The UK’s Bath School of Management recently asked employers what they look for most in their MBA job candidates. The answer was clear: soft skills.
So the school redesigned its one-year, full-time MBA program accordingly. Now, the ‘Bath Spine’ runs alongside the core MBA curriculum and offers courses focusing on leadership, and personal and professional development throughout the year.
For Jose Maria Rovira Escalante, who relocated from Argentina for his MBA, Bath’s renewed focus on the soft side made the school stand out.
“Companies are starting to understand that you don’t reach success by having standalone guys with high technical skills and super IQs,” he says. “You need people working together to achieve a better outcome. Today, you can have the technical skills, but if you don’t have the soft skills to deal with people, it’s going to be hard for you.”
Jose wants to take his investment banking career to the international stage after his MBA. “I don’t know what’s going to be my next country,” he says.
“Having the ability to tailor yourself to different people from different continents, learning to be empathetic, and developing your emotional intelligence; all these soft skills are what make a good manager.”
Bath’s soft skills focus is directed at preparing its MBA students for the jobs market. Students also have mock job interviews, and sessions on presentations and personal branding. Around 98% of Bath MBAs land jobs within six months of graduation.
The emphasis is on teamwork, and the intimate, 45-to-50 student cohort is made up of around 25 different nationalities. 43% of students are women.
“I have more meetings now doing my MBA than I had in my previous job!” Jose laughs. “By working in groups all the time, and getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures, you get a very rich, valuable experience. You get to know yourself better, and you’re able to deal with people totally different to you.”
“I really liked that it’s like a boutique MBA,” she says. “You don’t have 300 classmates that you’re never going to be able to meet. It’s a community atmosphere and we’re all very close.”
Maria has a background in the tourist industry, working in sales for LATAM Airlines prior to her MBA. She graduates in September this year. “I want to keep working in the tourist industry,” she says.
“Now, with the soft skills I’ve gained during my MBA, I feel like I can move to work in another area; in marketing, or operations.
“Nowadays, if you’re in charge of a team of people, they’re not going to admire you because you know more about finance or the rules of marketing. They’re going to admire you, and follow you, if they see a leader with soft skills, who’s able to talk to them and make them work as a team.”
Fellow Chilean, Felipe Ignacio Ramírez Campos (pictured above), agrees. An experienced project manager, he moved to Bath with his wife for his MBA, keen to step out of his comfort zone.
“For me, soft skills are crucial for any professional who wants to be successful in life,” he says.
“It’s not too difficult to find someone who knows the technical aspects of a job and that kind of knowledge is easy to transfer. But to find a professional who has highly developed soft skills is not easy,” Felipe continues.
“In the future, I see myself in a job with big responsibilities, leading people and getting the best of them by being an effective and efficient leader. The Bath MBA will give me the skills to achieve my goals.”