You know the saying:‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know’. And while many see the intrinsic value of an MBA qualification as being in the knowledge and skills learned, recent research by the Financial Times shows that it is the potential experience and employment opportunities of the alumni network that may actually offer the most valuable opportunities to graduates.
The simple fact of being an MBA graduate provides access to fellow alumni and the organisations within which they operate, making the MBA itself something of an entrée into the higher echelons of business. Of course, the better the Business School, the better the network.
Added to this is the value gained from formal alumni associations. The FT has released the findings of its poll of 2,490 MBA graduates from the class of 2010, who are now a few years on from their graduation. 83 per cent said they have heard about job opportunities through their MBA provider’s alumni network. Of these 49 per cent said they have received job offers through this route.
This is characteristic of the employment cycle that benefits many Business School graduates. For example, there is the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between graduates of MBA courses and those still studying: alumni in business are often the first port of call when looking to provide MBA students with on programme work experience, working on real life business challenges. The symbiotic relationship cycle perpetuates when these students go on to become business leaders themselves.
There is a similar cycle of co-operation between the alma mater and its students. Speakers at MBA student events or within lectures are often alumni that are called upon because of their relationship with the University and their ability to transfer knowledge in a relevant way. Fundraisers also look to alumni when looking to raise money for sponsorships or large capital projects.
So while some of the benefits of an MBA are intangible, they are nonetheless vital components in the added value a Business School can deliver to its students. The key is to look after alumni; cherish them and, like any ‘reap and reward scenario’, they will be your greatest advocates and supporters for life.
Georgie Cameron is founder and managing director of Admiral PR, specialists in PR and consulting services for the higher education sector.