Goal-oriented, driven and well trained – this is who we are as MBAs. In a sense, we are like Everest climbers – we take risks,
work hard and rely on our capabilities to make it. But how do we leverage these incredible attributes to build our careers? More than fifty MBAs gathered together to listen to speakers from Colligo Networks (Barry Jinks), McKinsey (Ben Goodier) and TeamFit (Steven Forth) to discuss what skills MBAs are valued for and how MBAs can use their skills to differentiate themselves in the market place.
Hierarchy of skills
We asked MBAs to put their top five skills up on the meeting room’s walls. The hierarchy of more than 60 skills claimed by MBAs evolved as it is shown on this pyramid with most frequent skills mentioned on the top and least mentioned on the bottom:
Predictably, MBAs mentioned generic skills most and foremost. Therefore, these skills appear on the top and across all the
layers of the pyramid. Fewer MBAs picked more specific skills, which you can see here on the bottom. MBAs were fast and confident in claiming their skills communicate, lead, perform some analysis and solve business problems. Is that good enough for effective differentiation? What we could do better?
Looking at how MBAs were compiling their individual skills lists, we can say that there are three things MBAs are strong at in framing their skills profiles:
Areas for improvement
However, there are a few areas, MBAs could improve in to demonstrate the true value of their skills:
How b-schools shape our skills positioning
The data was not complete to infer well-grounded differences between the b-schools, but there are at least three observations interesting to highlight. MBAs from one of the three universities differentiated themselves as very much value-driven candidates (empathy was one of the dominating word used in their skills listings). The other b-school’s MBAs were the most buzzing group about teamwork and collaboration. The third b-school’s participants allocated their skills across all skills categories and in a relatively balanced way. Thus, there is some connection between your school and how you position yourself. Knowing that should help us to see what are the potential benefits and limitations of such priming effect.
As an MBA student, I find it a useful practice to analyze my skills. Skills are important differentiators one can put forward to stand out from the crowd (and the crowds are becoming increasingly educated and sophisticated). In order to utilize your skills, you need to refine your understanding of skills, keep records of how we apply them on various projects and, if you try TeamFit, get feedback from peers or colleagues on these skills. Such a process of mental accounting of your skills should become consistent and regular if you want to climb your Everest…