TOPMBA CAREER Autumn 2009
Recession brings out the
Entrepreneurial Spirit in MBAs
Executive Interviews Social Media Real people, Real Business
Planning your next career move in a new business world Produced for
Elise Meadows, Talent Acquisition Sr. Manager
Gillian Taitz, Sr. Manager College Relations
At the best of times, deciding to study for a MBA is not a decision to be taken lightly. Often it will involve taking a career break, relocating to a different country and studying in a second language. In the current economic climate the uncertainty of the labour market reminds us of the challenges ahead. It also serves as a timely reminder of the benefits of continuing to develop as a professional and of acquiring qualifications that will provide competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive job market. Here at the University of Bradford’s School of Management we constantly strive to ensure ours programmes of study are of the highest standard and reflect the needs of the contemporary business. We do this by engaging with business at both at an international and regional level, facilitating leading research and investing in the very best teachers and facilities. However, success requires more than knowing and understanding the latest management principals and practices. Research from the Association of Graduate Recruiters has shown that the personal and professional development gained from participating in a programme of study such as the MBA is just as important. The diverse range of cultures and backgrounds of your colleagues and of the School’s faculty provide an ideal opportunity to learn how to communicate, cooperate and work with people from all over the world. This is an essential skill in a global economy but acquiring it is something you must do for yourself. I urge you to make the most of the opportunities available to you, not just those available on the formal programme of study but also those available through extra-curricular activities. The Personal Development Plan can play an important role in helping to ensure the focus you adopt complements and enhances your study experience. Henry Mintzberg once talked about the need for ‘learning managers’ rather than ‘learned managers’. His argument was that managerial effectiveness in the future would be as much defined by self-awareness and an ability and willingness to continually learn and develop as explicit knowledge. These are the key tacit outcomes of the Bradford MBA and being able to demonstrate these skills will make you a serious and successful long term prospect in the contemporary business environment.
Dr Roger Beach Associate Dean, Postgraduate Taught Programmes
TOP CAREER OPPORTUNITIES FOR MBAs AND MASTERS WORLDWIDE Exclusive access to: • • • •
Leading employers and top jobs worldwide Peer and mentor networking with students and alumni at business schools and companies across the globe Online library of career advice and information including country and industry reports Networking and recruiting events, including online career fairs
Employment outlook improves The global financial crisis has hit the international managerial job market hard, yet MBAs seem to be faring better than unqualified managers
24 industry focus: IT IT as a career
The entrepreneurial spirit Latest research suggests that the recession is inspiring the next generation of MBAs to start that business they’d always dreamed of
8 MBA Salaries: expectation and reality Though MBA salaries remain high, there needs to be a reality check among some MBA candidates says Nunzio Quacquarelli 10 I nternational recruitment Four headhunters, from London, New York, Shanghai and Singapore tell the Guide that things are not as bad as they seem 12 Social entrepreneurship MBA graduates using their business skills to raise money for NGOs and charities has led to the term ‘social entrepreneurship’ 14 DELL Elise J. Meadows, Talent Acquisition Senior Manager 16 W omen MBAs With a record 41% of the world’s MBA candidates now women, the Guide asks four women how the MBA has benefitted them 18 St rategic thinking Being flexible and understanding the strategic challenges can be used to dig your company out of recession 20 Getting the CV right An MBA no longer washes away your past as recruiters are looking even more closely at graduates pre-MBA experience
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26 STAPLES Gillian Taitz, Senior Recruiter, College Relations 28 I slamic banking Learning about banking the Islamic way, with its roots in Shariah law, may benefit the western banking world, writes David Williams 30 industry focus: consulting Consulting as a career 32 t he business school challenge Schools need to learn to repair the damage done by the financial crisis and to teach better corporate governance, says Prof. Ismail Erturk of MBS 34
exciting times MBA candidates believe that now is the perfect time to learn to lead the business world
36 Sports MBAs What do an Indian national league cricketer, an American NFL footballer and a Hungarian Olympic swimmer have in common? An MBA 38 The long and winding road MBA programs seem like a daunting prospect at the start, writes Morgan Witkin, but it is worth it when you reach the journey’s end 40 A look at the world of social media The most intimate and intimidating part of the application process. Everything you need to know. 42 ALUMNI INTERVIEW
Recession brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in MBAs By Ross Geraghty
Like the Pacific Ocean trenches, the true depth of the global recession remains to be seen. International business experts, like oceanographers, are unsure as to exactly how long and how deep either will run. Both are extremely complex issues based on conflicting opinions as well as scientific principles and both, for entirely different reasons, are fascinating, need-toknow sets of calculations
Careers in finance and consulting still in 2008. Considering the number n the UK for example, in July 2009, dominate and probably always will in the MBA contemplating an MBA degree is in the financial figures for the first quarter of the space. However the most recent research hundreds of thousands globally, that 5% shift is year showed a worse-than-expected set of suggests that MBA candidates are using the extremely significant and will have deans and results, though predictions for the latter half are recession to acquire the learning to start their MBA program creators thinking hard. more buoyant. In the US there are tones of own businesses, to be self-employed or to move The Survey also shows that associated quiet caution in some quarters, but few into less traditional areas of MBA employment, entrepreneurial skills are of increasing commentators want to say for certain when the such as non-profit organizations. importance to the would-be classes of 2010upswing will occur. Nobody, in short, wants to The QS topmba.com Applicant Survey, 2012. ‘Building a professional network’, which predict inaccurately for fear of being criticized released in July 2009, is the most exhaustive is associated with many facets of MBA as they were when they failed to predict the research ever done on MBA candidates across recruitment, but especially entrepreneurship, crisis in the first place. the globe. With almost 4,000 respondents, all is a key reason for taking an MBA, according to The inevitable results of a shrinking 53% of the survey, again economy are job losses a major increase from at worst and, at best, 45% in 2008. hiring freezes. The “The statistics show that the desire to start one’s own business is greater Interestingly, MBA sector is no now among MBA candidates than ever before, and being a successful taking an MBA to ‘boost exception. Some of salary’ or ‘primarily for the biggest recruiters business man or woman is by far the most popular situation in which education’ come in the finance and candidates see themselves in ten years time” relatively low down on consultancy sectors the respondents’ priority have gone to the wall lists. Discussing MBA – Lehmann Brothers specializations, a massive jump from 34% to most famously – leaving qualified, experienced MBA candidates who attended QS World MBA 42% of respondents indicated they want to and talented MBA graduates and candidates Tours in fall 2008 and spring 2009, the survey take courses in entrepreneurship. Leadership searching for their next step. aggregates opinions and attitudes annually. is up to 42%, from 36% last year. From this, experts unearth interesting Table 1 shows that, although the more differences and comparisons year on year and Upturn general management skills and strategy region to region among MBA candidates. For some of those talented young people, remain the most popular, the biggest business school is the ideal next step as they increases have been in entrepreneurship and weigh up their career opportunities. Looking at Program creators leadership. It’s interesting that Corporate the big picture, now could well be the best time In 2009, almost 29% of international Social Responsibility (CSR) is up 4% in to spend a year or two in business school, get respondents say they want to take an MBA in popularity on 2008 and that marketing is that MBA and hit the ground running when the order to improve their chances of starting their down year on year to an all time low of 29%. upturn happens. own business, a significant increase on the 24% 6
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Table 1 – Preferred MBA specializations 2007 - 2009 2009 2008 2007 General Mgt.
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2009. But why is this happening? Nunzio Quacquarelli, editor of the TopMBA Career Guide and topmba. com, believes that the growing number of MBA applicants interested in the entrepreneurial field can be seen as a need for a safety net for some, and a rejection of traditional MBA careers by others. “With the credit crunch and subsequent global recession, more and more young professionals are rejecting big corporations which they feel have acted irresponsibly. They see an entrepreneurial career as a way to make a difference and to be part of a business which is socially responsible for sure, because they are running it.” Of course an entrepreneurial spirit does not only mean the desire to start a business but it
involves skills useful in almost all business environments. Michael Aldous of IE Business School in Spain points out that it is important to think of entrepreneurship as more than just a process of new venture creation. “We look to equip our participants with an entrepreneurial vision that encourages them to identify opportunities, pull together the resources needed to achieve them and implement the plans. This way of thinking is equally valuable whether you are looking to set up a venture, work within a multinational corporation or wish to develop a social enterprise.” Schools such as IE in Madrid are seeing increasing interest from recruiters, for MBAs with attributes associated with an entrepreneurial spirit. Yet these are valuable skills within existing and established corporations too. “The ability to identify and plan business opportunities are skills which may be used well by corporate too. However we certainly expect many more MBAs to launch their own businesses in 2010 and 2011 than the recent average of 5% of graduates,”
Quacquarelli says. The statistics show that the desire to start one’s own business is greater now among MBA candidates than ever before, and being a successful business man or woman is by far the most popular situation in which candidates see themselves in 10 years time (see table 2). Aldous, of IE, agrees that in recent years there has been a strong increase in social enterprise projects. “The recent downturn in the job market has led to a number of participants pushing ahead with new ventures, which might otherwise have been mothballed,” he says. The combination of entrepreneurial spirit and social awareness leads to the new term ‘social entrepreneurship’ and it is evident that numbers interested in such courses will increase rather than decrease in the near future. It is clear that, unlike the scientists of the Pacific deep, entrepreneurial MBAs are spending most of their time looking up.
Table 2 – Where candidates see themselves in ten years time. 2009 2008 Running own business 27.4% 25.6% Director in large company 22.4% 24.4% CEO of large company 16.9% 17.4% Senior manager in large company 15.2% 16.8% Self-employed consultant 7.2% 5.3% Middle manager 2.9% 2.8% Other 3.6% 2.5% Director in small company 2.6% 2.8% Senior manager in small company 1.1% 1.4% Down-shifting for work-life balance 0.8% 1.1%
2007 22.1% 23.6% 19.3% 16.5% 6.8% 3.9% 3.3% 2.5% 1.3% 1.1%
Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2009.
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 7
MBA salaries –
expectations and reality Nunzio Quacquarelli, Editor of TopMBA.com compares the latest reported salary data with expectations of MBA applicants.
n an era of financial uncertainty and intense global competition, the MBA qualification is becoming a safe haven for young professionals seeking career advancement and salary progression. First degree graduates and young professionals around the world have been hard hit by the credit crunch. Unemployment rates amongst new graduates has reached 10% in the USA, and as high as 20% in some EU and Asian countries. By contrast business schools continued to report good post-MBA placement figures. Last year 279 business schools reported that over 90% of their class had job offers three months after graduation and 123 schools reported average salaries in excess of $75,000, according to the latest topmba.com/Scorecard. The 2009 edition of topmba.com/Scorecard – the personalized business school ranking tool - reveals the average salaries selfreported by 350 of the world’s leading business schools. IMD, IESE, London Business School, Stanford and INSEAD reported the highest average salaries in this latest edition based on students graduating in summer/fall of 2008. Table 1 reveals that of the 50 business schools yielding the highest salaries, 19 are in North America, 27 in Europe and four are in Australia and Asia. Employment rates are similar across all these schools with between 90-93% of students having accepted employment within three months of graduation and the profile of candidates is similar, with an average of five to seven years of work experience. In the 1990s, salaries for graduates of top US schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford were consistently higher than their European counterparts. In 2008/9 it is European schools which take the honours with an average reported starting salary of $105,248. It’s important to note though that the above salary figures do not include the guaranteed bonuses received by many MBAs and which are more common amongst graduates of US business schools.
Average base Range: starting salary Min. US$ Salary
Range: Max. Salary
IMD in Switzerland reports the highest average salary among European schools at $129,000 (up from $121,000 in the previous year). Janet Shaner of IMD says, “IMD looks for high-achievers and their general management MBA results in many of their graduating MBAs entering industrial and commercial management functions within Europe, a segment where demand is continuing to grow.”
