Increasingly, MBA students and alumni want to work at the world’s greatest tech outfits, not just banks and consultancies, which have traditionally been the most popular career destinations.
They are lured by the entrepreneurial culture that is well established at many tech companies in Silicon Valley, America’s tech hub, the generous compensation and, often, a decent work-life balance.
The good news for MBAs is that the feeling is reciprocal: big technology companies need experienced managers. According to the latest employer poll by business school admissions exam administrator GMAC, 85 percent of tech companies it surveyed planned to hire MBA graduates in 2019, down slightly from the year before, but still a substantial number.
That runs contrary to the once-common narrative that tech companies do not value MBAs. Some prominent tech leaders have come out in opposition to business schools, saying they promote risk-aversion. Notably, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, has said she does not believe MBAs are important for working in the tech industry, though she added she got “great value” from her Harvard MBA.
So which are the best MBA programs for working at a top tech outfit like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft or IBM? We’ve compiled a list of the top-10 feeder schools for such companies, below:
Being based so close to Wall Street, Columbia is renowned for sending MBAs into the investment banking and wider financial services industries. But tech and media companies took nearly 16 percent of Columbia’s MBAs in 2018. Internet services and e-commerce were the dominant employers of choice, and they paid Columbia MBAs $130,000 on average. Again, Amazon is the top tech-employer, having taken 18 hires last year. Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Samsung and Uber were also among the leading employers at Columbia in 2018.View School Profile
INSEAD may be a ways from Silicon Valley, but the school that is based in France and Singapore certainly has not let that hold back its tech-minded MBA students. 17 percent of cohort went to work in tech, media and telecoms, according the school’s 2018 employment report. Of those, 57 percent worked in the e-commerce/internet industry. The annual median salary for the TMT industry was $102,800. Some 67 percent got sign-on bonuses averaging $24,450, and 47 percent a performance bonus too: $19,550.View School Profile
Chicago Booth boasts a top tech alum: Satya Nadella, who currently heads Microsoft. Tech employers including Nadella’s firm employed some 20 percent of Booth MBAs last year. Amazon, though, was the leading tech recruiter, taking on an enormous 23 hires. Google was the second top tech employer with nine hires, followed by Microsoft with seven.View School Profile
Michigan Ross sent about 27 percent of its MBAs into the technology industry and the median base salary was $130,000. That set an all-time high record for tech recruiting at the business school. Amazon alone hired 44 graduates into full-time roles, while Google, Microsoft, Dell and many more tech companies hired MBAs from Michigan Ross last year. The tech industry has been the second most popular career path among Michigan Ross graduates for the third year on the bounce and is a close second to consulting, where 30 percent of the students went.View School Profile
The Kellogg School of Management also reported that a record number of its MBAs went into the tech industry in 2018 – 28 percent of the class. More of Kellogg’s MBAs also accepted jobs on the US West Coast, where Silicon Valley is, than in 2017. Amazon snapped up 21 of Kellogg’s MBAs, while Apple, Adobe, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Uber also hired from the cohort last year.View School Profile
One of Duke Fuqua’s most esteemed alumni is Apple boss Tim Cook, giving its students something to aspire to. Technology hiring surged by nearly 50 percent at Duke Fuqua in 2018 year-over-year; technology companies hired 28 percent of the 2018 graduating cohort. Among them were Amazon, the school’s number one employer of its MBAs with 21 full-time hires, Microsoft (20 hires), Google (15), Dell (12) and Cisco (10), among other top tech employers.View School Profile
MIT is renowned for technology and innovation prowess, so it should come as no surprise that its famed business school is a top source of talent for the tech sector. In recent years, Amazon has been the Sloan school’s number-one employer, having snapped up 27 students from the MBA class of 2018. Google, Microsoft, Tesla, Wayfair and IBM were also among MIT’s top employers. Overall, tech companies hired 29.4 percent of the cohort, more than double those going into finance.View School Profile
It's not just North America where MBAs enjoy excellent access to the top tech employers. ESMT Berlin is well-known for its connections to the tech and innovation leaders in the German capital city. A high 35 percent of the 2017 MBA graduating class was snapped up by tech employers, including Microsoft, Uber, Wayfair and Rocket Internet. And 88 percent of the overall cohort worked in Germany — a nod to Berlin’s growing appeal as a tech hub.View School Profile
UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business is located in the East Bay, relatively close to Silicon Valley. Little wonder, then, that 31.7 percent of the school’s MBAs last year were hired by tech employers, including Adobe, Amazon and Google. Haas offers plenty of MBA coursework relevant for pursuing a tech career, including blockchain, innovation strategy and “organizational moonshots”, or a ground-breaking tech project. There is also a welter of clubs and conferences touching on tech products, including the Innovation and Design clubs.View School Profile
Being based so close to the innovation cluster Silicon Valley, it makes sense that Stanford’s MBA program is perhaps the top feeder to the top tech companies. Interest in technology rose to 33 percent in 2018, regaining the eight percentage points it had dropped the previous year. For the second year in a row, the proportion of Stanford MBA women going to tech was higher than for men. Some 40 percent of all Stanford women MBAs went into tech. Stanford MBA graduate Jialu Chen landed a job at YouTube in San Bruno, California, close to Stanford. She credits the school’s Leadership Labs course with her switch to tech from venture capital. “My Lead Labs Fellow told me she saw me as a leader. The fact that she saw that potential encouraged me to pursue careers that would allow me to develop leadership skills, and ultimately led to my current job in product management,” she says.View School Profile
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A career at a tech company such as Apple or Amazon has become sought-after at business school, but some in the industry remain skeptical about hiring MBAs