Getting Clear on your Future Anything

Lisa TarryBy Lisa Tarry, Careers & Corporate Relations Manager MBA Programs, Management Education, at the University of Sydney Business School.

I am often asked, and I quote a recent request, “to elaborate more on the kind of companies that hire from the University of Sydney MBA Program, and how career services connect graduates to the corporate world”.

It’s an interesting question and led me to reflect on how this is not something that we consciously promote, due largely to the fact that our MBA is a part-time program which means the majority of our 2015 students are currently working, with over 66 percent having over six years experience upon joining the MBA.  On average fifty percent are working in middle – management roles (we saw an increase in senior management roles from twenty three percent in 2014 to thirty percent in 2015) and only 30 percent of all students are actively looking for new opportunities.

Our Career Management strategy is therefore very much tailored around listening to what our students want.   In terms of student aspirations after the MBA, changing industry remains the lowest priority for our 2015 students, similar to our 2014 student cohort responses, with the desire to remain with their current employer continuing to lead the way.  This could indicate improved retention strategies across corporate Australia; however, aiming to change job function within their current company, while down by three percent on 2014, is still reasonably high at twenty one percent, as reflected in our 2016 MBA Report.

When we look more deeply at where the thirty percent of actively seeking students desire to move to, consulting remains at the forefront followed closely by finance, banking and insurance and in third place not for profit.  Twenty two percent of our students are looking specifically at the start up sector, which has notably received an extra boost with government aiming to encourage entrepreneurship among job seekers, investing an additional $89 million to support those wanting to start their own businesses.  This will come into effect from December 2016 as part of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. Tailoring a career management strategy purely to what students ‘want’ does however need to balance with what students ‘need’ but may not perhaps realise that they need.  This is why strengths based coaching underpins the personal career management plan students can opt to partake in our Personal Career Management Plan.  This plays a core part in helping an individual to reach clarity on what their ‘future anything’ might look like.

If we look historically at the last 75 years, we can see career development theories have spanned into four categories:

  1. Trait Factor – Matching personal traits to occupations-Frank Parson’s (1920’s)
  2. Developmental – Self Concept over life span-Super (1950’s)
  3. Decision – Situational or Sociological- Bandura (Self Efficacy-1970’s)
  4. Psychological – Personality types matching work environment- Holland (1980’s)

The first decade of the twenty-first century however, has seen a boom in the theory of coaching as a model of practice. All parts of the client’s life are taken into account through regular sessions and it is this philosophy that has shaped the approach taken in our MBA Career Management Program.  As Dr Marshall Goldsmith, recognised as the #1 leadership thinker in the world has observed, “leadership coaching is going through dramatic changes. Practitioners from many disciplines are crowding into the coaching space; most notable are those with a psychology background, as the discipline itself is shifting from a focus on the study of dysfunction towards a science of success.  Of the many disciplines in the sphere of leadership coaching, we consider philosophy to be greatly important. Within philosophy we find the oft-neglected topic of ethics, the science of doing good, which we believe surely ought to be a central theme in any teaching of leadership”.

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