“In the 1990s, salaries for graduates of top US schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford were consistently higher than their European counterparts. In 2009 it is European schools which take the honours”
But it’s not just the established business schools producing impressive salaries on graduation. Ashridge Business School reports an average starting salary of US$115,000 for their 50 MBA students. Amy Armstrong of Ashridge says, “our students have an average of over 10 years of work experience and they remain in strong demand with employers, even during an economic downturn.” Small class sizes, slightly more years of work experience and the strong Euro go some way to explain why European schools are outperforming their international counterparts.
Comparing MBA salaries with expectations MBA salaries have stood up well during the recession, but it is important for MBA applicants to remain realistic about what is achievable. QS TopMBA has also recently surveyed applicants to measure these expectations with some surprising results.
% Accepted Average employment 3 months years work after graduation experience
Number of schools in top 50
Table 1: Averages by region for the 50 business schools
reporting the highest salaries
94,000 129,000 97,000 105,000
Source: QS TopMBA.com/
TopMBA CAREER GUIDE www.topmba.com
Table 2 shows the expected salaries amongst MBA applicants from countries around the world, the percentage uplift compared with current salary and the proportion intending to study outside their home country. Candidates from Japan, the USA, UK, Germany and Canada have high current salary levels and realistic salary expectations in the range of $90116,000, representing salary uplifts of between 58-85%. US candidates primarily are looking to stay in their own country to study and benefit from the high local salary levels. Although the 12% looking to study overseas represents an increase on previous years, as they seek to differentiate themselves form the large numbers of locally educated MBAs by gaining international experience. Table 2: Comparison of current versus expected salaries for MBA applicants Expected Current Target % Looking to % salary salary $ salary $ study overseas increase Japan 69,852 111,000 58% 80% United States 62,892 116,198 85% 12% Germany 57,053 90,384 58% 75% United 52,812 91,250 84% 18% Kingdom Canada 51,034 100,378 73% 34% Brazil 49,054 109,539 123% 96% France 48,467 93,269 92% 55% Italy 42,500 99,230 133% 65% Israel 41,851 141,500 258% 85% Singapore 40,795 86,617 112% 54% Turkey 40,416 77,065 91% 89% Russia 40,020 105,827 164% 88% Spain 39,852 81,617 105% 65% India 35,339 96,145 172% 75% Source: QS TopMBA.com Applicant Research 2009 Table 2 also reveals that applicants from some countries might have unrealistic expectations. Israeli applicants expect a salary uplift of 258%, with target salary level of $141,000 per annum. This is achievable for those who join top investment banks and consulting firms. However, in the current economic climate it is unrealistic for all Israeli candidates to receive job offers from these elite firms. For candidates from emerging markets, a high proportion intend studying overseas, in the USA, Canada, Australia or the European Union and their salary expectations are based on securing employment in the country in which they choose to study. Visa restrictions on working in the country of study vary. At present, the USA has limited the number of work visas available to graduating MBAs. By contrast the European Union, Australia and Canada have very favourable work visa environments. Despite the global recession, MBA employers have continued to recruit international MBA candidates. Lord Michael Hastings, Global Head of Diversity at KPMG International, says “KPMG is constantly working with global clients who are not just saying ‘here is a tax issue we’d like you to advise us with.’ They are asking us how shall we function to best develop our business. MBAs provide this richness of perspective that is not easy to pick up by standard study. There is huge value to MBAs.” With the prospect of economic recovery in 2010, the likelihood is that the current crop of MBA applicants will achieve their salary objectives when they graduate in 2011.
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 13
The world according to
headhunters By David Williams
n any employment market the people who can see both sides of the situation are the intermediaries – the recruitment agencies and head-hunters. They know the quality of candidates available, the number and type of employment opportunities their clients have on offer, and can judge the market value of qualifications and experience. So for this, the world’s first truly global recession, we talked to head-hunters in four key global cities: London, New York, Shanghai and Singapore. We asked them what their prognosis is for MBAs graduating this year, which sectors were holding up and whether anything could yet be said about when things might improve again.
London The capital of the European finance market has seen turbulent times during the last year with banks nationalized and some experts estimating 50,000 jobs could be lost in financial services during the next two years. Curly Moloney is managing director of Moloney Search, a head-hunter which specializes in the UK graduate, MBA, youngexecutive and executive markets. “I think people are only just seeing the start of how difficult things will be,” she says. “MBA recruiting is one of the areas that will be really squeezed. We are seeing MBA programmes and MBA hires being the place where people are most cutting back their numbers. Clients are being very strategic about which school they go to and what previous experience they want. It is not just MBA recruiting any more; they are really looking at past work experience. “The one area that has slightly held up is supply chain management. The functions that are being squeezed are the very generic ones: marketing and commercial functions. People will still look at MBAs for sales roles, if they 14
have previous experience; good HR people are always in demand as long as they are commercial as well.”
New York The world’s financial centre, New York, is the city where the recession began. It was the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 that alerted the world to how profound the downturn could become. Adam Zoia is CEO of Glocap Search, a New York based firm which has offices in London and throughout the States. He is a former lecturer in undergraduate economics at Harvard. “What is remarkable about this current situation is that it is affecting pretty much all sectors, all industries and all types of role,” he says. “The restructuring firms are hiring pretty actively although the numbers are small; healthcare is a sector where there is comparatively good stability in hiring; some of
“MBA recruiting is one of the areas that will be really squeezed” the new energy sector is hiring out of MBA programmes in small numbers, but nevertheless there is some. “It is hard to imagine that given the advanced state of the economy of the world that MBA graduates are not going to be in high demand again fairly soon. There is still a structural shortage of that demographic, so
things will bounce back. It is just difficult to predict when the upswing will come. I think there are a couple of things that are clear. When you have massive lay-offs and dislocation as you are having now, whenever the economy turns around in six months or eighteen months, there is going to be a pretty big snap-back. People are in panic mode at the moment and as soon as a more normal level of economic activity resumes there is going to be a real shortage of people left in these companies.”
Shanghai Shanghai is China’s mainland financial centre and the city that best exemplifies the extraordinary growth of the country in the last decade. Steve Fisher is Senior Client Partner (Industrial Markets) for Korn/Ferry International in Shanghai, one of the world’s biggest executive recruiting firms. He has two decades of experience in South East Asia. “I would much rather be graduating as an MBA from a regional school looking for a position in China than I would be looking for one in the US,” he says. “The prospects might not be as robust as they were eighteen months ago, but there is still a big supply-demand imbalance here for talented people. Things may not be as good as they were, but they are by no means dismal. A person will have to be more creative and more proactive in approaching the multinationals, but a lot of the state-owned enterprises and listed Chinese enterprises are hiring and would be interested in people with an internationally accredited MBA. “China is being very proactive about alternative energy, and there is a lot of growth in wind and solar, as well as in biofuels. The industrial sector has been the most active from a hiring standpoint. There is a lot of investment in public infrastructure and both the
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Editorial Recruitment XXXXXXXXX headhunters
multinationals and the Chinese companies involved in that sector would be good prospects. The pharmaceutical industry is still growing so people with undergraduate degrees in biology or chemistry would have opportunities here. For Mandarin speakers who have an MBA and local knowledge I would be optimistic about their prospects. It will just take some perseverance.”
“The general value of an MBA is still very high here,” she says. “The degree is still highly valued and the flood of applicants to MBA schools is highly warranted. “There are some interesting behaviours that are going on. In financial services, the
their programs alive but their numbers will be down also. I would be careful about suggesting that there will be some kind of healing process between now and 2010 because none of us know that yet. “Our general view is that people who have taken time out of their career to get an MBA are a clever and resilient lot to begin with, and that they will find paths to work experience that will be of value to them, even if it is not exactly where they thought it might be when they signed up for the degree. The best way to see it is as an opportunity to have a completely different learning experience than they had originally banked on. If they can do this, they will get something pretty wonderful out of it, because it is clear there are going to be some very interesting opportunities going forward.”
“People who have taken time out of their career to get an MBA are a clever and resilient lot to begin with and they will find paths to work experience that will be of value to them”
Tiny, but strategically vital, Singapore acts as a bridge between East and West. It was the first Asian economy to go into recession. Anne Benbow is managing director of the Spencer Stewart South East Asia office in Singapore. She has an MBA from New York University and has held senior HR positions in Lehman Brothers, Chase Manhattan and DHL.
absolute numbers of recruits are certainly going down, but what we are finding is that professional services firms have welldeveloped recruitment programs so continue to see people, although they are being much more selective. The big-name consumer products companies also continue to keep
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 15
More than a fat paycheck Karachi Pakistan may not be the top headquarters destination for a recent MBA. But it is the base for Joel
Montgomery, a 2008 MBA graduate of Thunderbird, and a fellow with Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. By Susan Peppercorn
efore pursuing my MBA, I was the director of Latin American sales for a machinery manufacturer in charge of over 30 countries and was doing quite well for myself.” The problem for Montgomery was the disconnect between his personal and professional lives. “In my personal life, I was leading missions teams to Latin America and delivering Christmas presents to the Hurricane Katrina victims, but in my professional life, I felt the sole objective of my work was to make money,” he says. Today, Joel is working as a business development manager with Micro Drip, an Acumen-funded, drip irrigation company that serves the 86% of Pakistani farmers that have less than 12 acres of land. Montgomery explains, “I am willing to accept a lower salary so that I can pursue my passion of utilizing market-based solutions to create sustainable social impact in the developing world. A lighter wallet is worth the satisfaction of helping others.”
Street MBA signing bonuses have all but disappeared. In addition, the assertiveness with which the Obama administration is addressing the current economic crisis has made government participation popular again. In his book, “Generation We: How Millennial Youth Are Taking over America and Changing Our World Forever,” author Eric Greenberg posits that the difference between the millennial generation and the youth of the 1960s was that, in the 60s, no one wanted to be
a part of the system, while today’s young graduates, in contrast, are trying to change the system from within. Early efforts by social entrepreneurs and
Internet and media access have contributed to motivating many MBAs to follow their passion instead of just the money, especially when Wall 18
enlightened investors have given rise to Social Capital Markets that include affordable housing, clean technology, microfinance, fair trade and many other socially focused enterprises. Acumen Fund is an example of a non-profit venture capital fund whose goal is to increase the flow of capital to entrepreneurial businesses that deliver critical services – water, health, housing, energy – at affordable prices to people earning less than four dollars a day in India, Pakistan and East Africa.
“Internet and media access have contributed to motivating many MBAs to follow their passion instead of just the money, especially when Wall Street MBA signing bonuses have all but disappeared.” Blair Miller, Acumen’s Fellows Manager, looks for MBAs with operations, finance and management experience. More importantly, “I look for candidates with the moral
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Pakistani local buses imagination, passion and resilience to build enterprises that serve base-of-the-pyramid customers.” It is clear that the social sector needs the business training that MBA schools can provide. In addition, corporations are increasingly interested in individuals who have experience in emerging markets because that is where their next customer base lies and where we are seeing very innovative models develop, according to Miller.
Social entrepreneurs Another model of social entrepreneurship is Endeavor. According to Linda Rottenberg, Endeavor’s CEO and recipient of the US News and World Report 2008 America’s Best Leaders award, “Endeavor targets the high-impact entrepreneurs who slip between the cracks of micro-finance and private equity. While we don’t operate a fund, we’re the neutral Switzerland that builds bridges of trust between capital providers and the entrepreneurs. We do everything in our power to nurture, inspire and support these market innovators.” Bill Draper, the former head of the United Nations Development Program, described Endeavor as ‘venture capital without the capital.’ “The good news for social entrepreneurs is that as a result of the financial crisis, many
people are rethinking what matters and deciding to make changes in their careers,” says Rottenberg. “We’ve been inundated with requests for full time jobs as well as offers for pro bono engagements. The available pool of talent has never been better. We may not offer million dollar bonuses or stock options, but we offer priceless personal satisfaction and fulfillment. In a world where bonuses are under siege and the stock market is at its lowest point in over a decade, psychic equity is looking even better.” Harvard Business School may not be the first institution that comes to mind when thinking about a training ground for non-profit management. Yet, for Janelle Lin, Managing Director of Step Up Women’s Network, her HBS classmates are envious of her ability to ‘make a life and make a living,’ at the same time. While at HBS Janelle served as president of the HBS Social Enterprise Club, the most popular club on campus, and launched the Harvard Business School Board Fellows Program to train MBAs in nonprofit board governance.
