How Do Graduates Measure Success?

Impact and work-life balance are gaining ground as top priorities among b-school graduates.

It’s no surprise that business school graduates want their educations to translate into higher salaries. But they value work-life balance just as highly. Recent graduates shared this sentiment in a survey conducted by CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education. Among 750 graduates of its master’s in management program, 471 listed salary in their top three criteria for job selection. However, nearly as many, 405, prioritized work-life balance. Others valued opportunities for quick career progression (390) and the ability to have an impact at an early stage in their careers (291).

The survey also asked respondents what skills they thought would be most important to their future careers. The graduates ranked soft skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence, and empathy as most important. These attributes were followed by team leadership and motivation. They believed that these skills would be more crucial to their careers than hard skills such as data analysis and mathematical reasoning.

These results indicate that although these graduates are motivated and ambitious, they “also want to lead balanced, well-rounded lives and, more important, they want to make a positive impact on the lives of others,” says Greg Whitwell, chair of CEMS and dean of the University of Sydney Business School in Australia. These students’ responses, he notes, send a clear message to employers— that they need to offer more than high salaries if they want to attract the best young talent.