MBA Careers

Why Silicon Valley — From Uber To Airbnb — Is Snapping Up Aston Business School MBAs

Technology companies seek students who can marry commercial acumen with technical expertise

Written by Seb Murray | MBA Careers | Wednesday 23rd November 2016 19:17:00 GMT


Tech firms such as Airbnb and Uber and warming to business school graduates © Getty

Tech firms such as Airbnb and Uber and warming to business school graduates © Getty

Tech is one of the hottest sectors to work in — but one group often overlooked by Silicon Valley recruiters has been MBAs. That however is changing, as both tech firms such as Airbnb and Uber, and business school graduates warm to one another.

And it’s not just the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon hiring — tech start-ups and mid-sized firms are increasingly snapping up MBAs.

That’s despite a historic reluctance in Silicon Valley to hire from business schools — Peter Theil, the billionaire tech investor and co-founder of PayPal, will even pay entrepreneurial students to drop out of college.

But tech companies are increasingly seeking spreadsheet-savvy MBAs who possess commercial acumen, plus a technical understanding of their products and services.

That’s according to Paul Schoonenberg, head of MBA careers at the UK’s Aston Business School.

Below, he explains why tech firms are coming to Aston for talent.

What are the factors now driving MBAs’ desire to work in technology companies?

The relentless commercialization of technology products and services has seen opportunities arise for MBAs to apply their skills across technology, strategy and operations to a wide variety of technology businesses.

Similarly, why are innovative technology companies recruiting at business schools, which have typically been feeders for consultancy firms and banks?

Innovative technology firms see an opportunity to tap MBA talent and to use that intellectual capital for their own clients’ needs.

What backgrounds are these companies seeking — is a technical background needed?

A technical understanding of the firm’s products or services, backed up by a commercial and entrepreneurial outlook, can be an attractive combination.

What are the key skills technology companies want in MBAs?

MBAs bring valuable skills across finance, operations, and corporate strategy. They can also bring a more entrepreneurial outlook to a firm seeking to globalize or expand further.

Aside from the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon, are tech start-ups and mid-sized firms recruiting MBAs? Do recruitment approaches differ?

There has been a trend towards medium and smaller sized businesses recruiting. For those frustrated with the formulaic approaches of large businesses, SMEs can for certain MBAs provide a more refreshing approach to hiring.

Are there cultural differences to consider - is there more freedom and room to have an impact at tech companies?

Company culture always needs to be taken into consideration. Certain technology firms have gone through exponential growth and a 10 year old business can be seen by some in the industry as long in the tooth, in particular when new, innovative tech firms are being started by the day. It is important for candidates to research company culture and align their own values with the culture of the prospective business.

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