When choosing to take an MBA, an important factor to consider is where you want the qualification to lead in career terms. As recruitment consultants, we meet too many candidates who seem to believe - or have been told - that an MBA will allow them to switch career paths easily and almost instantly. But for even the best MBA graduates from top-tier business schools, it is difficult to change to an industry in which one has no recent track record or experience.
The same applies for the large percentage of MBA graduates who have worked in middle- or back-office roles in the finance sector, but somehow assume their new qualification provides a passport to a higher-paying front-office position. Employers, though, whether in financial services or other industries, will generally attach more weight to a candidate’s relevant work experience and regard the MBA as a useful extra.
If considering which industry most values an MBA, there is no simple answer. It tends to be that certain companies put more emphasis on the qualification, offering candidates who have it a faster route to senior management. In financial services, the CFA has also gained in status over the last few years. For some front-office roles, particularly in fund management, it is now seen as a preferred standard for professional training and intellectual ability.
Also, with the need to control costs, banks are now far less likely to offer financial assistance for employees taking an MBA.
However, in management consultancy, especially in firms more focused on corporate strategy, an MBA still makes a big difference. It may be seen as a prerequisite for entry, progression up the career ladder, and for any future move into areas like private equity, corporate finance, or holding an influential board-level role with a major company.