Philanthropy Ten years ago, 100 students were registered in social enterprise core courses at HBS, in 2008,
the number was greater than 400. Lin too believes that the blurring of lines between the corporate and non-profit worlds is a trend that will continue. The partnership between the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and Step Up Women’s Network, a national non-profit dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls is ‘a great example of this,’ says Lin. Dove, a Unilever personal care brand, launched an effort to bring self-esteem programming to girls across the US and is providing funding to organizations like Step Up Women’s Network to deliver it. “Corporations understand that in a cause marketing relationship, doing good is the same as doing well,” says Lin. While most philanthropic ventures still operate solely as non-profits, there’s a growing niche for a new variety of for-profit ventures that focus on social problems such as Good Capital, a for-profit investment firm focusing on social venture investing. The long-term question is whether the economics of this business model will work in favor of their social mission or against it. As the lines between for-profit and non-profit converge, MBAs are responding to the need for businesses to be socially responsible. Regardless of what form an organization takes, there are plenty of young entrepreneurs looking for a way to be good stewards of the world. TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 19
Corporate interview dell
The Career Guide talked to
Elise J. Meadows, Talent Acquisition Senior Manager, Dell
Elise J. Meadows
Sustainability and corporate responsibility are big issues in the corporate world in 2009. What is your approach to these issues? Corporate Responsibility at Dell is about demonstrating through action our values of corporate citizenship. Through the integration of economic, social and environmental responsibility into everything we do – and by ensuring diversity remains a Dell cornerstone so we have access to the best talent and ideas to innovate for our customers – Dell can build the right relationships. These relationships can grow our business while taking responsibility for the impact of our actions customers, suppliers,
As such, Dell, along with many other of the big businesses in operation, is committed to demonstrating through action our values of corporate citizenship.
How can employees get involved in such projects? There are a number of ways for employees to go green on Dell campuses. In recent years, environmental awareness has become a priority for all members of the global community and global environmental volunteer teams at Dell — created as grassroots efforts or in partnership with the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Team. Dell employees across the globe participate
the industry’s most energy-efficient products, save energy and deploy green power at our own facilities, and maintain our recycling leadership. We know that people of all ages around the globe who care about protecting the Earth expect no less. Our company’s leadership is strategically implementing a governance model for our sustainability efforts to ensure executive awareness and alignment around key risk areas. Continuing the process that has evolved, the Dell Leadership Team and Board of Directors are kept apprised of the wide range of risks and opportunities. By leveraging shareholder insight and support, customer feedback, and internal policies and procedures, we continue to address the material issues across the business.
What examples can you provide of what your company is doing in these areas?
Recycled glass bottles employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment.
Why are big businesses becoming so involved in these areas? Just as all of us strive to be good citizens in the communities in which we live, big businesses recognize their citizenship to the communities in which they operate. The effects of these decisions can be far reaching. 40
in green teams to brainstorm and work on environmentally-responsible projects in their facilities and local communities.
Would you agree that recruiters recognize the importance of the sustainability issues to their recruiting success? More than ever before, we are integrating consideration of the environment into our business processes and product design to deliver
Dell wants to prepare a generation of young people across the globe to connect by helping them learn how and when to use technology; gain access to the right technology resources; and understand how to unleash each individual’s unique potential through technology. To bring this vision to life, Dell has launched a new signature program, Dell YouthConnect, designed to provide support for the educational and digital inclusion initiatives essential to success in the Connected Era. The inaugural Dell YouthConnect grants totaling more than $2.7 million were awarded to 11 charitable organizations in India, Brazil and Mexico – key emerging countries that have a strong need for both humanitarian aid and technology access. The cash and in-kind grants support technology education for youths up to 17-years-old, and promote math, science and technology-skills development. Dell assessed technology and infrastructure needs in partnership with the recipient organizations and awarded strategic partnership,
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Corporate interview dell
Company details Dell’s global corporate headquarters are located at: Dell Inc., One Dell Way, Round Rock, Texas, USA Dell conducts operations worldwide, and manages its business in three geographic regions: the Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific-Japan (APJ). The Americas region, based in Round Rock, Texas, covers the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. The EMEA region, based in Bracknell, England, covers Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The APJ region, based in Singapore, covers the Asian countries of the Pacific Rim as well as Australia, New Zealand, and India. Every Fortune 100 company does business with Dell. Dell ranks No. 33 among the Fortune 500, has one of the world’s leading brands and has been the No. 1 PC supplier to small and medium businesses in the United States for 10 years in a row. 24 of the world’s top supercomputers run on Dell. The 10 largest U.S. companies run on Dell. The top 6 Internet service companies run on Dell. The top 5 U.S. commercial banks run on Dell. Dell’s global headquarters campus is powered by 100 percent green energy. Dell is first and only computer company offering free computer recycling to consumers worldwide. Dell’s Plant a Tree for Me and Plant a Forest for Me programs have planted more than 100,000 trees that will sequester 250 million pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere. seed funding and employee-directed giving grants to meet their specific needs. In addition to Dell YouthConnect, Dell encourages employees to Support their community through “One Dell: One Community,” Dell’s unified, global community relations activities. Dell employees can strengthen local communities through team-based and individual volunteer projects and other activities that set an example of community leadership. In the past 12 months, Dell volunteers have dedicated thousands of hours to philanthropic projects individually, as teams, and through corporate-sponsored activities. We are proud to announce that Dell matches employees Direct Giving donations year round, dollar for dollar up to $5000 per employee via Credit Card or Personal Check Dell plans to increase overall corporate giving to a level of one percent of company pre-tax profits by the beginning of the company’s fiscal year 2011, which begins in February 2010. The company’s planned efforts will include Dell corporate cash and in-kind giving and employee directed giving. As the company ramps giving to meet its new targets, new corporate giving will be focused on emerging countries around the world. In addition to these programs, Dell is committed to Green IT. Our approach is simple: Greener, Scalable, Upgradable Architecture: We
use modular design to make our products easy to upgrade and service — and, when necessary, to be safely and efficiently recycled. Efficient Configuration and Delivery: In addition to designing next-generation energyefficient technology, we’ve streamlined our transportation network to reduce transit times and minimize freight. Engagement and Empowerment: Even the most efficient technology uses electricity, so we partner with customers to help them offset the carbon impacts associated with product use. Product Recovery and Recycling: We’re
helping organizational customers responsibly and securely manage the retirement of used and unwanted IT equipment through an extensive suite of product recovery and recycling services.
As a recruiter, how would a candidate impress you? We value candidates who are passionate about the industry, demonstrate capability to drive Dell’s strategy, & are committed to success. We are always impressed by candidates with the highest integrity, candidates who can learn, understand, and problem solve, as well as respond, cope, and adjust to a fast-paced changing environment.
How does your company allow MBA/ PhD/Masters graduates to develop their skills? MBA/PhD/Masters graduates have opportunities for career development within Dell. Some of our business functions offer rotational opportunities for recent graduates. We have a variety of skill development classes available within Dell available to all employees. In addition to formal classes, there is a formal mentoring program at Dell where new employees can be matched with one or more experienced mentor(s) to be guided not only through the first few years, but throughout their careers.
How has the economic downturn impacted on your business and recruitment of MBA/ PhD/Masters graduates? Although Dell is not exempt from the effects of the economic downturn, our company leadership is committed to strategically bringing talented MBA/PhD/Masters graduates into the organization. We value the diversity of thought and skills these candidates bring to our organization as we strive for improving the success of our business.
Ecological modern building TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 41
businesswomen challenge the MBA stereotype Business schools across the world have long admitted the need to attract more female candidates in a bid to shake the stereotype that MBA programs are entirely male-dominated. For women already juggling a family with a career, or those not interested in the traditional route in financial services or consultancy, there has always been a question mark over the need for an MBA qualification.
ith the recession continuing to bite, the growing number of female applicants to MBA programs was expected to fall back but, the latest results from the TopMBA applicant survey show that it has had the opposite effect with 41% of respondents being female – the highest figure to date. Meanwhile, motivations for embarking on an MBA also seem to shifting. While many still
wish to follow the tried and test route, 29% of female respondents now say they want to use their qualification to help them set up their own business. This is up from 25% last year. The benefits that an MBA can offer candidates seeking to break into senior management or move sectors are widely documented but, unlike the cliché, not all entrepreneurs start in garages and not all MBAs are consultants, TopMBA Career
Guide meets four women who have used their MBAs to achieve very different results.
Kate Webster – the career change “You really do get out what you put into an MBA,” says Kate Webster, a corporate finance analyst for ANZ Bank in Australia. “It’s a huge investment financially and time-wise but if you are prepared to make those investments you truly can open up a whole world of
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opportunities that may have been closed to you previously.” Webster is certainly speaking from experience after using her MBA to make a major career change from working in healthcare recruitment to corporate finance. After training as a physiotherapist in the UK and spending four years working in public hospitals, she knew that she wanted more business-focus in her career but, at the point, not which direction to take. After persuading UK recruitment consultant Reed Personnel to employ her to recruit physiotherapists, she spent nine years with the company in various roles, including opening an office in Canada and moving to Australia to assimilate a newly acquired business. While she had already been advised to back up her management experience with a formal qualification, she was not motivated to start her MBA until her work integrating two businesses gave her a better insight to how business worked and how the board of her company thought. A desire to develop her skills in corporate finance and the finer details of running a business drove her to sign up to a part-time course at Melbourne Business School in 2005, and later to take part in an exchange program which took her to Stern School of Business in New York. While Webster says she has learnt that you can achieve a career change if you are determined, it is important to be realistic when embarking on a MBA – particularly if you have a non-traditional background – as you may have to work harder than candidates with a business background. “I was starting from a baseline of zero in many subjects with respect to factual knowledge but never underestimate what you bring to the table.”
Fiona Dunster – to launch own business in heavily-male dominated sector Australian construction consultant Fiona Dunster, who launched her own business two years ago, almost left her business plan collecting dust in a drawer until a series events prompted to throw caution to the wind and take a change. She wrote her plan just after completing her MBA but, she says herself, through “lack of a ‘real’ need or impetus” she put her vision aside to continue in her role as executive manager for development at Cbus Property, a Superannuation Fund. She had joined the company during the first year of her three-part time MBA, and had found the two complimentary. In 2007, when she had been with the company for six years, her chief executive sadly passed away, which Dunster says had a profound effect on her, and, several months later, when she was awarded the State and, ultimately, the National Crystal Vision Award (as selected by the National Association of Women in Construction)
for advancing the interests of women, she found her impetus and FIDUN Pty Ltd was born. While she says many successful and lucrative businesses are launched by innovative people with no formal training, she would advise anyone considering the move to embark on an MBA. “The networking benefits alone are worth the effort. The most beneficial thing for me was the learning I gained through my interaction with my fellow MBA peers – this opened my eyes and mind to ideas and experiences I never would have been exposed to otherwise.”
