Where Tech Firms Are Finding Their MBA Talent

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‘TECH INCREASINGLY OFFERS MANY OF THE MOST DYNAMIC, CHALLENGING & LUCRATIVE CAREERS’

A confluence of factors has caused the tech surge in MBA hiring. Notwithstanding Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s recent comments that people don’t need an MBA to succeed in Silicon Valley, tech firms have shown a strong appetite for business school grads, emerging as among the most aggressive recruiters with consulting shops and financial powerhouses. It’s also the fastest growing, most dynamic industry in the economy today, drawing deep interest from MBA grads who want to make an impact with their careers. And a disproportionate share of the jobs are in California, long a magnet for jobseekers who also are seeking lifestyle in their career choices. That’s why Silicon Valley pilgrimages by MBA students around the world have become de rigueur.

Those are some of the reasons why tech has become so popular with MBAs, even though the field pays less than either consulting or finance. At Harvard last year, MBAs who went into tech scored base salaries of $125,000–$15,000 less than either consulting or finance. Median sign-on bonuses in tech were $25,000, equal with consulting but another $15,000 less than finance. And fewer tech-bound MBAs got those signing bonuses (69%) than MBAs who headed into consulting (93%). Some of the gap is made up in stock awards. At UCLA’s Anderson School, one of the top schools for tech, 34.1% of last year’s graduates received equity as part of their compensation, up from 27.9% a year earlier.

“Technology careers are increasingly offering many of the most dynamic, challenging and lucrative careers for MBAs,” says Jonathan Masland, director of the career development center at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “In addition, as technology revolutionizes and disrupts traditional business and means for accessing products and services, they are hiring more MBAs to lead these efforts – MBA programs like Tuck are attracting and training professionals that can help lead these businesses forward and therefore are being hired in greater numbers.”

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  • 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.