The Rewards of Communication ; an MBA Adds to Your Personal Development and Business Skills - as Well as Your Earning Power, Says KATHY HARVEY

By Harvey, Kathy | The Independent (London, England), June 7, 2003 | Go to article overview
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The Rewards of Communication ; an MBA Adds to Your Personal Development and Business Skills - as Well as Your Earning Power, Says KATHY HARVEY


Harvey, Kathy, The Independent (London, England)


How much is an MBA worth? Anyone facing the prospect of paying upwards of pounds 20,000 in course fees alone would be foolish to sign up without trying to predict the answer. When traditional MBA recruiters like banks and consultancies are shedding staff, however, calculating the so called "return on investment" from an MBA is a far from easy.

Yet, if the most recent career and salary survey by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) is anything to go by, MBA students are right to remain optimistic about the future. The survey, conducted every two years over the past decade, shows that salaries for MBA graduates have risen steadily over that time, with the current average base salary for someone leaving business school is as high as pounds 64,000. "The biggest financial rewards go to those who do two-year full-time courses," says Paula Glayson, AMBA's marketing manager. "Thirteen per cent of the people we surveyed are on salaries of over pounds 100,000 a year. Even when you take wage inflation into account graduates are getting an average rise of 31 per cent in base salary."

For those who have taken out hefty loans or used redundancy packages to pay for a full time course this is good news - even if the wait for a suitable job on graduation is likely to be longer now than it was three or four years ago. Business schools report that graduates are having to take the initiative and network, rather than rely on on-campus recruiters to sign them up before the end of the course. But almost two-thirds of the graduates who responded to the AMBA survey said they believed the qualification had made a difference to their career - though a salary rise was not the only factor influencing their sense of achievement. Sixty- five per cent said their main objective was to enhance their career opportunities, with a further 31 per cent citing a desire to change direction as the main motivation behind their decision to do an MBA.

Simon Earp, the director of Edinburgh University's Management School, says no one should be surprised by these results. "In many ways, the MBA is a career planning tool - especially the full-time programme." Most students are, he says, keen to use the time away from the workplace to reflect on their main strengths and ask themselves whether or not they are in the right job. "This could lead them changing sector, or in some cases they may decide to use their business skills in a not-for-profit organisation." While he acknowledges that a substantial number of younger students are hoping to earn more money, this is not the case for everyone. "We try to encourage students to be self-aware and think about what jobs they want to do on graduation. To help them through the process we offer seminars on career management, personal development and communication."

The so called "soft skills" - including the ability to influence colleagues and network effectively - are seen as increasingly important by students and MBA directors are responding by shaping their courses to reflect this. James McCalman, Director of Executive MBA programmes at Ashridge Management College, says students are looking for something more than knowledge of finance and accounting.

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