Getting an MBA is one thing. Getting employers to take it seriously is another. MBAs have not traditionally commanded the same respect in the UK as in the US, but an increasing number of UK employers are now taking them very seriously indeed.
None more so than top management consulting firm McKinsey. Of its 260London consultants, around half have MBAs. The company actively recruits 30-40 people a year from major business schools, such as INSEAD in France, Harvard and Stanford in the US, and London Business School and Manchester in the UK. It spends around &1 million a year sponsoring its 25-30 graduate recruits to complete full-time MBAs at the same institutions.
“Essentially we see an MBA as a short cut to business experience”, says Julian Seaward, head of recruitment for McKinsey’s London Office. “It enriches people a lot of management theory, and perhaps a bit of jargon thrown in”.
However, the company still prefers MBAs gained abroad. With a longer established reputation in the US, business schools there still have the edge in attracting candidates, while INSEAD has positioned itself as an international school with a cosmopolitan faculty and student body.
“The networking experience of other cultures is very useful as a lot of our clients are global”, says Seaward.
Nevertheless, McKinsey is actively raising its profile over here with a recently launched scheme offering external candidates scholarship through a United Kingdom MBA with a guaranteed job afterwards.
With a &50,000 Harvard MBA, McKinsey knows how attractive its staff are to other employers. Those who wish to leave within two years have to repay their sponsorship, but Seaward believes the staff development strategy has a good return rate. “We look for people to develop a long-term career with us, not just an analyst job for a couple of years, and reward high achievers with good salaries and opportunities”.
Equally convinced of the value of MBAs is direct marketing company OgilvyOne Worldwide, which recently established an MBA bursary for staff members.
Chairman Nigel Howlett believes that MBAs formal education in analytical skills and constructing solutions provides a very useful training, producing people who have a good overview of business issues rather than a concern for details.
The company is currently undertaking an evaluation of the best UK schools in which to invest their bursary. With the recent big increase in the number of institutions offering MBAs, Howlett is concerned that not all MBAs are equal. “There are clear differences in terms of quality”.
But not every company favors MBAs. In the early1990s, Shell actually abandoned its own MBA course at Henley when it realized it was not producing graduates who fitted the jobs for which they were destined.
“We’re slightly ambivalent towards MBAs”, says Andy Gibb, Shell’s head of global recruitment. “A lot of Shell’s work is technical, while MBAs from leading schools are pitched at a more strategic level. It can be frustrating and unnecessary to be trained for strategic thinking, when the job you are moving into is not really suited to that. We would rather focus them on technical leadership”.
Companies like chartered accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers take a more middle-of-the-road approach. While it does not actively target MBAs or recruit them directly from business schools, a growing proportion of its senior consultants have got them, and it is increasingly on lookout for MBA graduates.
“Our business is changing from audit and tax management more into consultancy roles”, says UK recruitment partner Keith Bell. “MBAs do bring a breadth of vision to the business problem rather than a narrow viewpoint, and that can be an advantage. But the issue is the longer term. If you sponsor someone to do an MBA, will you get them back again?”
From The Independent
Exercise 1. Reading tasks:
1. What is the attitude of UK employers to MBAs? Are they very positive, negative or in between?
2. Several top business schools are mentioned in the text – which ones are they? Do you agree with this list? Would you add others?
3. According to the article, do most MBA students pay for themselves?
4. In which country are MBAs very highly regarded by employers, according to the article?
5. Four companies are mentioned in the article. Rank them in order in terms of their attitude to MBAs, starting with the one most in favor.
6. Some disadvantages about MBAs are mentioned by people quoted in the article. What are they?
7. Businesses are generally grouped into two broad categories – manufacturing and production on one side, and services on the other side. Into which categories do the four companies mentioned in the article fit? What does this tell you about the type of companies which generally favor MBAs? Is this the case in your country too?
Exercise 2. Vocabulary:
Find a word or phrase in the text that has a similar meaning:
1 select and employ new people in a company (para 2)
r _ _ _ _ _ _ _
2 give financial support to a student (para 3)
s _ _ _ _ _ _ _
3 special vocabulary of a field of work (para 3)
j _ _ _ _ _ _ _
4 making useful contacts with lots of people (para 5)
n _ _ _ _ _ _ _
5 people who are ambitious to succeed in their job (para 7)
h _ _ _ _ _ _ _ a_ _ _ _ _ _ _
6 neither for nor against something (para 12)
a _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Match the verbs and nouns as they occur in the text and complete the sentences:
1 command a) a profile
2 be b) an evaluation
3 have c) a middle-of-the-road approach
4 raise d) respect
5 undertake e) the edge
6 establish f) a career
7 take g) a reputation
8 develop h) on the look out
1. We are always _ _ _ for talented people to join our creative team.
2. The success of this advertising campaign helped the business school _ _ _ among international companies.
3. Because of our continued investment in research we _ _ _ over many of our competitors.
4. To help us choose which business school to work with we will need to _ _ _ of the top ten.
5. Studying for an MBA is increasingly necessary as a way to _ _ _ in a large organization.