Q&A: Masters in Management 2014

Interested in studying for a masters in management? Read advice from our panel of experts

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Masters in Management options are growing fast. Why is this degree so popular? What do recruiters look for when hiring graduates from these programmes? Will a Mim become a prerequisite for many companies, banks and management consultancies? How does a MiM differ from an MBA?

On 17th September 2014, a panel of experts answered questions about studying for a MiM. See the full transcript below.

On the panel were:

Ashok Banerjee, dean of new initiatives and external relations at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

Professor Banerjee joined the IIM Calcutta in 2004, where he has helped set up the Financial Research and Trading Laboratory. Before this, he taught at IIM Lucknow and the Asian Institute of Technology School of Management. He is also a qualified chartered accountant.

Michael Frenkel, dean and professor of macroeconomics and international economics at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany

Professor Frenkel received his doctoral degree from the University of Mainz in Germany. He has worked with the International Monetary Fund and held numerous visiting positions at US universities, including Brandeis, Emory, Georgetown, Harvard and Michigan. For many years, he was also responsible for the economics education of young German diplomats with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia in Canada

Professor Helsley joined Sauder as dean in 2012. Before this, he served as senior associate dean of faculty and research from 2002 to 2008. He has also taught at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, as a professor and chair in real estate development. He has an MBA and PhD in economics from Princeton University.

Della Bradshaw, FT Business Education Editor


1:54pm

Charlotte: Welcome to our Q&A. Here is the first question:

What would you say are the advantages of having a masters in management?

2:05pm

Della: The MiM is essentially a degree which gives you basic business know-how, so is a really leg up for young graduates looking for a first career in business. In a competitive graduate recruitment market it could be the qualification which gets you the interview​.

2:10pm

Ashok: MiM degrees provide students who have not seen or worked in the industry a perspective to learn the theory and practice of management. Growing complexity in business and its interaction with geopolitics make it necessary for every manager to understand how to handle uncertainty and complexity.

A MiM is designed to prepare students to learn the business dynamics and how to handle challenges which come at times in rather unstructured way. Participants in the programme, who come from different disciplines, soon realise that in the real world there is nothing absolutely right or wrong. There are only different ways of doing things.

2:12pm

Robert: Increasingly, young people are finding that undergraduate degrees in the arts and sciences are not providing the career-ready skills the market demands. The MiM gives students the toolkit necessary to take on roles in a corporate environment or provide leadership in their specific area of interest.

In many programme, including Sauder’s, students get hands-on experience working with businesses and organisations. This is invaluable because it opens the door to the working world, allows them to create a network and helps them develop the soft skills that are so important.

Essentially a good MiM is a gateway to a career. It builds on the investment made in undergraduate studies, and increases career opportunities.

Beyond the career acceleration, which the degree provides, I would suggest that the rich learning environment is also a key benefit. Students from across disciplines and around the world study together at Sauder and this creates an educational environment that opens doors to new ideas, perspectives and opportunities. When you bring all of these diverse people together and give them the common language of business, the learning is tremendous and the experiences can be transformational.

2:14pm

Michael: Anybody going into management who has a bachelor in management only is expected to know the fundamentals of management, but not much more. However, in-depth knowledge and more profound skills is mostly expected only of those who, in their management education, went beyond the bachelor level.

Thus, the advantage of having a MiM is that one has already reached a more senior level of education before entering the business world. This way, the graduate is prepared for a variety of assignments in management.

2:18pm

I have a bachelor degree in social sciences and two years’ work experience in the trading/sale of petroleum and petrochemical products. I am thinking of studying for a MiM or MBA to boost my career. Which one would add more value to my CV? I do not have much business knowledge which makes me consider the Mim but I don’t want to throw away my work experience...

2:25pm

Michael: If you want to go for a MiM, you would have to choose a programme which does not require a relevant undergraduate degree (usually a bachelor in business or economics). However, most business schools expect basic knowledge in business or economics to participate in the MiM.

An interesting alternative for you is indeed an MBA. I would recommend such a degree for you. Typically, the first half of such a programme introduces you to the main business functions without assuming prior knowledge. Students of an MBA programme usually come from very different academic, functional and industry backgrounds. Hence, your industry experience and social science know-how can be valuable in classroom and case discussions.

2:28pm

Ashok: In many business schools, a minimum of three years of work experience is necessary to get an admission to MBA programme. So, I would suggest that you join a MiM programme if you want to study management now.

Alternatively, you can work for one more year and join MBA programme. Our experience in teaching MiM/MBA students show that a two-year work experience is not good enough to gain enough knowledge of a business/sector.

