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Produced by
Graduate Management Admission Council MBA Roundtable

What Skills
does an MBA teach?

Click on as many skills as you like below and then press SEARCH to see how they align with the MBA curriculum

Which skills are you looking for?

Skills acquired:
Drawing inferences

Data analysis and interpretation

Quantitative

Critical thinking

Accounting learning outcomes

  • Interpret and assess the company's financial statements, including balance sheets, cash flow and profit and loss accounts
  • Recognise and communicate relevant financial information to support organizational decision making and improve internal processes
Edinburgh Business School | Introduction to our Accounting course with Senior Teaching Fellow Murray Steele

About Accounting

Accounting courses provide students with the ability to make financial plans, manage costs and read and interpret corporate financial statements to help determine value in a company. Most MBA programs split accounting into two core modules.

Management accounting focuses on reporting costs and financial information to people within the firm for decision making, planning and control purposes

Financial accounting concentrates on the process of producing financial information – in particular, the company’s financial statements – for external purposes (shareholders, investors, auditors, government, etc.)

There was a lot on how to run a company in the MBA curriculum, which I had no clue about before, and which is vital to the work I do now


 ”
Devon Zimmerling, MBA 2017, London Business School Hear more from Devon >
Skills acquired:
Problem solving

Adaptability/flexibility

Leadership

Relationship management

Interpersonal

Ethical decision-making

Cultural awareness

Business Ethics learning outcomes

  • Provides tools for making ethical decisions in the face of complex situations
  • Responsibly manage and monitor an organization's environmental and social impact and its ethical reputation
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford | Integrative module: Responsible business

About Business Ethics

After scandals in consulting firms, financial services and other sectors, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become one of the core business school modules. Managerial decision-making must take into account complex ethical and legal implications. Hence, business schools give students analytical frameworks and practical tools to identify and deal with a wide range of ethical issues. Ethics modules can investigate the link between personal values, business goals and ethics and also explore the role of government and regulation in promoting and implementing corporate responsibility.

The MBA taught me how to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I’ve learned to value diversity, and how to listen to and be open to new ideas.


 ”
Erika Gouveia, MBA student, Durham University Business School Hear more from Erika >
Skills acquired:
Drawing inferences

Comprehension and logic

Data analysis and interpretation

Quantitative

Cultural awareness

Economics learning outcomes

  • Understand and articulate the conditions under which markets work efficiently and how firms decide on the type and quantity of products or services they want to provide
  • Better understand factors such as unemployment rate, national income, price level, inflation and gross domestic product. Students also gain an overview of the tools governments and central banks use to stimulate economic development (for example, monetary policy and fiscal policy).
Columbia Business School | Jonah Rockoff: Managerial Economics

About Economics

MBA programs adopt a focused and practical approach to economics, geared to the needs and goals of general managers. Students gain a good understanding of how markets function and an overview of the key drivers that influence economic growth at national and global levels. Some business schools split economics into two modules. Microeconomics analyzes concepts such as market supply and demand, pricing theory and cost. Macroeconomics, or global macroeconomics, looks at the external economic environment and how it affects the business.

My end product is vastly different and much better than what it was, because of the MBA network.


 ”
Ritesh Kotak, MBA 2017, University of Edinburgh Business School Hear more from Ritesh >
Skills acquired:
Problem solving

Comprehension and logic

Data analysis and interpretation

Analysis

Risk management

Quantitative

Project management

Finance learning outcomes

  • Use financial data and modeling to evaluate a firm’s risk profile and estimate the costs of capital, including debt and equity capital
Edinburgh Business School | An introduction to our Finance course, a core course on our MBA.

About Finance

Corporate finance encompasses the quantitative and qualitative tools MBA students use for analyzing the financial operations and decisions of the business. Corporate finance investigates the balance between assets (resources owned by the company, including cash, building, equipment, land) and liabilities (debts or anything the firm owes to other people). Being able to assess balance sheet information grounds students in the principles of budgeting decisions. Corporate finance also includes all transactions in which capital is raised; MBA students may learn how to analyze capital markets and risk as well as develop the ability to organize data for capital investment decisions.

The MBA gives you the capacity and confidence to try new things and to cope with ambiguity.


