Think at London Business School
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By Emma Broomfield
As the war for talent heats up, what do you need to get ahead of the rest?
Doing an MBA is one of the most significant investments you may ever make. And it’s not just about the money. You will need to commit plenty of time and energy to the experience if you want to get the most from it. So what kind of return can you expect on this kind of investment?
One obvious gain is enhanced job prospects, says Zoe McLoughlin, Executive Director of the Career Centre at London Business School.
“We’ve seen the global job market for MBA graduates rebound significantly as we come out of the pandemic – faster actually than after any other economic crisis. There is an appetite among corporations to move forward and the demand for MBA talent is growing. A solid 92% of this year’s cohort of LBS MBAs have accepted a job offer within three months of graduating as employers come to us proactively looking for new recruits. So the war for talent is very robust.”
This war for talent is also evident in the kinds of pay packages that employers are offering LBS graduates in 2022, with median salaries up from previous years to £85,000 or $114,347.
“There’s a perceptible increase in the average pay that recruiters are offering our graduating cohort, with some variation across sectors. The traditional destinations such as finance, banking and consulting remain among the most highly remunerated, but salaries in areas like electronics and tech, healthcare and retail are also highly competitive for graduating MBAs,” says Zoe.
But if employers are offering attractive cash incentives to recruit the talent they want, they are also giving greater consideration to the “bigger picture,” says Head of Early and Mid-Careers, Patricia Keener.
“As we ease out of the pandemic, we’re seeing greater efforts to connect at a holistic level with MBA jobseekers. Employers are coming to potential new recruits with more data points about the kind of lifestyle and values they can offer – and how young professionals can expect to evolve within their organisations, as people as well as professionals. They want to see graduates bring their full selves to the workplace – and that’s really reflected in recruitment processes.”
These processes are taking marginally longer than in previous years, adds Patricia: a function, she says, of graduates taking more time to reflect on their options and longer-term choices in the wake of the pandemic. Another reason is the “global shift to virtual.”
“Face-to-face is still not the go-to format and most MBA recruiting processes are happening online at LBS and at our peer schools around the world. On the one hand, this means it’s taking a bit longer for recruiters and graduates to arrive at the right decision. But on the other hand, there’s something more transparent and authentic about interviews that are conducted from the intimacy of people’s homes. There’s been a kind of humanising of the recruitment dynamic, and we expect to see greater emphasis on values and fit and long-term commitment on both sides.”
In broader terms, the shift to virtual has also driven an upswing in opportunities to work anywhere in the world, says Zoe. 2022 is already seeing an increase in mobility for MBAs. This year’s LBS cohort are taking up jobs with organisations headquartered in no fewer than 37 countries. For international students coming to LBS from overseas, the London job market has also been a major drawcard, she adds.
“Within this year’s graduating class, about half our overseas students have opted to remain in the UK instead of returning home. Graduates are feeling more optimistic and adventurous than they were at the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, and they are taking greater advantage of student visas in order to explore all of the exceptional opportunities there are in London.”
London offers access to a unique diversity and richness of opportunity, says Zoe, with many of the world’s foremost companies operating headquartered in the city.
“Being here at the start of your career post-MBA means tapping into a really vibrant professional ecosystem. LBS also offers our graduates the benefit of being part of that ecosystem. We’re directly connected to all of the major players as well as a tech scene that is second only to Palo Alto. Our MBAs can tap into all of this – as well as the richness in diversity of people, culture and opportunity that this city offers as one of the world’s foremost capitals.”
Access to opportunity and mobility are key immediate advantages in taking an MBA. But both Zoe and Patricia are keen to stress that these advantages are not constrained by time. Quite the opposite.
More than half of LBS MBA alumni move into different roles, organisations or even sectors, two to three years out from graduation.
“The world of consultancy is probably still the most popular sector for new graduates,” says Zoe. “What’s interesting is that consultancy offers a springboard into other spaces and around half of our alumni who start out as consultants will change course – often quite radically – as their careers progress and circumstances change.”
There is a propensity in LBS graduates for what she calls “course correction,” -- a facility to change tack mid-career, even if that means opting for a wholly new sector or industry. This stems in part from students’ flexibility and an innate appetite for change – qualities that bring them to LBS in the first place. But it’s also a function of something they gain from doing the MBA, she says.
“An MBA at LBS is a two-year immersion in transformation. Students join this programme to change something. They may want to switch roles, accelerate their career progression or pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity. They come here because as the UK’s only two-year MBA, we offer them the time they need to really enact that change.”
The two-year experience also offers students the chance to experiment, says Patricia. And to experience – and learn from – failure.
“This is an inflection point in a person’s life. What the MBA gives them is exposure to different organisations and geographies through our summer internship and exchange programmes. They get to experiment, iterate and reiterate – and to experience failure. And if something bombs, they get the time and the space to stop, to reflect, to learn and to course-correct.”
They also get support.
“All incoming MBA students are able to connect with alumni and participants across all of our programmes during their time at LBS,” says Patricia. “These connections are critical as they progress through the programme forging deeper ties with alumni, peer leaders who share their previous work experience and student clubs for networking. From our side, we also focus on their career skills from the get go and throughout their learning experience.”
From understanding themselves and what they have to offer to employers, to understanding the global job market and its diverse opportunities, each MBA student emerges with the ability to create a clear career narrative, utilise their networking skills and personalised career plan that is built on adaptability and a “growth mindset.”
A growth mindset underpins everything that that the LBS MBA offers, says Zoe – and everything that sets LBS graduates apart.
“It’s the capacity to stop, evaluate something and enact the kind of self-reflection that empowers you to change yourself, your role or your life,” says Zoe. “Having a growth mindset – being tolerant of failure and open to risk and change – comes from the kind of exposure and transformation that an MBA like ours gives. And that capacity for course-correction is something we see in each successive cohort and across our alumni community.”
“If you come to LBS looking to recalibrate your career or get a great new job, the experience certainly delivers every opportunity to do so. But you’ll also build the skills you’ll need for the rest of your life – the resilience, the flexibility and the capacity to change tack today and tomorrow and across the future of your career.”