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Time to explore the emerging popularity of the specialized MBA! This may come as a surprise to those you wanting to pursue a more general MBA, but it appears for some people something more specialized is preferable.
In an article a while ago, the author gives us the example of Adam Krueckenberg, 37, who had a great job as a vice president at Fidelity, but who wanted to return to school for his MBA. Boston College was the school that sparked his interest and not for any other reason than it offered exactly what he was looking for: a dual MBA/MS in church management and pastoral ministry. This program has been offered at Boston College since 2005.
Krueckenberg goes onto say: “I wanted a career that was more spiritually fulfilling. I wouldn’t have been able to train for that in a more traditional setting.”
This recent trend, indicated by the Journal, “has crept into most field over the past few decades, but few have embraced it more enthusiastically than the graduate business schools.” Since 1990, there has been a shift in MBAs becoming more and more specialized, ranging from subjects such as aerospace, wine management, luxury goods, real estate, and energy management.
The percentage of business school students enrolled in specialized programs has risen by about 4% each year since 2001. All in all, more than 1/5 of business schools students are seeking a specialized degree.
How does a specialized business degree work? Evidently, such programs don’t focus on the big picture of their focus, rather they zero in on practical and commercial applications. There are schools such as the University of Chicago and Columbia, which have rather broad business degrees with concentrations like finance and marketing, but then there are schools like the University of Wisconsin in Madison that has made a niche for itself as being a specialized MBA Mecca.
The University of Wisconsin eradicated its general MBA in 2004, focusing, instead, on 13 specializations – some of which include market research and real estate. Students who know exactly what they want to do are often attracted to specialized MBAs, in addition to older applicants with business experience who wants to change fields altogether.
Other specialized programs, such as the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business, are at an advantage because of their location. The University of Oklahoma is right in the midst of pure oil country and many graduates pursue a career in the oil field as executives. Rutgers University, on the other hand, within such proximity to Johnson & Johnson as Mereck, has a pharmaceutical focus, which often attracts students to work in New Jersey after graduation.
On an international level, such specialized schools were adopted early, especially in France. The Essec Business School near Paris focuses entirely on international luxury and brand management, accepting only 40 students a year and conducting classes in English. The Bordeaux Management School attracts students interested in the wine and spirits field with the location enriching their studies dramatically.
Does this seem contradictory in an economic environment where a general MBA might be smarter than a specialized one? Hess concludes: “…going deep instead of wide seems to fit right in with an increasingly segmented world.”
There seems to be an interesting trend happening amongst undergraduate liberal arts programs all across the country. While it seems a course in finance or general business was hardly what undergrads were looking for, there is now a higher demand for such courses.
Business Week’s reporter Adam Fusfeld claims: “For liberal arts students, a little bit of business knowhow is a powerful thing, giving them the confidence they need to work in a business setting.” For students vying for full-time jobs after graduation, schools don’t want them to appear at a disadvantage. Hence, courses like Introduction to Accounting, Business Management, Human Resources Management and Business Communications are becoming options for Philosophy, English and History majors. Why the sudden interest in business courses? Could it be the recent ongoing economic recession?
Some schools, like Northwestern, which terminated its undergraduate business program 41 years ago, are offering certificate programs for students who have fulfilled a certain number of credits with a B-average GPA. Such types of certificates appear to appeal to students, as it’s something they can add to their resumes when applying for internships and full-time employment. Since the start of the economic downturn in 2008, there has been an increased interest in such business certificate-like undergraduate business programs all over the country.
While the United States still holds a firm stance on the importance of a broad liberal arts education during one’s undergraduate years, perhaps a basic understanding of finance and business would be advantageous to all students, no matter what their eventual focus may be. While the recession has certainly caused some negative effects on the workplace, perhaps this is an unusual advantage for all undergraduate-bound students in the future.
According to a recent article in Business Week titled: “GMAT: The MBA Job Seeker’s Best Friend” – it appears that many schools are encouraging students to take the GMAT time and time again. A very eye-opening article by Anne VanderMey, it seems the GMAT is not only important for MBA admittance, but also for job recruiting after graduation.
