Woman Working On Laptop

Is an MBA still worth it?

Three leaders share their thoughts

4 minute read
Woman Working On Laptop

Not only does a Master of Business Administration (MBA) look impressive on a resume, it also provides the individual with skills in leadership, management and organisational development to bring into their current or future roles.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Corporate Recruiters Survey 2022 Summary Report, it is favourable to be stepping into the hiring market with an MBA or business master’s degree.

Overall, 92 percent of the corporate recruiters surveyed worldwide said they expected to hire newly minted MBA graduates this year, as do 95 percent of staffing firms.

The report said relative to past years’ survey results, this represented very strong hiring intentions and, looking to the near future, most corporate recruiters agreed that demand for new business school talent would increase in the next five years.

Lester Blades Executive Search & Board Advisory Director Geoff Blades said he rated an MBA highly on a resume, particularly for those who did not study business or economics in their undergraduate degree.

“MBAs are intellectually challenging, so it goes some way in confirming a person’s level of intelligence,” he said.

“I think an employer who has a choice between two candidates for a position – one with an MBA and one without – will almost always go for the one with the MBA.”

Choose a recognised institution

BDO Australia Perth Corporate Finance Partner Justin Boyce Cam said, for him, rating an MBA on a resume came down to where it was studied.

“I would value it highly on a resume if it came from a recognised business school,” he said.

“It does depend on where the MBA is from in terms of the quality of the course.

“I believe that the best MBAs involve a face-to-face component because a large part of the MBA is what I call the syndicate work, where you are working in small groups."

“That fosters teamwork and working together to meet the project deadline, which is an important skill.”

Skill set of an MBA

Mr Blades said an employee with an MBA could often bring a broader business or commercial perspective.

“They are likely to have more highly developed strategic, conceptual and analytical skills,” he said.

“It could provide potential credibility with customers, stakeholders and regulators, as well as give the opportunity for MBA qualified employees to impart their deeper knowledge and skill to other less qualified employees.

“Many mature-aged MBA candidates complete this degree while they are working full time, so it also demonstrates persistence, resilience and dedication.”

Mr Boyce Cam said an MBA qualification provided a good platform for decision-making.

“Some of the data analysis and hypothesis-driven decision-making you learn on an MBA course helps steep your decisions in rigorous research and data, rather than just instinct,” he said.

“Historically the MBA programs were a lot longer and now they are generally consolidated into a year, which makes them more appropriate now in terms of the time investment relative to the reward.”

Career pathways

Studying an MBA is a smart move for someone looking to change their career path, according to Mr Boyce Cam.

“I have studied with doctors and engineers who wanted to transition into broader management, so an MBA would be a very useful qualification in a situation like that,” he said.

“It gives you an insight into not only the strategy, business and financial elements of the business but also operations of the business and the people element.

“Where the MBA is very strong is on presenting ideas, working with people and gaining a deeper understanding of businesses and how they operate.

“It’s also very useful for someone who wants to run a business, whether it’s their own business or a senior management role in a business.”

Alternative tertiary study

WesTrac Strategic Workforce Planning and Sourcing Manager Sarah Miller said she did not look specifically for an MBA when recruiting.

“We are increasingly taking a less traditional view on white collar recruitment,” she said.

“Due to increased diversity of thought regarding recruitment, both voluntarily and forced due to the skills and labour crises, recruiters and hiring managers are being urged to challenge the status quo on hiring decisions.

“They are increasingly valuing diversity of thought, experience, resilience, willingness, ability to learn quickly and alignment to company values over formal qualifications.”

Ms Miller said although she didn’t look specifically for an MBA on a resume, tertiary qualifications were certainly valued.

“Depending on the type and level of the role, tertiary qualifications are certainly a benefit, however not an MBA specifically,” she said.

“There are numerous courses and certifications that recruiters and hiring managers look equally favourably upon, including Australian Institute of Company Directors courses, graduate certificates, diplomas and other master’s degree courses.

“Any form of study requires discipline, commitment, resilience and expands a person’s knowledge.

“Recent or ongoing learning will often indicate that the individual is current in their field, reads widely and is able to balance competing priorities – it is these elements that we value in the recruitment process.

“It is the nature of further study itself, rather than the specific content of an MBA which builds the relevant transferable skills.

“These skills include researching, presenting, critical and strategic thinking, reasoning, building a business case or argument, time management, self-discipline, as well as current industry knowledge and different perspectives.

“Any postgraduate degree, including an MBA will encourage deeper and more strategic critical thinking.”

Other articles about studying for an MBA:

How could an MBA change your life?
To MBA, or not to MBA?