Does an MBA help train managers for a time of uncertainty?

The MBA is a predictable path to career success

The MBA degree has proven to be a surefire path to career success and financial stability, especially in times of uncertainty. And it is precisely in these times of great market volatility, a manifest instability in the different societies and countries that affects citizens and organizations, that undoubtedly both the recruiters of high-responsibility executive positions, as well as a trend very marked by important corporate employers, is that MBA graduates are much better trained than other professionals, who perhaps with a similar number of years of experience, do not have all the knowledge and tools to transform uncertainty into opportunity, which they are in a position to address all those professionals and managers who have made an effort to finish an MBA and with flying colors.

Although deciding between two alternatives, one positive and the other negative, can be simple or complicated by the type of matter on which a decision must be made, what is much more complex is when expressions such as “may be” or “could” or “would be convenient” and the like that are the manifestation of a greater or lesser dose of uncertainty


The current panorama has become more complicated in recent years, with Covid-19 having had a very high share of responsibility for it. Let’s say that the uncertain times that had already been occurring on a global scale since the great International Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, were added to a series of circumstances that ended up accompanying the pandemic, that is, it was not the only one responsible either from a series of crises caused by dubious government policies, wars, financial mismanagement and continued volatility in the stock and commodity markets.

Does uncertainty cause stress?

The answer we give in any Forum in which we intervene must be convincing: yes! Uncertainty causes stress, but the most serious thing about raising, on a personal and also a social level, that feeling that we are having a stressful life in our daily work because we never know for sure what is going to happen, is that we have discounted that we are going to have to continue for several years living with this continuous feeling of instability together with uncertainty, which together are an explosive cocktail for physical and mental health. So clear.

How can MBAs contribute to alleviate this uncertainty?

The position of managers, businessmen, professionals, academics and also the political class is unanimous, that uncertainty causes fear and drags people and corporations out of their comfort zones. In short, it must be considered as a vital negative factor, whether it affects the individual or the organizational level. But it is precisely when uncertainty worsens and things get complicated and difficult, when an element emerges as a counterpart that must be considered as neutralizing that feeling of uncertainty. We are referring to the opportunities that are presented to us, that are emerging because circumstances are pushing us to make decisions, therefore, despite the instability that affects it, the stress that it causes, it is opening up a new horizon of possibilities for companies and people can redirect their lives. And we have also experienced this with the pandemic. Uncertainty can be both a challenge and an opportunity.

When an organization has change management and change training for all staff as its corporate culture, adaptation to difficult times is easier. There is a better predisposition of people, because they know that instead of rejecting or avoiding it, they must manage it. In other words, take change as an opportunity. Therefore, when the change is more abrupt, in the case of the impact that Covid-19 had on a global scale in countries and organizations with the loss of millions of lives and the disappearance also with figures of six zeros of companies (especially SMEs) and of millions of jobs that will no longer be where they were. But this drama, of which we have already started the so-called Post Covid stage several months ago, taught the companies that were able to better adapt and resist the onslaught of the pandemic and its consequences, they realized (they proved it in the facts) that effectively the uncertainty had turned into opportunity. Therefore, they have already learned to predict it, face it and take advantage of it. When they finally emerge, they do so as market leaders with their new products, strategies, or policies. Uncertainty can, of course, lead to breakthroughs, increases in confidence and growth.

Professional growth and development are based on knowledge and continuous learning, which is what an MBA gives its postgraduates to compete with a certain advantage in the labor market because they are better prepared than other professionals who have not had this type of special training. business graduate


Lowell Bryan, who is the director of McKinsey’s New York office, stated that “the economic shock of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed not only created profound uncertainty about the direction of the global economy, but also shook confidenc. of many business leaders in their ability to see the future well enough to take bold action.” Look closely: making bold decisions is the closest thing to making them in terrain of great uncertainty. That’s why he published an article titled “Dynamic Management: better decisions in times of uncertainty”, which came to say that companies obviously cannot predict the future, although they can create organizations that will survive and prosper in any possible circumstance. And we are in line with him, since, in uncertain times today’s companies need leaders and managers whose mindsets are tuned to see uncertainty as an opportunity rather than a risk. So we can conclude that an MBA graduate falls exactly into this category of professionals who are prepared to make decisions, quickly and adapting quite accurately to the demands and also inconveniences that the environment has put before them.

Let’s not forget that when companies grow their decision-making processes also become more complex, because their structure has surely multiplied so that the coordination of functions and departments provides the best product/service that the consumer can expect. It is these rapid growths, and especially the large corporations in all sectors of the economy, who welcome the support and contribution that an MBA postgraduate, with more or less accredited experience, can bring to their role in their position and of course to overall efficiency. People who need to have a broad mind, a global vision and especially knowledge and training as well as skills, to which they can add the networks that business education has given them and has at their disposal. “There’s a reason why all these companies hire people with MBAs,” says Sally E. Blount, dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in her essay “Yes, the World Needs More MBAs.”

