Companies Expect More of Today's MBA Graduates

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Corporations that once paid for their employees' MBA degrees as "a fringe benefit" now do so with the expectation of a direct return on the investment.

"Corporations now say, `You are a key person. You are part of our future and therefore we are going to invest in you,' " said Jeffrey Gandz, director of the MBA program at Western Business School, London, Ontario, Canada.

Employers want managers who know how to communicate, understand information systems, can adapt to new markets in the global economy and can institute change.

As a result, many programs that offer a Master of Business Administration are revamping their curriculums to meet employers' demands.

MBA programs are expected to turn out "people who can manage, lead, motivate, and get along with others, as opposed to numerical financial quantitative analysis skills," said Michael Kraft, director of the MBA program at Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, Calif.

"What we're hearing (is a demand for) business communications and oral skills, how to organize data and present it clearly," said Dean Arthur Baer, of Drexel University's college of business, Philadelphia.

Proficiency is also expected in global business, Baer noted: "Just about every company I talk to, whether in services or manufacturing, feels they are dealing with international issues such as experts and competitors. So we are weaving more international course work, whether marketing or financing."

MBA candidates at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, get a two-week tour of businesses in Japan, China and Thailand.

Students at Anderson University, Anderson, Ind., spend two weeks looking over companies in Paris, London, and Frankfurt. MBA students from Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., travel to Latin America as well as Europe and Asia. …