There’s More To Life Than Earning Lots Of Money, Graduates Say

CEMS Global Alliance of Business Schools survey
Today’s business school graduates are placing higher value on personal goals and career progression as well as high salaries.

A fat paycheque after years of study is not the only priority for today’s business school graduates, according to a global survey conducted by the CEMS Global Alliance of Business Schools.

The survey, which compiled data from 750 recent graduates in nearly 60 countries, found that graduates still value a strong salary when choosing a career path, but this concern is being rivalled by work-life balance, the promise of rapid career progress and an opportunity to make an early impact.

Commenting on the survey results, CEMS Executive Director Roland Siegers said that the shift in career mativators was due to CEMS graduates being more creative, optimistic and always see an opportunity in change.

“They crave quick career progression and the chance to make a genuine impact at an early stage,” he said.

“Importantly, our research adds weight to the idea that for this generation, work is not all about money. A good work-life balance is more important than ever.”

Of the graduates surveyed, 471 included salary in their top three criteria when looking for a new role. This was followed closely by work/life balance (405), opportunities for quick career progression (390) and impact at an early stage (291). Opportunities for global travel was ranked fifth and inspirational leadership sixth.

Three quarters of respondents, the majority in their early twenties, expected to have an executive level role within 10 years or less while 25 percent expected to achieve this level within five years.

CEMS Chair of and Sydney Business School Dean Professor Greg Whitwell described the results as an indication of the positive values held by today’s graduates. 

“While being highly motivated and ambitious, these young people also want to lead balanced, well rounded lives and, importantly, they want to make a positive impact on the lives of others,” Professor Whitwell said.

When asked about the skills they felt would be necessary as technology developed in the workplace, the surveyed graduates ranked social skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and empathy as most important followed by people management skills including team leadership and motivation.

These were ranked above hard skills including formal qualifications, data analysis and cognitive abilities such as creativity and mathematical reasoning.

“It is important that organisations take note of these insights if they are to benefit from the ambition of our graduates and gain competitive advantage in an uncertain age,” Mr Siegers said.

“This means giving young people an opportunity to tackle projects that deliver real global impact as early as possible while recognising their need for a life outside of work.”

“We already see this in action through our forward-thinking CEMS corporate partners, who recognise the benefit of working with young people on real-life, global business projects even before they reach the workplace,” he said.

The Paris-based CEMS Global Alliance partners with more than seventy social and corporate collaborators including Care International, Maersk, ABB, AstraZeneca, Google, Helti and Deloitte. Founded more than 30 years ago as a pan-European organization, CEMS now has members schools in South Korea, Canada, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Chile, Japan, Brazil, Egypt, Australia and the United States.

Accredited member schools collaborate on the delivery of a ‘globally integrated’ Master of International Management (MiM) program to around 1,200 students from about 60 different countries annually.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (