C-Suite, Entrepreneurs Surprisingly Alike

Purchasing Power

An advanced business education also enhances graduates’ purchasing power. In the U.S., for example, where the median base salary for B-school alums is $110,000, American MBAs have twice the purchasing power of non-business school graduates. And this gap is even bigger elsewhere. In the United Kingdom, where MBAs average a $134,300 base, graduates have 3.6 times the purchasing power of their peers. In China and India, where graduates earn $72,000 and $36,000 respectively, they possess five to six times the purchasing power of their countrymen. And you’ll find similar results in developing nations like Nigeria (6.8), Mexico (4.4), and Thailand (4.4). Bottom line: An advanced business degree really pays off regardless of where you live.


A business masters also helps graduates climb the career ladder faster. Among 2010-2014 graduates, 51% had progressed into middle management – and another 30% had already joined executive level management. More impressive, only 10% of recent graduates were still holding entry-level positions – close to the same percentage as those in executive level roles (8%). At graduation, 53% of graduates from 2010-2012 (and 50% of 2013-2014 graduates) had already started out in middle management. When it comes to senior roles, 2013-2014 grads are actually faring better than their 2010-2012 counterparts by an 18%-to-13% margin. However, that may be an anomaly, as the percentage of 2010-2012 graduates who moved into senior level roles doubled to 28% within two years of graduation.

Now, take a look at graduates from 2000-2009. Here, the percentage of graduates in executive level roles shoots to 21%. And the percentage of graduates in senior level roles grows to 43%. At the same time, the percentage of graduates in mid-level roles falls to 30% — and entry level roles barely register a blip at 2%. Look deeper and the numbers are even more impressive. Among alumni who graduated from 2005-2009, the percentage of graduates who moved into senior level management tripled from 13% to 39% in five years. In that same period, the percentage of alumni in the executive ranks jumped from 4% to 14%.

So here’s the big picture: 69% of 2000-2009 graduates and 40% of 2010-2014 graduates held senior level, executive or C-suite jobs after earning an advanced management degree. In fact, GMAC posits that the number of business school alumni in executive roles doubles during the first two years out of school . . . and doubles again between five and 10 years out of graduate school.


For alumni who graduated before 2000, the numbers level off, relatively speaking. Among three cohorts – before 1980, 1980-1989, and 1990-1999 – C-suite participation hikes up to an average of 11% to 13%.  The executive level remains anchored between 28% to 31%.  The same applies to senior level (roughly 30%) and mid-level (roughly 23%) among respondents who graduated before 1990. At the same time, there is a slight uptick in older MBAs taking entry level jobs, which may stem from parents returning to the workforce or displaced professionals landing jobs after the recession.


With results like these, it’s no surprise that B-school alumni are satisfied with their education. Ninety-five per cent of GMAC’s sample rated their degree’s value as good to excellent, with 93% of respondents adding that they would recommend a graduate business program to others. That is almost identical to last year’s survey, where 94% of respondents highly valued their education and 95% would recommend it to others.


If you believe a two-year MBA program has lost its luster, here’s a sobering stat. According to GMAC, the highest satisfaction rates were found among students who completed a full-time, two-year MBA program. Eighty-two per cent of this segment ranked it as either “outstanding” or “excellent.” That collective 82% score tops the executive MBA (75%)  full-time one-year MBA (74%), and the master of accounting (73%). The lowest performers were the master of finance, where only 17% of graduates rated it as outstanding (and 47% as excellent), and the part-time flexible MBA, where 21% graded it as outstanding (and 45% as excellent).

Job satisfaction was also high, with C-level alumni being particularly chipper. The C-suite, composed of alumni who are 48 years old and 17 years removed from graduation on average, had a 93% satisfaction rate with their current job. Compare that to entry level (66%), mid-level (78%), and even the self-employed (90%).  In other words, role directly correlates to overall satisfaction.

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