According to VanderMey, with companies being flooded with resumes due to the recent economic recession, it appears recruiters are using GMAT scores to weed out applicants. This is unusual, as never before has the GMAT taken on such added weight, but it appears for some companies, your score could very well be the factor that gets you an actual interview.
Due to this, professors and career services directors are encouraging students to retake the GMAT time and time again thanks to the tough recruiting climate. VanderMey profiles several schools that are taking this advice seriously and putting it into practice:
- University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business: Stacey Rudnick, director of MBA services is advising recent admits with mediocre GMAT scores to consider retaking the test if they think they can score higher.
- University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business: Mendoza sent a letter to its 2011 class reminding students of the importance of the GMAT when applying to prestigious firms. The school has offered a four-day crash course for students who wish to retake the test. Mendoza’s director of MBA career development claims: “We see a large number of consulting companies, some investment banks and a couple of corporations all looking at both GMAT and undergrad MBA GPAs. These companies are looking for a sustained record of academic excellence.”
- Thunderbird School of Global Management: Kip Harrel, president of the MBA Career Services Council, claims that students’ average GMAT score is a primary factor in deciding where companies choose to recruit.
- Darden School of Business: Jack Oakes, director of career services, claims that he sometimes advises candidates with scores in the mid-600s to retake the test if they are looking to land top-shelf consulting or banking positions.
- Goizueta Business School: Wendy Tsung, executive director of MBA career services, states: “Because the economy is so bad, and there’s so many people applying for positions, companies are looking for different ways to reduce the number of resumes that they go through. Of the reasons to throw out an application – GPA, undergraduate institution, years of work experience – the GMAT is an ‘easy one.’”
As suspected, a person’s quantitative GMAT score does seem to be linked to salary while some GMAT scores appear to be linked to managerial status. However, VanderMey informs us that not every company considers GMAT scores to be important when considering new hires. At the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, for example, the executive director was never even asked for GMAT scores from its student body.
It appears, however, that a high GMAT score simply helps you get your foot in the door for the actual interview. A high score, in general, won’t get you the job of your dreams, but it will get you into speaking with someone face-to-face. VanderMey quotes Mareza Larizadeh, the founder of Doostang, a career networking site popular with MBA students: “The GMAT isn’t going to get you in. But it’s something that can prevent you from getting in the door.”
While it seems the GMAT is becoming important for more than just MBA admittance, VanderMey concludes (along with the above schools) that ultimately, the personal elements of the job search – interviews and references, primarily, will always be more important than test scores.
Dr. Joern Meissner, Founder and Chairman of Manhattan Review, has written an opinion editorial for the MBA supplement of one of Germany’s leading daily newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).
In particular, he discusses which characteristics a successful MBA student needs to have. He argues that good quantitative skills are essential for a manager, but alone are not enough. Social skills and teamwork are mandatory supplements for long-term success and have often been neglected in business school education. He proceeds then to discuss Lancaster University Management School’s leadership role in integrating these aspects into the current curriculum.
Dr. Meissner also mentions well-known academic Henry Mintzberg who is famous for his criticism of current MBA Programs. One of his arguments is that while case studies are in theory useful to get a feel for the daily life of a manager, they also undermine the importance of real-life work experience. The fact is that co-workers and subordinates aren’t just a set of data, but complex individuals who require more than analysis and strategies to be led effectively.
The founder of Manhattan Review already stressed the importance of a strong and impressive personality in addition to academic achievements in his previous FAZ Article from 2007. In his current article, he shows how this translates into the requirements for success in the business world. Quantitative skills are merely half the bet and social competence is a must for aspiring top managers.
An English translation, titled “It’s in the Mix: The Career Success Factors of MBA Graduates” is available in his blog.
Manhattan Review is proud to announce its popular MBA Gate event is now available in New York City, Chicago, Boston and Washington DC! Our unique Business School admissions event, MBA Gate, has been well attended since its launch in 2000. The tour focuses on honing young professionals’ career building skills and providing face-to-face in-depth interaction with business schools around the world.
