For newly appointed dean, Lee Newman, it’s a priority. He plans to push the school forward with a new “radical emphasis on careers” at a time when IE is also expanding its cutting-edge ‘liquid learning’ model.
He talks of a curated, career-focused educational journey; beginning in the admissions process and requiring students to adopt a growth mindset to become the best version of themselves.
The school is positioned closer to recruiters than ever before, and Lee has identified the three key attributes employers want to see in the school’s next generation of business leaders. Here are the three things recruiters want from you in 2022.
1. Recruiters want hard skills on top of your degree
While an MBA or MiM may be enough to secure an interview, it’s your job specific skills that will help you hit the ground running when you land a job after graduation.
According to online education platform, Coursera, 62% of employers now value skills as the most important requirement in the recruitment process. “Emphasis on concrete skills has gone up; knowledge is great, but knowledge in the service of skills is better,” Lee explains.
Part of IE’s radical career emphasis involves a renewed focus on skills specific to career pathways. Lee is coy about revealing too much of the school’s plans for future skills expansion, but IE already offers a range of highly specialized programs which incorporate pathway-specific skills into the curriculum.
Students can choose masters in cutting-edge and in-demand sectors like Corporate Marketing and Communication, Talent Development and Human Resources, and Digital Business and Innovation.
The skills-focused approach in these programs means students are more attractive to recruiters in their chosen industry when they graduate, Lee says. “There’s a chance now to really optimize the offer from general management all the way through to highly-focused business masters.”
2. Recruiters value behavioral skills like communication and teamwork
Often referred to as ‘soft skills’, behavioral skills go beyond what you learn in class.
They involve things like communication, teamwork, organization, agile and critical thinking, and handling stress. Often, they’re about how you interact with those around you.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) lists interpersonal skills as the most important skill for business school recruiters in 2021, and Lee recognizes their continued importance.
“Industry in general has never been happy with higher education in terms of being able to produce people with truly exceptional behavioral and people skills,” Lee says.
“That’s something we hear from recruiters that needs to be delivered more deeply and we’re coming up with innovative new ways to do that.”
IE’s MBA program is made up of 95% international students, and that's one way students develop interpersonal skills across cultures. “Struggling with a team from all over the world to produce a strategy on a short deadline in an agile way, while experiencing stress, that’s learning,” Lee explains.
The school’s liquid learning model, which took off during the pandemic, is also part of IE’s behavioral skills approach. Using liquid pedagogies, formats, and materials—and implementing the latest education technologies—liquid learning is a fluid teaching format which encourages students to be agile thinkers.
Not only is agility a highly sought-after skill by employers, it’s also key to helping students become the best version of themselves.
“It’s about being liquid in the sense of growing as a person,” Lee says, “liquid learning is also about transforming people.”
3. Recruiters want more digital skills in 2022
Before becoming dean of the business school, Lee was head of IE’s School of Human Sciences and Technology. Leveraging his doctoral training in computer science and artificial intelligence, he oversaw the introduction of degrees covering cutting-edge topics like business analytics and digital transformation.
Some of these programs have since moved into the business school, and Lee views a focus on digital skills as essential to ensuring IE students have the best foundations to succeed in their careers.
“Recruiters want hands-on digital fluency skills, and that isn’t just for people who are going to be working quantitatively,” he explains.
Across less technical, more creative roles, there’s a growing need for people who can execute their ideas using programming and software skills. Innovation-driven employers also value students who understand new technologies and their business use cases.
IE has taught digital innovation for some time. The school’s portfolio of programs includes masters in Business Analytics and Big Data, and Digital Business and Innovation. The MBA program offers a specialist certificate in cloud computing, partnered with Amazon Web Services.
But there’s still more to do in the digital skills space, Lee says. “Companies have always wanted them, but it used to just be okay if you could do pivot tables on excel and that doesn’t cut it anymore.”
While these three skill areas are the core of what recruiters are looking for in the next generation of business leaders, Lee emphasizes that what graduates increasingly want is to find alignment between their self-defined purpose as professionals and a company's purpose.
“Making work meaningful and having people feel your company or organization has a purpose is becoming increasingly important for acquiring, maintaining, and developing talent,” he says.
“Knowing how to do that is going to be a critical skill for both current and future leaders.”