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What employers want from MBAs

MBA Market |

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One in three of the 48 employers the Financial Times (FT) surveyed said they struggled to find business school graduates with the right skills. The five most important skills were not core MBA subjects, such as finance and marketing, but more loosely defined qualities, or so-called soft skills, such as the ability to work with a wide variety of people, the ability to prioritise, to understand digital impact on business, to network or the ability to solve complex problems. Of these, employers said the ability among MBA graduates to manage their time effectively was the most difficult to find. 

Many of the companies new to hiring MBA graduates are interested in soft skills, such as the ability to network - one of the most important skills cited in the FT survey. FT research therefore suggests there may be an opportunity for business schools to market graduates more effectively among companies not used to hiring at this level.

Several employers told the FT that MBA qualifications were not their priority.

The least important skills of MBAs from the employers' perspective are: specialised marketing skills, complex statistical skills, environmental management and CSR, programming skills, specialised financial skills.

Employers in some sectors, such as oil and gas, civil engineering or transport and energy, see little need for senior staff to hold an MBA degree to begin with. Part of the reason is that they do not believe that business schools teach the right skills.

Their reasons are: MBA graduates have never been star performers in their organisation. Some MBAs in their ranks have struggled to convert theory into practice. Case studies in the MBA programmes seem to be based on big corporates, often American, which cannot be applied to smaller corporates that have cultures different to those that they’ve studied.

MBAs hear very often that they are special during their courses - when coming back to business, reality often hits them hard.

Read more on Financial Times

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