Five Career Trends MBA Students Should Watch in 2021 |

Five Career Trends MBA Students Should Watch in 2021

By Niamh O

Updated July 7, 2021 Updated July 7, 2021

2020 was a rollercoaster to say the least. No one could have forecasted the business and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic or predicted the different world we’d be living in at the start of 2021.

Many industries – banking, education, eCommerce – were able to swiftly transition to contactless and remote methods and could continue trading almost without a hitch. Some industries, however, like tourism, hospitality, and aviation weren’t as fortunate.

With the loss of many careers, the job market had to get smarter – and because of this a number of new roles were available.

But what career trends are we likely to see in the job market in 2021? Let’s take a look.

More start-ups

An MBA program provides students and graduates with the knowledge to grow a business from the ground up, with many MBA students attending business school to launch their own start-up in a safe space.

According to the Center for Entrepreneurs, UK, 9.5 percent more companies were established in the UK between January and June 2020 than in the whole of 2019.

Students and grads had a lot more free time in 2020 (no commuting helped!), meaning they could dedicate more time to launching their business. With a rise in the number of start-ups succeeding in 2020, this trend of taking chances to pave their own career path is set to continue.

If you’re interested in the start-up space and are looking for the best MBA programs to give your business model a boost, here are the top 10 MBA programs for a career in entrepreneurship 2021, according to the QS MBA by Career Specialization Rankings 2021.

Smart & green businesses

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of MBA students and grads making more ethical, sustainable choices in their studies and their subsequent careers.

The ‘green’ conscious generation wants a better world for all and technological advances through the likes of artificial intelligence and robotics are enabling a range of sectors to innovate sustainably.

As these industries continue to change and adapt, there are a number of new roles being created. For instance, the transportation sector accounts for 30 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and sustainable transport has emerged as an alternative solution, using renewable energy to power up vehicles.

Jobs in this sector include:

  • Transportation management
  • Transport engineer

Smart technology roles we may see in 2021 include:

  • Green data analyst
  • Green information technology: This is all about the use and disposal of information technology in a way that minimizes damage to the environment

Here’s a list of some of the best green companies to work for in tech:

As the world continues to go green, organizations need to comply with governmental regulations. We’re likely to see more of the following job roles this year in response to this need:

  • Energy auditing
  • Regulatory affairs

On a federal level, you can check out:

Tech jobs on the rise

Since work from home orders and travel restrictions are still ongoing, the value of big tech firms like Facebook, Amazon and Google have soared. 

The success enjoyed by tech-focused companies enables the firms to invest in new talent and innovation – ensuring numerous opportunities for MBA grads.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) latest Corporate Recruiters Survey, 73 percent of technology companies believe business grads are prepared to be successful within their organization today.

Opportunities will continue to emerge in the technology sector, including in financial services, e-commerce roles and digital consulting. And if this is the route you’d like to take, there are a number of noteworthy MBA programs with a technology specialization to check out in our latest QS MBA by Career Specialization Rankings 2021.

Digital business

Digital marketing and its subdivisions like Google Analytics, SEO, Adwords etc. were one of the biggest ‘winners’ of the pandemic - which means we could see a permanent pivot towards digital marketing.

Most communication – especially consumer communication – is done virtually today, and so businesses need to get creative. Organizations are utilizing applications like augmented reality to enhance digital engagement with customers. Because of this, we are likely to see an increase in recruitment within these fields.

Hybrid profiles

Organizations will be on the lookout for professionals with cross-functional experience or hybrid profiles from now on.

Businesses want to ensure they are providing something better than the competition – and that’s where new talent comes in. An MBA grad who understands new technologies to ease a business into contactless business practices will be well sought after across sectors.

Jobs we’ll see more of in 2021

Cyber Security Expert: With increased dependency on the internet and digitally-driven applications, there has been a huge spike in data generation, which in turn, has led to more cyberattacks. To ensure network protection, cybersecurity experts are being actively hired.

AI Specialist: AI continues to become more commonplace in our lives. Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are just a few companies that have seen an increase in business profits thanks to the implementation of AI in their business processes. This means AI specialists will be in high demand this year.

People Analytics & Digital HR Specialist: In 2020, workforce management shifted to a more employee-centered environment. As per LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, 73 per cent of HR leaders believe that incorporating people analytics will be a major priority for their company in the next five years. Thus, companies are actively looking for data-smart HR professionals with People Analytics and Digital HR skills to join their teams.

Business Intelligence Analyst: 2020 saw an influx of newer technologies and business trends – meaning an abundance of new data. The data is analyzed and processed so organizations can make smarter and data-driven business decisions, and since the pandemic, businesses need to devise and adapt to new business strategies to survive.

Cloud Architect: Remote work is here to stay in one form or another this year. To ensure minimal disruption to business operations, as well as on-site and off-site presence at all times, the use of cloud-based collaborative applications have soared. This will see the demand for proficient cloud architects rise in the market.

This article was originally published in January 2021 . It was last updated in July 2021

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (;, creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  


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