More MBAs bank on jobs in resources


The volatility of financial markets is forcing the latest generation of MBA students to rethink their career plans. Traditionally, the MBA has paved the way for graduates to enter high-paying jobs in the banking industry. But this is changing, as business schools adapt to the new reality.

Investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, are still among the most attractive employers for MBA students at U.S. business schools, according to a recent survey by Universum, a branding consultancy.

With a tight hiring market in financial services, many of the schools are encouraging students to look for career opportunities beyond the banks.

"A fog has descended across Wall Street," says Jack Oakes, assistant dean for career development at the University of Virginia's Darden School. "So it is great to see industrial companies raising their game and increasing their MBA hiring."

The likes of Caterpillar, Boeing, 3M and Dupont are stepping up their pursuit of MBA students at Darden, suggesting that job prospects might be better with companies that make things, not trade esoteric financial derivatives.

At HEC Paris in France, trendy media companies such as Google, Amazon and, most recently, Facebook, have also surged in popularity for post-MBA employment, while consultancy firms and luxury brands such as Dior and Cartier are optimistic about 2012 hiring levels.

But the school reports the energy sector is the most vibrant. This is good news for Canadian business schools and their graduates. Marie-Jose Beaudin, director of careers services at McGill's Desautels Faculty of Management, is seeing a growing interest in the energy sector, and the "dirty" industries of metals and mining.

Beaudin believes students see these sectors as more stable than sectors such as finance. She says they also see them as more genuinely global, as key jobs in other industries are still concentrated in the U.S. or Western Europe.

Says Stephanie Shaw, a McGill MBA of 2010, now a human resources business partner at Husky Energy in Calgary. "When other industries are scaling back, natural resource industries are focused on growth because of increased global demand; it's a commodity that the world needs to run itself. This offers both stability and increased opportunity for employees."

Shaw feels the energy sector offers an international diversity of backgrounds and opportunity for growth missing in the financial sector. "In banking, you would not have the opportunity to work with such a wide mix of professions, and, from an employee standpoint, the roles are big.

Read full article: Toronto Star, February 11, 2012