Because she is convinced that the world needs leaders who deeply understand the markets, their connection with the public sector and the philosophical, cultural and social implications of global business growth. May these new leaders be ready to meet the challenges of growing income inequality, unemployment, environmental impact, and cultural homogenization that current business practices are not yet adequately addressing.

Why is an MBA so important in times of uncertainty?

What effect does an MBA have on the graduate student? Quite simply, an MBA teaches you to think strategically about your field of practice for any sector of industry, within the context of the broader business world. Of course, some of these organizations in specific subsectors will require a high level of specialization. Well, precisely the analytical capacity and knowing how to act professionally (a broad mind and adaptable to change) that an MBA student obtains, throughout training in financial accounting, managerial economics, strategy, marketing management and financial marketing, will continue to be the guarantees that support the professional actions of these postgraduates who will be able to speak the language of business at any latitude and in the face of any obstacle. Uncertainty will be one more element of the change that they will have learned to manage.

In Business Schools you learn, among other things, a methodology for problem solving. Therefore, it is essential to provide MBA graduates with at least some of the basic foundations of how to conceptualize and attack difficult problems. The curricular contents of the different MBA programs must not omit this critical point of business training. The problem-solving methodology taught in the degree allows graduates to see a particular topic from different angles and consider it in its complexity.

According to Blount, “Intelligent, highly motivated people will reinvent markets, drive growth, and work across industries to build strong, transformative organizations. But markets or governments will not do this alone; the incentives just aren’t there. This is why the world needs more, not less, business education. It depends on it.”

The training that an MBA gives to a professional has trained them to be able to make decisions in areas of uncertainty, to know how to manage change, adapting to it and helping their teams know how to deal with it, and also detecting and choosing the opportunities that crisis provide companies precisely at times of adverse market and economic situations


How an MBA can help you prepare for an uncertain future

We are immersed in a dynamic, a flow of hundreds of thousands of economic acts (commercial, financial, productive, etc.) that are those that represent the activity of millions of companies and people in each country. This flow is constant and also changes on the fly. And the scenario that we had learned to almost dominate in recent months in our business activity, can change in an instant thanks to the extremely powerful and exponential technological disruption. Let’s go back to the example that we have all experienced from the pandemic: we all feel a greater sense of uncertainty during the pandemic, especially in the first sixty days when the impact was most destructive, about the future that lay ahead of us, starting with the health of our closest loved ones. In a short time the different situations that were taking place, one more uncontrollable than the other, became part of everyday life. The number of deaths daily, the overflowing hospital ICUs, the lack of resources that the health workers had to face, etc. But outside the field of health, the confinement, the closure of companies, the forced social distancing, everything, absolutely everything multiplied the ability to digest a reasonable level of uncertainty and we were overwhelmed, which generated a dose of social psychology very affected in all levels of society.

But finally we were able to control the situation in all countries and learn what the impact of a pandemic really meant. When things can change so quickly, how can you plan for your long-term career success?

The reality is that, even in normal times, you can’t plan for the future as much as you can prepare for it. This is the basic distinction you need to make. Train yourself to know how to interpret and manage that future that will come, with more or less uncertainty, but which is a certain fact. The future will keep coming to visit you and the company you work for. Or to your autonomous activity that you have created because you are a leader of a start-up.

For this reason, invest in training, both at the individual level (the effort that you or your family make) and that of the companies that help certain people in their workforce to improve and train themselves to know how to better manage that future that is going to come. Logically, this way of anticipating the future with training is the way to keep the different options open, both on a personal and company level. Because getting a broad-based generalist degree like an MBA is the perfect way to prepare yourself to thrive in a world that can change in the blink of an eye. We could cite a few reasons why an MBA is a smart choice for long-term success in an uncertain future.

Companies and recruiters of executive personnel initially choose the professionals they are looking for, with or more or less experience depending on the job offered, but preferably those who have completed an MBA


Diversity of career possibilities

Investing in an MBA is like reducing the risk you’re going to take in your career, because people with an MBA training can be hired across the spectrum of industries and job functions. It is widely demanded by companies and recruiters.

Some of the recent surveys in the last few years in the United States showed that 1 in 5 former MBA students currently work in any sector. Among the nearly 6,000 full-time MBA alumni who responded, 21% work in the product/service industry, followed by technology (17%), finance/accounting (15%), consulting (14%), and government/ non-profit organization (10%). Similarly, full-time MBA alumni also vary widely in their job duties. 23% work in general management roles, followed by finance/accounting (22%), marketing/sales (19%) and consulting (15%).

The search for new talent

This diversity of possibilities that the market offers to the postgraduates of an MBA, speaks for itself that any program and school that dictates it with minimum requirements of training demand and competence of the teachers that said institution of postgraduate education, will more than cover the needs and preferences of professional competence and skills that employers are demanding from new talent in business management, who are soon in a position to occupy positions of great responsibility in the management of people and projects of great budget.

