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MBA Employers Place Soft skills Above Academic Achievement

MBA jobs are booming and salaries have grown by $10,000 over a decade

Fri Oct 16 2015

MBA employers have ranked communication and interpersonal as the skills most important in this year’s QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report.

MBA graduates tend to satisfy recruiters with quantifiable technical skills. Yet with employers placing a high premium on the “soft-side”, MBAs are falling short of their expectations.

Sure to madden MBAs, who have spent months trawling through text books studying for exams, academic achievement is listed among the least important facets. Instead, employers place the greatest emphasis on skills that are better learnt on the job.

With this in mind, recruiters are increasingly looking for employees with more years of hands-on work experience. Today, only 28% of employers seek out MBAs with work experience of three years or less, down from 35% in 2011, according to the QS report.

MBA Jobs Boom

For MBAs with the perfect blend of skills and experience, the future is bright. This year saw an impressive 14% growth in MBA jobs globally.

The US — where MBAs are most sought-after — and Canada experienced massive growth of 26% in MBA job opportunities, high above the 10% forecast by QS and a significant recovery from the early post-recession era when growth was as low as 2%.

The rapid and relentless rise of the Asia Pacific region persists, with MBA job opportunities growing there by 18%. A massive increase in the hiring of MBAs for consulting and professional services in the Asia Pacific area indicates the region’s growing maturity as an MBA jobs market.

The resilience of the MBA can be seen in Western Europe too, where, in spite of ongoing issues in the Eurozone, growth continued to hold steady at 9% this year.

Reflecting the desire of the BRIC countries for MBA expertise to aid their growth, India and Brazil make up the top three; China comes in at no 8; and Russia at no 14.

The two recruiting stalwarts of the MBA world — finance and consulting — still employ the highest numbers of MBAs.

Yet underlining the MBA degree’s growing diversity, many of the biggest growth figures globally come from smaller sectors, such as consumer goods, construction, and property.

Schools Pay Off

The business school you go to can significantly affect your future salary. There were no surprises in the US, as the MBA graduates of 2014 with the highest average salaries came from Stanford ($129,600), Harvard ($125,500) and Wharton ($123,400).

Eleven European schools recorded average graduate salaries of more than $100,000. Swiss schools — St Gallen, Lausanne and IMD — all recorded salaries higher than $120,000. London Business School came close behind with $118,900. London’s Cass Business School $109,400; and IESE Business School $103,100.

INSEAD, which has a campus in Singapore, dominates in Asia with an average graduate salary of $114,100, while CEIBS ($67,200) and CUHK ($51,400) make up Asia Pacific’s top-nine schools with average graduate salaries of more than $50,000.

Swiss Bankers Are As Rich As Ever

In the last 10 years MBA salary levels around the world have grown by almost $10,000.

Today, the highest average MBA salaries are found in New Zealand ($140,000), Switzerland ($131,100), and Australia ($124,800). The average MBA salary in the US is $103,300; the UK $98,500; Singapore $95,600.

MBAs working in law ($165,000), finance ($99,000) and pharmaceuticals ($97,800) earn the highest salaries by sector. The biggest bonuses are found in retail ($50,000), although the controversial banker bonuses still come in at an average of $30,600.

So, for MBAs looking to maximise their earning potential, the steps are simple: pick a top school, focus on your soft skills, re-locate to New Zealand, and work in law. Easy.