Natalia Bragina – launching new businesses in developing markets With a traditional background in commercial banking, it may not surprise many that Bragina decided to embark on a MBA but, since graduating, her career - which spans private equity, fresh pasta and corporate education - has been anything but conventional. Prompted to start her MBA by the Russian economic crisis in 1998, Bragina says it made her realize she needed a “more profound and deep business education”. She studied at the University of Michigan – now Ross School of Business – and had planned to
stay on in the US, but due to a tough job market she accepted an associate role at a Russian private equity firm, which saw her deal in a variety of projects including launching a high-class Russian winery. In 2005, she moved on to launching a fresh pasta company in Russia – which she says “just felt right at the time”. Not that it was an easy sell to the local market. She explains: “The preparation stage took me longer than I expected because of the very strict regulations of the food production industry. Negotiations with the retail chains were tough because shorter shelf life meant certain risks for them.” Bragina has since sold her share in the business – she set it up with three partners – and is now business development director at a corporate education business, which both offers games-based solutions for companies and offers consultancy on training. While she says that she could have developed her business skills and experience over time, her MBA allowed to achieve more, more quickly because of new insights and the invaluable network of contacts she made. “I am totally convinced that MBA can be a great asset for any type of career,” she adds. TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 23
Strategy during the downturn Strategy is the long-term direction of a business and during a recession this can be skewed by short-termism and a negative outlook. So say Professor Gerry Johnson and Professor David Pettifer from the Lancaster Centre for Strategic Management, Lancaster University Management School
certain business dynamics will be significantly different coming out of this recession than coming in and, as we argue later, maintaining strategic flexibility will be important. When balancing action to deal with recessionary conditions with longer term strategic needs, there are several points to consider. Cutting costs is an inevitable aspect of working through a downturn, but strategymakers need to be cautious about the basis on which they are made. The temptation is to cut the costs that are easiest. A more strategic approach, and likely a more effective one, is to identify the costs least important to delivering what customers, particularly major customers, “The indications are that the current downturn will be deeper and really value. This not longer than any we have witnessed for decades, and will be coupled only needs to be based on a deep with a significant ‘credit squeeze’. So managers need to build this into u n d e r s t a n di n g o f their long-term plans as well as short-term budgets.” customers’ needs, but also on re-evaluating
he current economic situation is not helped by the fact that so few managers have experienced a recessionary environment before, as well as the depth of uncertainty now being faced. The challenge of making strategy in such circumstances certainly involves managing for a recession, but that does not necessarily mean neglecting the longer term. The critical first step to achieve this balance is to understand the nature of the recession and its possible effects on the longer term business environment. In this respect there are two significant factors that management needs to be aware of.
Recession First, not all recessions are the same, and their impacts are not p r e di c t a b l e . T h e indications are that the current downturn will be deeper and longer 24
than any we have witnessed for decades, and will be coupled with a significant “credit squeeze”. So managers need to build this into their long-term plans as well as short-term budgets. Second, recessions can mask deeper structural changes, more fundamental than cyclical corrections. Realignments in economic power, restructuring of global financial markets, credit availability and costs have important long-term strategic implications for many businesses and whole industries. Predicting the out-turn is impossible, but we can be
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what business activities actually deliver what customers value and, crucially, which don’t. This isn’t just a short-term exercise in identifying unnecessary costs. It has the longterm benefit of identifying which activities really deliver competitive advantage. It also ensures that costs cut now do not harm the future potential of the business.
Flexibility Strategy in a recession is also about building and maintaining as much flexibility as possible, both to ready the organisation for the post recession situation and to deal with unforeseen events. This is especially import ant when considering major expenditure, such as capital investment. Development should only be initiated where there is the option for extension, rather than making an immediate commitment to major and long-term spend. In the same way, strategic alliances and partnerships might be a more appropriate flexible option than merger or acquisition for example. An obvious point, but one not always systematically dealt with, is that a recession presents opportunities. Businesses become available at a lower cost, competitors pull out of markets; more firms are looking to outsource their costs, other businesses need a ‘safe haven’; a partner or parent through difficult times. All of this present opportunities, but they need to be considered in the context of longer term strategy. A further issue is people strategy and development. Again, short-term needs must
be balanced against developing long-term capability. Do you have the right expertise to deal with a recession? If not, you need to work out how to bring this into your business. Given the good times of the recent past, it is likely that some boards will not have the experience needed for the current situation. Could the addition of one or two non-executive directors with relevant experience be useful? Even during a downturn, the best managers will still be mobile. So how do you retain your best people and ensure their future development, when management development costs are likely to be under pressure?
Challenges This is a leadership challenge. Talent development has to be brought in-house. The need is to focus on selected senior managers; to develop their capabilities to coach and mentor others. So one place that HR spend cannot be reduced is in the support and development of these senior people themselves. Finally, in balancing the short-term pressures with longer term strategy, more than ever, openness is crucial. Be open and honest with key stakeholders, talk to customer groups and, of course, to the financiers. Now is not the time to be coy with banks, and the time invested in talking through the position, opportunities and strategy of a business, in creating a genuine and explicit understanding, is hugely valuable in building for the future.
The bottom line for managing strategy in a recession is not to sacrifice long-term competitive advantage in the search for shortterm cost savings.It is feasible to achieve both.
Cash crash Businesses often fail because of a lack of credit, not necessarily because they are a poor proposition or are badly run. Good finance directors will focus on cash flow, keep working capital under control and ensure all the major expenses are focused on creating value. This is the time to target strategy for getting the most from the organization’s product and customer portfolios. The standard guide is that roughly 80% of profit comes from 20% of products and customers, which means there are usually some customers and products which don’t contribute, or which even destroy profit. Now is the time to get rid of the tail. This is especially true in retail and manufacturing, where businesses can be involved in multiple versions of the same product or service, which creates complexity and cost with little return. As a result, all the businesses in the chain have excess inventories and costs. While there may have been resistance to slimming down offerings in the past, there is the chance to create new agreements with retailers, who will also be looking to cut inventories. And, looking ahead, a recession may well be the chance for greater collaboration between manufacturers and retailers to look at costs and improve long-term working relationships, and to change what can be an adversarial relationship.
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 25
MBAs no longer wash away your employment background By David Williams
n the boom times you can bank on an MBA to propel you into a different world. If you want to change industry, country or function, the investment of time and money in an MBA is usually enough on its own to show employers you are serious about who you are and what you can become. Your past achievements, though certainly never irrelevant, serve as the background against which your MBA stands out, and, if the background isn’t perfect, the spotlight on the MBA is able to wash the problems away.
“In previous recessions, employers have consistently reverted to hiring candidates with prior relevant experience, rather than taking a risk on a bright young careerswitcher,” explains Nunzio Quacquarelli, Director of QS World MBA Tour and Editor of topmba.com. “The current recession is actually more favourable to MBA hiring than the dot-com bust of 2001-2003. At least this time the consulting sector is hiring actively and the banks are still hiring in small numbers. It is still feasible for an MBA graduate to change geography, industry or function, but significantly more difficult than in normal times.”
experience as a tool for hiring that at any other time we can remember,” he says.
Don’t panic – accept you will have to wait longer
So what strategies can you use if your aim is to use your MBA to change industry or function? All the MBA careers experts we spoke to pointed out that while it is certainly taking longer to find the employment they are looking for, almost all career changers will succeed in the end. “It is harder for people to switch careers this year and the big difference is that it is No fresh start taking longer to find jobs,” says Peter Fennah, In an employment downturn however, Career Development everything changes. “A Director at Cranfield lot of people are getting School of an MBA under the “An MBA gives your CV a different look, employers are going to Management, a illusion that it will wash general management what they have done look for evidence of achievement in previous roles but they will MBA which places two before and give them a also look at what the MBA has given the student. Companies focus thirds of MBAs into fresh start,” comments consulting, logistics Anthony Sandrik, a on soft skills and the latest business techniques plus advanced and management roles. manager at the New York leadership and team-building skills” He reports that he branch of recruitment expects 90% of his agency Michael Page MBA class to have job International. “But it Jim Clayton, Director of the W. P. Carey offers three months after graduation, compared isn’t really the case. With fewer jobs out there MBA Career Management Center at Arizona to 97% at the same point last year. and plenty of candidates, it is going to be State University, agrees. “Many of our students “What seems to be happening is that the tougher for people to differentiate themselves, are career changers and over the last year we people with prior relevant experience are the so pre-MBA experience is becoming a lot more have seen more employers relying on prior first to be hired,” explains Jim Clayton at important than it was in the past.”
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Editorial MBA XXXXXXXXX careers
Arizona State, “which leaves the career changers as the only people left on the market. The interest in them kicks in at that point and they are able to move out of their previous industry. It is just that they are being employed later than they would usually be. I have one young man whose previous occupation was teaching and who wants to go into finance. At the very beginning of the year we couldn’t create any kind of interest for him for an internship, but now the year has gone on and all the people with prior finance experience are off the market he is starting to get some action. I think that this is going to hold true even if the economy doesn’t improve. There will be opportunities for career changers eventually.”
Focus on transferable skills The second area that MBA career experts agree on is the need to focus on highlighting your transferable skills. Clare Hudson is Director of MBA Career Management Services at Manchester Business School. “Selling past experience is about looking at transferable skills,” she says. “From day one we tell students not to ignore their past experience but to look beyond the specifics to find those transferable skills that employers will want.
They can then show how their MBA has enhanced and enriched that experience both professionally and personally. It is important to remember that it is always difficult to write your own CV, as it is only when you are one step removed from it that you can really see what is there, so get help to do it for you.” “Now that talent recruitment has been put on hold, career changers need to adopt a whole new approach,” argues Katty Ooms Suter, Director, MBA Admissions and Career Services at the International Institute for Management Development, Switzerland (IMD). “’This is who I am, I’ll find the opportunities’, is not an approach that works any more. You really have to position yourself and show the skills you possess are transferable. This year we have introduced a new tool for MBAs to set their goals, to analyse their core strengths, their core skills and where their interests and passions lie. This enables them to position themselves for a specific opportunity, and not just as someone who is talented. It is a very different way of positioning. This year it is more difficult to change your career direction but it is still possible, you just have to really work at it.”
Focus on MBA skills The final suggestion careers experts make is to highlight the skills the MBA has given you. “An MBA gives your CV a different look,” says Clare Hudson at Manchester. “Employers are going to look for evidence of achievement in previous roles but they will also look at what the MBA has given the student. Companies are very much focussed on soft skills and want a blend of the latest business techniques plus advanced leadership, team-building and presentation skills. A mix of practical projects, teamworking and internship projects taken while on the MBA can be used to demonstrate the skills you have acquired.” “We include a special section on the resumé of serious career changers,” says Jim Clayton at Arizona State. “It might be called MBA Financial Projects or MBA Supply Chain Projects, depending on the career goal, and what we do is bullet point out those technical skills the MBA has given them. It helps us present our students as not simply MBAs with unrelated experience but as people who have developed useful, industry-specific skills while on the program.”
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 27
MBA employment outlook:
not as bad as expected By Nunzio Quacquarelli
The global financial crisis has hit the international managerial job market hard, yet MBAs seem to be faring better than unqualified managers in general
uropean Union unemployment has risen by 1.2% to 7.9% in April 2009, compared to 6.7% a year ago (US unemployment has risen by 3.3% in the same period). MBAs have not been insulated from this crisis, but early career service feedback suggests the percentage finding employment within three months of graduation will not be significantly different from a year ago.
