Personal resilience outweighs salary growth in terms of MBA programme benefits perceived by graduates, AMBA research reveals

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Research launched this week at the Association of MBAs (AMBA) Global Conference showcases findings exploring MBA graduates’ programme experience; the skills they have acquired; and their favourability towards MBA programmes.

In total, 1,591 former MBA students, who have graduated since 2017, responded to AMBA’s online survey.

Perceived skills developed as a result of completing an MBA

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The survey results indicate that graduates see a substantial uplift in their skills following their MBA, with 93% of graduates agreeing that they have gained substantially more skills and that these help them do business better.

The findings also point to a boost in the reach and mobility of graduates. Most agree that they have been able to improve their professional networks considerably (79%) and are more confident about working abroad in the future (78%). This suggests that graduates are more confident about engaging with more people and the prospect of offering their skills in different economies, which could well have a positive impact on their future opportunities.

But the skills graduates believe they have developed extends further than specific business attributes to encompass a more robust mindset.

Almost nine in 10 (86%) agree that the skills they have learned during their MBA have helped them become more mentally resilient, and half (51%) strongly agree with this sentiment. Given the mental strength requirements that leadership and management roles are likely to present, this suggests that future leaders feel better equipped to work through potential psychological challenges.

Many graduates also positively report on the impact their MBA has provided, or is likely to provide, after graduation.

Approximately three quarters believe that they can apply all the skills they acquired during their MBA studies (78%) and feel equipped to reach the salaries they want to achieve in the future (72%). This is significant, given the financial investment required to undertake an MBA and common concerns potential MBA students may hold about a shortage of financial opportunities for those with an MBA.

Graduate contributions to organisations

Graduates largely feel that they can contribute positively to their organisation having completed an MBA. Four in five (81%) state that they are more likely to make better business decisions and there is further belief in the contribution of a wide range of skills. More than seven in 10 think that they can help their teams operate more efficiently (73%), are likely to come up with ideas and solutions which change the way the organisation works for the better (72%) and help their organisation as a whole to be more efficient (72%).

Graduates are less likely to state that ‘I am now an asset to the business community’ (42%) and ‘I can earn substantially more money’ (35%). This is likely to be due to beliefs about external factors (for example, the state of the economy and other individuals’ perceptions) and the fact that, for some, these are long-term aspirations which are more likely to derive from very senior roles.

Will Dawes, Research and Insight Manager at AMBA & BGA, said: ‘The findings demonstrate that MBAs provide a valuable source of upskilling for graduates, both in terms of their management acumen, their personal development and how they can make a difference to the organisations in which they work.’

Favourability towards MBA programmes

The second element of this research looked at graduates’ perceptions of MBA programmes.

A key measure for any qualification is how positive relevant individuals are towards it, and for an MBA the favourability of its participating students and graduates is a crucial barometer.

The MBA is positively viewed among a clear majority of those who complete one. Almost nine in 10 (89%) are favourable towards an MBA, saying they would speak favourably about an MBA to someone who might want to complete one in the future. Three fifths (61%) are ‘very favourable’. Just 7% are neither favourable nor unfavourable and 3% are unfavourable.

How favourable or unfavourable would you be towards an MBA to someone who might want to complete one in the future?
Very favourable

61%

Fairly favourable

28%

Neither favourable or unfavourable

7%

Fairly unfavourable

2%

Very unfavourable

1%

 

Graduates who are favourable towards their MBA experience cite a range of factors, such as their networking opportunities, increased business knowledge, societal understanding, their ability to think critically and open mindedness.

For example, one graduate commented: ‘It broadened my world view. I feel more comfortable when engaged in business discussions, especially those related to strategic planning and project implementation. It rounded off my professional career in a nice way and it feels good to have it.’

Dawes concluded: ‘The findings demonstrate the substantial impact an MBA can make on the large body of individuals who complete one, with positive effects crossing personal, professional and organisational benefits. Favourability towards MBA programmes is very high. However, this does not mean that programmes are immune from critique and areas in which they can improve. In fact, graduates cite a range of areas in which MBAs can better serve students, such as a belief that standards of teaching are not always as high as they can be and improved networking opportunities to enable them to make connections for the future.’

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