Insights from the Foster School of Business on what today’s MBAs want—and what treasurers have to say.
Corporates who want to hire MBA finance graduates face a highly competitive market and are well served by knowing what the current crop of millennials and Gen Zers value most when weighing job offers. That was among the key takeaways from a presentation by faculty and administrators at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to the members of a group of treasurers at mega-cap companies. Here’s what matters most:
- Strategic thinking
- Business decision-making
- A Foster School assistant dean later elaborated: “New graduates are seeking jobs in strategic positions that impact a company’s present and future direction. They are savvy in technology, use of communication networks, and see both the present and the future in how they think, so where they can exercise these attributes and skills makes a difference to them. They think with innovation in mind and have a global sense of their potential impact.”
- Cross-functional teams
- The average salary for Foster’s 2018 MBA finance graduates was about $115,000, plus a signing bonus of $25,000.
- Flexibility/work balance.
- In an earlier session, one treasurer asked his peers if they found that new hires expected a promotion every year. He said that’s unrealistic and his approach is to tell people the company is “going to get you where you ultimately want to go,” but don’t expect a promotion every year. Another treasurer said finance has a 70% retention rate and warned, “You’ll lose them if they’re not advancing.”
- Frequent feedback. The Foster School professors added that MBAs want contact with senior leadership.
How to engage potential recruits. The Foster School presentation recommended members take these actions to appeal to MBA students:
- Give a guest lecture or serve on a panel at the school.
- Host a group of students for a tour or talk.
- Sponsor a spring analytics project.
- Mentor a student.
- The obvious: Hold on-campus recruiting events.
The corporate perspective. Not all the treasurers present said they favored MBA graduates. In fact, one member said MBA grads who are on rotations in the company’s leadership program usually don’t return to finance roles because they “want to do exciting business stuff, sexy biz dev stuff.” It’s easier, he said, to retain undergraduates who start in finance. “I love the leadership program when we get undergrads,” he said.
- Another treasurer asked, “How do we make finance sexier?” He noted that corporates are often competing against investment banks for top talent.
- The first treasurer said that when he does hire MBAs, he takes graduates from “second tier” schools who did well and are intent on proving themselves, as opposed to trying to recruit Ivy League MBAs. “Let them go to McKinsey or Goldman Sachs,” he said.