MBAs and Talent Management

MBAs at the start of their job search need to be aware that whatever their chosen sector employers are looking for individuals who are a good fit. Self-awareness is therefore vital for any MBA student and business schools can help by incorporating self-assessment tools into careers modules.

In the current recession, employability as much as rankings is becoming a deciding factor behind student applications. Every business school has its own strategy for helping MBAs be the talent that stands out from the crowd. LBS and Cranfield University School of Management, for example, offer personal careers coaching.

Relevant – right now
There is no doubt talent management is moving up the business school agenda. In December 2011 Audencia Business School in Nantes, France published a survey of MBA directors at 60 of the world’s top business schools. One of the survey’s most significant findings was the extent to which salary is no longer the major motivator for MBAs. Personal development – the acquisition of soft skills and self insight – is regarded by course directors as the overriding reason individuals decide to study an MBA.

While just over half of MBA directors feel their courses provide the springboard for a salary hike, the majority recognise that in turbulent times self-development is just as important. This is a classic talent management approach as Professor Emmanuel Dion of Audencia Business School explains. “Professional experience plus personality is what forms you as a leader and enables you to deliver results for your company.”

Changing times
Not so long ago, talent management would have been the undisputed preserve of the human resources department. But in progressive companies senior executives now see their role as combining leadership with a mission to identify and nurture talent.

Business schools have been slow to adapt to this new commercial imperative. Instead of adopting a joined up approach, they touch on talent management in core modules like business strategy (gaining competitive advantage through human capital) but also through human resources (motivating employees to go the extra mile) and in soft skills such as communication.

The fact that talent management transcends silo disciplines has led to confusion about where it should sit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in business schools’ careers services. Careers managers are most effective when they speak the same language as employers when it comes to talent management.

To sum up, MBA students need to take a long hard look at their skills and experience and use their time at business school to prepare themselves for that all important change of career direction and for a job that can develop their talent not just their pay packet.