When the first two MBA classes of Asia School of Business (ASB) graduated in 2018 and 2019, they were already navigating uncharted waters. Founded in 2015, ASB was a new school with an unconventional model and little in the way of a recognizable brand. Then the pandemic hit, and the graduates were forced to forge fledgling careers amidst unprecedented turbulence.
To see how its pioneering students were faring, ASB sent a survey to its first two cohorts late last year. The results were encouraging if not somewhat surprising: Even as global firms contracted operations and tightened their hiring process to adapt to the spreading pandemic, 79% of graduates were employed, 9% were entrepreneurs and 5% were continuing their education. Perhaps more eye-popping, 80% of them have been promoted at least once within three years of graduation, and a quarter had been promoted twice.
“As a business school, we are still relatively young, relatively small and without a brand,” Sean O. Ferguson, senior associate dean, tells Poets&Quants. “But I think what our students have brought to the table has really helped make the case for themselves in different markets, and we’re really proud of that.”
FLOURISHING ALUMNI, DESPITE A PANDEMIC
Late fall is the season for the B-school jobs report. The reports provide an employment snapshot for their latest MBA graduates. This year’s theme: resilience in an unprecedented pandemic. (See other schools jobs reports here.)
This report from ASB is a little different. It’s not a full-on jobs report per se, but a look at how its first two cohorts are managing in uncertain times.
The school found that its alumni were flourishing, pointing to several key outcomes:
- 79% of alums work in some of the globe’s most recognizable companies. These include leading AirAsia, Amazon, Grab, LEGO, McKinsey, Samsung, Uber, Novo Nordisk and Microsoft.
- 24% of alums report directly to the C-suite of their companies.
- The average salary of ABS ‘18 alumni is $135,144, compared to the $133,865 average of MBAs from schools on the Financial Times’ 100 top Global MBAs three years after graduation.
- On average, ASB alums achieved 13% annualized salary growth in advanced economies while those working in emerging economies achieved 16% growth. This outperforms the salary growth of the Financial Times Top 100 Global MBAs which averaged 5.7% in developing Asia, 3.3% in the U.S., and 2.5% in Europe.
“I think the salary progression since graduation tells the best story,” Ferguson says. “I think this speaks to our students really performing well in the market, taking our action learning based curriculum and really demonstrating impact in their companies.”
The school also notes that while the 2020 market is closer to 2018 than 2019 due to COVID-19, 94% of the Class of 2020 accepted offers that averaged a still-impressive PPP-adjusted salary of $103,915.
The chart below, provided by ASB, shows how the classes are doing in more detail.
‘EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING ON STEROIDS’
Aisa School of Business opened in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a partnership between MIT Sloan School of Management and Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank. Long-time MIT professor Charles Fine, now ASB’s founding president and dean, mapped out the concept on a blank sheet of paper: A 20-month MBA program with about a third of the curriculum devoted to experiential learning. That includes a required team project each semester and one individual project in the summer for a total of five major projects with five different companies. In 2020, P&Q named it one the top 10 B-school innovations in the world. Declaring ASB the place “where experiential learning is on steroids.”
Ferguson attributes its graduates’ success to this focus on action learning. As an example to this kind of experiential learning, he cited a recent operations practicum where students worked on creating sustainable supply chains for Malaysia’s palm oil industry. The practicum is through the school’s Center for Sustainable Small-Owners (CSS). The video below documents the students’ work.
Next Page: 13% annualized salary growth for ASB MBAs + Where the ASB alumni work now