By Professor Chris Walsh, Academic Director, Victoria University Online
and Dr Colin Drake MBA Program Director, Victoria University
There is no doubt that graduates of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can leverage their degree to earn financial rewards. The benefits flow because MBA graduates have gained knowledge and skills that represent an increase in human or intellectual capital. This results in more productive workers who are rewarded for their greater efficiency and effectiveness.
The most recent QS Top MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2016-171, which collates data on salaries earned by MBA graduates around the world, found that Australian MBA holders earned an average of US$122,950 ($175,643), the fourth highest MBA salary level worldwide.
Not only can they reap higher salaries, but MBA graduates often advance more rapidly in fields as diverse as architecture, medicine, education, manufacturing and retail, because they have developed both technical skills, such as strategic and critical thinking, and personal qualities including self-assurance and the ability to rapidly analyse and process financial information. According to research from Deloitte Access Economics, the very act of completing a post-graduate degree functions as a signal to employers that an individual is capable of sustained, high-level effort.
Separate data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal that the occupation groups with the highest mean weekly earnings were managers (across industries) at $1,853 as of August 2016.
The same ABS data also reveal that postgraduate education brings benefits, even for those who are not in management. The ABS data show that average weekly earnings for those with a non-school qualification were highest for those with a postgraduate degree. At $1,791, the figure outstrips the average salary of a professional at $1,545 a week.
Real-world engagement with business
Close relationships with industry are necessary to keep an MBA practical, career-based and relevant to both employers’ and students’ current and future needs. Direct collaboration with the business sector also allows the MBA course to provide students with networking opportunities in industry.
A good online MBA course engages students in self-directed learning, using real-world contexts and situations to motivate engagement. Students are challenged with current contemporary problems and ethical scenarios and introduced to the knowledge and skills required to solve the problem independently, collaboratively and collectively. Such an approach emphasises autonomy and self-direction, the very skills that are needed in 21st century workplaces.
Victoria University’s (VU) online MBA culminates in a capstone Business Research Project unit that allows students to channel their theoretical knowledge accumulated over the course and apply it to a pressing business need that they nominate themselves.
One of VU’s MBA graduates Ben Cox discusses leveraging his MBA to move from an operational management role into sales and business development. “Since completing my MBA I’ve returned to Protect-A-Bed and moved into a new role overseeing business development. I recently had a pitch for a new business concept approved, which we hope to launch mid-2018. My MBA proved pivotal in this process; both in providing me with knowledge, and equally as important, confidence”.
This is an example of the role of applied research where the University sector can truly contribute to improving the competitiveness of the Australian economy. More generally, MBA graduates can also embark upon career paths as diverse as joining international organisations and running small businesses. Success in both large and small organisations, as well as in entrepreneurial endeavours, is driven by the knowledge, skills, and personal qualities that can be attained and developed through study for an MBA degree.
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