Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The low down MBAs

Your career; Why do an MBA

You are young(ish), ambitious and well and truly fed up with what you feel is a paltry, if typical, construction industry salary. But you have invested a lot of time and effort getting where you are and enjoy the work - so why throw it all away?

What about studying for an MBA? We have all heard how those jammy individuals holding a coveted Masters in Business Administration simply skip their way up the careers ladder - not to mention their ability to command megabuck salaries.

Believe this, if you will: according to the Association of MBAs, the mean annual salary for MBA graduates working in the construction sector is £50,250!

Enrolment has increased every year since the MBA was first offered in the UK in the early 1970s, claims the association, and some 12,500 students started courses last year, two-thirds of them full time.

Individuals choose to embark on what is invariably an extremely demanding and very expensive MBA course for a variety of reasons - to accelerate their career, to learn more about business or to switch careers.

'It's naive to think that the best business solutions for an engineering firm will always come from the engineering profession,' says Gary Travers, a 30-year-old chartered civil engineer now studying full time for an MBA at Warwick Business School.

'An MBA includes a chance to learn a broad range of business practices, from strategy to marketing, accounting to human resources, in a multi- cultural and multi-professional arena.'

Cranfield School of Management's one-year MBA course is ranked among the world's top five, and between 20 and 30 per cent of the annual intake of 200 students have an engineering background.

'There's no doubt that engineers can and do make excellent managers,' says the school's director Professor Leo Murray, 'But the proportion of engineers with MBAs wanting to change industries is all too high'. He laments the fact that too few senior executives in British industry are practising engineers.

'I happen to believe that this is one of the reasons that the British engineering industry is seen as being less competitive than, for example, engineering in the US,' he says.

'Engineers see their peers in different sectors doing very well financially and understandably want to follow them,' Murray adds. 'If [engineering] companies have the sense, they will identify their high flyers early on and establish relationships with business schools which should then tailor courses to suit the industry's needs.'

Cranfield's MSc in project management, established in association with the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board, covers much the same ground as the MBA course, but is designed specifically for construction industry professionals. And 95 per cent of its graduates, according to Murray, remain in the industry.

Kvaerner readily admits that its in house management and MBA programmes, which it runs in conjunction with Bristol Business School, are an effective means of retaining its best employees as well as building on their inherent strengths. 'We're now taking people at any level in whom we spot potential and starting them on a 15-month postgraduate certificate in management,' explains spokesman Kris Birkett.

Association of MBAs (020) 7837 3375

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.