Why 2013 will be the year of the MBA

MBAs: a fantastic way to get ahead in business or a complete waste of time and money? Graduate Management Admission Council's Julia Tyler pleads the case for the former.

by Julia Tyler
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

According to the recent 'Key to Sustainable Growth' report on leadership and management in the UK by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, poor management and leadership is severely stunting the UK’s economic growth.

Ineffective management is estimated to cost the country over £19bn each year in lost working hours.  Nearly three quarters of employers report a shortage of management and leadership skills, while 43% of managers consider their own line manager ineffective. Incompetence or bad management of company directors is said to cause 56% of corporate failures in the UK. These are startling figures for a country still in the throes of the worst recession in over 50 years.

Improving leadership and management capability is crucial if we are to navigate UK plc out of these tough economic times. This is exactly why a management degree like the MBA will be more valuable than ever in the years to come. And why it is critical that we encourage more people to go to business school.

The primary criticisms of managers in the UK include that they are under-qualified and lack critical skills and training. These are issues that are well addressed by all types of graduate management degrees like MBAs or pre-experience Masters. These degrees instil in students the analytical and core business skills across functions, including marketing, finance, operations management and human resources, helping to develop managers that are multi-disciplined and able to work through complex business challenges.

Both public and private sectors are well aware of the value all business school graduates add to their organisations. In the case of the MBA, the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) most recent Corporate Recruiter’s Survey shows that several factors set MBA graduates apart from others, including the ability to manage strategy and innovation, change and decision-making processes, as well as strong leadership qualities.

The majority of employers reported that they view their MBA talent as more competent and equipped to lead than other colleagues at similar levels within their organisation. In a poor employment market, MBA graduates may have far better job prospects than others, as well as a responsibility to apply their knowledge and skills to drive growth.

With Government emphasising time and again the importance of SMEs and entrepreneurs in creating jobs and driving the UK’s recovery, business school graduates could be the key. According to GMAC data, more than three in 10 business school students are looking to become entrepreneurs and one in three is already self-employed. Coupled with five to six years of professional work experience prior to graduate study, MBAs can go into the working world and apply solid theory with considerable experience, a powerful combination for any business or economy seeking to prosper.

Attending business school is particularly valuable for budding entrepreneurs, providing them unparalleled opportunities to meet potential business partners and investors, develop and refine their nascent ideas and understand through their study why certain business models succeed while others fail. This can give them a decided edge when it comes to bringing their ideas to market and starting a successful, sustainable business.

To strengthen UK's fragile economic recovery, now is the time to take a closer look at the unique attributes MBA graduates have to offer. These are the type of individuals with the confidence, business acumen and leadership qualities to strengthen British business.

Graduate management education holds the key to unlocking the potential of the next generation of innovative leaders so valuable to economic growth and success. Encouraging more people to go to business school and more businesses to recognise their value has to be a priority.

 Julia Tyler is executive VP of the Graduate Management Admission Council

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