Employment The table below shows international business schools reporting the highest post-MBA employment rates three months after graduation. Only seven schools worldwide reported 100 per cent employment rates for their MBA graduates including two in India – the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad and Indian School of Business. Vlerick Leuven Gent in Belgium topped the table in Europe, whilst Georgia Tech, MIT and Bentley College topped the table in the USA, alongside Calgary in Canada. Table: International business schools with highest employment rates three months after graduation – September 2008 Georgia Tech College of Management
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
Indian School of Business
McCallum Graduate School of Business Bentley University
University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business
Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
IESE Business School
McDonough School of Business Georgetown University
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Source: TopMBA.com/Scorecard 2008
Nunzio Quacquarelli is Editor of TopMBA.com and Director of the QS World MBA Tour. Candidates can register now at www.topmba.com
The MBA alumni network is a vital resource in a recession, helping to keep employment rates high. Alumni in small, medium and large industrial and technology companies are coming back to MBA campuses to recruit MBA talent at a time when many multinationals and banks have hiring freezes. Peter Fennah, Career Director at Cranfield School of Management, a British general management MBA, agrees that alumni are playing a big role in MBA recruiting this year. “The big difference compared to last year, is that it is taking longer to find jobs, it is harder for people to switch careers and more of our MBAs are entering maverick roles, like the booming online gaming industry, or joining smaller companies through our alumni network.”
Visa environment An opportunity for Indian MBA graduates may be smaller companies in Europe, Asia, Australia and Canada, where the visa environment remains favourable. A benefit of the MBA qualification is that each school has a large alumni network, often working in high growth small- and mediumsized enterprises. When the job market in one sector falters, many of these alumni come back to the school seeking to hire young talent whom they otherwise might not be able to attract. The USA has reduced the availability of visas, making it difficult for Indian MBAs to remain working in the country after their graduation. By contrast, these other countries have favourable working visa environments for new Indian MBA graduates – a big benefit to smaller companies looking to hire MBAs. Another reason MBAs are faring relatively well, despite the recession, is the continued hiring into the consulting industry, which traditionally recruits about 30% of MBA graduates. Strategy firms like AT Kearney are looking for experienced MBAs to staff a growing number of assignments looking at ‘efficiency-savings’ and ‘strategic reviews’ throughout Europe. Financial services firms traditionally hire 30-35% of international MBAs. In 2009, it is expected that the proportion will be closer to 25%, which is not bad considering over 325,000 people worldwide have been laid off in this sector in the last twelve months. Stephanie Ahrens, MBA Recruiter at Morgan Stanley explains “those of us that have seen downturns in the economy in the past know that a recruitment freeze is not the answer. MBAs are much desired in our business for building a pipeline of future leaders and innovators. We are committed to hiring MBAs in 2009 and beyond, despite current challenging market conditions.”
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MBAs is strong at present. Michael Joseph of Olam International recruits many Indian MBAs because their “complete business Sarah Crawford, Head of European MBA Recruiting at Goldman understanding is a necessity.” Sachs confirms that “Goldman Sachs is running an active intern and Mr. Sunil Bellara, Director of Capgemini India maintains that full time MBA hiring program this year. MBAs offer a unique set of MBAs have always proved to be assets to the organization they join: general management, leadership and communication skills.” Crawford “Today it is not just the MNCs but also the Indian pure play companies adds “We have recently interviewed Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Danish, across all industries that invest in hiring MBAs. Professional Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish speakers for our Summer management is not just a topic of seminar and panel discussions, it MBA intern program.” has become a reality in the workplace. The current slowdown may To some extent the crisis is stimulating MBA demand in financial have impacted services. Fennah at average salaries on Cranfield points to a account of skewed big uplift in contracting “A benefit of the MBA qualification is that each school has a large offers from US being opportunities for alumni network, often working in high growth small- and mediumless, but in real terms experienced MBAs, now is the time when especially in finance sized enterprises. When the job market in one sector falters, many of industry needs these and insurance. “Many these alumni come back to the school seeking to hire young talent g r a d u a t e s companies have cut the most.” back too sharply and whom they otherwise might not be able to attract.” I n a d di t i o n , they need experienced many MBAs – contractors to typically 5-10% - also complete projects, or start their own business and a recession is often a good time to plan fill specialist roles vacated by people who have been retired early.” and initiate such a project, with the domestic Indian market an Strong domestic growth rates and renewed investor confidence attractive proposition for many budding entrepreneurs. since the victory of the Congress Party, is stimulating local employer The message from all business school career directors is that this demand for Indian MBAs. topmba.com continues to see a growing year MBAs have to be prepared for an intensive job search, number of Indian companies recruiting MBAs, especially amongst complimented by career flexibility. But as long as global trade remains multinational companies operating in India. Professor Prem Chandrani open, demand for international MBAs will remain resilient. of S.P.Jain Institute in Mumbai confirms that local demand for Indian TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 29
Careers Industry Focus
IT and the hi-tech industries poised to survive downturn T
he demand for MBA educated business leaders with a computer and information systems background continues to grow, despite the hostile face of the economic downturn, as consumers and businesses demand more and more from technology. Partly driven by the cost-effective nature of technological innovations, MBA graduates moving into telecoms and hi-tech are commanding significantly higher salaries than their counterparts in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), manufacturing and banking. The most recent figures available, from the QS TopMBA.com Recruiter Survey 2008, show that MBA graduates in the broad telecoms and hi-tech industries average at just over US$106,000 with FMCG at US$80,000 and banking at $89,000. The US Department of Labor forecasts a 16% growth over the 2006-2016 decade, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. During that period, new
in technology will bring, and how to maximize the benefits of such innovations in the business sphere, will fuel the need for more MBA graduates in both the developed and developing worlds.
Developing Professor Ed Roberts, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s top business schools for preparing MBA graduates with a technological bent, says: “A lot of [MIT’s MBA graduates] will be ready and able to get a job in a high-tech company. Though they may be technology experts they will have skills in sales or business development that they can build on and, maybe five years from now, look to start companies on their own. It’s still a rapidly developing field.” During this economic downturn, firms will need to remain competitive by installing sophisticated computer networks and set up more complex intranets and websites. Security will continue to be an important issue for
“The US Department of Labor forecasts a 16% growth over the 20062016 decade, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. During that period, new technologies in the workplace will continue to drive demand for computer programmers, software engineers, systems and database administrators.”
technologies in the workplace will continue to drive demand for computer programmers, software engineers, systems and database administrators. The challenges this increase 30
According to the US Department of Labor, “Workers with specialized knowledge and strong communication skills will have the best prospects. People with management skills
businesses to keep the systems safe from hackers and viruses, so there will be a high demand for managers proficient in computer security issues.
and an understanding of business practices and principles will have excellent opportunities, as companies are increasingly looking to technology to drive their revenue.” Business schools are recognizing this need and are developing their courses to produce the managers of the future. The Information Systems Concentration in UCLA Anderson School of Management’s MBA program prepares students for careers in technically oriented consulting, information services and their management, and the development and marketing of new information technology (IT). One of the five courses of the concentration is Information Systems Management, which is an introduction to information systems in organizations from the perspective of the general manager.
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Careers INDUSTRY FOCUS
Employment MBA graduates are very keen on the information technology sector when it comes to looking for employment opportunities, and not just for the apparent salary benefits. Google, a famously innovative recruiter, topped the Fortune chart of the most desirable MBA employers in 2008. In 2009 Microsoft are at number two with Cisco at four and Google at seven. Mara Lucini is Hewlett-Packard’s Staffing Programme Manager for Europe, Middle East & Africa. “We normally take MBA students for all sorts of positions from working in our HP Labs facility, IT professional roles or our sales and marketing divisions. We are often interested in MBA graduates who have diverse backgrounds in marketing, finance and HR. We also take the candidate’s culture and aptitude into consideration. It is crucial that any candidate is flexible, open minded, works well in teams, likes challenges and appreciates the working environment at HP.” Lucini says that MBA graduates bring certain strengths to their role at HP including diverse backgrounds, as they attended school in different countries/environment; strong finance backgrounds, a strength for all positions; structured backgrounds on methodology and experience with business cases. “One particular area that MBA graduates can bring even more benefits to the IT industry is in emerging markets where their skills differentiate them further,” says Lucini. For recruitment Lucini says HP is not specifically targeting MBA graduates, although the skills they will have gained will obviously boost their profile: “HP does not have any specific differentiation between MBA students and others (e.g. engineers), we instead try to look at the candidate’s full profile and make the best fit. We want to continue attracting students from all disciplines.”
Head start When Ben Tamblyn was applying to Microsoft, he found that his MBA helped him get in without “having to go through the whole HR rigmarole.” Tamblyn is Global Business Development Manager for Microsoft Business Intelligence, based in Seattle. He joined Microsoft after doing his MBA at Kingston University in London. “I did a full time MBA and because I had taken such a risk and applied myself it showed that I was committed to my future. This impressed Microsoft as it showed what I was capable of.” Tamblyn’s MBA added “an extra layer of educational expertise on top of my seven years of professional experience which helped me to break through my professional glass ceiling.” One of the best pieces of advice Tamblyn
Hi-tech cupola was given when he joined Microsoft was when to pitch in with his knowledge and skills. “I was told to be smart about when to use my knowledge. You can’t arrive on the first day and start telling people how to do their own jobs – which they have obviously been doing pretty well before you arrived. You need to apply your knowledge, without ramming it down people’s throats.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, Computer and Information Systems Managers, on the Internet at www.bls.gov/oco/ocos258.htm
TopMBA CAREER GUIDE www.topmba.com 31
Company profile STAPLES
Senior Recruiter, College Relations, Staples
Company details US$23bn in sales Headquartered just outside of Boston, MA Staples operates in 27 countries throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia/Pacific Staples operates 1,832 retail stores throughout the United States and Canada 91,000 employees
What makes your company a strong one to work for? Diversity. Environment. Community. Ethics. They’re in our Soul. As one of the people behind the Easy Button, you’ll join a team committed to the highest standards of corporate responsibility. Staples Soul is a holistic approach that recognizes the close connection between our financial success and our desire to make a positive impact on our associates, communities and the planet. It’s how we do business. And that makes Staples an organization you’ll be proud to call your own.
Our associates mirror the diversity of the communities in which we do business. By reflecting the face of our customer, we also create a workplace of inclusion and acceptance. Our commitment goes beyond race, age and gender to include developing a diversity of thought and experience. It also extends to sourcing office supply products and services from diverse minority- and women-owned businesses.
Staples reaches out to the communities where our customers and associates live and work through the Staples Foundation for Learning®, our alliances with U.S. and international charitable organizations, causemarketing initiatives and local giving programs.
We seek environmental excellence in every aspect of our business. Examples include developing and sourcing environmentally preferable products, providing easy recycling services for our customers and associates, supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and educating stakeholders about environmental issues.
Ethics Staples strives to be a model of corporate governance and ethical business practices. Our commitment to integrity is embodied in our Code of Ethics, which all associates are expected to follow. We also seek to work with suppliers who share our values, as reflected in our Supplier Code of Conduct.
In 1986, Staples® invented the office superstore
throughout North and South America, Europe,
concept. Today, we are the world’s largest office
Asia and Australia. Our associates are responsible
products company with $23 billion in sales in 2008.
for the company’s success. Their commitment to
We’re committed to making it easy for our
making it easy is helping us build a great company
customers around the globe to buy a wide range of
– a company where everyone has a voice, owns
office products, including supplies, technology,
their own future and has a strong financial stake
furniture, and business services. Staples serves
in our continuing success.
businesses of all sizes and consumers in 27 countries
Staples® is a great place to work.
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Company profile staples
What examples can you provide of what your company is doing in the area of Sustainability: Environmentally preferable products
By the end of 2007, Staples was offering more than 3,000 different environmentally preferable office products, including many Staples® brand products. Beyond recycled content, we’re pursuing opportunities to develop Staples® brand products with “green” raw materials, including wood fiber from certified sustainable forests, agricultural wastes, and lower impact bio–based alternatives.
Through our partnerships with organizations focused on environmental education, we’re working to educate associates, consumers and businesses about how they can make a difference for the environment. In our industry, we plan to be the world class leaders in the area of sustainability
Become a more inspiring leader. A more effective manager. Or a higherperforming salesperson. It’s part of our entrepreneurial culture to promote from within. Staples University gives all associates (at all levels) the training to lead and succeed.
