The MBA Landscape In 2011

January 4, 2011

businesspeople clappingWhen economists watched big investment banks fall one after the other during the Wall Street shake up two years ago, the job outlook for graduating MBAs looked alarmingly bleak. During the last year, however, business school students have seen signs of encouragement, as employment rates for graduating classes improved at almost all schools and even salaries began to creep higher, Poets & Quants noted.

With new deans at MBA powerhouses Harvard University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, the business school landscape is undergoing a dramatic overhaul entering the New Year. Last month, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced it would significantly restructure its MBA curriculum by fall 2012. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University plans to launch a new executive MBA program in May 2011.

While business schools revamp their programs to adapt to a brighter job market, Wall Street firms and banks, which all but disappeared from the recruitment scene two years ago, are stepping up hiring in full force. Boston Consulting Group (BCG), one of the world's largest employers of fresh MBAs, is increasing its recruitment for the Class of 2011 by 18 percent compared to the previous year's cohort.

"We have gone from having no competition (for hiring top MBAs) in the fall of 2008 to a big ramp up this past season," said Mel Wolfgang, who leads recruiting for BCG in the Americas. "This past fall, four months ago, the banks really started coming back. We also saw not only a resurgence of consulting but private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds, which had been sleepy for a two-year period, began to push very hard."

Although employers have ramped up recruiting efforts, competition for jobs is still tougher than ever, as the national unemployment rate continues to hover around the 9.8 percent mark, WalletPop reported. In the current job climate, obtaining an MBA is appealing because many believe it can guarantee higher earnings and a wider selection of employment opportunities.

"There's the idea that when the economy is lagging and jobs are scarce that you can hideout in business school for a few years," said David Ingber, the faculty manager at Knewton GMAT prep. "Having an MBA can make your resume pop out to employers or make you eligible for a promotion within your company."

Whereas higher salaries and the promise of advancement might motivate some students and graduates, 2011 represents a fresh opportunity for business school leaders to craft a better society through the private sector.

"Business schools [once] sought to educate entrepreneurs and general managers for the good of society," Eric Weber, associate dean and head of US operations at Barcelona-based IESE Business School, told Bloomberg Businessweek. "At many schools, this idea has been lost. Business schools need to revisit the mission of companies and managers vis-a-vis the common good."

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"Business School Resolutions for 2011," businessweek.com, January 3, 2011, Francesca Di Meglio

"Maximize the Value of Your MBA," walletpop.com, January 4, 2011, Charlotte Taylor

"What's in Store for B-Schools in 2011," poetsandquants.com, January 2, 2011, John A. Byrne

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