In 2018, 58 percent of the University of Washington’s MBA graduates accepted positions in tech from companies in Seattle’s own backyard.
In the booming, constantly changing tech industry, success relies on creative ideas and competitive execution. So it’s perhaps no surprise that MBAs are a growing presence in the industry.
In 2018, 58 percent of the University of Washington’s MBA graduates accepted positions in tech from companies in Seattle’s own backyard, including Microsoft and Amazon. As their infrastructures continue to evolve, these two have descended on college campuses across the country to recruit MBAs, changing the face of technology along the way.
Within the last few years, the traditional roles of MBAs in consulting and finance have shifted with market demand. More than ever, tech companies are relying on the skills of MBAs to further their business agendas and to outsell the competition.
As the world’s largest software company, Microsoft has reinvented itself in the industry and expanded with its Surface products, cloud business and LinkedIn acquisition. In April, it paid out $6.3 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.
“Our results this quarter reflect the trust people and organizations are placing in the Microsoft Cloud,” Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft, said in a press release. “We are innovating across key growth categories of infrastructure, AI, productivity, and business applications to deliver differentiated value to customers.”
“Innovating” being the operative word.
The company’s staggering growth overlaps with an uptick in MBA hires for key management positions in business, programs, strategy, finance and marketing.
“We want them to become agents of change and champions of culture,” Priya Priyadarshini, Microsoft’s senior HR director, says of incoming MBA staff. “As a company, we look to these bright talented individuals to bring diverse perspectives, to help shape the future of our company and spark disruptive innovations.”
Across Lake Washington, Amazon’s business strategy is similarly tied to a surge in MBA involvement, evidenced by a report that the company plans to add 1,000 per year to their staff for the foreseeable future.
“We look for MBAs who want to be owners, who are obsessed with our customers, and who like to invent and take on big challenges,” Miriam Park, Amazon’s director of university recruiting, said in a 2016 interview with BusinessBecause, an MBA news and information site.
Indeed, Amazon’s revenue depends on satisfied customers, and Park notes that an MBA’s analytical nature aligns perfectly with its desire for creative leadership within multiple teams, including retail, finance and program management, among others.
The college campus isn’t the only way to break into tech as an MBA. Another path involves pursuing a degree through Microsoft or Amazon’s internal programs as an employee. Both companies offer tuition reimbursement for those who are motivated to further their careers with a master’s degree, including MBA studies.
After completing an MBA degree, a full-time Microsoft employee with less than seven years of experience may participate in the Microsoft Academy for College Hires, a two-year mentoring program that provides new hires and career-changers with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and grow a network within the company.
For account executive Safiya Miller, the experience has proven valuable.
“After switching industries and leaving my previous job in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I determined that the next stage of my career would have to be more than just a paycheck,” Miller says. “The MACH MBA program has been worthwhile since the first day, where I was partnered with incredibly strong leaders who served as mentors, showing me how to inspire a virtual team and leverage the strengths of the individuals you work with to deliver real value for our clients.”
For Amazon, engaging MBAs in eight different roles across the company involves six leadership programs designed to help employees by working with mentors to define their paths and contribute to the company. The programs include what the company deems accelerated learning initiatives to help MBAs quickly acquire the skills necessary to become leaders within their teams.
The changing tech industry has opened a big door of opportunity to MBAs, a trend that Miller hopes in combination with her background, will define her career in the future.
“Those with international work experience will be strategic advisors who can tie together their breadth of knowledge on the global, social and economic implications of technology,” Miller says. “Long term, I believe [in] MBAs.”