All-Time Record Pay For Stanford MBAs

Stanford University Graduate School of Business - Ethan Baron photo

Stanford University Graduate School of Business – Ethan Baron photo


In a news release accompanying the school’s employment report, Stanford took the unusual step of explaining why its job acceptance numbers are often lower than many other business schools, a reason why Bloomberg Businessweek only yesterday ranked the GSB 57th when it cames to “job placement.” Stanford said that at graduation only 72% of its graduates had job offers and just 63% accepted those offers. Three months after graduation, 90% received offers and 82% accepted, representing 2% and 4% drops, respectively, compared to last year. That meant nearly one in five Stanford MBAs hadn’t accepted a job three months after commencement.

Those are comparatively low numbers for an elite business school. At Northwestern’s Kellogg School, for example, 87% of the class had job offers at graduation, with 81% accepting them at the time. Three months later, the job offer rate hit 96%, with an acceptance of 93%. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, 87% of this year’s class had job offers at graduation, while 94% had offers three months later. Some 83% of Duke MBAs had accepted their jobs by commencement and 92% did so three months after wearing their caps and gowns.

“Because the market for our graduates remains very strong, they are willing to be patient and take the time to find the opportunities that fit them best,” explains Yossi Feinberg, senior associate dean for academic affairs, who oversees the Stanford MBA program. Stanford said that three graduates reneged on offers they had accepted, while three employers rescinded offer this year. The school then trotted out three examples of 2016 graduates who landed jobs after the three-month cutoff date for reporting: Jonathan Kola, co-founder and CTO of a Nigerian waste management company; Jeff Barnes, a former private equity investor at TPG Capital, and Tin-Yun Ho, who had worked for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Beijing before coming to Stanford’s MBA program.


Tin-Yun Ho accepted his Google job in October, four months after graduating with his MBA

Tin-Yun Ho accepted his Google job in October, four months after graduating with his MBA

Ho accepted his job in product management at Google a few weeks after the Sept. 10 CSEA cutoff, and started working in for Google’s cloud machine learning department on Oct. 31. Barnes joined Proterra Inc., a company in the sustainable transportation industry, in October. Though he completed his studies in March, Barnes did not immediately begin applying for jobs. “I took some time to find the role I’m in now, partly out of the strength of the job market, but also because I wanted to be sure of my decision,” he says.

Kola initially thought he wanted to do a startup, a path chosen by 15% of this year’s class at Stanford, but then changed his mind. “I was going down the entrepreneurial path for the first couple months after graduation,” he says. “I was working on a business idea in August when I decided to apply for full-time employment.” He started over, nearly from scratch, eventually landing final interviews with three companies. On Nov. 14, long after the CSEA cutoff date, he joined the New York office of a multinational technology company. “I can think of a few classmates who had this happen,” adds Kola. “Life circumstances permitting, you’re not obligated to jump at the first thing that comes up. Job searches are short, and careers are long. Ultimately, I’m very happy with my outcome.”

While those three grads missed being counted in the school’s career stats, founders of startups also are excluded from the employment report. Yet no business school boasts more on-campus entrepreneurs than Stanford. Graduates who started a venture upon graduation represented 15%, a slight dip from last year’s 16%. Class of 2016 entrepreneurs were involved in 17 industries. The top three were: software, 17%; internet services, 12%; and other technology, 8%. Of this entrepreneurial cohort, 59% stayed in the western United States, and 26% launched outside the United States, both representing a one point drop compared to last year’s class. In contrast, those who fanned out to other regions of the United States rose 3 points to 15% this year.


The tech industry once again claimed the largest percentage of Stanford MBAs in 2016, taking 33% of the class, up from 28% a year ago (see table below). Only five years ago, in 2011, just 13% of Stanford’s class took jobs in the tech sector. As a percentage, Stanford now sends more than four times the number of graduates into the tech field as Wharton and twice as many as Chicago Booth. Among the tech-bound MBAs, 9% accepted jobs with software firms, 7% with e-commerce companies, 5% in consumer electronics, 3% each in internet services and media/entertainment, and 2% each in fintech and marketing.

“Strong interest in technology is consistent with trends in the economy and with opportunities for job growth,” says Maeve Richard, assistant dean and director of Stanford’s Career Management Center. “In contrast to just a few years ago, cash compensation in tech is now comparable to other fields, often with the possibility of growth equity. Continuing a growing trend that technology has become a diversified category comprising organizations that impact both new and traditional industries. Moreover, ‘tech’ has become an industry suffix and serves as a proxy for innovation and growth in nearly every sector.”

Finance was the career path of choice for 31% of this year’s MBAs, exactly the same percentage as last year. Of those choosing the financial sector, 12% went to private equity, 7% to VC firms, 5% to hedge funds, 4% to investment management firms, and 2% to investment banking.

Consulting, which commonly employs a quarter to a third of MBAs from most elite business schools, is less popular at Stanford. This year, only 16% of the class headed into the consulting industry, up slightly from 14% in 2015. That compares with 33% at Kellogg, 32% at Duke Fuqua, 30% at Chicago Booth, 27% at Wharton, and 25% at Harvard.

Healthcare has become the fourth most popular industry at Stanford, accounting for 6% of this year’s class, unchanged from 2015. Then, industry choices boil down to 3% each for energy/cleantech and media/entertainment, 2% each for consumer packaged goods and transportation, and 1% for real estate.

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