Spokane Journal of Business

MBA students shown to be interested in management

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A new survey of nearly 4,000 masters of business administration candidates suggests that MBA students are most interested in the management and strategy consulting industry, while interest in the banking industry continues to decline.

Universum Global, a New York-based employer-brand research firm that conducted the study released its findings last month, showing student sentiment within different industries, preferred employers, and trends.

Management and strategy consulting is the top industry of choice for surveyed MBA students, and strategy consulting firms McKinsey & Co., of New York; Bain & Co., of Boston; and The Boston Consulting Group all retained their positions on the list of top 10 ideal employers as identified by survey participants. Results suggest, however, that broader professional services firms are gaining ground.

"What is interesting as you look at the data is that the elite strategy consulting firms have stayed stable or decreased in the rankings; however, other professional services and consulting firms (Deloitte, IBM, PWC, Accenture) have all risen in the rankings," saysMelissa Murray Bailey, Universum president of the Americas. "As leadership opportunities are one of the key attributes attracting MBA students to this industry, this trend could be a result of the larger firms' concerted focus on offering a greater variety of career paths than before."

The banking industry has seen a steady decline in the rankings since 2009, likely due to bad press aroundthefailingmarkets and the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The 2013 rankingssaw just one bank, New York-based Goldman Sachs, hang on to its top 10 spot; no other bank made the top 10.

Of the students who still consider banking a top industry, one of the top three employer attributes attracting them is prestige. In contrast, the most preferred industry for MBA students, management and strategy consulting, sees prestige as the 10th most important attribute, behind others such as leadership opportunities, a creative and dynamic work environment, and challenging work.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. stayed steady at No. 3 in the MBA ranking this year and Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. was right behind after having jumped two slots to No. 4. Other consumer goods companies that students mentioned included Nike Inc., of Portland; Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J.; Proctor & Gamble Co., of Cincinnati; LVMH, of Paris; and Unilever, of London; all featured within the 2013 Top 30.

Similar to management and strategy consulting, the attributes attracting MBA students to consumer goods, the second most preferred industry, are leaders who support development, leadership opportunities, and a creative and dynamic work environment. While all of the top consumer goods organizations have strong consumer brands, that doesn't always correlate with a strong employer brand.

"A strong consumer brand is a blessing and a challenge when it comes to managing an employer brand," Bailey says. "I would go as far as to say that when a company has a strong consumer brand, it needs to work even harder to make its employer brand known to potential candidates. Otherwise, there is the risk of disappointment and high turnover when students have jumped to the wrong conclusions based on what they know about an employer brand. The two can and should complement each other, but the messaging needs to be focused and deliberate to ensure success."

The Top 10 Ideal Employers for MBA students, in order of ranking, were Google, McKinsey & Co., Apple, Amazon, The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co., Nike, Walt Disney, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs.

A global research and advisory firm, Universum helps employers in recruitment and retention by developing improvements to their employer brand. Universum provides a range of services in research, strategic consulting, and communications that are designed to help enable employers to understand, attract, and retain current and future employees.

On an annual basis, the company surveys nearly half a million students and professionals worldwide. Universum uses those findings to guide leaders in human resources, marketing, advertising, strategy, and talent acquisition.

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