Broadly, respondents tended to rate MBAs fairly well on overall general work skills. When asked if the agreed or disagreed that “MBAs have the skills that meet the needs of the organization” 33% strongly agreed and 53% tended to agree. Just 2% tended to disagree. Similarly, 49% tended to agree MBAs are good problem solvers while another 32% strongly agreed. Nearly half (48%) tended to agree and 22% strongly agreed MBAs have adequate soft skills. And 69% either tended to agree or strongly agreed that MBAs brought more benefits to the organization than non-MBAs.
The differences between MBAs being rated well for broad general management skills but not well for technical skills makes sense and points to where B-schools can develop how they train MBAs. Most MBA programs take the general management approach and put more technical-focused skills into electives, opt-in concentrations, or entirely separate degree programs. To help shrink some of these skill gaps, B-schools could begin to require more technical courses focused on technologies like AI or augmented reality.
AMBA and BGA also asked employers how they thought B-schools are producing leaders with “mindsets appropriately focused” on six different areas including maximizing profit, making decisions that consider environmental impacts, belief in diverse workforces, prioritizing their team’s welfare, being mindful of those on lower incomes, and having an international outlook.
Perhaps not surprisingly, employers think B-schools do a really good job of MBAs focused on maximizing profits and having an international outlook but not so much on being mindful of those with lower incomes. A whopping 92% agreed a “great deal” or “to some extent” that B-schools prepared MBAs with a mindset to focus on maximizing profits. But just 44% either agreed a great deal or to some extent that B-schools were prepping students to be mindful of those on lower incomes.
Employers also believe B-schools are doing a solid job of producing MBAs with a global mindset as 92% either agreed a great deal or to some extent that B-schools are producing MBAs to “have an international outlook.” Some 84% of respondents also rated B-schools as producing MBAs that believe in diverse workforces. The numbers dropped a bit for prioritizing their team’s welfare, which had 72% of respondents agree a great deal or to some extent. As for making decisions while considering environmental impact, just 68% of respondents agreed a great deal or to some extent that B-schools were producing MBAs to take into account environment in decision making.
Employers rated MBAs well for having soft skills and being “well prepared for the fast-moving pace of business.” Two-thirds of respondents said they strongly agreed or tended to agree that “MBAs have good soft skills.” And more than three-quarters (78%) strongly agreed or tended to agree that MBAs were well prepared for the fast pace of business. Less than half (44%) said they strongly agreed or tended to agree that MBA graduates are only motivated by money.
But when getting a foot in the door, some of that data might not matter that much. When looking to hire candidates for senior-level jobs, personality and character matter among most employers. Some 80% of respondents reported personality and character “stand out” about candidates during the recruitment process. At the bottom? Just 39% list personal presentation as something that stands out during the recruitment process. Educational qualifications also matters among fewer employers (57%) than past work experience (75%).