How an MBA Prepares You for Today’s Workforce

September 21, 2021
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An MBA is a powerful asset for advancing your career. Learn how it prepares you for your next role with the skills you need for success.

How an MBA Prepares You for Today’s Workforce

It’s not a question of “if” an MBA prepares you for the workforce, but “how.”

That seems more than fair given the response in the market. According to GMAC’s 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey, 91% of recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2021, and the number rose to 96 percent for tech recruiters. Over the next five years, 93 percent of corporate recruiters in the US expect demand for business school graduates to remain stable (59 percent) or increase (34 percent).

“As we continue to expand, graduate business talent is our main pipeline to grow headcount,” one recruiter from a US consulting company said.

Why Are Recruiters Hiring MBA Grads? The Top 4 Skills

Responses to a key question in the GMAC survey—“Which of the following skills are most important for business school graduates to possess for your current job openings?”—provided insight into what recruiters desire most in graduates.

1. Interpersonal Skills (80 percent)

Being able to work well with others is a hallmark of an effective leader or individual contributor. Thus, it should come as no surprise that listening, teamwork, patience, responsibility and other interpersonal skills led the pack for all business school graduates.

The survey also provided results with the same question for MBA graduates by industry. There, interpersonal skills came out on top in two of the three industries tracked. Ninety-one percent of recruiters in consulting and 77 percent in finance/accounting rated them as most important in their respective industries.

2. Learning, Motivation and Leadership (75 percent)

There wasn’t a big drop-off from interpersonal skills to the next-most important competency area for business school graduates: learning, motivation and leadership. This set of skills encompasses important notions of self-improvement and what it takes to take organizations to the next level. Together with the top response, these two sets of skills led the field by a considerable margin.

In the MBA results by industry, this result came in a two-way tie for first in technology—at 81 percent along with the overall No. 4 skill, strategy and innovation—and it came in second for both consulting (87 percent) and finance/accounting (75 percent).

3. Managing Decision-Making Processes (64 percent)

Compared to the previous sets of skills, this is a rather specific application that has a high impact in organizations. Leaders who can utilize techniques in forming a collaborative, process-oriented approach to decision making are highly valued and can make a considerable difference in the culture and the effectiveness of a company.

In the results for specific industries, both consulting (70 percent) and finance/accounting (52 percent) valued decision-making processes for MBAs, but not as much as the previous two skills. Meanwhile, technology rated this skill (79 percent) highly.

4. Strategy and Innovation (61 percent)

There were two skills that came in at 61 percent—strategic and systems skills, along with managing strategy and innovation—which formed a two-way tie for No. 4 in the overall rankings. They’re combined here given what GMAC did for the following results.

In the MBA breakdown by industry, the two were merged into one result. “Strategy and innovation” ranked in a two-way tie for the top spot in technology (81 percent; with learning, motivation and leadership), and finished at the bottom for consulting (70 percent) and finance/accounting (48 percent).

How an MBA Fulfills Employers’ Demands

When you consider the above results and the skills recruiters value in open positions, it should become clear why they’re looking for MBA graduates. Those skills are quintessential outcomes for quality MBA programs, and industries have noticed that trend.

“As the technology sector matures, recruiters are placing high value on strategic, interpersonal and decision-making skills since these are needed to drive organizational growth and innovation,” GMAC said. “These core skills are the signature of graduate management education.”

You could easily apply that quote to virtually any industry. After all, companies need effective, personal leaders who will succeed in various environments, and that’s exactly what MBA programs stress. Those outcomes are reflected in the very design of these programs.

How MBA Programs Are Designed

MBAs are the gold standard in business education. One explanation is the versatility of an MBA which allows people in different industries and different career paths to achieve their goals. Here’s a broad overview of how some of those major components come together.

  • Curriculum: All MBA students receive foundational business education in core concepts like accounting, finance and strategy, as well as the softer skills in the list above. At the same time, electives, concentration options and even joint degree options are available to tailor the degree to one’s needs.
  • Faculty: Quality MBA programs utilize faculty and guest speakers who bring high-level expertise and experience into tangible or virtual classrooms. The resulting interactions, instruction and insight are instrumental for developing students’ skills and knowledge.
  • Networking: The personal and professional relationships and opportunities that can result in MBA programs is a major benefit. “Look for a program where you can build a network of people you can rely on—and who can rely on you—throughout your career,” Ann Mirabito, associate professor of Marketing at Baylor University, said. “Strong networks are built on authentic relationships. Those relationships emerge from engaging with fellow students and professors during office hours, group projects and occasional in-person events.”
  • Ethics: Businesses value professionals who approach conversations, decisions and every aspect of their work with integrity. Quality MBA programs, like Baylor’s, implement this throughout their programs. In fact, it’s reflected in the mission of the Hankamer School of Business: “We cultivate principled leaders and serve the global marketplace through transformational learning and impactful scholarship in a culture of innovation guided by Christian values.” Additionally, Baylor hosts the National MBA Case Competition in Ethical Leadership to advance the development of ethical leaders.

The versatility also extends into different MBA formats. For instance, you can pursue a full-time MBA at Baylor—a traditional Monday through Friday program in Waco, Texas—or an online MBA that can be completed anywhere, alongside your current schedule. You can also consider an Executive MBA program that caters to seasoned professionals. One takes place in Austin on Monday nights, and the other takes place one weekend a month in Dallas.

Within these formats, you can also specialize your degree with a concentration like cyber security, business analytics, executive communication, entrepreneurship, global trade and supply chain management, healthcare administration and marketing. The next section explores one example to illustrate how crucial skills are highlighted in the program.

A Look at the Executive Communication Concentration

Interpersonal skills represent the most in-demand skill for recruiters in the GMAC survey, and that’s exactly what Baylor’s No. 1 requested concentration, Executive Communication, pinpoints.

“Professionals who invest in these critical skills can expect to move ahead quickly in their careers or more readily find exciting, new opportunities,” Alison Alford, a clinical assistant professor and consultant who teaches Strategic Communication in Baylor’s online MBA, said.

The appeal is universal. Leaders in any industry and at any stage of their career can benefit by focusing on important communication skills that lead to success.

One course in the concentration, Strategic Communication, encompasses “writing, presenting, editing, collaborating, giving feedback, delivering bad news, apologizing and dealing with a crisis,” Alford said. “When things are going right, organizations look to the leader to generate new ideas and steer into uncharted territories. When things are going wrong, they’ll expect the leader to toughen his or her backbone and right the ship. Practicing these skills and employing them in the workplace can open doors for professionals at all levels.”

The concentration is available in Baylor’s online MBA as well as in both Executive MBA programs.

What's Next

Discover how you can take the next step in your career with a versatile, in-demand MBA. To learn more about the Master of Business Administration, explore our detailed program page. Still have questions? Our admissions advisers can help you determine the best path forward. Complete the form below and our team will contact you directly.

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