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The INSEAD MBA: 2014/15 Employment Report

Analysis of the latest INSEAD MBA students to graduate from campuses in Singapore and France

Graduates of an INSEAD MBA based in either France or Singapore earn upwards of US$100,000, on average, in spite of the international spread of locations in which they find their new jobs. They also have a strong preference for careers in the consulting industry, according to the school’s latest employment report.

Consulting companies are now responsible for hiring 43% of INSEAD MBA graduates, up from 41% in the school’s last report. This is reflected in the school’s list of top recruiters, as shown in the table below.

Consulting industry employers lead way for new hires at INSEAD

Top employers across 2015 at INSEAD

source: INSEAD

The two other principal areas of hiring - finance and the school’s technology, media & telecommunications bracket - also show slight hiring gains in this new employment report, with finance now taking 17% of the class (up from 15%) and technology, media & telecommunications combined accounting for 21% (up from 19%) of all those graduating from INSEAD in either December 2014 or July 2015.

Indeed, having brought their annual reports in line with releases made by top schools in the US, INSEAD’s new report replicates the data of one class covered in its previous employment report to analyze the career outcomes of two MBA classes and approximately 1,000 students who sought employment over the course of 2015.

So, where exactly will these latest INSEAD MBA cohorts be working?

International mobility of INSEAD MBA graduates

No more than 16% of the school’s latest crop of graduates have chosen to work in a single country, yet the regions of Western Europe (defined by the school as a separate area from Northern, Southern and Central/Eastern Europe) and Asia-Pacific – the two bases of study for the INSEAD MBA – provide job locations for well over half of all graduates covered in the report. 

While the 34% working in Western Europe represents a slight drop from the last report, Asia-Pacific’s 28% is a fractional increase. For those not taking jobs in these two principal regions, North America is the next most popular location and accounts for 12% of all INSEAD MBA graduates in the report, followed by Africa and the Middle East with 10% which, of course, is home to the school’s Abu Dhabi campus. 

Of course, the international spread of its graduates after completing the degree is something the school prides itself on and, indeed, facilitates by running MBA classes from France and Singapore simultaneously. This latest report, for instance, says that 70% of its MBAs traveled between campuses (including the Abu Dhabi campus) at least once during their program of study.

However, INSEAD MBAs also stand out for the way in which they use the degree to change something in their professional lives. Most notably in this report, a majority of students with finance backgrounds have used the INSEAD MBA to move out of the finance industry.

Leaving finance behind is a popular choice of career change at INSEAD…

Only 42% of finance professionals are staying put. Instead, one in five of their number are taking up positions in the areas of technology, media & telecommunications, while 27% have moved into the consulting industry. Those with backgrounds in technology, media & telecommunications also tended to fancy a change – 45% of these students stayed put; again, the consulting industry is the most popular area to switch to. Conversely, 69% of those with backgrounds in consulting have decided to stick to their existing industry.

On the whole, INSEAD MBAs like changing their profession – 80% of them changed at least one of the three main career dimensions of industry, location and function; 26% managed to change all three in one fell swoop.

Around half of these MBA graduates are changing their country of employment. Notably, 70% of participants with French nationality changed their location, while this was true for only 21% of those with Singaporean nationality.

…but, highest MBA salary levels are reported by those taking finance jobs  

Owing to the international spread of jobs taken up by INSEAD graduates, their MBA salary details provide an interesting insight into the global market, in a manner akin to the annual QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report, albeit from the perspective of a single – and high-ranking – business school.  

Those taking jobs in Western Europe report a median average MBA salary of US$112,100 – a good distance ahead of the US$85,900 regional figure found in QS’s latest jobs and salary report (although, as noted above, INSEAD includes far fewer countries in its Western Europe bracket than QS). For those choosing to work in Asia-Pacific the MBA salary average among INSEAD graduates stands at US$99,800; again, comfortably ahead of US$68,300 average in QS’s report. Of course, the latter amount applies to all MBAs hired by the regions’ employer respondents, whichever institution they may have graduated from.

The highest paychecks picked up by the school’s graduates, however, stem from those journeying to North America and Africa/Middle East, where the median MBA salary levels are now US$120,000 and US$129,900, respectively. As a whole, the two INSEAD classes covered by this report will be earning an average of US$107,100 in base salary. (All salary data in the report has been converted to US dollars using the average currency exchange rates found between December 2014 and September 2015).

Above this class average are the salaries offered to INSEAD MBAs taking jobs in finance or consulting. Of the two, finance salaries average out slightly higher in this report, at US$114,900, ahead of the consulting industry’s US$113,600. Below the class average is that found across technology, media & telecommunications (US$97,200) and all other corporate sectors (US$96,100). Within this latter corporate sector bracket, the most popular industry destinations are manufacturing and retail/luxury goods followed by the energy and healthcare industries. While the median salary for manufacturing is given as US$107,200 that of retail/luxury goods is down at US$86,600, with healthcare and energy nestled in-between with averages around the US$100,000 mark. 

6% of school’s latest MBA graduates opt for entrepreneurial careers

As ever, not all students were necessarily seeking new employers. In fact, one in five MBA graduates here said they were returning to their pre-INSEAD employer. In addition, the school classifies 6% of its two latest cohorts (approximately 60 graduates) as entrepreneurs, a proportion similar to those recently reported by London Business School and MIT Sloan. At INSEAD, the proportion includes those starting or returning to their own ventures after completing the INSEAD MBA as well as those acquiring companies or joining existing startups. Almost half (42%) of this number are operating in Asia-Pacific, with 31% operating in either Western or Southern Europe and 15% in North America.

Technology, media & telecommunications is their most popular operating space, accounting for 32% of the school’s entrepreneurs. Within this bracket, more than half of the enterprises fall under e-commerce/internet. This tendency towards technology chimes with recent statistics indicating that the most monetarily successful MBA startups (unicorn companies) are invariably found in the technology space. Even so, other notable sectors of interest for these MBAs include retail/luxury goods, finance and consulting which account for 15, 13 and 10% of the schools’ new entrepreneurs, respectively.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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