Ask HR: Why Hire MBAs?
Why do companies value MBAs? It is a valid question that many MBA candidates are curious about, and rightfully so. The job market is strong: Nine out of every 10 employers surveyed by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the administrator of the GMAT, say they expect to maintain or increase the number of job openings for business school graduates in 2015. A majority of these employers also plan to increase starting annual base salaries for new hires this year. The demand for MBAs is clearly there, but what is it that makes MBA graduates so employable?
To get to the heart of it, MBA@UNC asked 24 HR executives from a variety of industries one simple question: “Why does an MBA give candidates an advantage?” Their answers included traits like well-roundedness and a sense of global responsibility, but there were also a few surprises. More often than not we received responses the length of essays detailing how proactive and effective professionals who have earned an MBA are. Read on to find out more about why companies hire MBAs.
- Erin Anderson, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, 2U
- Katie Burke, Director of Talent and Culture, HubSpot
- Pat Callans, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Risk Management, Costco Wholesale
- Tracy Coté, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Genesys
- Michelle Denman, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, AppSense
- Darlene Elder, Chief Human Resource Bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop
- Michael Geary, Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, Kiewit Corporation
- Ashley Gordon, Director of Recruitment, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
- Tisa Head, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Navy Federal
- Frank Hockmuller, Human Resources Consultant, Roche Diagnostics
- Julie Hodges, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion, Disney Parks & Resorts
- Sandy Hynes, Senior Vice President of People, Opower
- Travis Kessel, Senior Vice President of Recruitment, Edelman
- Anita Lim, Human Resources Lead, Instart Logic
- Amy McKee, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, Autodesk
- Patrick Newton, Partner, KPMG
- Gerry Pierce, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Wegmans
- Mark Reid, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, USAA
- Cindy Scharringhausen, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Camden
- Ellyn Shook, Chief Human Resources Officer, Accenture
- Jen Slaski, Director of Marketing Communications, Spiceworks
- Shereen Solaiman, Vice President of Human Resources, OhioHealth
- Pat Wadors, Senior Vice President of Global Talent Organization, LinkedIn
- Adrienne Webster, Vice President of Human Resources, CARFAX
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, 2U
Candidates with MBAs tend to have a broader set of skills that enable them to address business needs with a more comprehensive understanding of how their actions will impact the organization.
Director of Talent and Culture, HubSpot
At HubSpot we give employees significant autonomy to create solutions for our customers and our company. MBAs are incredibly valuable to our team because they drive data-driven decisions to impact change and lead cross-functional projects all while thinking like founders, and that's a hybrid skill set we need in spades as we grow and scale globally.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Risk Management, Costco Wholesale
We recognize the value of education and we believe that the attributes that make one able to complete an undergraduate or graduate program are some of the same attributes that make for a great employee. We have a great many employees who begin their Costco careers while they are attending school.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Genesys
When employers see a candidate with an MBA, they assume that person has been trained to think critically about business in a financial context, as well as having been trained to solve business problems, and in business, that’s an advantage!
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, AppSense
An MBA will certainly provide a new hire with an understanding of business fundamentals such as some basic financial acumen, marketing principles, and a general understanding of how business works. It can also give them a certain amount of credibility.
Chief Human Resource Bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop
Through their education, MBAs gain a holistic business perspective that causes them to think strategically and globally in the business world.
Corporate Vice President of Human Resources, Kiewit Corporation
An MBA shows the commitment that candidates make in their personal development and education. Specifically, it should propel their critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities, and help them build a sophisticated network of relationships that can assist them forever.
Director of Recruitment, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
The job market is competitive and an MBA can provide you with a much-needed advantage. Earning your MBA can assist you in obtaining specific training and expertise, gaining an understanding of evolving business trends and increasing your exposure to the global marketplace.
Executive Vice President of Human Resources, Navy Federal
MBA candidates have experienced rigorous academic programs, project work in a team environment, internships with industry leaders, and, in many cases, international business experiences. All of these experiences, in and out of the classroom, develop critical thinking, problem solving and team-oriented skills that enhance their overall business acumen and provide advantages in a very competitive job market.