From taking back used computers and other office technology products, ink and toner cartridges, personal electronics, and rechargeable batteries from our customers to recycling cardboard, paper, electronics, and various other items internally, Staples believes in the value of recycling.
Energy & climate Our investments in energy conservation and renewable energy reflect our commitment to reducing the impacts of our energy use on the environment, particularly related to climate change.
Annual scholarship program Reimburses you for eligible tuition, lab fees, books and related supplies and equipment when you enroll in a degree program or job-related course at an accredited college or university.
A wind farm in the Philippines TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 47
Banking the Islamic way Islamic banking is on the rise. New programs and modules
Dr Ibrahim Umar
in the subject have sprung up in Australia and the UK. As the world starts to rebuild its financial institutions, the interest-free, more consensual approach of Islamic finance is offering a challenge to established assumptions. David Williams investigates
he profile of Islamic finance has been growing sharply in recent years as the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Muslims have become more concerned with placing their money in institutions and accounts that comply with Shariah law. Driven by the wealth of the Gulf states and by regulatory innovation in Malaysia, new Islamic financial institutions are continually being established to serve this growing market. For the same reason, conventional western banks have also been offering Shariah-compliant accounts and products such as mortgages for several years now. Some estimates predict that the volume of the world economy managed under the Islamic financial system will shortly reach four per cent; not an insignificant proportion.
Islamic finance takes centre stage It is however the collapse of Western financial institutions and a general crisis of confidence in Western regulatory regimes that has brought Islamic finance to centre stage. Because, while many in the West have long advocated the financial sector adopting approaches such as more sust ainable practices, ethical investment and nonpredatory lending, Islamic finance is the only example of how such a system might work in practice. Hence the upsurge of interest in the area. 32
“The conventional financial system would do well to learn what it can from Islamic finance’s avoidance of exposure to the US sub-prime market and associated complex financial instruments,” says Assistant Treasure of Australia, Nick Sherry, opening a conference in July 2009 to mark the launch of a new Masters in the subject at La Trobe University, Melbourne. At the same time, half way across the world, the UK’s University of Leicester School of Management was holding a conference with the explicit aim of considering potential
lessons for the West from the Islamic banking and finance sector. “Islamic banking has a lot to offer in terms of generating ideas to overcome this current recession the world is facing,” says Dr Ibrahim Umar, the organizer of the Leicester Conference. “Perhaps the most important thing that anyone new to the topic should realize is that Islamic banking is not only for Muslims. Malaysia is now leading the world in this area, and what has been found there is that many non-Muslims have been going to Islamic banks, not for religious reasons but because they find that those banks offer products and services that they appreciate and that have commercial viability.”
Dis-interest Although Shariah-compliant banking has many different practices, it is perhaps best known for the way it prohibits the charging of interest (“riba” or usury). In order to avoid interest, what characterises Islamic banks is the way they come to an arrangement with a client in which both parties share a proportion of the risk and the profit. Known as “musharakah” (joint venturing), business loans are therefore made on the viability of the opportunity rather than being based on some more or less rigorous assessment of the credit
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worthiness of the borrower. Other products such as mortgages are organized through various leasing arrangements in which the bank buys the property and sells it back to the client over the term of the mortgage. “Islamic banking offers the Western system a number of new perspectives,” continues Dr Umar. “It is very difficult for some people to imagine running a system that isn’t based on interest. So the creation of Islamic products or institutions helps conventional financial organizations with their product development. It makes them look at the world differently by showing them that it is possible to create something viable and to continue to do business through arrangements that are not based on charging interest. “Secondly, the continuing discussion about whether or not a product is legitimately Islamic can be seen as a healthy element of the system. The act of challenging a product creates transparency because it allows customers to understand the process of validation and reveals to the client the strengths and weaknesses of a product.”
viability and only examines the benefit of a transaction to a narrow segment of the stakeholders. Because the Islamic approach emphasize ethics, it looks at whether the transaction is good for the society, for the economy and for everyone involved. I am not saying the Islamic system solves everything, because it cannot be applied independently
of the moral teaching of Islam. However, MBA students who understand the Islamic approach would obviously have an advantage over their peers in areas of the world where the system is being used. On top of this they would have the intellectual benefit of being able to consider a radically different approach to finance.”
Ethical advantage However, for Dr Umar, it is the ethical principles at the heart of Islamic banking rather than the products themselves that provide the most important element for the non-Islamic financial system to reflect upon. “What fundamentally distinguishes Islamic banking and finance from conventional systems is the way the Islamic system embeds some moral judgement into its decision-making process,” he explains. “It looks not only at satisfying the profit motive but at the underling fairness of the arrangement and at how it will affect all the stakeholders. It is completely different because the bank goes into a relationship with its clients that is based on partnership. This factor is distinctive and is likely to be the one that leads Islamic banking to provide steady, sustainable levels of growth as compared to the quick growth and sudden bust we see in the West. This is hypothetical, but it may be the crisis could not have got to this level if the Islamic system had been in use.”
Intellectual advantage Abdulrazzak Al Wafi has an MBA from the UK’s Heriot-Watt University where he is continuing his doctoral studies. He also attended the Leicester conference and believes the Islamic approach has benefits for corporate governance as well. “If you look at Western corporate governance, you can see there is a fault in the system,” he explains. “It emphasizes short- rather than long-term
Petronas twin towers, Kuala Lumpur TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 33
the perfect MBA career? High profile, huge responsibility, exposure to lots of different organizations, management teams and industries, what’s not to like about consultancy as a career? David Williams looks at how this perennial favourite has weathered the downturn and what the prospects are for the future
ou couldn’t ask for a better training course for consultancy than an MBA,” says James Platt, Partner and Managing Director with responsibility for UK recruitment at Boston Consulting Group (BCG). “If the MBA is part one – the launch pad of a career – then consulting is part two,” agrees Mark Page, Partner at A.T. Kearney’s London office. “It provides such a firm grounding in different industries and different management disciplines.” “MBAs are very well prepared for consulting because they usually offer a background in different industries and bring that experience with them,” adds Kathrin Pommer, HR Coordinator with responsibility for MBA relations at Roland Berger in Germany. “They also have the international mindset we need and the MBA has trained them in finding an analytical approach, which is why they are ideal candidates. “Consultancy is attractive to MBAs because they like the steep learning curve, while on the client side they get direct contact with divisional managers and board members. On the MBA program, they get used to being in contact with inspiring people and an international peer group; consulting is a very similar environment. It also gives them an opportunity to get to know several companies, so the work suits people who are keen on broadening their knowledge and skills.”
numbers, recruitment into consultancy has accelerated steadily. By 2006 the sector had surged back so strongly that it had easily overtaken finance as the leading source of MBA vacancies, and in the two years that followed it widened the gap even more (Source: QS Top MBA Salary and Recruitment Report 2008). This recruitment was driven by what was happening in the wider economy. As the economy expanded, companies and organizations were very willing to invest in big restructuring, IT or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) projects. They were happy to outsource some functions, and they needed both blue-sky growth strategies, and entry strategies for the new markets that globalization and increasing Internet usage were creating. This drove companies to buy in the best advice and specialists they could afford and, as a
consequence, many different types of consultancy prospered.
A changed landscape Inevitably, the contours of this commercial landscape have been redrawn since the start of the downturn. As companies hoarded cash in the early months of the recession, there were naturally far fewer large-scale implementation projects to be had. The creation of blue-sky growth strategies quickly became a redundant skill while there was less willingness to look at areas such as outsourcing. However, this hasn’t meant a general dot-com style crash in consultancy recruitment (although some firms that were over-exposed to vulnerable markets such as the private equity sector will have suffered). This positive situation exists partly because the current
The context Since the dot-com crash in 2002, when many consultancies found themselves massively over-staffed and were forced to reduce 36
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downturn did not arrive without warning and partly because a recession brings its own consulting opportunities. “This is nothing like the 2001-2002 downturn when consulting companies found themselves horribly overexposed,” says Mark Page. “The warning signs about the impending credit crunch were coming long before Lehman Brothers collapsed and this enabled us simply to tweak our recruitment plans down a bit. We are still recruiting, we just ran our plan down slightly in 2009.” “As you might expect given the current environment, there has been a switch in work,” says James Platt at BCG. “Instead of growth strategies, we are involved in transformational work, turnarounds and cost-reduction projects. Clients still have to work out how to succeed in the new environment and, as most of them aren’t set up to think through the new dynamics, they continue to look outside for help. It’s true their problems are bigger than they were two years ago, but this means their need for help and support is bigger.” “Companies in this type of crisis have a high demand for consulting and still require
the services of high-potential individuals,” agrees Kathrin Pommer at Roland Berger. John Logan is Human Resources Manager at ZS Associates, a company which consults globally on sales and marketing strategy, as well as on outsourcing and implementation in the healthcare sector. “Everybody wants to grow their top line right now,” he says, “and this is where some of the competition in the industry is coming from. We are seeing consultancies who would once not have touched the kind of implementation roles we specialize in who are now prepared to take on this kind of work.”
Future prospects Consultancy in general has then weathered the recession quite well, but what about the opportunities for 2010 and beyond? The general outlook appears to be one of cautious optimism. “Hiring people out of business schools is still quite a competitive business for us,” says Page. “We are not going on a hiring spree, but even so we are still seeing the normal attrition of people leaving the office for the normal
reasons: to go to business school, into industry or to transfer abroad. So we always have hiring needs just to keep the headcount flat. There is still uncertainty in the market for consultancy services, but there is also an expectation that we are moving back towards some sort of normality. If we grew our numbers by five percent in 2010, that would be where we would feel comfortable.” “From our London office perspective, we are bringing in more people than we have ever done before,” says Platt. “We are in the mode that if we can find the right quality of candidates we will hire them. We have been sensitive in the current environment, but as long as the business is there we will bring people in.” “I expect increasing demand in 2010,” says Pommer. “It is difficult for anyone to predict what will happen in the next twelve months, but, as Roland Berger is a market leader in restructuring, I expect rising demand as M&A and cost-efficiency projects continue to dominate. The offices are still monitoring capacity closely but I am starting to detect an increase in demand right now.” TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 37
Industry focus banking
Back to the business school drawing board Business schools have to go to business school themselves, to avoid a bankruptcy of intellectual capital, says Professor Ismail Ertürk, Senior Fellow in Banking at Manchester Business School Professor Ismail Ertürk
he Queen of England noted in November 2008 how awful the financial crisis was becoming and then asked the economists, “If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them?” It seems clear to us now, with hindsight. However, some commentators have gone a step further than the Queen and described the current financial crisis in more florid terms as the ‘bankruptcy of the intellectual capital of Wall Street’.
Shareholder value principle
into an opportunity to re-think some of the core assumptions in MBA curricula. After the Enron and WorldCom corporate scandals, business schools responded by introducing or increasing courses on business ethics and corporate governance. This current crisis also calls for re-visiting the curriculum. Business schools have always been responsive to business trends and changes in the economy and do not wait for a crisis to happen to self-examine. Globalization, for example, has transformed both pedagogical and epistemological aspects of business education because managers have started to operate in a qualitatively different and much more uncertain business environment. This current crisis is too big and too complicated to be ignored by business school curricula. Although
each school will respond in a uniquely different way I believe there are some common lessons to be learned. Since this crisis highlighted a disconnectedness of a highly interconnected finance industry from its customers and the society at large, business schools need to introduce elements to their programs where the social value of business is as visible as shareholder value principle. This should be done in a much more intellectually robust manner than it is currently observed on various courses on business school curricula. New business school initiatives like courses on social innovation can be further developed to play such a central role in MBA teaching.