 ”
Serhat Pakyuz, MBA 2017, London Business School Hear more from Serhat >
Skills acquired:
Problem solving

Data analysis and interpretation

Analysis

Risk management

Quantitative

Managerial Statistics learning outcomes

  • Use basic concepts of probability and statistics to model uncertainty, quantify uncertainty and bring findings to bear on business decision-making
  • Students will come away knowing how to use data analysis, random variables and probability distributions, sampling distributions, interval estimation, hypothesis testing and regression.
Columbia Business School | Costis Maglaras: Managerial Statistics

About Managerial Statistics

This module teaches how data analysis and quantitative models can be used to evaluate issues, assess risk and make decisions. It also helps MBA students understand how to critically use and interpret business statistics. Basic business decision-making tools, such as game theory and Monte Carlo simulation, offer versatile ways for understanding and analyzing intensely competitive, global, fast-moving business environments.

Our MBAs have been exceptionally well-versed with technology and the degree has broadened their horizons and networks even further.


 ”
Paul Martin, Chief of Police, Durham Regional Police Hear more from Paul >
Skills acquired:
Agility

Drawing inferences

Strategic planning

Relationship management

Data analysis and interpretation

Creative

Cultural awareness

Marketing learning outcomes

  • Direct a firm's growth and diversification strategy through careful analysis and management of its resources and market opportunities
  • Devise and implement marketing strategies to maintain competitive advantage
Edinburgh Business School | An introduction to our Marketing course

About Marketing

A core module in the MBA curriculum, marketing provides prospective managers and leaders with analytical tools to identify and assess target markets, or customers within them, and position the company’s products or services effectively and profitably. Marketing also covers the challenges of developing and executing marketing strategies in specific markets. Students become proficient in using marketing concepts—from marketing mix, pricing, and market segmentation to branding, positioning, and distribution channels—to deliver value to customers and key stakeholders.

Cost modeling, strategy, marketing, behavioral sciences—I use all of these areas from the MBA on a daily basis.


 ”
Scott Ward, MBA 2017, Warwick Business School Hear more from Scott >
Skills acquired:
Teamwork

Problem solving

Relationship management

Data analysis and interpretation

Quantitative

Project management

Operations Management learning outcomes

  • Analyze and evaluate the process a company follows to manufacture products or provide services
  • Provide recommendations for competitive advantage by leveraging and managing supply chain flexibility
  • Identify the ways in which technology can optimize business performance
IMD business school | IMD MBA - Production and Operations Management

About Operations Management

Operations management focuses on how management decisions impact the day-to-day production of products and services and how successful management of the organization’s resources can increase profitability and performance. Students learn how to use analytical techniques and conceptual frameworks for evaluating recurring business processes and handle the potential issues that might arise. Inventory management, project and service management, supply chain strategy, decision modeling, and sustainability all come under the umbrella of this uniquely practical and applied module.

The MBA gave me the strategic mindset to look at the broader landscape. Before the MBA I was a data-driven engineer.


 ”
Julian Bond, MBA 1996, Nottingham Business School Hear more from Julian >
Skills acquired:
Teamwork

Self awareness

Problem solving

Networking

Leadership

Coaching

Interpersonal

Critical thinking

Cultural awareness

Managing others

Organizational Behavior learning outcomes

  • Identify and apply organizational behavior concepts and models to successfully manage and lead people
  • Critically evaluate the relationship between various leadership and personality styles and their influence on workforce motivation and productivity
  • Understand how culture influences the way people think and act at work and become adept at managing within a multicultural environment
Edinburgh Business School | Iain S Henderson: Organisational Behaviour

About Organizational Behavior

Soft skills are increasingly recognized as important for MBA graduates, skills such as working with and motivating others and the ability to prioritize. Organizational behavior focuses on this human dimension of business by teaching how individuals and groups behave in organizations. This module not only provides theoretical frameworks, but it also includes case studies that let students learn from actual experiences of managing and developing people. Topics in this module might include managing and motivating individuals and teams, leading organizations through change, and perceiving how individual differences, organizational culture and management styles influence behavior and performance.

Human resources themes—such as giving and receiving feedback-- are commonly explored in organizational behavior modules; however, human resources management may also be a distinct subject in the curriculum.

MBAs know about a variety of industries and how business works in different contexts, which is tremendously helpful for Bain.


