In a webinar meant to allay concerns that IMD’s boutique MBA program is drifting, the director of the school’s MBA program said today (Oct. 8) that job interviews with current students are up 40% over last year.
Ralf Boscheck, a long-time faculty member at the school who is MBA program director, said that Boston Consulting Group last week made six offers out to IMD’s forthcoming graduating class of 90 students and that McKinsey & Co. has several students who are know n their second- and third-round interviews for jobs.
Asked about the job outlook for this year, however, Boscheck didn’t sound all that confident. “Someone told me the other day that the economy in Europe is supposedly picking up,” he said. “That should be positively reflected in employment opportunities. We have maintained the number of companies coming. The composition has changed. Some companies come one year and they don’t come next year. We have one company that is very loyal to us and they are not coming this year. Why? Because they are restructuring.”
WEBINAR FOLLOWS UPROAR OVER HOW IMD REPORTED SALARY AND JOB STATS
The one-hour webinar was scheduled after the International Institute for Management Development, widely known by its acronym IMD, decided not to publish an annual salary and placement report. Instead, IMD reported three-year averages for the first time, a practice that hid a significant decline in the average pay and bonus of its MBA graduates last year. The school justified the change due to its small class size and currency fluctuations.
Only after a storm of protest did the school, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, disclosed the actual numbers of its Class of 2013 and they were 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.
During a Q&A session with participants, Boscheck evaded some of the more pointed questions about significant turnover in IMD’s career services office and whether a significant percentage of last year’s class is still unemployed. Without directly addressing the question, he noted that the school has “a team of five internal specialists that we have never had before.”
PROMISES MBA STUDENTS MORE EXPOSURE WITH EXEC ED PARTICIPANTS ON CAMPUS
Separately, a new employment report published today by QS TopMBA based on more than 5,669 MBA employers found that Western Europe continues to lag in MBA demand growth, with 0% reporting net gains. That is in direct contrast to North American and Central European where, according to the survey, MBA demand has jumped 10% in 2014.
Boscheck said that MBA programs are facing challenges all over the world. “The MBA numbers overall are flat. We are all competing for the top GMAT students, the plus 600s. The competition is heating up and everyone is concerned about (the impact of) MOOCs,” he added in a reference to the increasing number of schools offering online courses for free.
He also tried to make the case that IMD’s students are different than those who go to other business schools and that the school’s emphasis on executive education, rather than its small MBA program, allows it to be distinctive from competitors. Boscheck said he is trying to leverage that difference more effectively by getting MBA students more exposure to the school’s executive education participants.
“I would like to sidestep the commoditization of this industry and have a program that prepares 90 selected students not having to worry about being compared to other MBA programs that are less differentiated,” he said. “These are not typical MBAs.They are junior executives and you can learn with them. It’s a senior, more experienced group. This school is an executive development network. We have 8,000 executives every year on campus and the trick is to bring the MBA program back into the core of the school and leverage what we have best which is our executive development.”
SAYS THE FINANCIAL TIMES’ RANKING PUTS THE SCHOOL AT A DISADVANTAGE
He said that not all of the business school rankings pick up such differentiation. Boscheck said he believed that The Financial Times’ methodology disadvantages the school because of the weight placed on salary progression of graduates. He noted that IMD’s more experienced students in their early 30s tend to have higher pay coming into the program which results in slower increases in salary shortly after graduation.
Earlier this year, the FT ranked IMD 12th, a seven-place improvement from its 19th place finish in 2013. But the British newspaper said the increase in pay of its alumni three years after graduation at 72% trailed all its major European rivals, including IESE (125%), ESADE (120%), IE Business School (112%), London Business School (107%), HEC Paris (104%), Cambridge (92%), Oxford (91%), and INSEAD (87%).
“We don’t have to worry about certain rankings,” Boscheck said, because they measure program attributes that fail to reflect IMD’s differentiation. “We have to recognize reality. You have to make sure this program stands on its own and can deliver top notch candidates.”