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Switching Industries after MBA – Not Easy!

Switching Industries with an MBAIndustry switching can happen intentionally or based on available post-MBA opportunities. According to the 2012 Alumni Perspectives GMAC report, more than one-third (34%) of the class of 2011 were employed outside their intended industry. This might seem like a negative trend, given the emphasis that MBA programs put on post-MBA goals. But 85% of employed students, outside their intended industry, shared that they were happy with the turn of events.

What factors influence successful Industry switching?

MBAs cannot use the experience in their Pre-MBA job to make the switch but the roles and responsibilities that MBAs led before the program had a major impact. More than intrinsic factors, external factors played a bigger role in industry switching.

a) Competition

The competition for Finance and Accounting Industry were the highest but the MBAs who joined this industry were most aligned with their post-MBA goals.  70% in the industry said that they were able to choose the intended post-MBA industry. This industry was the second largest employment generator for MBA alumni.

Health care and pharmaceutical was the least likely industry that MBAs intended to join after the MBA program, with 40% of them saying that the switch was not intended. This was partially due to the lack of awareness of the available roles in this industry. Health care and pharmaceutical industry were most likely to hire MBAs for positions in HR (20%), Operations and Logistics (14%), and General Management (11%).

Alumni Employed in Their Intended Industry After Graduation (Class of 2011)

MBA Alumni in Intended Industry

b) Supply Meets Demand

The 2012 Alumni Perspectives GMAC report shows that the top 3 industries hiring alumni were Products and Services (21%), Finance and Accounting (20%), and Consulting (17%). Even though the supply of jobs in these three industries was high and most MBAs followed market trends, many who joined these industries didn’t intend to do so before their MBA program.

35% in Consulting didn’t intend to join this Industry before MBA

34% in Products and Services didn’t intend to join this Industry before MBA

Industry of Employment After Graduation (Class of 2011)

MBA Alumni By Industry

Influencers in Industry Switching

With a large number of unintended industry switching, we might wonder whether it was just the supply –demand that played a big role in this trend. The truth is different.  Although the opportunities in a different industry, both in terms of growth and compensation was the primary deciding factor, networking with recruiters/company representatives were the second biggest influencing factor in making this unintended industry switch.

Are Women MBAs different?

Women MBAs were equally likely to make industry switch. But women were least likely to switch to Products and Services, when compared to men. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals was one of the favourite industries for Women.

Which nationality stuck with their plan?

Canadians were the most likely to stick with their plan - 81% of them following a job that matched their intended industry. Asians were the most flexible of the lot with 57% following an industry that was different from their intended career path.

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