MBA Class of 2019 Graduates Into Strong Job Market

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MBA Class of 2019 Graduates Into Strong Job Market

The newest employment report announces career outcomes of Class of 2019 graduates.
December 11, 2019
MBA students at the Knight Management Center | Elena Zukhova

The percentage of social impact careers jumped up this year, a sign of the dean’s vision for the future of management education coming to fruition. In addition, women launching or joining a startup has surged in recent years, now more closely matching their representation in the class.

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“Three things in this report thrill me. First, the share of new graduates taking socially responsible roles keeps rising and now totals nearly a fifth of the class,” said Paul Oyer, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, in releasing the 2019 Employment Report. “Second, it’s great to see women increasing their share of entrepreneurial activity. Third, our graduates are having great success in the job market, as this is the fifth straight year of record-breaking compensation.”

Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and dean of Stanford Graduate School of Business, said that he’s thrilled to see graduates pursuing leadership opportunities that allow them to focus on making the world and planet a better place. “I’m proud of the commitment demonstrated by our students to take leadership positions in innovative organizations, and in roles where they can make the greatest impact,” he said. “This is the future of management education.”

In other highlights, the percentage of the class launching ventures dipped by 1 point to 15%. And an unprecedented 41% of students who reported accepting a job also reported receiving stock compensation.

“Our students seek opportunities to have impact in their roles,” said Jamie Schein, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center. “They view business operations roles in strategy and planning and as chief of staff as a path to work with C-suite executives on strategic projects in emerging, high-growth organizations.” In this year’s employment report, the business operations role is consolidated with strategy and planning; the category in total drew 15% of job-seeking graduates, compared with 7% last year.

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“Our students are drawn to exciting, leading-edge companies. In the past, that has meant pursuing opportunities in the tech sector. Now, they see opportunities for innovation and disruption in sectors such as health care, transportation, new media, and entertainment,” said Schein.

Biz Ops: A Career Accelerant

After exploring five or six different career paths, Lucas Pattan landed a business operations role at Capsule, a New York-based health-tech company that is transforming the pharmaceutical delivery process. The five-year-old company employs about 400 and has raised roughly $250M in venture capital.

In his position as an expansion manager, he and his team are responsible for growing the company’s footprint outside of New York City, across the country. He views the biz ops role as the hub in the company’s wheel. “You’re interacting with the commercial sales team, collecting data; interacting with pharmacists and figuring out how best to build the next pharmacy; also interacting with the finance team to make sure we’re hitting within budget; and looking at the value of rent abatements, or tenant improvement allowances — those things that are really important for making financial decisions. You’re speaking to all these people at all times, so you’re getting a lot of different perspectives.”

In short, Pattan is at the center of the action in an industry ripe for disruption at the intersection of technology and health care. But is Capsule a tech or health care company?

Pattan admits the lines are blurred. “It’s hard to define. I guess I would say it’s in technology. That’s the value we’re bringing. We’re not creating a new device that treats a certain disorder. We’re creating specifically a technology platform that makes things easier for doctors, pharmacists, and patients.”

Technological innovation is also what sets the biz ops role apart from general management. “In a firm that doesn’t have a consumer-facing app or tech spec as its spine, I’d probably be in general management,” said Pattan. “But I think the inclusion of our app and pharmacist- and doctor-facing platform move it into a new generation. The amount of time that I spend with engineering, with our finance team, and our data insights team require this new perspective of biz ops.”

Of the Stanford GSB courses and programs most instrumental in setting Pattan on his current career path, he names Nir Halevy’s negotiation class. A close second would be Peter M. DeMarzo’s financial modeling class. “As painful as the class was at times,” he said with a laugh (Pattan majored in history and public policy in his undergraduate studies at New York University), “I use modeling every day in developing the financial map for entering new cities.”

Women Pursue Unprecedented Opportunities in Entrepreneurship

In 2010, of all students who launched a venture or joined a startup, women comprised 22%. Nearly 10 years later, the percentage of women taking the entrepreneurial path has nearly doubled. “Especially in the last few years, we’ve observed this pace has really picked up,” said Schein.

“The same things that attract men to entrepreneurship attract women,” said Deborah Whitman, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “Both men and women find it extremely compelling to execute on an idea that solves a problem, that aligns with their values, that allows them to determine their own destinies and make an impact in the world.”

Miri Buckland arrived at Stanford to pursue a career in early stage venture capital. “Coming from a corporate media background in Europe, investing felt like a great way to explore the startup world on the West Coast, and it was. But through my exposure to venture during the GSB, I met so many amazing entrepreneurs that I caught the itch to build something myself.”

She joined forces with classmate Ellie Buckingham to cofound The Landing, a reimagined home furnishing service that takes clients from design and curation through installation. The service will launch in January 2020.