Although MiM is a pre-experience programme, it is good to have a mix of freshers and moderate experienced people in the class for better classroom discussions.

2:32pm

Robert: I would counsel you to continue to work in the petroleum and petrochemicals sector to gain additional work experience and then pursue an MBA in three to five years. I believe that this work experience will be increasingly important over the next decade and that, together with an MBA, it will position you for a variety of leadership roles in the natural resources sector.

I would not be too concerned about the absence of an educational background in business since all top MBA programmes will provide this foundation for you before you start to specialise in particular areas. The inherent value of an MBA derives in part from leveraging the collective work experience of students and you would be a very strong contributor to this value, and therefore an attractive MBA candidate in a few years time.

A MiM degree would also provide you with a foundation in business, but MiM programmes are generally designed for individuals with limited work experience.

2:33pm

Della: Work experience is business knowledge - go for the MBA.​

2:37pm

What would you say is the cut-off age for applying for a Mim? I am 45, should I apply for an MBA instead?

2:39pm

Ashok: A MiM is essentially aimed at undergraduates and for people with minimum work experience (preferably not more than two years). Given your age, I would not even recommend a full-time MBA for you. I would suggest that you do an executive MBA. This would help you retain your job or business and yet pursue studies.

2:41pm

Della: Most deans and directors of these programmes will say there is no real cut-off date, but practically speaking, 25 is the age when most people start thinking about an MBA. Most people in a MiM class will be 21 to 23 years old, so if you are much older than this you may well feel completely out of place.

2:42pm

Michael: Typically, it is not age that is the decisive criterion, but the degree of professional experience. Generally, we find that MiM students have up to two years of work experience, while MBA students have work experience of two or more years. This is why MiM students are usually younger than MBA students. Assuming that you already have significant work experience, my advice would be to apply for an MBA programme. This certainly suits your profile better.

2:55pm

I recently graduated and have started applying for jobs. What do recruiters look for these days? What kind of competition should I be aware of?

2:56pm

Michael: Assuming that you graduated from a MiM, you can expect recruiters to look for good management knowledge (often documented by a degree from a demanding programme together with decent grades) and excellent personal skills.

2:59pm

Ashok: If you are a management graduate, recruiters look for your creative thinking ability, problem solving skills and of course inter-personal skills.

3:05pm

Robert: Recruiters are looking for critical thinking, analytical skills, communication, teamwork and intercultural fluency. One way to top up your undergraduate education would be to pursue a MiM that can provide you with these skills and differentiate you from other candidates on the job market. Our experiences suggest that there is a great need in the job market for employees who represent diverse experiences, interests and points of view, but who also possess the common language and skills of business. In 2013, 75 per cent of our MiM students secured career employment before they graduated.

Employer demand is part of the inspiration for why we are expanding the number of students studying in our MiM programme by launching the new UBC Bachelor + Master of Management Dual Degree next September. The new dual degree will allow students from across the university to integrate undergraduate studies with graduate-level business training beginning in the first year. We want to give students the benefit of the enhancing their education with the MiM experience early on, with the goal of making them job ready the day they complete their studies.

3:06pm

Should I choose a course in the same country I would like to get a job? I am based in Europe but would like to work in the US...

3:09pm

Ashok: It is not necessary. You should try to select an appropriate school for your MiM, based on its ranking, faculty quality, job records, etc. In this connected world where companies encourage employees from different countries to work together, you may get a job anywhere.

So, if you would like to work in the US, you may do the MiM from any good school offering such a programme. You can then always apply for companies which have openings in the US.

3:10pm

Michael: A lot of companies are recruiting in the country where they offer jobs. Hence, there is a certain advantage of studying in the country where you would like to work later. However, having studied at one of the top business schools certainly also helps you find a job anywhere. You may just have to rely more on your own efforts to approach potential employers.

3:30pm

Robert: It is generally true that business schools have stronger corporate connections near their geographic location. However, how you approach this issue depends in part on your objectives. Are you looking to work just in the US or do you have broader international aspirations for your career? An international educational experience will help prepare you for the future of business.

Studying in another country and on an international programme will enhance your understanding of other cultures and your ability to work in diverse teams. It will also give you an appreciation of how context influences strategy, which will in turn enhance your critical thinking skills.

It is for these reasons that our MBA programme has become very international in focus - from courses in international business and culture to global immersion experiences to active membership in collaborative networks such as the Global Network for Advanced Management, a select network of leading business schools focused on training global leaders.

I encourage you to carefully consider how the programme that you choose will prepare you to work in an increasingly global environment.

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