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Will I be a Gold Medallist with an MBA?

08-Jan-12

Mark Timms - Gulf Business

To stay ahead in recruitment you need to ensure your finger is on the pulse and understand who the movers and shakers are
So as I reflect on the latest trends and initiatives in the marketplace, I am drawn to comparing employees to Olympic gold medallists.

This may sound a little strange but a brand consultancy in the UK has been working with a number of multinational corporations on the fusion of sport and business training to provide a softer approach to developing and nurturing talent outside the conventional classroom. As I read further about incorporating lifelong change to help increase your market understanding, it has occured to me that everyday in recruiting is like being in a race and not only do I need to be a gold medallist to survive but so do my candidates. But what is needed to stay ahead

My first piece of advice is basic - forget what your parents told you when you were young. It isn't the taking part that counts, it's only ever about winning. Silver and bronze medals don't help your career, gold medals do. Everyone knows that Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive but who can recall the line-up that ate his dust in the 100 metres final at the Beijing Olympics?

In a way, the jobs market is made up of many different Olympic events with athletes training and developing their techniques not only to perform well but with the aim of winning the gold medal. So, in today's cluttered and competitive jobs market, I would like to suggest how you can ensure your employer hums your national anthem and not that of your colleague sitting in the cubicle opposite you.

There are many factors that can make you stand out from your peers yet the biggest question we face on a daily basis is what value will an MBA give my career? I'm pleased to note that the Middle East is likely to be a hotspot for MBA recruiting, moving forwards, as economies such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar steer their economic dependency away from oil and gas towards becoming knowledge based economies.

There are certain trends around MBA recruitment that are both sector and experience specific. Key sectors that truly value MBA's above all others are finance, technology and consultancy. Last year, the UAE alone experienced a 23 per cent increase in MBA hiring with Saudi Arabia experiencing a 22 per cent increase. But the real race winners were those individuals who also had at least five years solid industry experience.

An MBA can help you win the race but the more competitors you face the smaller the chance you have of winning gold.

We are asked daily about the value of an MBA in the promotion race and the simple fact is that the popularity of MBA's has been soaring since 2007. With a number of global academic institutions providing courses in the region and many GCC governments promising to finanacially support 'National knowledge seekers' with their undergraduate, master's and MBA degrees, both locally and globally, there is a knock-on effect.

To move away from the Olympian tone, the financial benefits are a simple case of supply and demand. Business schools will lead you to believe that an MBA will automatically increase your salary but this isn't the common trend in the Middle East. Admittedly, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule but we believe MBA salaries are slowly starting to equalise as a direct consequence of MBA market flooding.

So can an MBA win you a gold medal? Yes, but only if you note the following:
- The success of an MBA is still very sector specific
- An MBA isn't the fast track to more money (but will probably help in the long term)
- Work experience is still key but an MBA will add pace to climbing the career ladder
- Soft skills are still key - be mobile, bright and ambitious and you will win any race

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