The golden ticket: why employers seek out MBA candidates
There are many reasons why you may consider studying an MBA. Whether it’s to improve your earning potential, gain faster promotion in your current career, or prepare for a complete career change, choosing an MBA is an investment in your future. But what is so attractive about MBA candidates to employers? We spoke to two London-based recruiters about their top tips for making the most of your post-MBA job opportunities.
Some of the many questions you may ask when deciding whether or not an MBA is for you include: ‘What is the potential benefit to my career?’ and ‘What return on investment can I expect?’ Recent statistics showed that in 2017 the global average salary increase for more than half of the business schools in the world was more than 100 per cent. In 2018, almost two-thirds of alumni cohorts more than doubled their salaries.
Dr Dimitrios Koufopoulos is Programme Director of University of London’s online Global MBA programme and Visiting Professor at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London. He explained that whatever your motivation for studying an MBA, you can expect a range of benefits.
“I think that it’s important for applicants to understand that even by enrolling they will start gaining some recognition. Then through their studies and upon graduation they will see opportunities for promotion or for changing career – either way their career can be advanced, and the financial rewards come shortly after. No matter where they are based, MBA students all over the world will enjoy career progression and often a salary increase.”
MBAs are really well trained in being broad thinkers. They’re great at doing deep dives on problems – small or large – and contextualising what they do within the broader business.
Sean Moriarty has been working in recruitment for nearly 20 years. He began his career working for a city agency before moving in-house, working for a range of companies from Carphone Warehouse to Sky. He now heads up recruitment for graze, the UK’s leading healthy snack brand, recently acquired by Unilever.
He said: “MBAs are really well trained in being broad thinkers. They’re great at doing deep dives on problems – small or large – and contextualising what they do within the broader business. They’re also good at communicating with peers and to senior leaders. If I was working with an MBA I might look at placing them in one of the more strategic, long-term planning roles, working closely with the CEO and the C-suite. But for lots of positions at graze I’d also want them to be hands-on enough to really learn and understand how the business operates.”
In his experience, Sean believes the increasingly complex world of business will mean MBAs retain their value.
“My personal view is that as globalisation becomes quicker and easier to do, MBAs can really bring together those different country elements. They have a strong understanding of how business varies between countries and continents and can instruct and lead people to sort out issues in a global business context.”
The training and learning of an MBA has given them a toolkit that enables them to look at a problem or a business differently and do things differently.
Caspar Benson has been working in recruitment for six years, most recently focusing specifically on interim roles for Private Equity and Venture Capital portfolio companies.
He said: “In my experience, once a client knows they’re dealing with an MBA candidate their expectations tend to be higher. The training and learning of an MBA has given them a toolkit that enables them to look at a problem or a business differently and do things differently. I recruit interim, consultancy roles that are brought in to tackle a specific project or issue a business might have – if I bring in an MBA, the client is definitely confident they’ll be able to solve that issue.”
So what advice do these recruitment experts have for making the most of your post-MBA employment opportunities?
“Obviously I look for a strong, experienced CV,” said Sean. “I want people who can hit the ground running and start actively supporting the business to move forward from day one,”
“But it’s really important to let your personality shine through as well. I need to know not only that you have the skills and experiences to do the job but also that you’re going to fit into the business. I think sometimes people with a lot of qualifications make the mistake of wanting to focus on those achievements more than showing that they have humility, good people skills and have a passion for the business they’re applying to. Make sure you’ve done your research and show an interest in engaging with the people you meet, as well as those who are interviewing you. And most of all, be yourself.”
Speaking to your peers can be a really useful exercise to give you the biggest picture possible of the situation you’re going into.
Caspar added: “The main quality I look for in my candidates is credibility. It’s immediately obvious when you meet someone who is credible, and really obvious when they aren’t. I don’t just mean in how they physically present themselves but also what they say. Have they got a good track record? Have they got strong emotional intelligence? If someone has credibility I’ve found you can put them in front of anyone and they’ll be fine.
“The other key piece of advice is do your research. You need to know what the company is about, what the challenge is that you’re being asked to address. Do your full due diligence in advance of any interview. You should also be researching the investors behind the company – how do they like to do things, who have they worked with previously. Speaking to your peers can be a really useful exercise to give you the biggest picture possible of the situation you’re going into.”
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