Human Resources Consultant, Roche Diagnostics
First and foremost, great leaders ... lead themselves. An MBA, master’s or Ph.D. is a testament to an individual’s dedication toward excellence. From a hiring perspective, it is also an indicator of what an individual may be capable of achieving. Secondly, an MBA, master’s or Ph.D. will open doors of opportunity that simply wouldn't be there without them.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Diversity and Inclusion, Disney Parks & Resorts
We find that MBA graduates joining Disney possess a passion for our company, brand and unique experiences, and they offer a wide range of business knowledge and intense enthusiasm for what is possible. Their ability to handle complex business situations and capacity to adapt and be nimble in a rapidly changing global environment has been an asset for us.
Senior Vice President of People, Opower
Having an MBA is so much more than a few additional years of education. Candidates with MBAs stand out because they are able to take theoretical knowledge and apply it to real business situations, enabling them to get up to speed and deliver results more rapidly, which is what top companies need to compete globally.
Senior Vice President of Recruitment, Edelman
Candidates with MBAs often have the best understanding of the business behind the business. That behind-the-curtain perspective makes them more effective consultants for our clients as well as uniquely useful internally as our organization evolves. As the needs of our clients diversify, a holistic perspective on not only how to best amplify their work, but how to approach the work itself, is becoming more and more valuable.
Human Resources Lead, Instart Logic
In order to be able to scale a company in innovative ways, one has to fundamentally understand the nature of an organization and be able to tie in all the components of a dynamic environment. An MBA will give a candidate a holistic overview of the business world and put them in a position where they can be a valuable asset to the company.
Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, Autodesk
MBAs typically have five to eight years of work experience prior to graduation, which is valuable. Many MBAs change the direction of their careers from finance to marketing or engineering to product management — which makes them well-rounded candidates. Additionally, their exposure to global perspective is key, whether they moved internationally to do their MBA, [took] classes that focus on international business or participated in global projects.
Through studying for an MBA you become part of a great network of professionals and you constantly challenge yourself with the newest methods of problem solving. These things together give you a great overview of the business world and a certain receptiveness to changes in the business environment.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Wegmans
Our primary focus for leadership development is to leverage a leader's ability to think critically, creatively problem solve and maximize two-way communication. The MBA degree enhances one's ability to do so.
Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, USAA
MBA graduates possess a unique advantage in that not only are they fluent in the language of business, they have networked with and had exposure to real business situations and challenges. This combined with the opportunities to work with fellow students from across industries, experienced faculty and established business leaders creates a very attractive candidate.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Camden
One of the key advantages for candidates with an MBA is their diverse business knowledge gained from studying the impact of actual business decisions on real organizations. In addition to theoretical knowledge, understanding how real organizations successfully overcome challenges helps these candidates think strategically and find innovative solutions.
Chief Human Resources Officer, Accenture
An MBA from a top business school provides leadership development opportunities and hones quantitative capabilities and critical thinking. It also gives you access to a valuable alumni network. An MBA may also be a more direct path to working in a specific company or industry as noted in a recent New York Times article referencing employer preferences.
Director of Marketing Communications, Spiceworks
What can give MBAs a 'leg up' is the analytical lens they've honed in business school. Specifically they ask important 'look before you leap' big picture context questions to really understand a situation or opportunity before jumping to an assumption, answer or plan of action. Inspiration, gut instinct and risk definitely always need to be alive and well for innovation to happen, but the way a typical MBA mind instinctively informs decisions with data can help ensure businesses are taking 'smart risks' that are directionally sound.
Vice President of Human Resources, OhioHealth
An MBA definitely gives a candidate an advantage because it adds a sense of business and financial credibility to a person’s resume. Specifically, it gives an employer confidence that the candidate has the education to support effective decision-making in business situations.
Senior Vice President of Global Talent Organization, LinkedIn
A few things that might be benefits of obtaining an MBA from an employer standpoint are:
- Ensuring you attend the right school or program that is relevant to your industry or skill set. This improves the probability of getting sourced.
- Increasing your acumen in a growing area or skills shortage area.
- Exposing you to new and emerging global industries and markets. This broadens your thinking.
If obtaining an MBA can help you increase your skills in areas in high demand or expose you to thought leadership in areas employers value, and you select the right program to aid in these efforts, then it might very well be worth the investment.
Vice President of Human Resources, CARFAX
The culture at CARFAX is very entrepreneurial and we expect every member of the team to wear a CARFAX hat when making business decisions. Sometimes this can mean putting individual and team goals aside for the greater good of the business and our customers. We find that candidates with MBAs tend to bring a 'big picture' perspective to our innovative culture where everyone has a voice and is challenged to use it.