B-School Alumni Say Interpersonal Skills Critical to Success at All Job Levels

The strategic skill sets alumni developed in b-school take on greater importance as they move up the corporate ladder.

May 16, 2017

Employment Outlook

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Among the goals most prospective students have for their time in business school is to develop the skill sets they’ll need to succeed in their careers. Specifically, most seek to develop their general business knowledge (64%), leadership skills (55%), and managerial skills (54%). Interestingly, data from the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey highlight how the long hours students spend working together and thinking collaboratively in groups may be what truly helps them succeed professionally, especially as they pay their dues in lower-level positions.

When asked what skill sets or attributes are most important to their current job, alumni indicate it’s not necessarily ‘hard’ business skills, but people skills or attributes related to emotional intelligence. Across all job functions, among the skills or attributes alumni say are most important to their current job are interpersonal skills (e.g., active listening, persuasion and negotiation, time management); interpersonal orientation (e.g., cooperation, concern for others, self-control); learning, motivation, and leadership (e.g., achievement, persistence, initiative, adaptability); and conscientiousness (e.g., dependability, attention to detail, and integrity). 

Interpersonal skills important across job levels

While interpersonal skills are ranked highest in importance across all job levels, as alumni move up in their organizations the business strategy skill sets they developed in business school take on more importance. For example, alumni in higher-level positions are more likely than lower-level alumni to say that managing human capital, managing strategy and innovation, managing the decision-making process, and strategic and system skills are more important. Data from the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey highlights how alumni agree their graduate business education did a good to outstanding job in preparing them for or developing their knowledge of general business functions (96% of alumni rating good to outstanding), decision-making processes (93%), foundation skills (93%), learning, motivation, and leadership (91%), strategic and system skills (91%), managing strategy and innovation (91%), and generative thinking skills (91%). 

For more information on business school alumni, including their employment profile, compensation, and their perceptions of their business school experience, download the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey at gmac.com/alumniperspectives.