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The Million Dollar MBA Of The 2012 Class

CORRECTION: Manchester apparently misreported the million-dollar salary to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. The mistake occurred as a result of a currency conversion. 

The unidentified MBA not only didn’t land his reported $1,088,638 base salary. In fact, the person’s starting salary was less than $90,000.

The salary error, first reported by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, did not impact the magazine’s recent rankings of business schools because starting salaries are not a factor in the BW rankings.

A spokesperson for the school apologized for the mistake. Before publication of our story, PoetsandQuants had called the school to ask for comment on the number, but the director of career services at Manchester had been on vacation.

“We have reviewed the data we received from our students for this year’s BusinessWeek ranking and it appears an error was made in the currency conversion of one individual’s salary, for which we are sorry,” said Clare Hudson, director of MBA careers at Manchester Business School.

“Although this hasn’t impacted our overall ranking position, we are working with the team at Bloomberg Business Week to ensure they have the correct data and we have already reviewed our processes to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.  Although a $1 million salary is remarkable for an MBA student, it isn’t unheard of as we have previously had a student achieve this salary graduating from our full-time MBA program.”

It was bound to happen someday. And for at least one MBA in the Class of 2012 it finally did. The graduating student landed a job with a starting base salary that broke the million-dollar barrier.

What is even more surprising is that it didn’t happen at a Harvard or Stanford or Wharton. Manchester Business School in Britain is reporting that one of its graduates from the Class of 2012  got a job in financial services for the largest reported starting salary in history for a freshly minted MBA: $1,088,638.

That’s more than nine times the $120,000 median starting salary of a Harvard MBA this year. And the million-dollar jackpot merely represents base salary, not a lot of the other goodies that are often dangled in front of the best and brightest MBAs: signing bonus, stock options, guaranteed year-end bonuses, or tuition reimbursements.

THE MANCHESTER STARTING SALARY IS NEARLY DOUBLE LAST YEAR’S HIGHEST REPORTED NUMBER

To give you a sense of just how extraordinary this number is, last year highest reported starting salary was for an MBA who graduated from London Business School. That graduate got a whopping $552,681-a-year job in the corporate sector in Australia.

In all probability, however, last year’s highest paid MBA hailed from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. The graduate entered the private equity field with a total compensation package of a mind-boggling $863,000.

Jonathan Masland, director of career development at Tuck, then said the big number was a new record and captured by a Tuck grad who did an independent job search. “That is the largest number I’ve seen,” he said. “In private equity, there is a performance structure that can be a lot. A really top MBA based on professional background would participate in the carried interest which can be substantial. That is part of typical private equity compensation.”

SALARY NUMBERS ARE SELF-REPORTED TO THE BUSINESS SCHOOLS

As is always the case, these numbers are self-reported by recent graduates to their business schools. The schools typically double check numbers that are on the extreme. To protect the confidentiality of the MBAs, the schools only disclose the base details of both the compensation and the industry in which the graduate landed the job. Manchester’s career services Director Clare Hudson was on holiday and could not be reached for comment. But the MBA who hit the salary lottery didn’t go to one of the school’s top employers this year led by American Express, KPMG, McKinsey & Co., and Johnson & Johnson. The lucky grad, moreover, pushed the average starting salary for Manchester MBAs who went into financial services to $143,196, from a more typically figure in the mid-80s.

The full employment reports for most business schools will trickle out in December and January. However, a few of the early numbers were reported by some schools to Bloomberg BusinessWeekfor its recent rankings project. Fordham University told BusinessWeek, for example, that its highest paid MBA graduates from the Class of 2012 reported a $500,000 starting salary in real estate and a $300,000 salary in non-profit management.

Most schools try to downplay these numbers so as not to raise unrealistic expectations. Harvard Business School, for example, does not report the high and low salary ranges for its MBAs. Instead, the school reports the 25th percentile salary and the 75th percentile. This year, the highest 75th percentile salary Harvard is reporting is for $200,000 for a graduate in the private equity or leveraged buyout field.