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5 Skills You Will Gain From An MBA That Will Kickstart Your Global Career

What are the most important skills for your future business career? We spoke to a student on the Global MBA at Zhejiang University to find out


Wed May 22 2024

A graduate business degree is almost guaranteed to lead to lucrative career opportunities. 84% of business school grads say that attending business school has helped them achieve their professional goals.

But which skills are most important to leverage in a global business career? And how do you gain these skills on an MBA program?

Xin Ye is a current student on the Global MBA at Zhejiang University School of Management (ZJU-SOM). After a bachelor’s degree at University College London, Xin worked as an accountant at a tech company.

Later, she returned to her hometown in China and realized that to progress further, she would need to get some in-depth management training.

We spoke to Xin to discover the five skills she believes are most important for her future career, and how the Global MBA at Zhejiang University prepares her for future jobs in China—or elsewhere in the world. 

1. Strategic thinking is honed through structured, skill-based courses 

Working in business is no longer just about having concrete knowledge of areas like finance, sales, and marketing. To thrive in the business world today, students must also know how to think strategically about all these different elements.

Not only is strategy crucial for a career in today’s fast-paced, globally connected business world, but MBA employers also favor grads with this skill. 56% of global recruiters say that strategy is an essential skill for graduates.

On the Zhejiang MBA, the curriculum is split into three different areas—not by knowledge, but by the skills students acquire in each section. These are digital intelligence, innovation and global competence

This big-picture structure gives students practice in strategic thinking across topics, while regular practical projects enable students to test their strategic thinking.

“I learned how to analyze industry trends, competitive landscapes, and market opportunities to develop effective strategies for business growth and sustainability,” assures Xin.

2. An innovation-forward curriculum enhances future resilience

Business graduates today need to be prepared not only for the current business landscape, but also the future of international business. As a result, skills in future resilience and innovation are essential.

Going into the MBA, Xin knew that she needed more practice in these skills. “I increasingly realize that I need more learning in, and to absorb more, cutting-edge and scientific knowledge.”

The Zhejiang MBA is built around future technology and innovation, which is part of the ‘innovate’ portion of the curriculum. MBA students develop practical skills in design thinking, future technology, and change management, all skills that will enable them to lead organizations into the future.

For example, Xin had the opportunity to attend lectures from other departments, delivered by leading scholars in a featured course called "Qiushi Technology and Innovation Outlook" at Zhejiang University, which gave her access to additional learning in artificial intelligence and materials science among other topics.

Aside from these hard skills, though, Xin mentions an often-undervalued element of an MBA—having the time to step back and prepare for a future career, whatever that looks like.

“Pursuing an MBA gives me the time and opportunity to reflect on future planning,” she says. “In today's fast-paced work life, I truly cherish this opportunity to step away from daily trivial matters and spend two years studying in a classroom.”

3. Experiential elements develop independence and initiative

Naturally, MBA students spend a lot of time honing their management skills. However, through experiential elements, which develop skills such as leadership, independent thought, and self-sufficiency students unlock even more career opportunities.

As well as spending time developing management skills like cross-cultural communication, MBA students at ZJU-SOM join a strong entrepreneurial environment where they can explore innovative thinking and self-improvement.

Zhejiang University is located in Hangzhou, a city which earned a place as runner-up in the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2023. Nearby, Shanghai is China’s biggest financial hub, while Wuxi is designated an emerging startup ecosystem.

On the MBA program, students can access entrepreneur training programs, offering insights into the local startup ecosystem and the chance to network with local entrepreneurs.

Last semester, for example, Xin participated in a research trip to beverage company Nongfu Spring’s research and development center, located in Zhejiang, an experience that inspired her.

“I believe that such an excellent learning environment will have a profound impact on my career and provide me with the energy to further develop myself,” says Xin.

4. Interaction with a diverse cohort promotes emotional intelligence 

An understanding of yourself and others is a critical skill for any leader—but recruiters also believe that these skills will only grow in importance in the next five years.

On the Zhejiang MBA, students develop key skills like active listening and critical thinking that will enable them to work effectively among diverse teams during the MBA and in their future careers.

Xin cites the opportunities to discuss and exchange learning with classmates, faculty, and professors through classes, case-study assignments, and experiential elements as a highlight of the program. These experiences developed her ability to manage diverging opinions, backgrounds, and views in a productive way. 

“The Zhejiang University MBA program not only provides cutting-edge theoretical learning courses and various opportunities to visit companies,” she says.

“More importantly, it offers the opportunity to deeply share and exchange learning with classmates, mentors, and professors from different industries and backgrounds.”

5. Networking allows for long-lasting learning

If there’s one thing that business leaders can’t afford to be today, it’s complacent. With the scale and rate of change in the business world, MBA students must be able to transfer the lessons and experiences they gain beyond the classroom. 

The MBA at Zhejiang primes students to do this by introducing them to senior leaders in companies alongside traditional classroom learning. Site visits enhance practical skills and introduce real-world business to students. 

“We often have the opportunity to listen to firsthand experiences from frontline Chinese and foreign CEOs or entrepreneurs, who directly share their success stories and lessons learned,” says Xin.

Listening to stories and experiences of entrepreneurs and CEOs not only help students enhance their skills during the program but gives them transferable knowledge they can use long after they graduate.

The business school’s location in an entrepreneurial hub also means students can network with entrepreneurs, expanding their knowledge of innovation and cutting-edge trends outside the classroom.  

Ultimately, while these five skills are important, the best MBA programs provide students with a holistic experience, addressing not just knowledge but also self-improvement.

“Overall, the MBA program equipped me with a well-rounded set of industry-specific skills that have been instrumental in advancing my career and tackling challenges in the business world,” Xin concludes.