Five Skills You Learn in an MBA Program

Published 03/09/2022

Business and financial services employment is still climbing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s projected to grow by 8% from 2020 to 2030, adding over 750,000 new jobs. Having an MBA can open up more opportunities for those looking to launch or expand their career.

Companies expect graduates of MBA programs to possess “hard skills,” such as strategy, finance, and operations. But there is also a definite benefit to learning and strengthening your other skills. According to a survey by Financial Times, there are other “softer” skills you can learn on your MBA career path that will meet employer needs.

Learn the top five MBA skills employers are looking for, what skills you get in an MBA program, and how they fit with employer expectations.

The Top MBA Skills You Learn and Employers Want

While proficiency in skills such as accounting and marketing are easier to find in MBA graduates, soft skills are more about taking part in a work environment successfully. The Financial Times survey indicates that employers regard these five skills as the most sought-after.

1. Build, Expand, and Sustain a Network of People

Networking is about more than job hunting. When you build a network, you surround yourself with people who can give you advice, contribute ideas, and share in your success. Working with others who are also pursuing their MBA gives you common ground and helps you begin the process of networking.

Forbes says creating a network has several benefits:

  • Access extra resources: Find out what your network knows and use it for your benefit.
  • Backing from high-profile individuals: As you build your network, you’ll find people with high standing, which looks good for you.
  • Boost self-confidence: Bouncing ideas off your network can make you feel more secure in your decision making.
  • Create new opportunities: A good network inevitably will lead to new career opportunities and an inside track on some positions.
  • Develop long-lasting relationships: Some of the people you connect with will be strong allies throughout your career.
  • Exchange ideas: Mutual feedback is to everyone’s advantage when connecting with your network.
  • Grow in status: As more people know who you are and what you do, your expertise and visibility can grow.
  • Improve your creative intellect: Finding like-minded people can open you up to new ideas and processes that they share.
  • Raise your profile: At your current position, you’ll be seen as a person who knows people in your field, which works to your advantage.
  • Reassess your qualification: Comparing yourself to members of your network can highlight skills you need to build.

As you learn how to build a robust network, you can set yourself up for success both now and in the future.

2. Collaborate With a Wide Range of People

A good measure of your working style is your ability to collaborate with people of different abilities and temperaments. Work life is challenging enough without adding the difficulties of low-functioning workplaces.

Learning how to work with others while pursuing your MBA is a mark of strength. The Chronicle states collaborating with different types of people has definite benefits:

  • Adds diversity: More than just obvious differences, diversity includes different ways of thinking, which strengthens a workplace.
  • Balances strengths and weaknesses: Each person brings something different and together can be stronger than individual members.
  • Boosts morale: Spreading out the workload, whether a school or work project, can help everyone feel connected.
  • Improves decision-making: With more people involved in working out problems, better decisions can be made.
  • Increases team production and efficiency: With a commitment to each other, a group of workers can do a better job of keeping track of tasks and time.

Of course, the tasks and responsibilities grow in an actual career position, but learning how to collaborate in school-level teams is a smart way to start.

3. Manage Time and Prioritize Assignments

Pursuing your MBA can be a challenge, especially if you’re already involved in your career. Your time management and prioritization skills will be tested, which is a good training ground for your future.

Harvard Business Review states three skills in particular separate success from failure in time management:

  • Adapt to change: As you monitor your use of time while performing activities, you must be able to adjust to interruptions or changing priorities.
  • Organize your schedule: You must be able to design and organize your goals, plans, schedules, and tasks to effectively use time.
  • Understand your time limitations: Being able to think realistically about your time begins with realizing that it is a limited resource.

Balancing work time with degree time will help you learn how to prioritize better and sharpen your time-management skills.

4. Solve Complex Problems

The lack of successful problem-solving skills sometimes trips up employees. CareerBuilder states these steps can provide a proper basis for solving problems in business:

  • Define the problem: Whether it’s a class assignment or a big contract, the first thing to know is what is the expectation and what is causing issues.
  • Brainstorm alternatives: This is where tapping into your team, which can bring a variety of experiences and ideas, can be a strength.
  • Choose the best solution: Letting problems fester is no solution. Pick a course of action while weighing the pros and cons.
  • Implement the solution: Take ownership of the solution and see it through to the end.

Becoming comfortable with these steps, whether during your course or career, can pave the way for success.

5. Working in a Team

Much like working with a variety of people, working with teams can be a challenge. A smaller group of people creates more work and responsibility for each member, but the entire group can benefit from each other’s knowledge and skills.

Whether working on your degree or a workplace project, Business News Daily states a great team can help in these ways:

  • Aids in follow-through: With each team member responsible for an aspect of the project, each segment can be covered.
  • Breaks down barriers: Working as a team helps you find out more about the people you’re involved with.
  • Builds cohesion: Working as a team brings people together in a way that drives success for them all.
  • Fosters a creative environment: With more voices, more creativity can be accessed among team members.
  • Helps visualize ideas: You can learn how to better visualize and explain your own ideas and learn how others do so.
  • Sets team goals: Teams measure success with goals along the way.

By learning these soft skills while pursuing your MBA, you can make yourself more attractive to employers, and you can grow your role in your current career.

Find out More About How an MBA Can Help Your Career

An online MBA degree from Wake Forest can open your options in your career. With the skills you learn, you can bring more value to your company and your career.

Find out more about the online MBA program at Wake Forest by contacting us today.