Wall Street, of course, is associated with financial innovation, financially engineered managerial incentives, assumptions regarding rationality in economic life, efficient markets, the shareholder value principle, quantitative risk management models, corporate governance metrics “Social responsibility, ecological concerns and social innovation are already and so on. These topics on many business school curricula but more investment in these areas is are very familiar to MBA students and needed. Method of thinking is equally important. Business schools should academics. Therefore, introduce critical thinking on the curriculum for students to be aware that the business school community –faculty what they learn may not be applicable to all situations at all times” and alumni togethershould turn this crisis 38
Social value I n a d di t i o n t o introducing the concept of social value into the curriculum in various innovative ways to counter-balance the shareholder value principle, business schools need to strike an academic balance between utilitarian
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Industry focus banking
objectives and critical, out-of-the-box thinking. What this crisis has shown is that MBA education as a post graduate degree has had very little, if any, self doubt in its curriculum. Of course too much self doubt leads to indecisiveness and inaction. But unchecked and self-righteous certitude can bring us down as it lacks a critical balance, which was amply in evidence during this crisis. There was almost religious belief in the marketâ€™s ability to deliver solutions to complex economic problems. Recent financial innovations such as synthetic securitization, credit default swaps and managerial remuneration packages were believed to be universally applicable scientific solutions to the problems of finance. Business school teaching needs to examine the limits of what the market economy can deliver to all stakeholders and reflect this in research and engagement with business. In the eyes of the society at large, bankers with large bonuses who brought down their banks and caused an historical economic crisis are currently being scapegoated for the worldâ€™s current financial and economic problems. Though this seems unfair, it is not, however, unfair to ask the question whether it was a lack of critiquing of the claims of modern finance and management that played a major role in the current crisis.
the so-called Faustian pact of business schools with self-interest can and should be broken by introducing to the curriculum subjects like history of science and history of business. Also, the emphasis on markets needs to be balanced with considerations about the broader social context of business. Social responsibility, ecological concerns and social innovation are already on many business school curricula but more investment in these areas is needed. Method of thinking is equally important. Business schools should introduce critical thinking on the curriculum for students to be aware that
what they learn may not be applicable to all situations at all times. Students should be encouraged to apply critical thinking on all courses and must be made aware of the normative nature of most social science based courses to which MBA courses belong. Students should be intellectually equipped to deal with complications rather than trained to simplify complex business issues. One such simplification that has dominated most MBA teaching is the assumption that shareholder value is something that is achievable and can solve the problems of economic efficiency, prosperity and growth all at once. We have seen ample examples of corporate misbehaviour and excessive remuneration in banking that encouraged risky behaviour justified by shareholder value rhetoric. Business school teaching that is based on shareholder value maximization can easily turn it into an ideology where truth becomes a victim of good intentions. This crisis has shown that the vocational and professional priorities on MBA courses that form the basis of educational objectives need to balanced with critical and reflective thinking habits.
Managerial relevance It is not incorrect to say that most business school teaching instills certitude and is prescriptive in most subjects from strategy to finance. In many ways this mode of teaching is suited to the vocational aspects of MBA education and serves the interests of all MBA constituencies well. Of course the managerial relevance of MBA teaching is important and the MBA is not a research degree that leads to an academic career. Nevertheless there is a tendency to cloud business school teaching with scientific discourse mostly borrowed from physical sciences. However, most business school subjects have affinity with humanities subjects rather than science, where knowledge is usually treated as historical and contingent. Therefore TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 39
Is this the most exciting time ever to do an MBA? Taking an MBA in the current climate isn’t just about taking shelter from the storm. It may also be the most intellectually exciting thing you have ever done. David Williams investigates
MBA programs have traditionally had two benefits in a recession. They provide an opportunity for graduates to avoid the worst of the downturn in the employment market, while simultaneously enabling them to invest in new skills that will give an advantage when the upturn comes. This time is different, however, and there is a third benefit. The downturn has been so profound that it is marking a watershed in attitudes to areas as fundament al as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, corporate governance and the relationship between business and government. Taking an MBA at this time places graduates at the intellectual eye of
the storm and an opportunity to be part of redefining where business will go from here.
Stimulating “I have been a professor and a dean now for thirty years,” says Roger Jenkins, Dean at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University, “and in my judgement I have never seen a more exciting time to enter an MBA program or to graduate from one. The MBA classroom has never been as vibrant as now because you have thrown away the textbook. You can pick up the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times and you have real-life cases happening around you.”
“It is a very intellectuality stimulating environment at the moment,” agrees Dr. Rob Straw, vice director of the Executive School of Management at the University of St. Gallen. “You are right up close to the volatility of the market, working with and talking to people who are immediately involved in the crisis, and yet you are not personally affected. You can see the sweat but aren’t sweating yourself.” “I love it,” says Bennett P. Collier a firstyear student on a full time MBA at the Tuck School of Business Dartmouth. “My opinion and that of my fellow students is that the downturn presents a great opportunity. We can evaluate where the US is and where the global economy is, and, instead of making small
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incremental changes, we can do some revolutionary thinking and put people on a path to making long term changes. Being at a top institution gives us some opportunity to help solve the problems that are out there.”
CSR/Sustainability Perhaps the most profound area of intellectual change going on at the moment is in the broadening out of the concept of sustainability to include the sustainability of a business itself. “People who run MBAs are avidly redesigning programs in order to prepare people for all of the implications of their business decisions,” argues Peter Rafferty, director of International Business at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School. “We need to widen out CSR to include the long term impact of business decisions on communities and have to educate MBA students differently so that their concerns aren’t just about profitability or the long term survival of their own organization. “Vlerick has already taken steps to ensure a new consciousness takes shape as MBAs progress through their program. Starting with the September 2009 intake, all students will carry out a project which seeks to identify the environmental or community impact of a business or an industry. Students will examine the activities and consequences of decisions taken by managers, and design tools to enable measurement and evaluation of progress towards desired goals. Had such tools been available to the banking sector we might never have got into the sub-prime crisis in the first place.” “This is no longer simply a ‘green agenda,’” says Camiel Notermans at Nyenrode Business University. “It’s all about building businesses that will last because they are built on secure foundations that take into account the needs of all stakeholders from employees and shareholders right through to the environment itself.” “This year, for the first time, we’ve actually had students asking for extra hours to be added to courses dealing with these areas,” points out
they can help to shape a more responsible and consequently more sustainable future.”
Corporate governance Perhaps the second fundamental topic of debate that MBA students are involved in is the way companies will be governed and regulated in the future. “Business schools have been looking at the importance of governance as a topic and at weaknesses in the present system for a long time,” says David Wilson, Professor of Organisation and Strategy at Warwick University Business School. “We have been
“The downturn has been so profound that it is marking a watershed in attitudes to areas as fundamental as CSR and sustainability, corporate governance and the relationship between business and government”
Patrice Houdayer, Dean of Academic Programmes at EMLyon Business School. “And it’s also clear that they understand the importance of these issues well beyond their PR value. These are still hard-headed people who want to get the best return on investment from their studies, but they do genuinely believe that
looking at the effectiveness of the board for example, its structure and processes, and at the relationship between the board and other senior managers in an organization. But it has taken a recession to bring these weaknesses into stark relief. Having access to the debate on the shape of future governance systems is one of the key
benefits that anyone taking a business degree today would gain.” Dean Jenkins at Miami Farmer agrees. “There is no question that in the near term, in the next four or more years, understanding the role of government and being able to collaborate with government is going to be an important set of skills to have,” he says.
New attitudes to finance A final key area of insight which current MBA students will gain is in new attitudes towards finance. “The misapprehension is that people coming into business school will learn to do the algorithms better,” says David Wilson at Warwick. “But business schools have long gone beyond simply looking at applied mathematics. An area we have been looking at for some time now is what is called behavioural finance: why people and markets behave as they do, for example the influence of herd behaviour and the effects of rumour and innuendo on a situation. This whole area is very strong in business schools now, and it has been given an added piquancy by the crisis when many of these behaviours became evident. Taking an understanding of behavioural finance out into the world will be something that this generation of graduates will be the first to do.”
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Editorial MBA Careers
Sports star MBAs A lot of people do MBAs in order to become a star. Some however have already been stars in their youth and are taking an MBA to move into a different world. The TopMBA Career Guide talks to an American footballer, a Hungarian Olympic swimmer and an Indian national league cricketer and asks them how their experience of the MBA differed from the norm. David Williams reports
The American Footballer Billy Cundiff was a kicker in the NFL. He spent four years with the Dallas Cowboys and also played for Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints (where he got to one game away from the Super Bowl), the Atlanta Falcons and and the Kansas City Chiefs. He did an on line MBA with Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business and now works for a venture capital firm.
“When I started my MBA I had already been to a place that most men in the US have only dreamt about,” he says. “As they grow up, most boys want to be in the NFL, to play on Sundays in front of 90,000 fans and to be on TV. I had done all of that. It didn’t make me better than other people on the MBA, but it meant I had something that put me on the same playing field as the highest of achievers. I had taken a totally different route to someone
who had came out of undergraduate school and got into an entry-level job. My background gave me a lot of confidence. When I met a successful CEO, I never thought I couldn’t speak to him. I just thought, here is a successful CEO and I would really like to get to know him.”
The Swimmer Norbert Agh represented Hungary at the 1988 Olympics and won the 400 metre freestyle at US Nationals in 1989 and 1990, the last non-US citizen to do so before foreign competitors were excluded. After doing a full time MBA with a sports specialization from the W. P. Carey School of Business, he ran a successful swimming coaching business in his home country before moving back to the US. He is now the European Correspondent for Swimming World Magazine and the Director of Research for the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. “I had been an Olympic swimmer for many years,” he says, “and that gave me a certain attitude and a certain confidence. For example, I always believed I was doing things much better than anyone else.”
The Cricketer Hrishikesh Shende represented both the Mumbai and Maharashtra state teams in India’s national cricket league. He also captained Bombay University, the Mumbai second eleven and the Mumbai under-21s. While playing full time, he completed his bachelor degree in commerce and qualified and worked as a lawyer. He did a football industries specialized MBA at the University of Liverpool in the UK, and he now works for Liverpool Football Club in its sponsorships and international business division. 74
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Editorial MBA Careers
“Cricket gave me a lot of self confidence,” he says. “As a batsman you are out there on your own, and the whole idea of being performancedriven was instilled in me at an early age. Learning to deal with nerves was also helpful, and having experience of captaincy meant I learned to strategize and play for the greater good of the team.”
Character Confidence is clearly not something these sports star MBAs lack. However, it is the more character based traits that they emphasize when it comes to talking about the skills they brought in to their MBAs. “As a sportsman, I had some things that didn’t quite go my way,” says Billy Cundiff. “But the lesson I took from these events wasn’t about not screwing up, but about how you respond when you hit adversity. I think there are lots of people who crumble when they get into a highpressure situation, they back down from it and choose a career in which they are not going to get themselves into that kind of situation again. But in sports you get used to just bigging yourself up and trying again.” “Being an athlete at a high level gave me an advantage in that I am very hard working,” says Norbert Agh. “Twenty years of top, international-level swimming made me very tough and competitive. It helped me with the MBA and helped me with my life. I am tougher than the others, I don’t give up. If you can’t do this, if you can’t adapt to set backs, you wouldn’t be a great athlete, because there is no such thing as not having set backs in a sports career, unless of course you are Michael Phelps.” “Knowing that you have done something successfully in the past gives you a great starting point,” says Hrishikesh Shende. “In sport you have so many failures and disappointments that you learn to deal with them and get on with the
next challenge. This attitude really helped me in law and the MBA.”
