MBA programs prepare graduates to advance beyond career plateaus by developing flexible hard and soft management skills that apply across fields, organizations and functions. These versatile abilities enable graduates to hit the ground running with minimal on-the-job training. They are a key reason MBA grads excel in executive and managerial roles and leadership development programs.
Transferable skills in managers and executives are essential, and that’s why U.S. hiring rates of MBA graduates have trended upward since 2008, even during the pandemic. In fact, 9 of 10 global corporate recruiters said they believe in the preparedness business school graduates bring to their organizations.
Versatile leadership skills are a chief reason why B-School graduates’ salaries tend to beat their peers. In addition, recruiters surveyed by GMAC in several industries said their employees with a business education earn more than others, which would include field-specific degree programs:
A sampling of the transferable skills students develop in an MBA program:
Team building and management. MBA programs train students in working within one department, as well as cross-functionally within an organization, with leaders from different departments (including human resources). They bring talents together to work as a cohesive group in which all members have a vested interest in the outcome.
Operationally and strategically, MBA graduates are prepared to build, train and manage teams. Programs teach methodologies that apply across fields and enable graduates to set objectives, delegate tasks, resolve conflicts, overcome challenges and evaluate individual and group performance. Accomplishing these functions requires problem-solving, communication, leadership, teamwork, motivation, delegation, coaching, training, empathy and process management skills.
Strategic thinking. This broad concept represents the synthesis of several talents — analytical, communication, problem-solving, planning, management — and the ability to apply them to complex issues. The more involved the challenge, the more leaders must think beyond their job functions, and that takes knowledge, training and practice. MBA programs train students to formulate strategies by analyzing various inputs, putting those strategies in place through solid communication and then implementing long-term plans to bring everything together.
Fifty-nine percent of global corporate recruiters regard strategic thinking as the most important skill for business school graduates to have, and 62% of recruiters say that managing strategy and innovation will grow in demand over the next five years, more than any other skill.
Project management. These are the competencies required to bring an idea from concept to implementation; they involve mapping out timelines, assessing risk, creating and following a budget, delegating responsibilities, communicating with stakeholders, holding individuals accountable and delivering the end product or service. Although project management is a versatile skill, it includes technical capabilities like forecasting and project management methodologies such as Agile and Waterfall.
Organization and time management. Before managing projects or subordinates, leaders must know how to manage themselves and optimize their organization’s resources. Proficiency here ensures that each project with a heavy workload can be completed on time, without white-knuckling through the unknown. MBA students learn proven methods for organizing their work and their time to commit confidently and accomplish more quickly than their peers who lack MBA training.
The transferable skills MBA students learn are never outmoded or out of demand. Whether you intend to work in one field throughout your career or instead want the flexibility to move between industries, developing flexible, versatile skills is a wise career investment.