Graduate Management News

March 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Five Decades of Alumni: 83 Percent Say B-School Degree Essential

GMAC asked business school alumni from graduating classes in the past five decades (1959-2013) if their MBA or business master’s degree was essential to obtaining employment and 83 percent said YES.

Alumni Perspectives Survey

The new GMAC® 2014 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report is the debut of survey results based on direct collaboration with 132 business schools in 29 countries. The data in this report tell the employment stories of nearly 21,000 business school alumni, and offer feedback about their career progression and the value of their graduate management education.

Schools looking to use data to bolster their outreach efforts have the opportunity to connect this compelling proof from alumni with their own efforts. Survey findings about the value and satisfaction alumni gain from their graduate business education can be used in positioning and promoting unique program features (such as centers of innovation and entrepreneurship, or access to alumni mentors). In addition, the information can be applied across marketing and outreach channels to boost recruitment, fundraising, alumni relations, media interactions and more.

Build Your Brand

Alumni are a powerful force in building a business school’s brand. They recommend programs to prospective students, they connect current students to job opportunities, and they contribute significantly to building a school’s legacy. Schools can improve their alumni engagement by understanding more about how careers have progressed since graduation, and even examining tactical things like how long it might take to get to campus for a networking event, or actions alumni want schools to take that may encourage financial donations.

Although GMAC has been conducting research among business school alumni for more than a decade, previous alumni studies were done as a follow-up to the annual GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey, an exit survey of graduate business students conducted each February-March.

Recruit Entrepreneurs 

Alumni Perspectives infographic to: 2014 Alumni Perspectives Survey: B-School EntrepreneursOne item we find especially remarkable is the view of entrepreneurs. Even though only 11 percent of all business school alumni respondents are self-employed today, the concept of WHEN they took the path to being their own boss varies across graduation eras. Survey results show five percent of alumni from the most recent classes of 2010–2013 are self-employed, compared to 23 percent of those who graduated before 1990. Yet, nearly half (45 percent) of self-employed alumni from the recent classes of 2010–2013 launched their businesses directly after graduation, compared with only seven percent of those who graduated before 1990.

The technology sector boom may help explain this leap: 14 percent of recent alumni entrepreneurs (classes of 2010–2013) work in the tech industry, compared with just two percent of those entrepreneurs who graduated before 1990. Still, the vast majority of self-employed alumni (80 percent) worked for an employer a number of years after graduation before pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions. Visit Market to and Recruit Future Entrepreneurs for resources provided by GMAC to assist with special outreach for this talent.

Use Earnings Data to Boost Recruiting (and Manage Student Expectations)

A fascinating highlight in this year’s data is the wide reach of salary data for work locations of business school alumni around the world. Of course, earnings data must be interpreted with caution because they are influenced by many factors, including years of work experience, regional cost of living differences, industry, and job level.

  • Globally, business school alumni in executive-level positions earn a median salary of US$160,000, compared with US$85,000 reported by alumni in mid-level positions. 
  • Earnings in the US for business school alumni working in mid-level positions was US$93,000, compared with mid-level peers working in Canada, US$84,479. 
  • Other regional differences in mid-level alumni earnings (regardless of industry) were observed: 
    • In Europe: from Spain (US$ 40,763) to Switzerland (US$143,800). 
    • In Middle East/Africa: from Turkey (US$45,852) to United Arab Emirates (US$78,000). 
    • In Asia/Pacific Islands: from India (US$22,446) to Australia (US$109,521). 
  • Globally, 13 percent of alumni work outside their country of citizenship, a figure that varies widely by world region, from just three percent of US citizens to 37 percent of Central Asian and Middle East/African citizens.

Leverage Alumni Giving to Influence Prospects

Tailoring communications with alumni may have positive cascading effects among prospects and current students. Our findings show that:

  • Forty percent of alumni reported they have mentored prospective or current business school students, and 32 percent have recruited management graduates for employment. 
  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) of business school alumni give financially to their alma mater, influenced by their belief that their institution provided them with a valuable education.

Key Findings 

  • The vast majority of business school alumni consider their graduate management education a good to outstanding value: 91 percent of graduates from 2010–2013, compared with 95 percent of graduates from 2000–2009, and an overwhelming 98 percent of alumni who graduated from the 1950s through the 1990s. 
  • The vast majority of alumni (83 percent) from the classes of 1959 through 2013 report their graduate management degrees were essential for obtaining employment; and 80 percent of graduate business school alumni attribute their career success to their graduate management degree. 
  • More than 4 in 5 alumni across all graduation years strongly agree that they make an impact at their company (86 percent), are engaged with their work (85 percent), have challenging and interesting work (85 percent), have meaningful work (84 percent), and work for a company that values their skills and abilities (81 percent). 
  • MBAs and other business master’s degree-holders work in a variety of industries, with Finance/accounting and Products and services sectors (each with 20 percent) employing the greatest percentages of alumni surveyed. Among self-employed alumni, more than 3 in 10 work in both products and services and consulting. 
  • Soft skills account for 3 of the top 5 skills that business school alumni use every day on the job. Interpersonal skills are the most frequently used skills, followed by knowledge of general business functions, conscientiousness, managing the decision-making process, and the combined skills of learning, motivation, and leadership.

Use our graphics and resources related to the updated information from this report to create blogs, or access student/alumni communications related to the Value of the MBA-in 3D and B-School for Entrepreneurial Success. All are featured in the GMAC News Center.