey planned to increase the starting salaries of new MBA recruits.
For an in-depth look at post-MBA career prospects, professionals can explore the statistics shared by top business schools. Data from the French school INSEAD, for example, show the median salaries of its MBA graduates in various sub-sectors. Manufacturing and conglomerates represent the highest paid corporate sub-sector with an annual median salary of USD 112,500. Banking is the highest paid financial sub-sector for INSEAD graduates, while those with the highest pay in the tech industry work in Internet and e-commerce.
MBA hopefuls who are wondering if the post-pandemic period is the right time to enrol in business school should keep in mind that their studies would take around one or two years to complete. In this period, companies will be reassessing their short- and long-term goals. Because of the current economic uncertainty, they will be eager to invest in employees who are well-prepared and equipped with an all-round business toolkit.
Data about post-MBA income is certainly a strong indicator of success. Yet professionals would be wise to choose their perfect MBA programme based on a comprehensive overview of different factors. Known as the ultimate business and management degree, the MBA has evolved into much more than that: it is an enriching and versatile learning experience.