Top Industries for MBA Grads

Which Sectors Are Trending

July 24th, 2014
The world economy is changing and so is talent demand. For almost a decade, we have seen an indisputable rise in MBA hiring all over the world. More and more industries are joining the ranks of MBA targets, thus leading to an even more tangible change in the game of business degree supply and demand.

The 2013 Corporate Recruiters Survey of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), in cooperation with the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and the MBA Career Services Council (MBA CSC), interviewed more than 900 employers in 50 countries all over the world, including the Asia-Pacific region and Central Asia, Europe and the United States. The survey provides an excellent pool of information on the current trends in demand, broken down by industry and world region, salaries, job functions and mobility in regional job placement. Information like this could help b –school graduates better understand the forces that move the world job market today, including the organisational goals and plans that drive hiring decisions such as whom to hire, what schools to look at, what positions to fill and where in the world to deploy talent. Future employment is almost always the top decision driver to join an MBA programme, so insight into this, including compensation trends and new industries attracting MBA graduates, should be priceless for candidates.
So, which were the industries that attracted the greatest number of MBAs in 2013, and which are the new players on the scene? The GMAC survey shows that the greatest growth in demand for MBA graduates in 2013 came from the energy/utilities and health care/pharmaceutical sectors. Neither both of these are typical MBA industries. In addition, hiring projections for 2014 increased for the consulting and finance/accounting sectors and remained steady or increased slightly for the other ‘typical’ industries, except for manufacturing, where there was some decline.


It was in this sector, more than in any other, that demand for MBAs simply skyrocketed, with a 17% increase in the number of companies hiring MBA graduates compared to 2012. The most common reasons for hiring MBAs cited by energy/utilities companies are to improve performance and productivity, reducing cost and increasing business. They are therefore interested in hiring MBAs for business development, finance and accounting positions.

Health Care/Pharmaceuticals

The GMAC study shows a 12% increase in MBA demand from the health care sector in 2013, compared to the previous year. This is particularly true of the US, of course, which boasts an enormous and very innovative health industry. Hospitals throughout the world, however, now require an MBA degree for their managers, business development and also finance directors.


According to the GMAC survey, although consultancy firms in general wish to focus on cutting costs, only a quarter of them did so in 2013, and the percentage of firms planning to hire MBAs increased by 10% in comparison with the previous year, up to 79%. In addition to consulting jobs, firms need b-school grads to fill business development, information technology and general management positions.


With the US believing that the economic crisis has finally come to an end, firms in the finance and accounting sector at last marked an increase in hiring MBA talent in 2013, mostly due to their plans to expand their customer base. More than half of the companies in the rest of the world are also looking in the same direction. Understandably, Master of Accounting graduates are especially sought after, with an increase of 9% compared to 2012. This trend is shared by the US and Europe, but in Europe, Master of Finance candidates should expect a slight slowdown compared to 2012. Other business degree holders also stand good chances, as 61% of companies are hiring Finance graduates, 48% Master in Management degree holders and 75% MBAs. Investment banking is getting back on its feet, with the GMAC survey reporting plenty of opportunities in this sector worldwide.


Demand for business graduates was stable in the technology sector all over the world in 2013, with companies seeking to improve performance and productivity, launch new products and expand their customer base. Again, candidates may expect to be attracted to business development, finance and general management functions throughout the sector.


Here, too, companies had planned to enhance their productivity in 2013, reduce costs and launch new products and services. Still, the sector did see a slight decline in MBA hiring and focused mainly on hiring Master’s of Finance and of Accounting to fill positions in finance and general management.


Economies are tight on a global scale. Governments are seeking ways to cut spending and introduce austerity measures. The GMAC study also reflects this, showing slow job growth for MBAs. Still, things are far from desperate, with more than half (58%) of governments and non-profit organisations planning to hire MBAs in 2013.

Products and Services

Results from the GMAC survey in this area are level with 2012. There is express demand for accounting and finance talent here though, rather than for MBAs, and the outlook varies significantly by region. Currently, more robust markets such as the US and Asia-Pacific are seeking to expand markets, thus planning to increase the number of graduate management degree holders hired. Europe is still suffering, so demand for management degrees is lower there, but is nevertheless on the up in the finance and accounting sectors. The GMAC survey shows that demand is high for an array of positions such as general management, finance, operations and logistics, accounting and, again, business development. In general, there are a variety of types of MBA degrees available and, while choosing a specialisation for an MBA might seem like a secondary consideration compared to deciding whether or not to actually pursue an MBA, the specialisation can be what gives the degree most of its value. As stated above here, too, it is a different world. Newly coined MBA holders no longer head straight to Wall Street. Many head to Silicon Valley, to product development across industries, showbusiness, sports, the arts and advertising. Whatever the trends in 2014, the key is to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your degree in hand. The opportunities are endless.


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