Months before completing her graduate business degree at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management this year, Amy Dumoulin received an offer from a major consulting firm in Toronto to work on strategy issues – a field of high interest to her.
At the University of Alberta’s school of business, Shravan Behal also received a job offer, months ahead of earning his MBA, to join a national company and pursue his new career as a supply chain consultant.
Their pregraduation job success highlights findings from a global survey of corporate recruiters by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which reports that more companies plan to hire MBAs this year than a year ago.
Virginia-based GMAC found that 81 per cent of responding companies plan to hire recent MBA graduates this year, up from 70 per cent last year, despite a slight softening in projected hiring by U.S. and European employers. (Demand is strong in the Asia Pacific region.)
As there were too few Canadian employers for a separate category in the survey, GMAT researchers took an extra step and analyzed responses from 395 respondents with offices in Canada. This group of employers was more optimistic than the overall survey, with 90 per cent saying they expect to hire MBAs this year compared to 85 per cent in 2017.
“It seems to be a good time to be graduating in the Canadian marketplace for jobs,” says Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC director of management education research.
The GMAT data are consistent with the experience of Ms. Dumoulin, who took advantage of an on-campus career fair to talk to multiple prospective employers.
“There is a distinct and explicit interest from the companies I spoke with about hiring MBAs specifically,” she says.
Among other factors, Ms. Dumoulin chose Desautels for its 20-month MBA program, giving her time to consider where she next wanted to take her career. Prior to her MBA, she worked for several years for two major law firms in Toronto before concluding she wanted to switch her focus to strategy from marketing.
After her first year at Desautels, she landed an internship with a major Canadian bank in Toronto, working on a project that focused on the human capital side of strategy. She says the experience reinforced her decision to make a career pivot into people-oriented strategy issues.
After a positive experience at the bank over the summer, Ms. Dumoulin decided to check out the career recruitment events at her school last fall. “Even if you are not going for one of those [job opportunities] you get caught up and start doing your networking and informational interviewing.”
When she met recruiters from Ernst and Young, she found a strong fit with her evolving interest in strategy. School career officials later introduced her to a Desautels alumnus, a senior manager at the consulting firm in Toronto, resulting in a conversation that again confirmed her emerging career focus. “It kind of propelled forward very quickly,” she says of the recruitment process that led to her hiring.
Like Ms. Dumoulin, Mr. Behal, an India-trained chemical engineer, also wanted to make a career switch. After several years working for a major U.S. company in India, he applied to the University of Alberta’s business school for its location in the heart of the province’s oil and gas industry, the affordability of tuition compared to other schools, and because of recommendations from friends who had gone to the Edmonton-based school.
During his studies in the 20-month program, he discovered a fascination for supply chain management and took several courses on the topic that were rich in data analysis. “That got me very excited,” he says.
Growing employer demand for MBA graduates with data analytic skills is a top trend identified in GMAT’s recruiter survey, which found 71 per cent of global employers plan to assign new MBA graduates to data analytics roles this year. GMAT also found that 52 per cent of recruiters plan to hire master of data analytics graduates in 2018, up from 35 per cent a year ago.
Meanwhile, career coaching by schools is an increasingly significant component of the MBA experience. In response to the energy-driven economic downturn in the province in 2015, Alberta’s business school beefed up its career education and coaching.
Of this year’s graduates – the first cohort to receive extra job-finding support from the school – 63 per cent had found permanent employment (and higher annual average starting salaries) by mid-year compared to 39 per cent at the same time last year, according to Christopher Lynch, senior director of recruitment, admissions and marketing for the master program at Alberta’s business school.
Last January, Mr. Behal applied to Deloitte Consulting and, after several rounds of interviews, landed a job in logistics and distribution with the firm’s Calgary office this fall. Like Ms. Dumoulin, he says recruiters were keen on his MBA credentials.
“The consulting firms are very interested in MBA students,” he says. “In their job description, they specifically mention that MBAs are preferred.”