Business schools are reacting by trying to broaden the pool of MBA employers. At Chicago's Booth School of Business, technology companies, such as Amazon and Google, have overtaken management consultancies and investment banks as the biggest hirers of MBA graduates in recent years. The school is looking for new sectors in which companies may be interested in hiring their MBAs.
"MBAs hear very often that they are special during their courses — when coming back to business, reality often hits them hard." —survey respondent
Julie Morton, associate dean of careers services and corporate relations at Booth, says half her team of 22 are employed specifically to spread the word about the value of hiring MBA graduates. Many of the companies new to hiring MBA graduates are interested in soft skills, such as the ability to network — one of the most important skills cited in the FT survey, Morton adds. The trick is convincing companies that MBA students have them. "We work with companies all the time where the MBA is not the goal," Morton says.
Several employers told the FT that MBA qualifications were not their priority. At Servest, the facilities management company, four people in senior posts have MBAs. But the company, which employs 51,000 people across the UK and South Africa, did not seek MBA graduates to fill any of these roles, according to Dennis Zietsman, Servest's deputy chairman."
"It's the type of person rather than the business degree that we focus on," he says. "[MBA graduates] have never been our star performers.
"Some joining the company with business masters degrees have struggled to convert theory into practice, he says. "Case studies in the MBA programs seem to be based on big corporations, often American, which cannot be applied to smaller corporations that have cultures different to those that they've studied."
"Often, MBAs do not have much patience. When companies hire them, the MBAs have been off the market for between one and two years. It takes time to integrate and learn about a new company." —survey respondent
Neither are MBA graduates a priority for the clients of Mark Butter, director of Blueprint Recruitment Solutions, a company that specializes in executive appointments for the oil and gas, marine, civil engineering, transport and energy sectors.
"They are far more likely to be concerned with whether the candidate has industry qualifications, such as being a chartered engineer," Butter says.
Adrian O'Connor, founding director of Global Accounting Network, which helps with appointments of qualified accounting professionals up to finance director level, says an MBA is
Some clients will accept an MBA instead of an accounting qualification, O'Connor notes. "This is particularly true in either the more commercial finance roles, or indeed at board level."