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E-Commerce Powers Technology Sector's MBA Hiring Drive

A career shift to the technology sector is underway – and e-commerce companies like Amazon are fuelling the business school recruitment drive.

Mon Feb 16 2015

Technology companies such as Apple and Google are among the biggest recruiters of business students – but it is e-commerce groups that are powering the tech industry's MBA hiring drive.

Recruitment demand is strong in the e-commerce industry, says Conrad Chua, head of MBA careers at Cambridge Judge Business School. “The retail sector, especially in the UK, is in the midst of a huge transition from the impact of e-commerce,” he says.

As technology helps companies to innovate, and disrupts traditional business models, online retailers like Amazon are snapping up vast numbers of MBA graduates.

At London Business School, Amazon was the third-largest recruiter in 2014, ahead of Citibank and Deloitte. At INSEAD, a global business school, Amazon hired 36 MBA students last year, ahead of Google and only three behind Bain & Company.

In the US, at Michigan’s Ross School of Business Amazon hired a record 27 MBA graduates in 2014, twice as many as the year before. At Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, 43% of the MBA class went into the technology industry – with Amazon a top recruiter.

Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business has seen strong demand for MBA hiring from Amazon, says Angela Williams, associate director of the MBA Career Centre.

“Traditional retailers are finding the need to have online channels for customers, so there is some demand for MBA hiring at Amazon’s competitors [as well],” she adds.

The cross-functional nature of online retailing means there are opportunities in myriad growth areas such as supply chains, marketing and sales, finance, and strategy consulting.

This is a reflection of the changes that technology is bringing to retail, says Conrad at Cambridge. “The jobs for MBAs are now in areas such as logistics, customer insights, and working on partnerships with third party sellers,” he says.

Paula Quinton-jones, director of career services at Hult International Business School, says: “The interest is in non-technical roles, mostly in areas such as strategy, and sales and marketing.”

At MIT Sloan School of Management, MBAs working in technology take roles in business development, product management, marketing and finance, says Sue Kline, senior director of the career development office.

“The combination of understanding the technology and developing a strong business skillset is a powerful asset for an organization,” she says.

The trend is likely to continue. At HEC Paris, Amazon has been the most significant recruiter from its MBA program since 2011, accounting for 10 hires in 2014.

At Oxford’s Saïd Business School in the UK, Amazon is already the largest recruiter, according to a 2014 report.

Deb Findlay, a recruitment lead for diversified industry at Saïd Business School, says there is a growing trend of e-commerce companies recruiting MBA students.

“E-commerce companies often look for people who are highly analytical, commercially savvy and who are able to make strategic decisions from large volumes of data – attributes common to many MBAs,” she adds.