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Issues of gender are discussed during the studies in relation to the experience of women in the workforce; notably, the differing role of networks for men and women has been an interesting topic of discussion in the program. They found that women tend to network more naturally across organizations and to have stronger contacts within their group of peers. Men, on the other hand, build stronger networks upward, which leads to better opportunities to promotion. Women, therefore, are at a noticeable disadvantage in terms of networking upwards within their organizations.
Another instance of behavioral differences between men and women that Buchel discusses happens during the job application process. When looking at a job description, women tend to become discouraged by the requirements they feel they are not qualified for, usually opting not to apply at all. However, men on average who are faced with the same situation tend to apply anyway, with a more optimistic and less hesitant attitude. These discussions of behavioral trends help the women to recognize their own tendencies and disadvantages, allowing them to be conscious of and improve in these areas.
When asked why Europe has lagged behind the US in terms of business programs for women, Buchel states that the issue of women in management hasn’t been on the forefront of corporate attention in Europe. The scarce number of women in executive positions has limited the viable market for such programs. However, these programs have been picking up more and more in Europe, especially since Scandinavian countries have begun to have much stronger female participation in management. Female representation on the political front, such as Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has also pushed the agenda of female leadership on the forefront in Europe. The establishment of programs such as Buchel’s has certainly created a unique example of how we can both recognize and promote the leadership of women in the workforce.
In a recent interview with BusinessWeek, Bettina Buchel, director of IMD’s Strategic Leadership for Women program, discusses the experience of women in the executive management work force. IMD (International Institute for Management and Development), a global business school based in Lausanne, Switzerland, was the first business school in Europe to establish an executive education program geared specifically towards women. The program is part of IMD’s Open Enrollment program. It typically lasts for 4 days. The same program runs twice a year.
Buchel began the Strategic Leadership for Women program six years ago in 2002 to create an opportunity for women to explore different styles of leadership. The program focuses on two main areas: leadership and strategy implementation. It offers a unique environment for women to exchange experiences on situations within the workplace and learn how to promote themselves, all within a setting where they are not self-conscious of being the minority. 300 women have gone through the program, ranging from women in senior positions to women in their first five to ten years out of university. Buchel emphasizes the importance of this emerging issue of women in management, stating that of the Fortune 1000 companies, less than 50% have women representation in their top management teams.
What kinds of changes do these women implement in the workplace? Women who come out of this program become much more conscious about networking, having been shown a visual representation of how they network. They make efforts and adjustments at improving their upward networking and are also encouraged to come up with new responses to difficult situations in the workplace, having shared accounts of such experiences with each other during the course of the program.
The demand for such programs is heightening in Europe, with new programs being established in different cities, including London. Buchel also directs a program called Orchestrating Winning Performance, which has included more women and has been creating more activities geared towards women. Although women make up about 10% of traditional programs such as this one, the growing number of participating women is an important indicator of a shift in the agenda of women in management.
A recent study conducted by the GMAC suggests that MBA graduates are largely satisfied with their decision to attain an MBA. The study is based on factors such as increased long-term income and financial stability, connections gained as a result of their MBA, increased confidence, and respect accorded to them after their MBA. The study chooses not to focus on immediate financial rewards as these, though motivating factors in seeking an MBA, are not necessarily representative of overall satisfaction.
The study is based on recipients of full, executive, and part-time MBAs (online and distance MBAs etc. make up only 1% of those surveyed). A majority of those surveyed (58%) were in full-time MBA programs.
Especially interesting are the high satisfaction ratings among MBAs who desired to change or switch careers following their programs. Among these MBA recipients, very high rates of satisfaction are expressed in the areas of post-MBA marketability as well as post-MBA long-term financial stability.
MBAs were also surveyed as to the degree to which they feel satisfied in their skill development as a result of their MBA program. Skills such as strategic thinking and technological skills among others were included in the survey. In terms of skill improvement, it was again evident that those interested in career change were more satisfied. However, those MBAs who pursued the degree with the intention of enhancing their pre-MBA career expressed lower degree of satisfaction in their skill improvement.