With an MBA, you can be sure that if economic conditions change, or even if your interests change, you can shift your career in a new direction because you can be employed in all kinds of organizations in a variety of roles.

Soft skills

While the demand for certain skills may rise and fall in the job market, others stand the test of time because they are people-focused and widely applicable. There’s a reason industry-leading companies like Google, McKinsey & Co., Apple, and Goldman Sachs are among the world’s top recruiters of MBA talent each year: MBA programs attract the best talent and train them to understand and lead people effectively and solve problems.

A survey of full-time MBA alumni shows that 4 out of 5 agree that Business School developed their soft skills: interpersonal skills that enable harmonious and effective work interactions. This is, of course, by design. The Business School experience encourages students to constantly put their soft skills to the test in situations like team assignments and classroom case study discussions.

A recent survey of recruiters shows that, across all world regions, industries, and company types and sizes, working with others and solving problems are the most important skills for their current job openings. And how do these recruiters rate Business Schools in teaching these skills? The vast majority say graduates are prepared to execute these skills on the job in leadership positions at their companies. Additionally, overall, nearly 9 in 10 recruiters agree or strongly agree that their new Business School hires are poised for sustained success in their organizations.

The postgraduates of an MBA have learned to handle management tools and fall exactly into this category of professionals who are prepared to make decisions, quickly and adapting quite precisely to the demands and also inconveniences that the environment has put before them


Support for the alumni network

Although the skills you will learn in an MBA program will be of great benefit to you so that you can aspire to different jobs, not only in the present, but throughout your working life, you should never underestimate the importance of networking relationships of former students and professors for hiring options.

When you’re part of an extensive network of Business School alumni with thousands of members, that’s likely to happen to you a lot more than it does now. According to a recent survey, an incredible 95% of full-time MBA alumni say they would hire an alumnus from their program for a job at their company.

Beyond tapping into Business School networks for job opportunities, there is also a great sense of community and camaraderie that comes with it. Alumni not only share new job openings among their network, but also connect and share tips, articles, personal stories, and more in private virtual group settings like LinkedIn, but also in fun school-sponsored live networking events, in different cities around the world. Hence, in these difficult times, the networks that have emerged after studying an MBA will not only be your professional support, but also part of your emotional support.

State-of-the-art educational experience

In MBA programs, students are provided with a broad-based general management curriculum that has been tried and tested for decades, but is regularly updated by schools that already have a good brand and reputation to incorporate all those subjects, which in turn companies demand in terms of knowledge and specialties. For example, in terms of sustainability.

But it is also that, the topics and courses covered cover the spectrum of issues that are relevant to business leadership, which in this learning that you are going to receive will also give you a very good base to incorporate knowledge and tools that you will need to apply in the development of your career both now and in the future.

MBA program curricula typically require you to complete a set of core courses and provide you with a level of flexibility and customization in the selection of electives. Electives give you the opportunity to explore more specialized or industry-specific topics that align with your career goals, help you develop a new or existing skill, or simply give you the opportunity to learn more about a topic that interests you.

Additionally, many programs offer experiential learning opportunities that truly allow you to learn by doing, collaborating with your classmates and real business leaders to innovate and solve problems.

Professionals who have completed an MBA are people who have a broad mind, a global vision and especially knowledge and training as well as skills, which make up leadership skills to which they can add the networks that business education has given them and have at their disposal. provision


Permanent training and professional coaching

We have already commented on it in previous articles from this AEEN tribune, in which an MBA gives you much more than the training you need at that specific moment that you have chosen to perfect yourself, and choose a specialty in which to stand out. What it provides you with is a solid foundation of business and managerial knowledge, to maintain your career success throughout your life, because it will have taught you to be something of a lifelong learner and continually add new skills and knowledge to your training.  You will have learned to commit to continuous learning, which is what professionals who want to make a career and grow as people require today.

MBA programs know that your education doesn’t have to end when you earn your degree, and many are committed to supporting your educational journey long after you’ve left the MBA classroom. Through their alumni networks, programs often make available online courses in in-demand topics, as well as host live, in-person learning events on campus. Additionally, some offer the ability to take advantage of resources and even one-on-one counseling with professional services staff.

Of course, all lifelong learning options vary by program, so it’s highly recommended to do your research and ask the admissions staff about what they have to offer when you interact with them. Hence the convenience of pointing out that you are committed not only to adding an MBA to your resume, but that you are also committed to being part of that type of postgraduate student that will remain so for life. That they think in the long term, hence the continuous link that you are interested in maintaining with your Business School and with the network of alumni.

Investing in an MBA is a smart choice for your long-term career prospects in a world that is always changing rapidly.


Antonio Alonso, president of the AEEN (Spanish Business School Association) and  second vice president of EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education)