How do you convince employers that you have what it takes to succeed outside the sports arena? Billy Cundiff was the only one of the three to move completely away from the sporting world. “When I tried out for jobs people said, ‘It’s great you played in the NFL but what kind of skills do you have apart from kicking a football?’” he says. “But there are lots of things you learn being an athlete that can be hard to put on paper but which your boss will know when he sees them. I tried to play this up in the interview process. For example, I would tell people that I am good under pressure, that I can handle stress and that you will find that out when you put me in a tough situation. Having been in the NFL,
I can speak to the owner of the team, to media people and to guys in the team who have made a lot of money. When I interviewed for my current venture capital role, I tried to sell my boss on the fact that I had skills dealing with very high net-worth individuals. I told him I wouldn’t back down from them and they wouldn’t intimidate me. “There is no magic sauce to doing business. It all depends on how well connected you are, how you develop relationships and on how hard you work. After I got on to the program and started speaking to people who are successful in business, I realized that, while doing an MBA is great, if I didn’t apply the things I had learned about myself and about human nature on the football field, then I might as well not have done one. There is so much more to being successful in business than the nuts and bolts you learn on the MBA.” TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 75
The long and winding road to MBA success By Morgan Witkin, student, ESADE Business School, Barcelona
When an MBA candidate is preparing for the long road ahead, they often look at the logistics and the necessary evils that lie within the paperwork and formalities. As the plan materializes and solidifies, they look at what must be done at the beginning and often the results and advantages they will reap in the end. What they forget, amidst the chaos and commotion, is the ride - everything that happens in between
have currently just finished the first year of my MBA at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. The grind that many post-MBAs call the “hard part” is behind us. It is now time for internships and the selection of second year electives. We are half done. We have gained management knowledge based in the fundamentals of business. We have survived a vastly international environment while taking the usual core set of subjects offered by the school, such as finance, marketing, accounting, economics and operations. Some courses hovered over my weeks like black clouds ready to burst and others were like little rays of light sprinkled throughout my days. There is still a long road ahead, yet the longest part is behind us. Looking back, I can say that there are many realities consistent with my initial expectations. At the same time, there is a profusion of information that I wish I had known - a number of pointers that I wish someone in my position now had shared with me then.
Preparation First of all, don’t fool yourself. You’re not only going to work hard, you are going to kill yourself. Your brain is constantly working, spinning with ideas and contemplations and information you didn’t even know existed. There is no stopping and no rest. It’s not 78
bad…just be ready. An MBA is not a vacation from life, it is life and often, especially during exams, it can seem harder than life. Learn how to ask for things. Get ready to make requests, express your needs and desires. Every single person around you is an incredible resource - utilize them, exploit them. They won’t mind. Get involved. Classes are one thing but the occasions to truly dig into the intimate community of the MBA are abundant. Put some time aside to decide what role you choose to play within your university and amongst the faculty and
classmates. Expect to t ake on more responsibilities, whether it’s with a club, functional area or organization. If what you are looking for doesn’t exist, take initiative and do your own thing. Pave your own way - the possibilities are endless. Network. Network within your own university, within both the local MBA and the global MBA community. Network with local businesses and entrepreneurs. Search for projects, enterprises and associations. Some of the most valuable opportunities and contacts can be discovered outside your career service office as well.
TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com
Learn your competitive advantages One learns within the MBA, amongst multitudes of strategy modules, workshops and courses - to identify your “competitive advantages,” your competencies that make you stand out from the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, every single person around you will be brilliant in their own ways; each student will have their own aptitudes and particular skills. You must differentiate yourself, develop and utilize your talents. Plan to identify the stakeholders and pitch yourself. You are valuable, but that means nothing if no one knows about it. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to propose things, utilize your creative energies, and bounce ideas off the people around you. If anything, this is the place to do it as no one is going to judge or criticize you. This is the way to learn, don’t let fear get in your way. This is exactly what you are paying for. Don’t be fooled, as incredible as an MBA is you will suffer low points along with the highs. You will face failures along with your accomplishments. We are doing an MBA for a reason and you are there for a reason. Your school chose you among numerous applicants because they saw something in you. Your university had faith that you would go out into the world upon graduation and do something worthwhile, with their name emblazoned on your CV. Therefore, don’t get down on yourself when everyone around you gets the right answer and yours is wrong. It happens. And the excellent thing about the MBA is that everyone around you will probably do anything they can to help you until you get it right. You may fail a class. I did. But I didn’t learn any less and having to retake a class means you have double the chance to learn. Always remember, you are there because you deserve to be there. On the other hand, there are the classes and assignments that will come easily to you. Don’t slack off. Don’t disregard anything you have the opportunity to study. Work hard, concentrate, you will doubtlessly still get something out of them. Again, remember, you or your company or parents or Fannie Mae is paying for this. Benefit from it while you can.
Accomplishment Be prepared to face the same difficulties you may face in the workplace - ethnic diversity, conflicting ideas, adverse reactions, lazy teammates, overly demanding teammates, opposing work ethics, moral standpoints and the like. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But when you get over the humps and learn to successfully work together even with all these differences, it seems that there is nothing you can’t
accomplish. The last thing, and the most important that an MBA candidate must remember is that the experience will be exactly what you make of it, nothing more and nothing less. It is 100 per cent up to each and every student in the program. Yo u c a n s l i d e through or you can trudge beginning to end. You will realize that those who rally and march will come out on the other end having profited the most from the MBA in its entirety. The first year will go faster than you could have imagined. And when you are knee-deep in books, notes and spreadsheets, it feels like it will last forever. But it won’t. It will be over before you know it and the worst thing that can happen is to look back with regrets. Embark on the program open-minded, flexible, tolerant and ready to work, network, ask, try, discover and toil. Don’t let the low points get in your way and don’t let the highs make you complacent. In the end, you have one or two years and it could or could not be the m o s t r e w a r di n g experience of your life. TopMBA Career Guide www.topmba.com 79
EXEC MBA social media
Will the bubble burst? A look at the
social media By Ann Graham, Features Writer, QS TopExecEd
Social networking sites – they’re the latest craze to hit the internet, but just how long will it take until the bubble bursts? After all, many employers have already banned Facebook during the hours of 9am-5pm and surely we want our politicians to work on policies rather than updating us with tweets?
ccording to some experts, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, LinkedIn and Twitter are all here to stay. What’s more, there are new sites on the horizon. It seems the only way to beat the social networking phenomenon is to join it! “It’s now clear that social media groups are a reality on the web and have a real impact on day to day life,” says Edouard Dinichert, Head of Media Sales at 24/7 Real Media (WPP Group), France. “It can be either professional (LinkedIn,
Viadeo, Xing) or personal (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Bebo) - the interaction is real. Newsgroups have been growing as well, providing real contributions to specific needs. Social Media Groups are not just limited to informal links – they’re also used on an intellectual level for concrete actions such as meetings and lunches,” he says. Hervé Bloch, Regional Manager of Emailvision, Central & East Europe agrees. “The social media field is growing very fast. Five years ago it was only a happy few; three years
ago only teenagers used it, but now it is a serious community. Politicians use it to manage voters, brands use it to seduce consumers, companies use it to recruit – there are a lot of new usages. Facebook started as just a little tool to organize dates among friends, now it is a powerful tool to socialise the world”.
Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter On its homepage, Facebook states its mission: to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. So far, more
“Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is those aged 35 or older – that’s a similar demographic to the EMBA classroom breaking the myth that Facebook is the exclusive realm of the iGeneration.” TopExecEd Guide www.topmba.com/emba 17
EXEC MBA social media
identifies itself as a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? But if you already text, instant message, email, or call people, why do you need to tweet as well? Twitter answers that question: because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they are timely: • Eating soup? Research shows that mums want to know • Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful • Partying? Your friends may want to join you
Personal or professional?
than 250 million people are uploading photos, posting messages, joining groups and finding friends through the power of Facebook. According to statistics on the site’s Press Room, more than 120 million users log on to Facebook at least once a day; the average user has 120 friends on the site; more than five billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day worldwide; about 70% of users are outside of the US; and the fastest growing demographic is those aged 35 or older – that’s a similar demographic to the EMBA classroom, breaking the myth that Fa c e b o o k i s t h e exclusive realm of the iGeneration. The more professional of the social networking sites is LinkedIn. Head to its homepage and LinkedIn will tell you it is an interconnected network of experienced
professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals. In the education sense, it is particularly useful for building a relationship with admin officers, course tutors or alumni
Should you really be using your social networking profile to communicate to colleagues as well as organize parties with your friends, or should you manage two accounts – one for professional use and one for private? After all, media have reported on the number of employers looking up potential hire’s Facebook account to get a real picture of what they are like. Dinichert says individuals need to find a balance between using social media sites for professional and personal use, but there are ways to split the two. “Some tools are really professionally oriented and should be used as such, others need to have boundaries – it depends on the sector you are working in. It is common to witness discussions nowadays and watch people saying that you should be the same at work and at home. Some people will then say that mixing the two is proof of spontaneity and truth – it really depends on what you want to express to others as well. Either way, keep in mind that limits are required.” Bloch believes individuals can use social media sites for both professional and personal use but they have to be careful of ‘virtual trace’. “ Yo u use Facebook for fun and you don’t pay attention, but colleagues and managers see your profile and especially your friend’s tagged photo. You use LinkedIn, Viadeo or Xing to develop your career visibility, but using Facebook for professional use and LinkedIn for personal use can be dangerous,” he says.
“If you are looking for a new position, don’t poke on Facebook. If you are looking for a girlfriend, don’t use a LinkedIn introduction.” to get tips on student life as well as how to get through the dreaded interview stage. Then there is Twitter, the social networking site favoured by Barack Obama, Stephen Fry and Demi Moore. Twitter
TopExecEd Guide www.topmba.com/emba 19
Alumni interview: Matthew Farmer MBA program: IESE Business School, Barcelona Year of graduation: 2003 My name is Matthew Farmer and I undertook a full time MBA at IESE Business School Barcelona graduating in May 2003. When I applied, many people were thinking it was a good time to do an MBA because the dot.com boom was coming to an end and the economy was in trouble (a bit like now). In reality we ended up graduating during a terrible time for MBA job opportunities as it had taken time for the fallout from the dot bomb and September 11th to filter through and many traditional recruiters were not hiring MBAs when we graduated in 2003. It shows that there’s no guarantee how the market will be when you graduate. However in my case it focused me on thinking about what I really wanted to do without the distraction of job offers from major employers to turn my head. Straight after graduation I set up a social business called Adopt a Business (AAB) together with one of my classmates. AAB sends highly talented people with strong business skills to support the development of small business and not-for-profits in the developing world as part of their development.
I still run that organization now – 6 years after graduation. We are not a particularly large organization but we work with high quality people from major companies including IBM, Ernst & Young and Microsoft and the participants do some fantastic work to help some really inspirational organizations that are making a real difference to people lives in places like India and Africa to grow, develop and prosper. Partners we support in the developing world range from businesses producing solar and LED lanterns that can be used by people without access to grid lighting to organizations producing and marketing fairly traded produce on behalf of indigenous tribal groups to hospit als performing hundreds of thousands of free-ofcharge eye surgeries a year, seeking to rid the world of curable blindness. It’s very inspirational stuff. The participants learn a huge amount about themselves and how they operate in different environments building the confidence to take on new challenges upon return to their companies and the perspectives and qualities that will make them better leaders.
The MBA at IESE gave me the confidence and the resources (in terms of people and time) to be able to turn my ideas into a real business. Spending time with talented people from different backgrounds from countries all over the world helped me to understand that many different things were possible and helped lift the limiting beliefs that held me back. There were also specific courses on issues such as Emerging Economies, Base of the pyramid business models and entrepreneurship that provided knowledge, insight and the time and focus to help shape the business plan. There was also something in the values of IESE that encouraged me to think about the social role of business and to question assumptions of business’ purpose in society encouraging me to take a step into what was at that stage a rather unusual path of social entrepreneurship. It’s worth saying that economically I doubt that better off for having undertaken the MBA. However I have definitely benefitted in being able to start and continue to work for something that I am passionate about, that truly represents who I am and that make s real difference in the world.
Autumn 2009 eGuide produced by QS TopMBA Careers