7 essential skills every MBA grad should possess
So you’ve gotten your MBA and are ready to try your luck in the job market. Now you’ve just got to convince an employer that you’ve got the “right stuff” to succeed.
Alisa V. Fleming, associate dean at the University of Phoenix School of Business and an instructor in the MBA program, reels off the top seven skills that an MBA graduate should be able to demonstrate to a potential employer in today’s rapidly changing business environment:
Basic business knowledge
An MBA program should prepare students to understand the core functional areas of business, Fleming says. Graduates should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of business law, finance, economics, marketing, accounting and management, as well as statistics.
“For example,” she says, “if you’re given a financial statement, you should know how to interpret it.”
It’s key to know how to communicate in a business setting, Fleming says. That means that you have the ability to express ideas and thoughts in a way that connects with the person receiving them.
“People also need to be aware of the tone and the body language that they are exhibiting while communicating,” she warns.
Ability to utilize information
In the information age, it’s very important for people to know how to gather information from multiple sources and from a variety of perspectives, and then make sound decisions based on what they discover. “This skill might involve knowing how to conduct interviews with stakeholders to determine the root cause of a problem,” Fleming explains.
In today’s world, it’s essential for workers to be aware of how their decisions can affect individuals within the community and workplace. “When we act in ways that are environmentally friendly, such as conserving energy and recycling, or offering fair wages and fair treatment of employees, those are all examples of being socially responsible and ethical,” Fleming says.
“The ability to collaborate is an essential skill for an MBA [grad],” Fleming says. “The key to successful collaboration requires a willingness to accept new ideas and the ability to recognize the strengths of each individual and play upon those strengths.”
She also points out that “cultural sensitivity and awareness come into play when working with individuals from diverse backgrounds.”
MBA graduates need to take the time to understand a situation, identify the issue and think strategically before solving a problem.
“A lot of times when we are problem-solving in the workplace, we are given limited information,” Fleming says. “So the key here would be the ability to analyze the problem and solve it effectively, even when you are acting upon information which is not perfect.”
This is the ability to inspire and motivate others, Fleming says, and it’s not necessarily limited to the role of a manager. “Anyone who is modeling the behavior of the mission and values of an organization is acting with leadership skills,” she points out, “because when others see you walking the talk, it’s easier for them to do so as well.”