I was lucky enough to attend the Association of MBAs conference in Paris this month. This huge conference gave me the opportunity to hear from researchers, psychologists, headhunters and employers (such as Google and Apple). I was able to capture up-to-date information on what employers are looking for when they recruit new graduates. I made avid notes during these talks and here is my summary.
In terms of early career recruits, organisations are looking for graduates with the following attributes (not in any specific order):
- Passion and optimism
- Ability to do rather than talk a lot!
- Taking ownership for your actions (including mistakes)
- Learning from failure
- Embracing ambiguity
- Supporting the success of others
- Working in an inclusive way in diverse teams
- Knowing what you can offer the recruiting organisation
- ”Bosslessness’ – ability to work with minimal contact with manager and as part of a wide team
- Team player experience
- Work experience
- International experience – ideally in at least two cultures in addition to the home culture
- Specific knowledge and skills gained on degree programme
- Knowledge and understanding about the company and its culture.
In addition, the speakers talked about the importance of students gaining experience beyond their degrees. Activities mentioned included volunteering, study abroad, work experience, student societies and clubs, taking part in business competitions, setting up and running their own business ventures (even if these fail). Employers recognise that taking part in a wide range of experiences, taking risks, and experiencing success and failure helps students to develop the attributes required for success in working in their organisations.
What surprised me was hearing that many companies will now interview candidates 10-20 times before making a final decision. Phew. This is challenging and apparently becoming very common. These interviews may involve a range of challenging and unexpected questions. One example given was of a candidate being given a skate board and asked how he could use it if he got the job! It would certainly have come in useful in London with the recent tube strikes.
As always, a real benefit of these conferences is the opportunity to network, make new links, and talk with old friends. I certainly made some useful connections which I hope to be able to transform into new opportunities for Westminster Business School students.
One evening, we went on a river cruise down the Seine and saw the wonderful sights of Paris as well as continuing networking activities. In between times, I enjoyed wonderful cups of French coffee……
Finally, I was very proud to see one of our MBA Alumni, Adela Papac, on the stage and sharing her experiences on her Westminster Business School MBA and its impact on her career. Her confidence and enthusiasm in front of a large international was impressive. She really demonstrated the value of business and management education, and her flourishing global career.