2 in 5 Business School Alumni in Careers They'd Never Predicted | TopMBA.com

2 in 5 Business School Alumni in Careers They'd Never Predicted

By Karen Turtle

Updated March 7, 2017 Updated March 7, 2017

Plot twists are, more often than not, the making of a good story, one could argue. Today people's lives are punctuated by new experiences and exploits; they switch vocations, lead multiple careers, learn new disciplines, and embrace change, both expected, and for business school graduates it would seem, unexpected, according to a new report from GMAC.

Almost 15,000 millennials, GenXers and baby boomers were surveyed in the Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2017, all of them business school graduates completing business master's programs through to every format of the MBA. It was found that more than half of respondents (52%) had made a career switch (industry and/or function) upon graduating from business school. This in itself may come as no surprise, but what may raise an eyebrow or two is the revelation that 39% of business school alumni had no idea they would find themselves in the industries they have now been recruited to.

Granted, many MBA candidates who apply to business school have intentionally factored a career change into their futures, and a graduate management education has the potential to deliver the skills and know-how that can reset a career's compass. “Given the current pace of change in the economy [...] a graduate management education can prepare candidates with the skills and flexibility they need to be in a better position to pivot and adapt their careers when opportunities present themselves and industries are disrupted,” remarks Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC.

For business school alumni who had not planned on changing their job function and/or industry, however, it is comforting to know that satisfaction levels were still overwhelmingly high, with 88% of respondents stating that they were happy with their role and their employer.

The sectors and jobs MBA graduates are most likely to work in

MBA graduates (of all formats) are most likely to be found working in products/services, technology, the nonprofit industry and consulting, according to GMAC’s report. One interesting finding was that 51% of all respondents who opted for careers with nonprofits, and 45% of those recruited into manufacturing hadn't considered these sectors before doing their management degree. As an aside, it is also worth noting that many business schools actively recruit candidates who work for nonprofit organizations, and there are even scholarships dedicated to this background.

In terms of job functions, MBA graduates are most likely to fill positions which include finance and accounting, sales and marketing, and general management. GMAC also found that 92% of MBAs graduating between 2012 and 2016 have attained positions that are of mid-management seniority, with around a third holding senior-level roles and one in 10 holding executive or c-suite positions.

No regrets say 92% of GMAC respondents

Around nine in every 10 business school alumni would pursue a graduate business degree all over again were the clocks to be turned back, according to the GMAC survey. Executive MBA graduates and alumni of two-year programs were those most likely to recommend their course or school to others, with 84% of full-time, two-year MBA graduates rating their programs as either 'outstanding' or 'excellent'. Respondents were also asked about the personal, professional and financial rewards they recouped. While the full-time formats of the degree were found to be the most financially rewarding, the executive MBA was found to be the most personally rewarding on this analysis.

The high value of emotional intelligence for MBAs

The value of interpersonal skills was a constant in feedback from business school alumni surveyed, and as such were ranked as the most important attributes required for jobs at all levels. Interpersonal skills encompass active listening, time management, and persuasion and negotiation in GMAC’s report.

Beyond this, however, there is some variety in the skills considered most important to a job, based on the seniority of a respondent’s position. Senior to c-suite managers, for example, cited the need to be competent in learning, leading and motivating. At the career apex, c-suite leaders were the only group to have ‘managing strategy and innovation’ in their top five. ‘Managing human capital’ was also in the top five for c-suite alumni, although this skillset placed marginally higher among those at executive level.


This article was originally published in March 2017 .

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​