Industry loses out to the financial world in MBA recruitment.
Industrial employers seeking to recruit able young people may be unduly cowed by the reputations of leading academic institutions like London Business School, INSEAD, IMD and Cranfield. David Molian, who lectures on marketing at The Management School at Imperial College, certainly thinks so. Because such a high proportion of graduates from these schools go on to well paid financial and management consultancy jobs, he maintains, industrial and commercial employers scouting for MBA talent don't get much of a look-in.
'They may try to match salaries, but they find that these don't fit into their salary structures - so they get squeezed.' The solution, Molian argues, is for employers to look beyond the charmed circle of LBS and its peers. There they will find a growing number of schools offering subjects of great relevance to industry and commerce - everything from the management of change to management of design.
But a further problem could be that employers have less than full confidence in the standards of some of these schools. Roger Howell, a partner in London-based recruitment specialists GKRS, accepts that some other MBAs may be just as good as those of the best known schools. On the other hand, 'there are a number that are not worth the paper they're written on. We often see CVs with MBA on them. When they don't give the institution you can bet your bottom dollar it's somewhere in the back of beyond.'
Perhaps surprisingly, London Business School's principal, George Bain, has a good deal of sympathy with Molian's case. Bain is quick to point out that approximately one-third of the MBAs emerging from LBS these days opt either for manufacturing or for non-financial services: 'Some people simply don't want to go into finance and consulting, and they know they're going to make a few thousand pounds less.' On the other hand, he agrees that companies should adopt a more broad-minded approach to business schools.
'Industry should think of recruiting outside three schools in Europe.
We produce 200 MBAs a year, INSEAD about 300, IMD 90. You simply can't staff the needs of industry by recruiting at three schools.'
Ford Motor makes a practice of recruiting from INSEAD, LBS and Cranfield, but not for the UK, explains Peter Huntington, manager of organisation and personnel planning on the sales side of the company. 'I can fit people from INSEAD into my salary scales outside Britain. I do have a problem accommodating them inside Britain. Salary scales differ country-by-country and British salary scales tend to be towards the lower end in Europe, a reflection of our low-cost economy.' But Ford has no hesitation about employing graduates of other British business schools as well. 'My perspective would be that Manchester and Warwick are better ponds for us to fish in (for the UK business) because the people coming out of these schools seem more motivated towards industry.'
A lot of employers are pretty unimpressed by MBAs anyway. BOC Group, for example, might 'fish in the top pool'. But according to director of employee relations Sally Smedley, it really likes to recruit people who have gained useful experience. 'People coming out of business schools often expect to be paid more than they're worth, whichever school they come from.'