Business school graduates overwhelmingly say their degree netted them more money and sped them toward career achievements. But the voices of alumni help us understand the mechanics of how MBA programs mint the corporate world's future leaders.
The Graduate Management Admission Council, the body that administers GMAT, released a survey Monday of 12,000 MBAs who graduated between 1959 and 2014. The alumni were asked about their financial and emotional health, and stacked up against one another and the rest of us based on their answers. Beyond the bliss reported by most of the graduates were several finer points worth distilling. Here they are.
1. Where is business school most profitable?
GMAC calculated the purchasing power of a graduate business degree in 22 countries, so we can answer this question two ways. If you are concerned with wealth relative to the rest of your country, your MBA will pay off most in Nigeria, where a B-School graduate’s median salary is 6.8 times the gross domestic product per capita, or in India, the degree will net you 6.2 times the GDP per capita. If you're more interested in absolute wealth, you'll find it in Switzerland, home to Geneva and Zurich, two of the world's most expensive cities, but also the most wealthy business school graduates in the world. In Switzerland, MBAs make a median of $165,000 -- a figure that dwarves the median salary of $110,000 for U.S. graduates, and is the highest overall salary of any country.
2. How can you maximize your chances of being happy?
The most common route to professional happiness seems to be by way of professional title-climbing. Business school alums become increasingly likely to say they are professionally satisfied as they acquire more senior roles -- though people at the executive level are no less happy than those one rung higher. Ninety-three percent of people with a "chief" in front of their title are happy, compared to just 66 percent of entry- level workers. Getting there may take about a decade, according to the report, which showed that 10 years after graduation was when the greatest share of alumni permeated the highest levels of their companies. Another way to find happiness is to appoint yourself chief executive: self-employed alumni were about as fulfilled by their work as CEOs.
3. Do men get more for their time in school than women?
Indeed. “The dramatic shift in C-suite representation occurs at around age 45 -- prior to that age generally few men or women are found at the chief executive level,” the report said. Age 45 is the moment that business degrees start working harder for one gender: 12 percent of male graduates aged 45-54 had executive-level positions, compared to just 5 percent of women. The pattern held for alumni 55 and older.
4. Does networking actually matter?
Making friends for professional reasons makes most people want a shower, says one recent study. Business school students, meanwhile, pay thousands of dollars per year to schmooze in pretty places. So is that grimy feeling worth it? It is, more than ever, according to the survey, which showed that people who graduated from business school recently gave more credit to networking for their success than than older alumni. They were also more likely to say business school helped nurture those connections: 84 percent of those who graduated since 2010 said school boosted their web of job-related buddies, compared to 59 percent of pre-1980 alums.