It is, as so often, a beautiful sunny morning in Silicon Valley, and legions of techies – and their managers – are streaming into company campuses more akin to college grounds than to traditional business parks. There are tennis and volleyball courts, soccer pitches, gyms and movie halls. There are take-‘em-and-leave-‘em company bicycles, painted in company colors. There are cafeterias and snack stations where all the food and drinks are free.
And there are 37 incoming students from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, soaking up atmosphere and information as they visit established tech giants Google and Facebook, up-and-coming post-startup firms, and new ventures, meeting with company representatives and Tuck students and alumni ranging from a Google intern to an angel investing superstar and a would-be space traveler.
Here in Silicon Valley, where software engineers and computer scientists have long reigned supreme, MBAs are pouring in. Technology sector employers across the country report increasing demand for recent business school graduates, with 93% planning to hire newly minted MBAs in 2015, up from 84% in 2014, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 recruiters survey. And of those firms, 61% say they plan to increase their new-MBA hiring this year over last.
Silicon Valley firms are taking a considerable share of the MBAs entering the tech sector. Google employs hundreds and hundreds of MBAs, with more than 200 each having graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the Wharton School, and Harvard Business School, and more than 100 coming from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, New York University Stern School of Business, and UCLA Anderson School of Management, according to LinkedIn data.
Apple has hired more than 125 Haas MBAs, nearly 80 from Harvard, and dozens from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Hewlett-Packard employs more than 200 MBAs from Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, and Haas, while Cisco has hired more than 200 from Haas, and more than 100 each from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and Kellogg. Large numbers of MBAs from other top schools, and plenty of mid-ranked schools, have also ended up in Silicon Valley technology firms.
TECH COMPANY STARS ALIGN FOR MBAS
Tech companies’ goals suggest they have good reason for hiring MBAs: their two leading priorities, according to the 2015 GMAT survey, are launching new products and improving performance and productivity. In pursuit of those goals, companies are planning to bolster their human resources in areas where vast and deep expertise can be found in the MBA pool: marketing (71% of companies), data analytics (64%), general management (62%), business development (60%), and operations and logistics (57%).
That demand for MBAs, and strong, widespread interest among students, has driven many top business schools to offer annual student pilgrimages to Tech Heaven, to the cities that line the western shores of the San Francisco Bay, to the mythologized mecca named after a tiny chip of circuitry.
The Tuck School has put a new twist on the Silicon Valley pilgrimage, starting a Technology Boot Camp for its MBA students – before they even begin school. Earlier this month, the 37 incoming MBA candidates arrived in the the Bay Area for the second annual Tuck boot camp. Last year, the new Tuckies visited Google, Open Table, Zillow, Electronic Arts, and a small startup called Boost Media. This year, they got inside Google, Facebook, and startups in energy-tech, weather-tech, and lending-tech.
So, why bring MBA candidates on a career-development trip before classes even start? Mathias Machado, Tuck’s associate director of career services and a 2009 Tuck MBA, created the program after accompanying Tuck MBA candidates on one of the school’s Global Insight Expeditions, to Israel. “I came out of that and I said, ‘That’s pretty cool – if we can do something like that for different industries that people would be interested in, that would be cool.’”