The MBA has a very strong reputation across all industries as it teaches both a strategic and practical perspective of business and opens doors for students and graduates. Whether it’s a desired change in industry or function, a large portion of professionals look to the MBA to assist with a career change. There are a number of reasons why someone may look for a change, including monotony in their current position, a restricted job outlook, financial motivations, lack of progression opportunities, stress and many more. For a large portion of AIB MBA graduates, this was certainly the case – a recent alumni survey found that 22.4% of MBA graduate respondents changed industry, plus a huge 40.1% changed job function since starting their MBA.
Regardless of the motive, change is always worth the risk if the current career situation comes at the expense of happiness or health. With that in mind, we discuss how the MBA has helped professionals find and execute their next career move, sharing the learnings and insights of some of our graduates who’ve successfully done it.
Build the skills and credibility to change paths
“I was in the aviation industry, but being a people person, I wanted to pursue human resources, so I specialised my MBA degree in human resources management. That has opened up a lot of doors for me.” – Zoe Kammas
Many pursue an MBA with a career change outcome in mind, whether it be to transition to a different industry, a new function or change course altogether. For AIB MBA graduate Zoe Kammas, it was both. Prior to starting her MBA, Zoe knew the direction she wanted her career to take, and AIB’s flexible approach allowed her tailor to her studies to suit this. The new knowledge and recognition from the MBA helped Zoe to branch into a new field, where she found her passion in psychology.
Develop a new outlook on your career trajectory
“Because of the knowledge of different business units and processes that you acquire through the MBA, you no longer have a myopic view towards what your opportunities are. It opens up opportunities pan-industry wise; you’re not confined to a chartered trajectory in your career space and you can do so much more.” – Ruchi Ladkani
If you studied a degree in a single discipline and have worked in that field ever since, your alternative career options may feel limiting. While that’s certainly not the case, it’s very common to feel this way. The MBA journey helps to change this perspective, exposing students to a range of business functions, processes and issues through its holistic curriculum. Consider it an in-depth trial of all the major business units and insight into how they work together. Students also get to engage and collaborate with others from around the world, bringing together professionals from a variety of industries and functions, and enabling valuable networking opportunities in the process. Often, students find a new professional interest they’d not yet been exposed to, and from there, are able to plan their move to a fulfilling career. With the strong reputation of the MBA degree and recognition of its value from employers, making the move is far less disconcerting.
Receive recognition for being driven, hard-working and ambitious
“I’ve worked for my company for about 10 years as a financial planner, but since taking the MBA, my leaders started looking at me in a different light and offering me other opportunities. I’m currently helping with devising the strategic plan in my new role, and I don’t think I would have been considered for this if I hadn’t studied the MBA. I’m even being considered for an even more senior position now." - Gavin Smith
Employer recognition is one of the most powerful immediate affects the MBA can have, and one that students experience from their very first subject. Choosing to pursue the MBA signifies that an employee is driven, hard-working and ambitious – all important qualities of a high-performer and asset to any company. This does not go unnoticed. Many MBA students report receiving promotions and new opportunities within their company as they study, some of which can lead to an often unplanned but positive change.
Gavin Smith, AIB MBA graduate and Manager of Business Development at WA Super, was presented with an opportunity like this by his employer. By pursuing the MBA and applying its learnings in the workplace, Gavin’s employers recognised his potential and offered him the opportunity to expand his career experiences. This will no doubt be useful wherever his career takes him next.
Build the confidence to make a career change
“I always knew I wanted to start my own company in some way, and the MBA gave me the skills and confidence to do it. Now when having conversations with heads of business units, I can speak with authority and confidence.” - Ted Cofie
Approaching change can be a daunting process, particularly for those who have never taken a similar leap before. Confidence in our own abilities is therefore crucial to make a change. The MBA helps greatly with this, with enhanced professional confidence often named by graduates as the most powerful outcome of the MBA. The greater knowledge acquired and applied, recognition received and growth in networks all contribute to greater confidence, which graduates can then use to pursue their career goals.
This was case for AIB MBA graduate Ted Cofie, who attributes having the confidence to start his own business to the MBA experience. Ted knew there was more for him to learn, and once he had the knowledge and skills, he took his idea to the next level. Knowledge is power as it fuels self-confidence, leaving individuals feeling undoubtedly better equipped to take on challenges and pursue their goals.
AIB graduate Ted Cofie shares his MBA story below. To watch more, head to the AIB YouTube Channel.
Whether you had a career change outcome in mind which led you to the MBA or you were eager to find a new field of interest as a result of it, the knowledge you acquire, credibility you build, connections you make and confidence you gain from the journey all assist with the career change process. We’d love to hear about your experience with career change – comment below to join the conversation.