This survey did not take into account additional demographic factors (location, ethnicity, nationality and race). Such factors too might have resulted in interesting findings.
The above discussions are based on GMAC Research Report “Satisfied MBAs: Career Switchers and Career Enhancers from Around the World,” written by Sabeen Sheikh & Kara Siegert on 7 June 2007.
Women are in demand in graduate management educational programs of all kinds.
Let us take a look at the 2007 statistics released by the GMAC in reference to gender representation. In part-time MBA programs, women represent 37% of the total. In full-time MBA programs, just 27% of MBA students are women. In EMBA programs, a meager 22% of students are women. Though women represent a larger percentage of the student body in non-MBA management education including undergraduate and master’s programs, it is still the case that in all categories women represent a minority of applicants.
Though overall far fewer women than men pursue Graduate Management Education, numbers of women applicants are on the rise. In 2007, applications from women increased overall. These increases are in large part due to greater recruitment efforts. 56% of full-time MBA and 78% of EMBA programs are actively recruiting among women. Such recruitment seems to have a direct correlation to increases in the volume of women applicants.
Here is part 2 of a chapter from our new book, Negotiation and Decision Making. Our Turbocharge Your Career series has seven more books planned for publication. All of the eight books will be available on Amazon.com and in Barnes and Noble stores across the US. We will also host this class online or in-person at selected locations around the world. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
5.1.5 Solving Their Problem
When you are researching, you will have to find out ways to solve the other side’s problem as well as your own.
Those include their values and the outcomes that they are looking for. Also discover some negatives in their business past.
1. All of those bits of information require asking them open-ended questions in the negotiation process. Ask things like “how will this help you” and “tell me more about that”.
Instead of getting an answer and moving on, keep asking to make sure you fully understand. That technique will also create a positive environment and show that you want to listen to their problems and needs.
2. In real life, often times there are no absolute distributive or integrative negotiations. Rather, they are a combination with varying degrees of each type. So you may always be able to find some ways to “enlarge the pie”:
- Gather as much information as possible
- Identify items of value
- Do not become competitive or force compromise. Compromising detracts from both sides
- Focus on the desired outcome for both sides
5.1.6 Let the Other Person Win
Identify Common Issues – Increase communication by showing how you are similar to the other person. It will increase trust and build a relationship
Maintain the Relationship – When something negative comes up, associate it with the terms of the deal and not the other person.
Show how the deal helps them – Be ready to prove that your deal will help their business. Be able to show them and not just tell them.
5.1.7 How to Derive Those Numbers
Many high-ranking business professionals quantify information and develop precise formulas to determine outcomes. If the other side does this, pay attention to the rationale and the formulas they have developed. Know how the other side reached their conclusions. Their method is likely to stay fixed, but the outcomes and numbers are not necessarily going to stay the same because they are more easily changed.
Rules to follow when trying to get at the final numbers:
- Know the guidelines, the goals and who is involved with the deal
- Strive for communication – Ask questions about items you understand
- Question numbers and assumptions – do not accept everything they give you
- Establish your uniqueness – Show why your product is better than the cheaper product and how it will help the other’s bottom line and business overall
- Focus on risks and benefits – Do not threaten or put pressure on the other side, but remind them of the risks of going with a competitor tactfully and through questioning rather than direct statements
5.1.8 Achieving Results
Several methods help to achieve the results you desire AND maintain or improve your relationship with the other party.
Find Objective Methods of Determining the Benefits of Solutions.
This will allow both parties to trust and value the terms to be agreed upon.
Concentrate on What You Want to Achieve, Not Where You Stand on an Issue.
This is a means of opening your mind to other options and modes of achievement. These would be less likely to automatically preclude the success of the other party.
Focus on Issues, Not Personality.
Avoid personal attacks. Your interest is in improving a relationship and achieving your desired results, not frustrating or offending the other party.
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