“We had a lot of great female role models in the space — entrepreneurs, investors, and faculty,” said Buckland. “I don’t know whether it was the fact that they were women that encouraged us, but the more and more you see people you look up to — people like yourself — in those kind of roles, the more easily you can imagine that path for yourself as well.”

Also, a support group sprang up organically from among their classmates. “We ask each other questions; we have meetings every month to talk about how things are going; we’re up to date on each other’s businesses,” said Buckland. “So I feel like we have a great support system. It’s been a fantastic way for us to be in touch with people in our class who are going through similar experiences to us.” The group of approximately 30 uses WhatsApp and continues to keep in touch even after graduation.

“The GSB had a much greater influence on our cofounder journey than just introducing us to one another,” said Buckingham. “One of my biggest takeaways from my experience at the GSB was around the idea of risk. Instead of looking only at the risk involved in starting something, I started assigning risk to not starting something. Life started feeling too short to not try now.”

Graduates Seek to Make Social Impact

The percentage of graduates answering “yes” to choosing a socially responsible role increased by half to 18%.

I’m proud of the commitment demonstrated by our students to take leadership positions in innovative organizations, and in roles where they can make the greatest impact.
Jonathan Levin

Abiodun Buari has always known that he would work with a social impact organization after business school. “I grew up in the low-income neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria, and I can remember how difficult it was to make ends meet,” he said.

As he climbed the rungs of academia, graduating from the nation’s top university with distinction, he had his choice of job opportunities. However, he never forgot his resolve to give back, in acknowledgment of the many people who helped him through his own struggles.

Whether starting his own company or joining an existing startup, Buari determined that his post-MBA career must meet three criteria. First, it must be social mission-oriented, “touching the lives especially of the low-income populations,” he said. Second, the company’s products and services must have a large footprint in Africa. Third, the organization must be technology-based.

“The choice of Africa as a start location for impact was driven by my passion to improve Africa,” he said. In addition, “I have a very strong feeling that technology is the future for Africa and it is very necessary for driving scale in Africa. We have already seen huge success in leveraging technology in banking and finance, agriculture, and health industries on the continent.”

The organization that checked all three boxes for Buari is Remitly Inc., where he is leading product marketing for Africa. A social mission-driven company in the financial technology space, Remitly uses mobile technology to help people send and receive money across borders, including immigrants who support families back home. Remitly’s vision is to transform the lives of immigrants and their families by providing the world’s most-trusted financial service products, while reducing the cost of sending money from high-income countries to middle- and low-income countries.

What resonated with Buari in choosing to attend Stanford GSB? “I fell for the tagline: ‘Change Lives, Change Organizations, Change the World,’ ” he said.

Record High Salaries

The median base salary of $150,000 and mean of $152,503 exceeded last year’s by 6% and 5%, respectively. Of the job-seekers in the class, 56% reported receiving a signing bonus, and the median of $25,000 remained unchanged.

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In lieu of other guaranteed compensation, dropped from reporting standards by the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, Stanford GSB two years ago began capturing an “Expected Performance Bonus” metric that includes guaranteed as well as non-guaranteed cash compensation based on performance. Of the Class of 2019, nearly three out of every four job-seekers expected to receive a cash performance bonus. These graduates expected an average bonus of $66,311, a $1,782 increase over last year, with a $33,000 median.

About two out of five students, or 41%, who reported accepting a job also reported receiving stock compensation. This metric is not tracked by CSEA.

Job Offer Timing, Industry, and Location

In adherence to CSEA standards, Stanford GSB reports full-time job offer and acceptance rates at graduation and three months after. At three months after Stanford GSB’s June 15, 2019 graduation, 88% of the class accepted offers, the same as last year; and 94% had offers, a 1-point decrease.

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Stanford MBA students and graduates were hired by a record 447 organizations for both summer internships and full-time positions. A signal of the sheer breadth of Stanford GSB employers and students' wide-ranging interests, 93% were able to hire just 1 or 2 students.

Reflecting the trend of technology permeating a wide swathe of sectors, the number of graduates going to tech dropped 9 points to 24%, fluctuating back to 2017 levels; meanwhile, finance inched up 2 points to 33%; consulting remained unchanged at 18%.

Not included in the CSEA-defined job-seeking pool, 15% of the entire class launched startups in a broad variety of industries. The top five for these entrepreneurial graduates are: technology (27%), consumer products (23%), nonprofit/social innovation (15%), finance (13%), and health care (6%).

In 2019, 61% of Stanford GSB job-seeking graduates selected careers in the West region, representing a 7% decrease compared to last year. Outside of the West region, the Northeast was the next most popular location, drawing 16% of the class, while international jobs attracted 13%.

Across the entire class, 53% remained in California.

“Our graduates are purpose-driven and talented, and increasingly want to feel a strong connection to their work as well as the world around them,” said Oyer. “In this strong market, they can be flexible in waiting for a great opportunity that aligns with their values and interests.”

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