Which MBA Employers Run the Best Leadership Development Programs? | TopMBA.com

Which MBA Employers Run the Best Leadership Development Programs?

By Seb Murray

Updated March 9, 2021 Updated March 9, 2021

Joining a company’s leadership development program after graduating with an MBA can be a shrewd way to fast-track a post-MBA career into the leadership ranks.

Structured, intense and often rotational, they are designed to groom and propel those who show potential into leadership roles within an organization.

Leadership development programs are offered by a wide range of MBA employers, in sectors such as healthcare, technology, finance and consumer goods.

But, because they are so coveted by those hoping to become business leaders, selection criteria are often rigorous and recruitment highly competitive.

A new list put together by MBA-Exchange.com aims to identify the world’s best leadership development programs based on the views, given over the past year, of MBA students from more than 100 business schools. A total of 537 programs are ranked and the top 10 is shown below. 

AB InBev tops list based on views of MBA students

MBA-Exchange.com's top leadership development programs

Source: MBA-Exchange.com

AB InBev, the global brewing giant responsible for big-name brands such as Budweiser, Beck's and Quilmes, is ranked number one. It offers a one-year leadership scheme that hires MBA students into specific business areas, yet gives them the potential to move cross-functionally and geographically throughout their careers.  

Second is Amazon’s ‘Retail Leadership Development Program’. This three-year scheme rotates MBAs through different parts of the company, with the goal of providing a five-to-seven-year pathway to leadership roles. Amazon has another program, the ‘Pathway Operations Manager’, in the top 10. That program, ranked seventh, is also three years long and recruits specifically for the company’s fulfilment centers and customer service sites.

Third on the list is the ‘Esprit Commercial Program’ at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the UK pharmaceutical company. It runs for four years and rotates MBAs through roles in the traditional pharmaceutical side of its business as well as those in areas that deal with vaccines or consumer healthcare.

Top leadership development internships

An internship can be a good route into a coveted leadership development scheme. MBA-Exchange.com ranked technology company IBM, AB InBev and Deutsche Bank as having the best leadership development internships.  

MBA-Exchange.com's top leadership development internships

Source: MBA-Exchange.com

Traits to develop for those seeking leadership roles

It has long been known that employers value MBAs for their leadership skills. Ingrid Jensen, senior associate director for leadership programs at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, says that one way to stand out is to take on leadership roles within a student club. “Students get hands-on experience of being a leader, which will serve them well, long past their time at business school,” she says.

Jensen adds that there are certain leadership traits that MBA students and graduates should aim to develop - competence; character; compassion; and courage.

“MBAs should ask: ‘Can you lead diverse teams? Can you think critically and strategically? Are you able to create environments that foster creativity and innovation? Can you influence others and negotiate on behalf of your team and organization? Can you coach and mentor your employees?’ These are behaviors that are prerequisites for today’s modern business leader.”

This article was originally published in May 2017 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

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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