Why you chose the MBA

Friday, April 21, 2017 at 12am

So, you’ve already taken the plunge and decided that the MBA was the best way forward for you.

There are several benefits of course, the continued buoyancy of the MBA employment market is worth a mention. Between 2015 and 2016, opportunities for graduates around the world grew by 13%, not far off the long-term average of 15% seen in QS's annual reports since 1990.

It is always useful to get a gist of why people choose to do an MBA over other forms of business education or professional qualification. To help with the ‘pro’ side of your checklist, here are seven of the most common reasons why candidates choose an MBA, based on responses given to the QS Applicant Survey

1. Career acceleration or career change

It is no surprise that many look to improve their career prospects. Over 63% of respondents to QS’s applicant survey selected this as a principle motivation, with 58% of them citing management or leadership positions as their immediate post-MBA career goal. 40% of candidates want to change the industry they work in, their job function, their location, or a combination of the three. Where the economy or business is disrupted, the MBA provides greater flexibility by opening up more avenues of opportunity. This would correlate with a recent GMAC report that cites as many as two in five MBAs unexpectedly change careers post-graduation

2. Acquisition of new skills

The MBA degree has experienced something of a transformation over the last few decades as top business schools remould their business management curricula to fine tune course content to the evolving demands of both MBA employers and the global economy. In the past, where the MBA had a heavy focus on hard skills and quantitative analysis, in areas such as operations and finance. Four skills that today's MBA employers place particular importance in are; interpersonal, leadership, strategic thinking and communication skills. MBAs entering today’s workforce are likely to be better equipped as leaders, communicators and business strategists, because they have a developed soft skillset.

3. Increasing salary potential and return on investment (MBA ROI)

Students naturally want a return on their investment, yet fewer than a third (30%) of QS’s applicant respondents cited an increase in salary as a primary reason for doing an MBA. Don’t get us wrong, salary is still a driver, but personal values come into play a great deal. People aspire to work for companies they admire and with which they share values,” according to Isabella Pinucci, career service coordinator at SDA Bocconi School of Management.

The large majority of candidates do go on to earn a higher salary post-MBA. In North America, for example, students recoup the cost of their full-time study within a 44-month period on average. In Europe, where programs are 1 year, rather than two compared to their North American equivalents, that figure drops to 30 months. According to QS’s extensive analysis, the average pre-to-post-MBA salary uplift for full-time students in Europe is a healthy 84%, while in North America, this figure stood at 75%.

4. Starting your own business

Around 31% set their sights on setting up their own business – and focus on the development of entrepreneurial expertise to be able to launch their project with some level of confidence. Specializations in entrepreneurship are offered by many top business schools, and more institutions cater to student demand by building innovation hubs and start-up labs where experts can support and guide, and peers can brainstorm. One of the better-known MBA success stories today is that of William Shu. He graduated from Wharton in 2012 and set up his food delivery business (Deliveroo) in 2013, a company that is now valued at over US$1 billion. (Read more about William Shu and other notable MBA alumni here).

5. Growing your professional network

Half of applicants include building a professional network among their primary reasons in applying for an MBA, a motive that is arguably very shrewd. It is estimated that as many as 85% of today's jobs are filled through networking. Most, if not all business schools judiciously promote the sizes of their alumni network, and advertise it at as a key selling point in attracting candidates to their programs.

6. The chance to make a difference within an organization

There are companies and organizations that are willing to part or fully sponsor their employee's MBA study. Part-time, online and executive MBA program formats all enable students to work and study in parallel. Much of what is learned in a classroom setting can then be immediately applied in the workplace, allowing candidates to make an impact on business operations. Many of course will be self-funded – the drivers naturally include increased earning potential and developing and honing expertise to drive business forward.

The MBA isn't purely a qualification on paper, it is the entire student experience; the skills and latest information learned, the people and faculty met along the way, relationships and knowledge that can offer career leverage in the short term, and which can also contribute towards an MBA graduate's success throughout a lifetime.

Originally posted on www.topmba.com

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