Made Redundant? Try an MBA to Boost your Job Prospects

Why redundancy could mean the perfect time to study an MBA

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, business schools received a windfall in applications to their degree programs. The reason? People being made redundant needed a place to ride out the storm. Spend two years acquiring new knowledge and skills, brokering connections and career advice, and return more employable to an economy that was hopefully in better health, the thinking went.

“We saw a big increase in interest in our specialist master’s programs, in particular, after the crisis,” says Anna Bacigalupi, admissions manager at Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano. “Students wanted to acquire a more practical approach to business.”

Forking out on tuition fees — which can run into six figures at a top US business school — may be unappealing to someone who has recently been made redundant. But getting a degree such as an MBA, can provide numerous benefits.

Santiago Garcia Rodriguez, dean of Grenoble Graduate School of Business in France, says: “In reality, the benefits greatly outweigh the cost.” Grenoble MBA students pay €31,450 in fees. Three years after graduating, they earn US$101,596 on average, a 76% increase on their pre-MBA pay.

One reason for the salary increase is that an MBA grooms students to become senior leaders. “By having a more international audience, the whole cohort benefits from diversity and different management styles,” says Rodriguez.

“Nowadays, the benefit of honing one’s multicultural skills are obvious, as our future business leaders will certainly need to be culturally adaptable.” Around 90% of Grenoble’s MBAs are hired three months on from graduation, and many students go on to become chief executives of the world’s largest listed companies.

Research by Study.EU on around 200 CEOs found that 32% had an MBA, and 64% held a master’s or equivalent degree. Examples of those who went from MBA to CEO include Google’s Sundar Pichai, who is a Wharton graduate, and SAP’s Bill McDermott, who got his credentials at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

There is a link between career progress and studying overseas, according to Study.EU’s CEO, Gerrit Bruno Blöss. He says: “Studying abroad is one of the best ways to get to know foreign cultures and different perspectives. While international study and work experience can’t replace actual diversity, it enables top management teams to look at strategic challenges from different points of view.”

An MBA program also provides a good opportunity to think about a career change; to do something unusual that you have always wanted to. A redundancy can be the catalyst to act upon that desire for change.

An extreme example is Mark Lomedico who, before enrolling in NYU Stern’s MBA, served in Afghanistan for the US army. “I came to business school to see the breadth of career opportunities,” he says. “For example, I completed a summer internship in financial services and technology last year.”

Other MBAs prefer to become entrepreneurs by establishing their own companies. An MBA equips you with a broad base of business management skills, which are helpful for anyone striking out on their own.

Many schools offer much support for startups — at London Business School (LBS), the summer incubator program allows students to use office space and access support from professional service firms. “In addition, we recruit around 50 successful entrepreneurs to act as mentors for our students,” says Jeff Skinner, executive director of the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at LBS.

Among the less tangible benefits of a business school qualification is the increased motivation. Losing a job can be a huge professional and personal setback. An MBA can be just the thing to boost your confidence and enthusiasm, whilst you figure out what you want to do — whether that’s becoming a CEO, an entrepreneur, or something more obscure.

Niels Turfboer used his IE Business School MBA, to become the UK managing director of online lending startup Spotcap. He says: “For me, the most valuable takeaway from the MBA was a holistic picture of what it means to run a business. From accounting to marketing to hiring people to strategy, all those courses combined gave me the confidence to be comfortable, no matter what happens.”

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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