There are as many MBA career transitions as there are MBAs. Two people at the same business school, from the same industry, graduating in the same year can go on to do very different things, with their MBA helping them in different ways. Whether you’re looking to set up a business, switch to a sector that really excites you, find opportunities in those much-talked-about emerging markets or return to your previous firm with new responsibilities, pursuing an MBA can be the defining turn in your professional life.
Here are just a few of the ways MBA graduates have used their program to make some unique career transitions.
1. Head to Silicon Valley
French engineer David Axelrad used his MBA at Grenoble Graduate School of Business to explore new business opportunities for his employer STMicroelectronics. His findings impressed STM so much that they shifted him from an engineering role in France to a business role in California.
Brandon Yahn gave up a well-paid management consulting career and headed to Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in 2010. Yahn, whose first degree was in engineering, has always wanted to work in the tech start-up world and while at Haas he landed an internship at Bay Area software firm Evernote, which will help his shift to a start-up or VC firm.
2. Do business in other regions of the world
Italian Claudio Scotto graduated with an MBA from the UK’s Aston Business School in 2000. Ten years later, his MBA combined with his manufacturing experience, gave him the confidence to start West Africa’s first fruit juice processing plant, exporting Sierra Leonean mango juice to Germany. His firm, Africa Felix has been covered on CNN
British music industry executive Michael Shaw was at the MBA program at the UK’s Open University Business School when he learned about volunteering opportunities in Africa. After his MBA, he went to South Africa to volunteer with his wife, and ended up setting up a consulting firm there with clients including USAID and the World Bank. He says he wouldn’t have been able to win those contracts without his MBA.
3. Land a job on Wall Street
Beirut-born Karim Jaroudi had worked in investment banking in Dubai, London and Singapore for four years when he took a break and embarked on the HEC Paris – NYU Stern dual degree MBA. With access to alumni across two continents from two prestigious universities, he landed a job as an investment banking Associate in New York City on graduation.
Chicago native Arthur Williams was the first person from his family to go to college. He went on to work at a private equity firm in Chicago and it was there that he first heard of Wharton, from a partner who had been at the school. After his own Wharton MBA, Williams headed to New York to take up a position as a vice president at a middle-market private equity firm.
4. Become an entrepreneur now… or in a few years
Just one year after completing an MBA at London’s Imperial College Business School, music-obsessed Israeli Nadav Poraz set up WhoSampled.com, a site that allows its users to discover and discuss sampled music, remixes and cover songs. The site is now a hitin the US, the UK, France, Germany and Canada.
An MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management helped Paul Gray get a job at innovative product strategy consultancy BrainMates, in Sydney. But it was his MBA, in particular the grounding it gave him in finance, that gave Paul and his partners, the confidence to set up kids’ online gaming firm Bubble Gum Interactive. They recently secured US$1 million in funding.
5. Bring more value to your industry
British-born Nicholas Miles worked for Japanese transportation firm NYK logistics for ten years in Europe and Asia, ending up as Deputy General Manager in Shanghai in 2006. Shortly after completing his MBA at Lancaster University Management School in the UK he was hired by auction house Christie’s as Transport Director, in charge of transporting goods worth millions of dollars around the globe. He was recently in charge of handling the Elizabeth Taylor collection, and that turned over around US$9.5 million!