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It was when Parul Dubey was studying for her electrical engineering degree in India that she read about London Business School’s plans to launch a masters in management (MiM) degree for recent graduates.
Dubey had already began to question her future career. “I realised the engineering lifestyle wasn’t a good fit for me,” she recalls, so she applied to LBS for its first MiM class, which started in 2009. On graduating from LBS she got her first job, working in London for Pimco, the investment management company.
But that is not the end of Dubey’s business education story. Today, four years later, she is halfway through her two-year MBA programme at Harvard Business School.
As MiM degrees have flourished over the past decade, one of the biggest fears of business schools that run both MBA and MiM degrees has been that the MiM degree for younger students will cannibalise the market for MBAs. Dubey’s tale would suggest otherwise and her story is not unusual, says Leila Guerra, executive director of early-career programmes at LBS.
Even though LBS is just graduating its fourth class, Guerra reports that alumni from the programme have already signed up to study for MBAs at several top business schools, including Wharton, Chicago Booth, Stanford and Insead. “In 2009 the value of the MiM was really discussed in the school and by alumni,” says Guerra. “Now everyone sees the value.”
Though the growth in the European market for such degrees is beginning to plateau, there is increasing demand in Asia-Pacific, South America, Africa and even the US, the home of the MBA. Some of the country’s big-brand schools – Fuqua, Kellogg, Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan and Notre Dame – are among the 50 or so US business schools that already run MiMs, and others are looking closely at the model.
One of the biggest problems in the US is that recruiters and employers, seasoned MBA recruiters, find it hard to understand the value of the MiM. LBS, together with Kellogg and Duke in the US and IE in Spain, have set up the International Masters in Management Association, to help promote the degree.
“Because the MiM market is very young, it is very collaborative,” Guerra points out. “We need to do what we did in the European market 10 or 15 years ago so that companies and recruiters understand the value of MiM graduates.”
At the Kellogg school at Northwestern University near Chicago, associate dean Betsy Ziegler believes the MiM presents a compelling proposition for recruiters. “The reason we are so excited about this is that these kids will be wildly productive and high-performing in the workplace.”
The first two classes of the Kellogg MiM have been restricted to Northwestern undergraduates. However, from July 2015 the programme will also be open to graduates from a handful of top universities. “We have proved the concept; now we will introduce it to other universities,” says Ziegler. At Kellogg, MiM graduates will be able to enter the second year of the MBA directly.
Though a fledgling degree compared with the MBA, the MiM is already evolving, with business schools adapting to a rapidly changing market for business graduates. Recruiters are looking for graduates with an increasingly sophisticated attitude to world markets and the ability to work in a number of countries, says Jean Charroin, director of French business school Audencia Nantes. “Our students from developing countries won’t be placed in their native country but will work in other countries.”
Languages are critical, he continues, with recruiters often looking for graduates who speak three. “It is not enough that someone speaks English. They have to have the mindset to work in different cultures. They must be able to adapt to different contexts,” he says.
Double-degree programmes are increasingly popular – Fudan University in China and LBS recently announced a two-year programme in which participants spend one year in London and one year in Shanghai. MIT Sloan also runs a double-degree programme with a number of partner schools, such as ESCP Europe. The selected participants spend one year at ESCP and one at MIT, studying on either Sloan’s master of science in management studies (MSMS) or its master of finance.
Many French students want to go to the US, because they want to work there, says Léon Laulusa, ESCP’s vice-dean for international development, but he concedes that the cost of the one-year MIT programmes will deter many – the fees start at $60,000.
For Parul Dubey, LBS and Harvard have provided very different experiences and opportunities. “I believe I got the best of both worlds. LBS is in London, the financial capital of the world, and the business school is much more diverse. Harvard is a very different value-add,” she says. “The case method has taught me to be a better listener. It has enabled me to put forward an argument and defend it in a class of people.”
But the degree that has given her the biggest career opportunity has been the MiM, she says. “The MiM gave me the space, time, the geography and resources to move into finance and to London.”