Business Education: What employers want from MBAs
INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - September 14, 2018 - 12:00am

The Financial Times surveyed employers with HQs around the world and asked them to list skills they want and those they cannot find among MBA graduates. I believe that the results are of interest for the Philippines’ business education, given the fact that the employers were spread across 12 sectors, including consultancy and technology.

Let’s have a look:

Most important skills – top five

* Ability to work in a team

* Ability to work with  wide variety of people

* Ability to solve complex problems

* Ability to build, sustain and expand network of people

* Time management and ability to prioritize

Employers and graduates agree on four out of the five, but companies value the ability to network more and graduates find the ability to influence others more important.

Least important skills – bottom five

* Applied microeconomics

* Ability to use social media to benefit business

* Accounting

* Programming

* Environmental management and CSR

Sustainability issues are on the agenda in the corporate world but environmental management and CSR are not seen as important skills.

Most difficult skills to recruit – top five

* Ability to influence others

* Strategic thinking

* Drive and resilience

* Big Data analysis

* Ability to solve complex problems

Two of the most difficult skills to recruit – drive & resilience and ability to solve complex problems – are also among the skills MBA graduates claim to be most proficient in.

Least difficult skills to recruit – bottom five

* Specialized marketing skills

* Ability to work in a team

* Accounting

* Ability to use social media to benefit business

* Foreign languages

One of the most important skills – ability to work in a team – is also among the easiest to find in MBA graduates

It was also interesting to learn from the survey that:

* soft skills, such as the abilities to work within a team and with a variety of people, rated most important;

* at an MBA level, employers would expect candidates to be able to manage a team and act as a leader with clients;

* employers across all sectors said big data analytics was one of the rarest and most difficult skills to recruit – 15 percent of companies rated it as ‘impossible’ to hire;

* many MBA students have ambitious career aspirations, but are reluctant to start from front-line roles. Some are very good in planning and presentations but lack down-to-earth thinking.

* knowing the industry is more important than ever. If you have never been there, you won’t be able to advise or lead.

* MBA students acquire wide theoretical knowledge but sometimes struggle to apply it to the operational reality of an organization. That’s the reason why we introduced ‘Applied Corporate Management’ courses at De la Salle University which require students to spend substantial time with hose companies.

* Big data analytics and machine learning skills are fast emerging as must-have skills for MBAs in any industry.

As mentioned above, I believe that these results are of interest for the Philippines’ business education, and suggest that business leaders influence the business education programs in constructive discussions with business schools. Comments are welcome; please email Schumacher@eitsc.com

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