A look at the Polish job market for MBA graduates in today’s difficult economy
Historically, the MBA qualification has been an almost guaranteed route to a fast-track career. But with job markets under pressure around the world, how is the value of the qualification holding up?
According to Artur Skiba, who heads the Warsaw office of management recruiter Antal International, the MBA’s impact on Polish employers has never been higher. “An MBA from a recognized school and command of Western languages have become almost mandatory when applying for many professional and managerial roles,” he says. “I can see a situation developing over the next few years where it will become very difficult indeed to reach the top in Poland unless you have the qualification.”
Of course, one of the main attractions of the MBA is that it is a truly international business qualification that opens doors around the world. So where should Polish MBA students with an eye on a global career be looking for employment upon graduation?
At Nyenrode Business Universiteit in the Netherlands, Larissa Katayeva, the head of career services, says that despite the downturn’s effect on much of Europe, there is good news for MBAs across the continent. “Organizations are not cutting as deeply as they did in previous downturns. We’ve also seen that it’s still possible for graduates to get their ‘dream job’ if they are persistent and committed. One of our people has just made a first move into M&A, for example, when one would have expected such roles to have virtually disappeared.”
On the other side of the globe, Australia seems to be dealing with the global downturn with a greater degree of success than many other countries. Associate professor of economics at the Melbourne Business School Mark Crosby says, “With the sole exception of the financial services sector, the market for MBAs is still relatively healthy.” Jennifer George, an associate dean at the school adds, “Although hiring is likely to be down in consulting, one of the key destinations for graduating MBAs, this has to be seen in the context that last year was something of a bumper year, with twice as many hires as in 2007.”
Strong markets, strong connections
Many international schools are now focusing their graduating classes on the job markets that appear to be relatively strong, such as parts of the Middle East. Camila de Wit of leading Spanish school ESADE says “Because many of the [Persian] Gulf nations are becoming increasingly sophisticated employment markets, there seems to be a growing awareness of the value of an MBA qualification.”
An extensive alumni network can be extremely helpful when it comes to finding a job after graduation, explains Valérie Gauthier, associate dean at leading French school HEC Paris. “Contact with our 40,000-strong HEC alumni network, and privileged access to firms actively supporting the HEC MBA Program, can make a big difference in a difficult job market,” she says. “Alumni play an essential role in career building. They are invited to the campus on a regular basis, share their professional experiences with participants and provide them with constructive feedback on their career plans.”
Despite the economic downturn, it seems that business school graduates are not just surviving but thriving, with Polish MBAs as well placed as any to take advantage of the opportunities on offer.