Many of today's fastest-growing companies are in the tech sector, which is why MBA hopefuls might consider specialising in the field, according to experts cited by U.S. News & World Report.
For students with a strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship, experts say a tech MBA degree may be a better fit than a traditional MBA degree with a concentration in marketing or finance.
Experts also say given the breakneck pace of technological innovation and its ripple effect on the US economy, every MBA student ought to learn about technology during business school, even if they have no plans to make a career in the sector.
Technology is a basic skill now, like being a good communicator, says Bala Iyer, professor and chairman of the technology, operations and information management division at Babson College.
New York University's Stern School of Business announced this month that will introduce a one-year MBA programme focused specifically on training future tech executives and entrepreneurs. Peter Henry, dean of NYU Stern, says:
There’s a shortage of human capital in the tech industry.
The average MBA starting salary among 2016 graduates of business schools ranked by US News who were hired by tech companies was USD 110,538, US News data show.
Tech executives who lobbied for the creation of NYU's new tech MBA programme say there is high demand for MBA talent. Don Callahan, head of technology and operations at Citigroup, said in an official statement:
There is an acute need for people who understand both business and technology.
Here are two questions experts say prospective MBA students should ask before investing in a tech-focused MBA programme.
- Is it in a region with a high concentration of tech talent?
Experts say prospective students are more likely to strengthen their business network in the tech sector if they attend an MBA programme located in a city with a thriving tech industry.
Being surrounded by tech talent increases the odds that tech MBA students will meet potential business partners during business school, says Brandon Yahn, founder and CEO of Student Loans Guy, a website that discusses repaying student loans in a cost-effective way.
Yahn, a 2012 graduate of the Haas School of Business at University of California—Berkeley, says he chose his MBA programme with location in mind, and he says a key advantage of attending Berkeley was its proximity to Silicon Valley.
Proximity to tech companies, Iyer says, allows tech MBA students to gain more real-world learning experience through consulting projects or internships, and it gives them more access to career opportunities.
He advises students to steer clear of business schools that rely heavily on textbooks to teach lessons that are better learned through practical experience. Experts say it is important for tech MBA students to learn basic tech skills, like computer coding, during business school.
- How many of the programme's graduates are working in tech?
Yahn says there is an important distinction between a business school that sends the bulk of its grads to the finance and consulting sector and a school that sends a significant chunk of its grads into tech.
For tech MBA students, there is value in attending an MBA programme with a strong alumni network in tech, he says, since alumni tend to help students find jobs and can serve as mentors.
Prospective tech MBAs with an interest in working for major tech companies should attend a school with a solid track record of connecting its students with jobs at those companies, Yahn says.
Ben Preston, a 2016 MBA graduate from the University of Oxford, says business school can be a great place for entrepreneurs like himself to pursue their passion, assuming they are at a school that encourages innovation. Prospective students are likely to find a welcoming atmosphere at a business school with a long history of training entrepreneurs, says Preston, co-founder of Via Hero, a travel company that creates custom trip plans designed by expert locals. He says:
It's really an amazing place to discover what problem you want to solve and who you want to solve it with.
Source: U.S. News