Posted : 2012-10-27 16:42
Updated : 2012-10-27 16:42

In uncertain economy, MBA still pays dividends

Students listen to a lecture at KAIST Graduate School of Management in northern Seoul in this undated photo. / Korea Times file

By Julia Herries

Despite economic worries in many global markets, the future looks bright for management education graduates. The number of applications to graduate management education programs grew through the downturn and MBAs and masters degrees continue to be sought after qualifications for senior business leaders of tomorrow.

While statistics show that an MBA or non-MBA graduate management program can offer students greater financial security and may also influence a switch from one industry to another, the degree offers potential for personal development and a sense of self-achievement.

Feedback from students who have taken the GMAT and gone on to study an MBA or non-MBA graduate management program also shows the value graduate management education can offer, on both a professional and personal level.

Job security

The employment picture for management education graduates defies dismal employment figures across most Western economies.

GMAC's 2012 Alumni Perspectives Survey shows that worldwide, 86 percent of class of 2011 management education graduates walked straight into a job after graduation, while three out of four of these reported that they could not have obtained that job without their graduate management degree.

Graduates in the Asia-Pacific region fared very well, with more finding employment than their peers in Europe, Latin America and Canada.

Other key findings from alumni test-takers include 77 percent of class of 2011 MBA alumni viewing their degree as essential for obtaining their first job after graduation with 86 percent of full-time MBA alumni from classes of 2000 and 2011 saying their promotions came faster than or when they expected.

A majority of MBA alumni report good to outstanding career outcomes from their degree in terms of qualitative (96 percent) and quantitative (93 percent) skills, opportunities for faster career advancement (88 percent), and securing leadership positions (92 percent).

GMAC's 2012 Corporate Recruiters Survey shows there is strong demand for new graduates in Asia Pacific. Recruiters in the Asia-Pacific region are seeking recent MBA graduates in nearly every job area. More than half of participating companies are hiring MBAs in marketing and sales, business development, general management and operations and logistics.

Interestingly, Asia-Pacific companies are significantly more likely than U.S. companies to hire in general, and, in line with their goals, are more likely to hire with intent to aid in geographic expansion plans.

Over 90 percent of class of 2011 alumni indicated that the job they took after graduation was exactly what they were looking for. Two thirds of Asia-Pacific management education graduates indicated that they had found jobs in their intended industry.

Return on investment

The alumni of graduate management programs report that the MBA influenced an increase in salary and a stellar return on investment. Across all MBA program types, graduates are recouping one-third of the financial investment in their degree within the first year after graduation, and 100 percent four years out.

Although salaries vary substantially by industry, experience, job position, and geographic location, class of 2012 MBA graduates who participated in the Global Management Education Graduate Survey expected to see an average salary increase of 71 percent over their pre-degree salaries.

The salary premium employers expected to offer new hires with MBA degrees in 2012 over a new bachelor's degree recipient is $40,000.

Personal reward

On the personal benefits of an MBA or graduate management education, 93 percent of alumni from the classes of 2000 to 2011 say their MBAs were personally rewarding, a proportion that doesn't vary more than a percentage point or two by graduation year.

Students tell us that going back to schools means weighing up the tradeoffs involved ― taking time off from work or juggling a study and work schedule, living on reduced income, putting other personal and financial plans on hold ― versus earning an advanced degree that can pay dividends over a lifetime. But, the true value of the MBA can be found in assessing the cost of what you are foregoing today ― short-term goals ― in favor your longer-term career goals.

Julia Herries is regional director, Asia Pacific for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a not-for-profit organisation of leading graduate business schools.

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