The demand for management education continues to grow, with more and more people in their early-to-mid career looking for ways to develop their skills and get ahead.

An alternative to the MBA? How a Master’s in Management can open up new career pathways

In recent years, there has been a surge in popularity worldwide for Master’s in Management (MiM) programmes. Sometimes touted as an alternative to the MBA, these courses are typically designed for young professionals with around 12 to 18 months of working experience. For those that gain the qualification, it can open up new career pathways by making them stand out from the crowd.

Ranked first in the UK in The Economist’s Which MBA? Masters in Management 2017 ranking, the Cranfield Management MSc takes a practical approach to management education. Every student on the programme takes part in an internship as part of their studies. In 2017, more than half secured a job offer as a direct result of their internship placement.

Professor Michael Dickmann, the programme’s director, considers the Master’s in Management the best option for early career professionals. Business Because caught up with him to find out why…

Why is it important to gain formal management education?

“Being a business manager isn’t a protected job. If you’re a lawyer, you need a degree. If you’re a medic, you need a degree. But managers aren’t protected that way.

“With the demand for management education growing worldwide, how do you make sure you stand out from the crowd? One way is through your personality, and another is through the knowledge and insight that you bring to your job. We work on both these areas within our management training. We give students a theoretical background, but also provide them with tools to use in their work. Someone without a management education may be able to do these things, but the chances are they may not, as they will lack the tools they need for success.

“We teach an evidence-based approach to management. With such easy access to data in today’s world, this has never been more relevant or necessary.

“Within our leadership development training, students gain insight into themselves as leaders that they can then use to grow and adapt to the changing business landscape. Career paths are more diverse these days and people also increasingly want a better work/life balance, or are looking for a career more closely aligned with their interests. We help students to understand their motivations and drivers. By encouraging them to know themselves, and their strengths and weaknesses, we help them ensure their path is in line with their desires.”

Describe a typical Cranfield Management MSc student

“I’m not sure there is one; we have a broad mixture of people join the course. We’ve had teachers, gymnasts, engineers and people with a background in languages or history. In 2018, our 46 students span more than 15 nationalities.

“Because we’ve designed the course to appeal to people with less business experience than those who might take our MBA, we compensate by giving MiM students a crash course in practical experience. We use business simulations, role play, case studies and the National Apprenticeship Challenge to give them opportunities to put the skills they learn into practice in real-life scenarios.

“This is particularly evident with our consulting project. Every year, we partner with a company to explore an issue that it is experiencing. In 2018, we chose financial services company Citibank. The cohort was split into teams and worked to create solutions for the issue Citibank was having. The company was incredibly happy, as it saved a consultancy doing the work. Meanwhile, our students gained real business insight to support their learning.”

What makes Cranfield’s teaching style unique?

“I honestly believe that no other university is as practically-orientated as we are. Almost all of my colleagues have worked in business or industry, and we bring that knowledge to our teaching.

“We also operate on the principles of credibility and capability. Credibility is built through the work we do with our students while they are with us, and also through our rankings scores. Capability shines through our ethos of supporting evidence-based approaches to management. We teach people how to find evidence, and how to make better management decisions by acting on it.

“The leadership development journey we take our students on encourages them to explore their personalities and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Our leadership development module was ranked first in the world by the Financial Times in its MBA ranking, and this same module is taught to our MSc students by the same lecturers.”

How do internships benefit students?

“We see the internship that all our students undertake as an extension of the learning they gain from the Cranfield Management MSc. It teaches them how to apply the knowledge they have gained in real-world situations, as well as giving them an opportunity to network and further their career.  For this reason, we want our students to be involved in projects; we don’t just want them getting the coffee.

“Every student completes an internship, and most are paid (in 2017, 80% were paid). As they are paid, companies are selective about who they want.

“We liaise with a lot of companies – many more than we finally use – to vet the internship project ideas, making sure they are going to be beneficial for our students as well as for the company. It’s a big task, but essential to maintain the quality of our internships.

“Typically, companies use our internships to solve a current problem or as a talent pipeline, whereby they want to see someone in action for three months before making a job offer.”

Article originally published by Business Because