Why Do Companies Prefer MBAs?

Why Do Companies Prefer MBAs?

The phrase "MBA preferred" gets a lot of play in Monster's online job listings. But what does it really mean? According to the schools that educate them and employers that hire them, MBAs are sought after for their ability to think critically, deal with ambiguity and solve complex problems.

In the broadest sense, the master of business administration degree represents a way of thinking, not just a set of financial skills and business knowledge. When asked why Williams-Sonoma hires MBAs, HR manager Leslie Zurburg says, "We are looking for the 50,000-foot view -- the strategic thinker who takes an analytical approach."

Operations managers who have risen through the company's ranks are experts at getting things done, Zurburg says. But MBAs from the outside can bring a fresh perspective, like figuring out how to improve key business processes, such as filling catalog orders.

Training Critical Thinkers

An MBA can evaluate a company by looking at its financials, but that's not why employers want them, says Muhammad Abdullah, former director of the MBA program at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Pfeiffer University and now an associate professor of business law. They also ask if the numbers make sense in terms of other realities. The process of earning the degree teaches MBAs to think critically. "That's a vital skill that can help, no matter what happens," says Abdullah.

Critical thinking is not a course per se. But this ability is woven into the MBA curriculum, which relies heavily on the case-study approach. This requires students to evaluate business dilemmas and formulate the best plan of action. According to Abdullah, case studies typically reflect current issues -- that's another advantage of MBA training.

Professional Problem Solvers

John Pantano, cofounder and vice president of sales and marketing at Lawrence, Massachusetts-based Radianse, a startup that develops indoor global-positioning products to help hospitals keep track of patients, doctors and other medical staff, hires MBAs because they have "professional training in problem solving. They know how to frame problems, ask questions and collect data."

Pantano looks for MBA candidates who are ready to answer more than just stock questions. "They have done some research, called a few customers," he explains. "You get a sense of how they might spend their first 60 days on the job, and that is impressive."

At Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Avaya, which sells enterprise telephony systems, MBA hires are part of the company's strategy to build a leadership pipeline, says Rob LeFever, senior manager of university leadership programs. Avaya likes MBAs for their ability to deal with ambiguity and create changes that help the company compete in the telecommunications On campus recruiting trips, Avaya looks for candidates who demonstrate the ability to maximize talent, enroll others, champion change, look at the big picture and optimize Avaya's interests.

The degree itself is not a guarantee, says LeFever. "Many MBAs have gaps," he explains. "It comes down to the person" and their accomplishments. For example, if an MBA candidate says, "I lead the team that revised the billing process," Avaya recruiters dig deeper. If the process improvement didn't yield a result, the candidate may not make the cut.

MBAs: Not All Alike

"Getting an MBA is a big accomplishment," says Michele Rapp, associate director of graduate student career services at Boston-based Suffolk University. "But once you have it, you still have to compete for jobs. MBA students say, ‘I want to interview at  [a top consulting firm],' and I tell them, 'That company recruits only from top-10 schools.' You have to be realistic."

Top schools are brand names, agrees Abdullah. When you are competing against a brand name, "the burden of proof is on you," he says, even though core MBA courses remain remarkably similar across different institutions.

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Posted: 06/29/2015
Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772
Catalyst Career Group
Posted: 06/29/2015
Lubbock, TX, 79424
Posted: 06/29/2015
Windsor, CT, 06095
Posted: 06/29/2015
Buffalo, NY, 14201
Posted: 06/29/2015
Arlington, MA, 02174

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.12.0.54-309