 ”
Keith Bevans, Partner, Bain & Company Hear more from Keith >
Skills acquired:
Self awareness

Listening

Agility

Leadership

Applying theory

Strategic planning

Relationship management

Data analysis and interpretation

Global mindset

Critical thinking

Strategy learning outcomes

  • Learn the strategic underpinnings of why some firms consistently outperform others, how to analyze industries and competitors and develop and apply strategic options in a variety of contexts--from business level, corporate, nonprofit or governmental organizations and even globally.
  • Apply critical thinking and analytical skills to strategic decision-making, assess information appropriately and identify and challenge questionable information, assumptions or reasoning.
Saïd Business School, University of Oxford | Strategic Leadership and the Oxford Executive MBA

About Strategy

Strategy is about identifying organizational objectives and planning the most efficient ways of pursuing and achieving them. Strategic planning focuses on ensuring long-term performance of the company against its competitors. Strategy modules give MBA students the analytical tools and models to assess the company’s internal resources and external environment. Hence, MBAs are prepared to identify the key challenges that organizations face and the best possible options to overcome them and ensure sustainable success—ever more important in a fast-changing business environment.

MBAs know how to adapt to a disruptive environment, see how other companies have succeeded or failed and apply those lessons.


 ”
Keith Bevans, Partner, Bain & Company Hear more from Keith >
Skills acquired:
Problem solving

Drawing inferences

Data analysis and interpretation

Analysis

Critical thinking

Business Analytics learning outcomes

  • Use various available software tools to collect and organize data, and identify patterns in the data through visualization, data mining and statistical analysis.
  • Explain and/or predict complex business outcomes based on the data, and identify the best means of handling them.
Imperial College Business School | Imperial Business Analytics

About Business Analytics

Business managers are expected to have the analytical and critical thinking skills to glean valuable insights from the ever increasing abundance of raw data and use these insights to support growth and profitability. MBA students analyze, and interpret big data through modeling, building decision trees and conducting simulations; they use these and other business analytics tools to predict future outcomes and to better understand the complexity and risk inherent in most business problems in a wide variety of services, industries and functional areas.

MBAs are much more open to the ongoing disruption that tech has unleashed. For us, that’s massively important.


 ”
Ian Hopkinson, Partner, Ernst & Young Hear more from Ian >
Skills acquired:
Self awareness

Problem solving

Adaptability/flexibility

Agility

Leadership

Applying theory

Strategic planning

Data analysis and interpretation

Risk management

Creative

Managing others

Innovation and Entrepreneurship learning outcomes

  • Conduct a market analysis to explore challenges and opportunities inherent in a new business idea, craft a business plan and effectively communicate the potential to funders and stakeholders.
  • Grasp the skills and practices necessary to develop and launch successful new ventures, both stand-alone and within existing organizations.
IMD | Benoit Leleux: Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance

About Innovation and Entrepreneurship

In recent years innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) have become popular staples of the MBA curriculum, dispelling the notion that these skills are inherent only in certain individuals and cannot be taught. I&E courses help budding entrepreneurs turn their ideas into profitable products and services by showing them how to analyze markets and consumer behavior and make informed decisions about branding, pricing and service or product design. This module is geared not only toward sparking innovation in totally new ventures but also within the corporation—in the form of new product lines, spin-offs or joint ventures. Conducting feasibility analyses, developing viable business plans and raising venture capital are all part of the I&E experience.

Those who are successful at Ernst & Young are incredibly agile and are also self-starters, which an MBA requires them to be.


 ”
Ian Hopkinson, Partner, Ernst & Young Hear more from Ian >
Skills acquired:
Self awareness

Problem solving

Listening

Comprehension and logic

Networking

Leadership

Strategic planning

Coaching

Interpersonal

Critical thinking

Cultural awareness

Managing others

Leadership learning outcomes

  • Critically appraise personal leadership style and develop skills to successfuly manage cross-cultural relationships
  • Practice and develop effective negotiation skills that are key to leading at the bargaining table, winning over difficult people, resolving complex disputes, and understanding one's options when a negotiated agreement is not on the table.
  • Tackle the various communication challenges leaders face, from developing a compelling presentation, rallying team members after a setback and running effective meetings to handling tough questions from external stakeholders and persuading investors to fund a new product or service.
Columbia Business School | Katherine Phillips: Reuben Mark Professor of Organizational Character Management

About Leadership

Leadership offers the soft skills MBAs need to be effective in liaising with internal and external stakeholders and achieve business objectives. Leadership skills modules can be attached to the core curriculum, offered as an elective within the organizational behavior module, or taught as a standalone element of the MBA curriculum. They are usually organized in thematic workshops (power and influence, negotiation, public speaking, stress management, team building, conflict resolution, etc.) that last one or more days and are taught by faculty, careers services or external consultancies.

The MBAs I work closely with are blue sky thinkers and very strategic, but they have been able to translate that to execution.


 ”
Paul Martin, Chief of Police, Durham Regional Police Hear more from Paul >