Why A Masters In Management Is The Best Option For Early Career Professionals

Michael Dickmann heads up the Cranfield Management MSc, ranked best in the UK by The Economist. He says management education makes young professionals stand out

Masters in Management (MiM) programs are more popular than ever. In recent years, they’ve surged in number globally and some are now even touting the MiM as a viable alternative to the MBA.

Typically, the MiM is designed for those with less working experience than the traditional MBA—those with around 12 to 18 months of experience. For these young professionals, an MiM can open new career pathways.

The Cranfield Management MSc is ranked first in the UK in The Economist WhichMBA? Masters in Management 2017 ranking. Every Cranfield Management MSc student pursues an internship as part of the program. Last year, over half the class got a job offer out of their internships.

Professor Michael Dickmann, the program’s director, puts the its success down to a practical approach to management education. “Our strapline is knowledge into action,” he says, “and we live this.”

BusinessBecause caught up with Michael to find out why early career professionals should consider further business education in the form of a Master’s in Management degree.

Why is formal management education important?

Being a business manager isn’t a protected job. If you’re a lawyer you need a degree, if you are a medic it’s the same, but managers aren’t protected that way. The demand for management education is growing globally, so how do you distinguish yourself?

One way is personality, which we work on with our leadership development. Another is knowledge and insight. We give people a theoretical background, but also tools to work successfully. If you haven’t had management education you may be able to do these things, but the chances are much lower as you’ll lack the tools.

Importantly, students get an insight into themselves as leaders so they can continue to adapt. We teach an evidence based approach to management. We’ve never had such easy access to data so this approach has never been more relevant.

Career paths are also more diverse today. People want better work life balance or a career where they live their interest. We help students understand their motivations and drivers. To know yourself, and your strengths and weaknesses, means you can ensure your path is in line with your motivations.

What makes Cranfield’s teaching style unique?

No other university is as practically-orientated as us. Almost all of my colleagues have worked in business or industry so we bring that knowledge to the degree.

We also operate on the principles of credibility and capability. Credibility comes through the work we do with the students while they are with us and also our high ranking. Capability is through our ethos of evidence based management.

We teach people to act on evidence, how to find it, and to make better management decisions. This leadership development journey explores their personalities to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses.

This leadership module was ranked first in the world by the Financial Times on our MBA and the same lecturers teach this to our MSc students.

What’s a typical Cranfield Management MSc student?

The mixture is broad. We’ve had teachers, gymnasts, engineers, and people with a background of languages or history. This year we have 46 students from over 15 nationalities—a very broad pool.

We’ve designed the course for people with less experience than the MBA cohort. We need to compensate for that, so we give a crash course in practical experience. We use business simulations, role play, case studies, and the national apprenticeship challenge. Real-life practice is built into the course and students implement what they learn immediately.

We see this on our consulting project where we partner with a company to explore an issue they have. This year we had Citibank. The class was split into teams and worked to create solutions. Citi were incredibly happy as they saved a consultancy doing the work and for our students it was real business insight.

How do internships benefit students?

We see the internship as a continuation to what people learn on the Cranfield Management MSc and how to apply it in the real world as well as a networking and career opportunity. We don’t want people getting coffee, we want them on projects.

Every student does an internship and most are paid—last year 80% or so were paid. As they’re paid, companies are selective about who they want. So, we have really great relationships with companies and help students network.

We liaise with a lot of companies, many more then we finally use, because we also vet the internship project ideas. It needs to be beneficial for the organization and for the student. That isn’t easy, but we focus on quality internships.

Typically, companies use these either to solve a current problem or as a talent pipeline where they want to see someone in action for three months before making an offer.

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