IMD Buried $10K Fall In MBA Pay Last Year

IMD is ranked third among the top 50 business schools outside the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland

IMD, the prestigious European business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, stopped reporting annual salary statistics only after suffering significant declines in the average pay and bonus of its MBA graduates last year, the school concedes.

Earlier this year, for the first time, the International Institute for Management Development, widely known by its acronym IMD, broke the standard business school practice of reporting pay and placement statistics on an annual basis and instead provided a three-year look at its numbers. The school justified the change due to its small class size and currency fluctuations.

“The reason for the changes has a lot to do with our size, international focus (45 nationalities) and the fluctuations in the financial markets,” explained Matthew Mortellaro, a spokesperson for the school which is ranked the third best non-U.S. business school in the world by Poets&Quants. “With a small class of 90, there can be variation from year to year related to exchange rates, industry choice and companies recruiting,” he added. “The 3-year average provides a better overview for what candidates might expect if they would join IMD, especially considering that they may range in the time they apply from immediately to 2-3 years out.”


The change, however, effectively hid a rather sizable fall in 2013 average salary, median salary and sign-on bonus, the second year in a row of declines. Only after a storm of protest did the school disclose the actual numbers of its Class of 2013 and they are not pretty. At a time when most prestige schools reported stable or increasing average salaries for MBAs, IMD admitted that average salaries for its graduates fell by $10,066 to $121,500 last year while average sign-on bonuses fell $6,394 to $26,500. Median salaries also declined, though slightly, by $1,049 to $118,000, according to IMD.

The 2013 numbers were disclosed by IMD to Poets&Quants after an earlier story reporting the switch to a three-year format. The fall follows a rather disastrous year in 2012 when median salaries for the IMD class plummeted 15.4% to $119,049 in 2012 from $140,648, a drop in U.S. dollars of a whopping $21,599. The average salary decline was less severe: a 7.6% drop to $131,566 from $142,412. A more worrisome sign occurred last year when the numbers fell again.

The article on IMD’s switch to a three-year reporting format attracted an outraged response from more than a hundred commenters, causing IMD to schedule an Oct. 8th webinar to address their concerns. A spokesperson said the school “will present a progress report on our 2014 MBA program and some of the exciting changes we will introduce for 2015.”


Janet Shaner, director of IMD’s MBA program design and delivery, also opened the door to a return to annual reporting. “We will take into account the discussions and make that decision when it comes time to publish the data next year,” she told Poets&Quants. “It may be that we do both.” Shaner is a long-time IMD official, having joined the school in 1998 as a research associate. She has been in her current job as director of IMD’s MBA program for nearly six years.

The declines at IMD are in contrast to numbers reported by other prominent schools. At Wharton, for example. average salary and bonus rose for the second consecutive year in 2013 to $141,243 from $137,377 in 2011. At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, average salary and bonus also climbed for the second year in a row, to $135,638 last year from $130,092 two years earlier. And at the University of Michigan’s Ross School average salary and bonus jumped to $134,883 for the Class of 2013, up from $127,817 in 2011.


The European economy has experienced a less robust recovery from the Great Recession than the U.S. That may explain why IMD grads are not experiencing the same uptick as many U.S. MBA programs. On the other hand, some European rival schools have not reported as significant a downturn in pay as IMD. At INSEAD, for example, average salary was $112,229 (€86,600), relatively flat from two years earlier when it was $111,711 (€86,200). Median sign-on bonuses at INSEAD have remained relatively stable over the past two years. For the Class of 2013, the median signing bonus was $20,994 (€16,200), slightly down from $22,031 (€17,000).

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