B.U. Bridge is published by the Boston University Office of University Relations.
Salaries soar for new SMG graduates
By David J. Craig
As an intern at Boston Consulting Group last summer, Jeffrey Barden had ample incentive to work hard helping dozens of organizations around the world create a business plan to develop new treatments for tuberculosis collaboratively. A job at BCG, he knew, could bring a six-figure starting salary.
"I expected a lot of money, and the offer I got exceeded my expectations," says Barden (SMG'01), a U.S. Army captain who left active duty to enter the School of Management's MBA program. When Barden starts work as a BCG consultant this summer, his salary will more than triple the approximate $45,000 he earned yearly in the Army. "I'm also receiving a substantial financial incentive package," he says, "and a signing bonus that's about $10,000 more than what most BCG hires would receive, because I interned there."
Barden's compensation may seem extraordinary, but job offers received by SMG graduate students last year were nearly as impressive. The average pay earned by MBAs in the class of 2000 was $89,560, up 30 percent from 1999's $69,000. That dwarfs the 15 percent average jump the nation's top MBAs saw over the last two years, according to BusinessWeek's annual ranking of business schools.
Signing bonuses for the school's MBAs were a large part of the increase, tripling to $12,560, from $4,000 in 1999. Average base pay climbed from $65,000 to $77,000.
"The market for MBAs is so hot that about a third of our graduates got signing bonuses last year," says Jennifer Lawrence, assistant dean for career services at SMG. "In previous years, only a tiny percentage of graduates got them."
The top MBAs commonly landed jobs as consultants in the areas of information technology, management strategy, and investment banking, Lawrence says.
SMG undergraduates attracted big bids, too. Those receiving B.S./B.A. degrees in 2000 report an average base salary of $42,532, up nearly 20 percent from $35,544 in 1999. That surpasses the national average of $35,991 for all business baccalaureates in 2000, as well as the year's national average increase of 6.5 percent, as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
"Undergraduates are in extremely high demand now," says Lawrence, "mostly on Wall Street, in information technology, and doing brand management."
National ranking helps
While the strong economy undoubtedly helped boost the value of SMG students, there is also evidence that the school's reputation is on the rise. SMG made BusinessWeek's ranking of the nation's 50 best business schools for the first time in 2000, in addition to attracting recruiters from Chase Securities and Boston Consulting Group, which is considered one of the top management consulting firms in the world. And this year is the first that Boston's Putnam Investments will be looking for talent at SMG.
SMG Dean Louis Lataif says the school's success is due partly to its emphasis on "horizontal thinking," or the ability to understand how decisions made in one area of a company, such as finance or marketing, impact other areas, such as manufacturing or engineering.
"We produce systems thinkers who can consider problems the way a CEO does," says Lataif. "They understand that a solution to a particular problem must also be a good overall business decision for the enterprise. So a student we train in finance knows that field, but he or she is also able to consider commonly unasked questions, such as how a finance decision might affect a company's position in the marketplace."
Integral to developing students' horizontal thinking skills, according to Lataif, are collaborative learning exercises that now are employed in many SMG courses. Through Team Learning, a term the school has copyrighted, students learn to solve management problems as members of a group, and unlike in traditional group learning, are graded on both their own proficiency and the success of their group. SMG launched its Center for Team Learning in 1996 (see sidebar).
"Team Learning is a way for students to get training in their field," says Lataif, "and at the same time to learn how a group's performance changes when its members have a shared interest in each other's success. The unique aspect of the school's approach to Team Learning is that students have a measurable stake in one another's learning and performance."
Tribute to Team Learning
Barden says that his experience learning to solve problems as part of a team at SMG was invaluable at BCG last summer.
"The way we worked was in small groups of four or five people, so in that way the team training was totally applicable," he says. "But there was a team aspect to the work we did with clients too, because the American scientists we worked with had one way of approaching treatment of TB, and a group from India had another way of looking at the problem. We had to get the best out of both of the approaches."
In addition, Lawrence says that SMG's Field Career Center, which has been revamped since she took it over in August 1999, has helped improve how students market themselves.
"We've really worked hard to make the Career Center a central part of the educational mission of the school," she says. "I personally approve every résumé that leaves this office, and starting this year, every graduate and undergraduate student in the school is required to take a career preparation course. As a result, many more students are availing themselves of the center's services."
Looking toward the future, SMG officials expect that the school's new MS/MBA program will further increase its students' cachet. The program, offered for the first time in the fall of 2001, combines training in information technology and in management and will have about 100 students.
"Companies will be clamoring for those students," says Lawrence. "The program is unique."
Read the sidebar "Additional $300,000 grant to SMG from GE Fund"