Graduates can look forward to bright future
According to a report from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), these graduates did find that their starting salaries were lower than those offered in previous years. Their average annual salary was US$79,000 compared with US$80,000 for 2008 graduates. Most graduates indicated in the report that they were still happy with the salaries they were offered, with about 14 per cent saying they were earning more than they expected.
"The knowledge, skills and network of contacts people develop in business schools give them a clear edge in the job market," says Dave Wilson, president and chief executive at GMAC. "The remarkable success individuals with graduate management degrees continue to have when looking for employment - even in a down economy - is further evidence of the high value employers place on management education."
Hong Kong's MBA classes this year will hopefully be well-prepared for the challenge of landing the perfect position with a decent salary, as the top programmes here have spent the past year taking stock of the financial crisis and ensuring their programmes best equip students for the new business environment.
Many schools have kept abreast of the global business environment by adjusting their curriculum. They have also focused on diversifying their career services departments to help graduates find roles in a variety of industries outside of finance; and they have aimed to give students a more global overview of business.
"Last year was a challenging one for everyone," says Marjorie Chang, director of Chinese University's MBA Career Management Centre. "But more recently, we have seen signs of recovery in the job market." She says the university has seen strong placements from its graduates in traditional industry sectors such as financial services, technology and telecoms, and consulting. Chinese University places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, and more MBA graduates look set to start their own businesses. "Turbulent economic times bring many challenges and many opportunities for those who are prepared and willing to innovate. We have been happy to see a number of recent graduates launching their own ventures in Asia and Europe," Chang says.
She explains that some work still needs to be done to increase awareness of the value of an MBA to employers in the region. "We are seeing increased recognition of the MBA not only in the finance industry but also IT [information technology], branded products, insurance, and new ventures.
Michael Ferguson, associate dean for graduate studies at Chinese University, says MBA graduates who are able to respond quickly to capture opportunities will be the winners of the future. "We are seeing fundamental change in almost every business sector. Our focus on innovation and entrepreneurship enables our graduates to thrive in uncertain times."
The university has launched several new courses this year that focus on the business environment, including corporate risk management and global challenges, and strategic corporate social responsibility. Another new course, management for the creative industries, is designed for graduates to capitalise on the rich cultural heritage of Hong Kong, the mainland, Macau and Taiwan.