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What Does the Future Hold for MBA Candidates?: UNSW Business School Q&A

agsm unsw faculty interview

After a difficult year, the MBA job market is finally bouncing back.

But what does the future hold for MBA candidates and business schools?

TopMBA spoke with Courtney Wright, Director, Career Accelerator at Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales Business School and Dr Michele Roberts, Academic Director to find out more.

How has the job market changed this year from last year?  

CW: While we have seen a slowing in the job market in 2020 here in Australia with fewer jobs being advertised, roles in the strategic leadership space and managerial level roles in consulting, technology, healthcare and a range of other sectors continue to be recruited.

Despite the pandemic, our graduating cohort have secured full-time employment at the same rate as the cohort prior to Covid-19, and in our current cohort 85 percent of students are currently undertaking an internship, all of which is extremely encouraging for the job market as we head into 2021.

What is the recruitment process like at the UNSW? Would you say it’s difficult to earn a place on the MBA program? 

MR: Our cohort is very diverse, experienced, and high achieving. We run a highly personalized and strategic international recruitment program to engage global candidates. In 2020, we recruited students from 18 countries, and 50 percent female students.

We redesigned our scholarship offerings in 2018 to make our programs more accessible and equitable to attract and recruit women, LGBTQI+, military and elite athletes to our programs.

What do you look for in UNSW candidates? 

MR: We are looking for people who demonstrate academic, leadership and professional excellence.

UNSW uses video interviews and panel interviews to assess your ability to communicate persuasively, think on your feet and engage in critical reflection of your strengths and weaknesses and lessons learned in your career.

What special resources does UNSW have for business school students when it comes to careers? How do you prepare them for life after graduation?  

CW: We have a dedicated Career Development Center delivering tailored career services to our students and alumni. Offerings include individual consults with Career Coaches, behavioral and case interview coaching, an annual schedule of networking events, weekly career development workshops, and innovative online resources including AI powered tools for instantaneous and personalized resume and LinkedIn profile feedback. 

How successful are UNSW MBA graduates at landing a job after graduation? What is the success rate?

CW: We work closely with students to ensure employment success, but also ensure their employment outcomes align with their values and personal career aspirations.

Despite the pandemic, 64 percent of our graduating cohort secured full-time employment prior to graduation. Average salary uplift has been between 150 percent to 180 percent in recent cohorts. 

Notable companies hiring our graduates and hosting internships include Amazon, McKinsey, Uber, Strategy&, Faethm, Kearney, AMP, the Australian Government, and LEK Consulting.

Why should students choose to study an MBA at UNSW? 
MR: Our small classes ensure each student receives a personalized experience with close support from faculty, the career development center, and our support team. Students don’t need to fight to get into preferred classes or exchange programs and will always feel part of a strong and supportive community. 

We offer incomparable global reach – over 70 percent of our cohort will study a quarter of the program on exchanges in the US, Europe and Asia at top schools including Chicago Booth, Kellogg, NYU Stern and London Business School. Through our membership of Yale’s Global Network for Advanced Management, students have multiple opportunities to study one of their electives at schools like Yale University, UC Berkeley, IE Business School and Oxford University. 

Sydney is the gateway into Asia, where much of the world’s economic growth is occurring. We are also home to most of Australia’s start-ups and have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem both in Sydney and here on campus. The Sydney CBD is only 15 minutes away, where you can find the Australian headquarters of most of the world’s leading companies.

What do you think the future holds for the MBA?

MR: The future of the MBA is very strong. As we enter a more uncertain world, the knowledge and skills that you acquire through MBA study have never been more important.

Successful MBA programs need to consider more flexible options to allow students to effectively build bespoke MBA experiences that suit their immediate and future learning needs. MBA programs need to be designed from the bottom-up to provide flexibility for students to study online, face to face or a blended model.

We will see an increase in demand for more inclusive business and management theory that reflects contemporary learning and the ability to specialize in high-demand, very contemporary fields like Technology, Change, Social Impact, and Medical Technology.

Return on investment (ROI) will be calculated in terms of contribution and remuneration. MBA programs will be challenged to demonstrate their ROI and that depends on what a student sets out to achieve because ROI is increasingly seen as much more than just a measure of career or financial success.

MBA programs must maintain their brand reputation or risk losing market share to alternative providers of education/professional development. As online learning is truly transformed by improvements in digital delivery and experience, students have more options and the ability to build a block chain of credentials.

Could you tell us some facts and figures for UNSW MBA graduates and their job sectors and industries?  

CW: Year on year, we see approximately 50 percent of our cohort secure employment in strategy and consulting roles. We also consistently see high success in the technology and financial services sectors, with a portion of the cohort launching their own business. Thereafter, it’s a real mix every year ranging from policy or healthcare to oil & gas or the not-for-profit sector and this mix varies with student interests, transferrable skills and trends in the job market. 

How confident are you in the value of the MBA in the current job market? Do you expect to see more positive trends in the upcoming months? 

CW: As the global economy navigates COVID-19 we have seen an acceleration in innovation and a focus on recovery as we consider what the world will look like as we emerge from the pandemic.

This will require complex problem-solving skills and innovative thinkers. We’re confident of the value of the MBA in the current job market, and this is evidenced through our employment outcomes and continued demand for MBA student hiring. We’ve seen rapid growth in MBA enrolments across our programs throughout 2020 with over 40 percent growth on 2019 to date.  

Niamh Ollerton, Deputy Head of Content at QS
Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), 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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