Finding a career after your MBA that energizes you and drives your productivity can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. On top of that, what if the career you planned to align yourself with wasn’t the one that best captured your skillset?
Career change and career development are two of the main reasons students enroll on MBA programs. It is therefore imperative that, after graduating, their return on investment is seen in the form of an invigorating career.
At Cass Business School, the careers and professional development service is aware of the demand for career satisfaction post-graduation. As part of their careers program the school has recently partnered with Strengthscope—a strength assessment tool—with the aim of consigning career dissatisfaction to the history books.
Jenny Portalska, head of MBA careers at Cass Business School, explains that tapping into Strengthscope is part of the school’s understanding of its students’ long-term aspirations.
“They want from the MBA a transformational experience,” she says. “They want to develop their career. Students will want to make significant changes; often changing role, sector, and/or location.”
Finding a future career that really focuses on what energizes them can provide long term career satisfaction. Students must be able to sell themselves to employers in a different way when making a career change, and Cass works with them on how to sell their transferable skills and offers support throughout their career transition.
“We help people have more honest, authentic conversations about who they really are rather than who they think they should be, and identify the career path that is best for them,” says Dr Paul Brewerton, Strengthscope’s managing director.
Strengthscope’s online strength assessment system deep-dives into the students’ true motivators. It identifies their top strengths and enables them to articulate more clearly to potential future employers what they will bring to their organization, and how their idiosyncrasies differentiate them from other candidates.
There are 24 work-based strengths. Paul says that the likelihood of having the same Top 3 in the same order as anyone else is 1 in 12,000; chances of getting same Top 7 in same order as anyone else is 1 in 1.3bn. “It becomes unique, and that’s where people’s brains start to click.
“Having people feel a greater sense of ownership for who they are means they recognize the career path, role, and organizational culture that is the best fit for them,” Paul explains. “By playing to your strengths you are more likely to feel engaged and have a positive experience at work, which can increase performance and results by 70% plus.”
It also helps organizations identify candidates who are sturdy enough to navigate change, and resilient enough to take the knocks that inevitably come with that. They will be more confident hiring people they know can seamlessly move role, department, or even organization, because that reassurance will have been articulated at the interview stage.
There is a caveat with strengths though, Paul explains. Something Strengthscope also helps students identify. “It’s about understanding risk areas, overdrive,” he says. “Energy can blow over itself, so you could over consult or get involved with too many projects and not do justice to them.
“So, knowing how to control that is important, especially in more senior roles, where it’s more likely that risk areas will show up.”
Strengthscope has had resounding success with the Cass MBA students. At the start of their MBA (Full-Time MBA class of 2017), 41% of students said they felt able to apply their strengths in selecting a fulfilling career. Afterwards, that figure was 94%.
75% of Cass MBAs are now confident they will find future roles that fit with their career goals, up from 27% at the start of the program.
61% of MBAs at the start of the Cass MBA felt very confident in communicating their strengths and abilities. That figure is now 92%.
And 82% of students now feel very confident in using their strengths in a new industry or sector, up from 57% at the start of the MBA.
From the beginning of the Cass MBA, the infrastructure is in place to take students from enrolment to long-term career development. During the first two weeks of the program, students work extensively with the careers and professional development department to try to really understand themselves—what do they want to carry forward from their past, and what do they want to change?
One day per week is also dedicated to careers and professional development on the Full-Time MBA, where students work on building professional development skills and goals for their future career.
The skills employees demand still revolve around communication, teamwork, and leadership. However, Jenny admits that in line with technological advancement there is an emphasis on being comfortable with change, innovative, and digitally literate.
She explains that this coincides with the coalescing of finance, technology, and consulting as career destinations. “What has changed is that within consulting there is a lot more focus on fintech and technology in general,” she says.
“Also, the disruptive brands that weren’t around seven-to-eight years ago—Uber, for example—they are really changing things.
“The work we do with Strengthscope provides students with the clarity on what energizes them, what skills they want to take forward in their future career and how to differentiate themselves– and in a continually changing jobs market, this is key.”