Where Tech Firms Are Finding Their MBA Talent


To get a clear understanding of the remarkable growth in MBA hiring by tech firms, look no further than the employment reports of MIT’s Sloan School of Management. In 2007, the year before Wall Street crashed and the Great Recession ripped through the world, tech firms hired just 13.1% of the school’s graduates. Last year, tech scooped up 30.7% of the graduating class, more than double the earlier totals.

Meantime, finance has fallen to just 12.9% from 26.1% of the class in that same timeframe, while consulting has dipped to 32.1% from 37.2% in 2007. Amazon carted away 22 members of Sloan’s Class of 2015; Google took 14, and both Apple and Microsoft hauled away seven each. Of the school’s top ten major employers, there was only one lone financial player: Morgan Stanley which tied with Boeing for hiring five Sloanies.

It’s a similar, if less dramatic, story at many of the top U.S. business schools. Higher and higher percentages of classes are being picked up by the likes of Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, along with Adobe Systems, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, IBM, Intel, LinkedIn and a host of early stage companies that have been attracting elite MBA talent by tossing in stock grants and stock options in job offers. Last year, 9% of Harvard Business School’s Class of 2015 joined startups, companies that have existed for only three or fewer years, many of them in tech. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business revealed that last year that 36% of its Class of 2015 received either stock or stock options with their job offers, up from 31% a year earlier.


This past year, Amazon went on an MBA hiring binge. At the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Amazon hired 59 MBAs from the Class of 2015, accounting for 13% of the entire graduating class. At just five schools–Ross, MIT, Duke, Northwestern, and Columbia–Amazon hired 121 MBA graduates. One of Microsoft’s favorite schools last year was Duke’s Fuqua School of Business which sent 19 MBAs to the software giant.

Northwestern’s Kellogg School emerged one of Apple’s favorite MBA hunting grounds. Eight Kellogg grads went to work for Apple last year, more than the seven from MIT, the half dozen from Columbia, or the four MBAs from Fuqua, the alma mater of Apple CEO Tim Cook. And one of Google’s top business schools last year was clearly MIT, where it hired 14 graduates, more than double its take from Kellogg, and more than triple it’s take from Duke and Columbia where it found four MBAs from each school.

So which top U.S. business school funnels the highest percentage of its graduating class to tech? At first blush, the answer to that question is one you probably wouldn’t guess, though it makes perfectly good sense. It’s the University of Washington’s Foster School whose corporate neighbors include two of the most aggressive consumers of MBA talent: Amazon and Microsoft. Some 43% of the school’s MBAs went into tech last year, taking jobs with a wide variety of firms that include EMC, NetApp, Samsung, Tektronix, and VMware.


Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, UCLA and MIT were all at the 30% or above mark.“Our MBAs have been doing very well in the tech sector for some time, but we’ve seen those already strong numbers double over the past few years,” says Stephen Rakas, executive director of Carnegie Mellon’s Career Opportunities Center. “Our existing footprint in the tech sector and the general shifts in the MBA landscape in recent years have positioned our students well for these opportunities, which is evidenced by more than a third of the Tepper MBA Class of 2015 going into the tech industry and to the West Coast.”

As you might expect, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business was way up there, with 28% of its Class of 2015, taking jobs in the tech field, higher than Harvard’s 20% or Wharton’s 11%. Which schools’ MBAs haven’t yet caught the tech bug? Columbia Business School is the big surprise. CBS sent a mere 6.9% of its graduates last year to tech, 4.8% to internet and e-commerce companies and 2.1% to software and telecom companies, lowest of any top U.S. business school.

  • AJ

    What are the functional roles that MBA’s are hired for in these industries? For example, going to Amazon for a supply chain role or going to Google for a finance role isn’t exactly very fascinating.

  • The Econ is Tech!

    I think having hard tech skills makes you more immune to macroeconomic shifts, not less. Tech firms want people with hard skills (analytics, programming, engineering, design etc) alongside traditional MBA skills because they can add value to all sides of a business. These are the skills that will keep MBA’s relevant as consulting, cpg, general management, finance all become more tech intensive!

    One thing I noticed while at MIT Sloan was how many classmates had these kinds of technical skills to compliment MBA coursework in strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship. Ultimately, it allows you to work on both sides of a business, rather than being a “one trick pony”.

    If the tech bubble bursts, it will be people who don’t have a combination of skills that will be hit.

  • Tom B

    With the tech bubble burst looming, I won’t be surprised if these numbers go dramatically down in the next 2-3 years and your traditional industries – consulting, cpg, general management, finance pick up the remains.

    I think top schools like Haas, Tepper and MIT will get a major hit in their employment numbers and consequently rankings, just how CBS and Wharton suffered with finance employment after the 2008 financial crisis. Being a 1 trick tech pony won’t help these 3 schools.