The Corporate Recruiters Survey Report 2018’ by GMAC (a global non-profit and owner of the GMAT exam) showed that 81 per cent of companies planned to hire recent MBA graduates in 2018, compared to 70 per cent that hired them in 2017. This clearly shows that an MBA degree is still relevant in these changing times and remains the preferred choice of both students and recruiters.
However, with the number of B-schools offering different kinds of MBA programs, how does one decide which MBA program is the most appropriate? One way to do so is to take into account the views of all stakeholders in MBA education; the students (who aspire for this degree) the faculty (who equip the students with the required knowledge and skills) as well as the recruiters (who eventually offer jobs/careers to the students based on their MBA degrees).
So let’s find out what are the expectations of each of these stakeholders from an MBA program.
Students look for both short term and long term benefits from an MBA programme. The short term benefits range from a good campus experience, trained faculty members, updated course curriculum that suits the industry requirements to a good placement record. Similarly, in line with their long term expectations, students expect the MBA programmes to prepare them to take upon the challenges of the business world while also developing a good network with peers, alumni and industry experts. In general, students expect the MBA programme to help them acquire the skills required to excel in their chosen career and leave a lasting impact on the society.
According to the faculty of prominent b-schools, what makes an MBA program effective is the b-school’s focus on strengthening its students’ soft as well as hard skills. Therefore an effective MBA program is one that not only teaches the fundamental and practical aspects of the chosen specialization in the MBA program such as marketing, finance, operations, etc., but one that also enhances the communication and interpersonal skills of the students. Only when the students acquire both these qualities in equal measure will they be able to emerge as effective leaders who are not only effective in their functional area but also have the people skills required to operate on a global level. As Prof. Prashant Mishra –Dean, External Relations and New Initiatives at IIM Calcutta, adds, “top B-schools such as IIMs, use teaching methodologies like case study method; simulations, etc., which strengthen or build on the foundation of the skills with which students join the MBA programme”.
Employers on the other hand have very specific requirements of fresh management graduates. They are willing to pay the best salaries in the industry and want to get the best students but they also expect these students to have some skills that are a must in today’s corporate world.
Leadership: Strong leadership skills rank high on the list of expectations that Recruiters have from MBA graduates. Leadership skills for recruiters includes, both, ‘hard skills’ such as analytical ability, accounting, finance etc. as well as ‘soft skills’ which include good communication and interpersonal skills. Since all businesses require people to work in teams, it is more and more important to have good people skills to be effective at work.
Practical Experience: Employers increasingly demand that management graduates should have more than classroom experiences and academic knowledge. They must possess some practical experience of managing people and processes during their stint at the B-school. Such experience can be gained in student leadership positions, by participating in various clubs, committees and cultural events on the campus and through internships.
International Exposure: In today’s globalized economy, recruiters also look for candidates who possess cross-cultural exposure and understanding of global business practices. This is where B-schools that have student exchange programme with foreign varsities have an edge.
Adaptability: Learning to adapt to a changing environment be it socio-cultural, economic or business, is pivotal for the success of any business. Therefore, this is also one of the key skills that recruiters look for in young management graduates.
To conclude, students, faculty and employers have different expectations from an MBA program. However, on a closer look all three stakeholders have broadly onesimilar expectation: an MBA program that instils the skills and perspective required by the leaders of tomorrow who will be able to meet the changing business requirements and emerge successful in life.