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MBA: everything you need to know

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Published: 2 May 2019

If you’re looking to fast track your career in business leadership, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) postgraduate qualification could be just what you need. Here at the University of Sunderland, our MBAs allow you to develop a specialism in marketing, finance, cybersecurity, supply chains, hospitality and much more. We caught up with Academic Dean for the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism, Professor Lawrence Bellamy, to talk about the importance of an MBA. 

mba

"A springboard to develop your career"

MBA graduates earn an average salary of around £50,000, so successfully gaining this prestigious qualification not only improves your professional reputation and earns you a network of business contacts, it can also lead to a better salary. Studying an MBA can be challenging, but according to Professor Bellamy, the rewards are worth it. 

Lawrence says: "The first thing you’ve got to understand about an MBA that it is the ultimate qualification for strategic management. If you’re looking to have a career as a senior manager in an organisation, an MBA will help to accelerate you to that position.

"That’s why it's so recognised all over the world. It's seen as the gold standard for that type of postgraduate qualification

"It enhances your career; the value an MBA adds to your bachelors qualification is well documented, in terms of propelling your career to a higher level. That is what it’s primarily designed to do.

"An MBA is really about having that all-round management acumen. So you understand the big picture, the strategy, how to make connections within organisations and really help to drive organisations forward with the help of that greater understanding.

"If a student is in a position where they want to really push their career forward, if they want to grasp the strategic concept of organisations, put them together and be a more effective manager, then an MBA is a great way of doing that.

"It builds upon your specialist knowledge, and ensures you are in a position to use it as a springboard to develop your career."

Female business woman

"An MBA can also be good for changing your career direction"

Teaching methods on Sunderland’s MBAs include lectures, seminars, class discussions, case studies, group work, presentations and applied study.

"You’re not there just to study, you’re also there to develop skills. You’ve got to think about communication. Working with people throughout a course, working with potential employers on projects and giving presentations.

"It’s more about your ability to take the theory and make sure you can apply it in different situations and come out with some clear recommendations and the facts," Lawrence says. 

The average age of students on top-ranking MBA courses in the UK is between 28 and 30. It is usually taken by people who focused on building a successful career after graduating from undergraduate study. 

Lawrence says: "There are different ways of undertaking an MBA and many students have had a period of career practice prior to coming to the course. That is helpful and it allows them to reflect back upon the things they have done previously in their organisation.

"However, because of the way an MBA is taught, those experiences are built into the course. For example, we take students to London to get them to look at a number of leading organisations. They visit critical areas such as the London Stock Exchange and understand how those markets operate.

"All that is experiential as well. Our MBAs provide opportunities for placements as well, which is really important because it’s about exploring those areas that you have an interest in. An MBA can also be good for changing your career direction, perhaps moving away from something which you find a little bit more restrictive and general. It is great to have experience, but experience comes in many, many ways."

Sunderland has a very unique approach. We are very good at experiential learning. There are some great guest speakers we work closely with and a number of leading regional organisations for student projects. We get students out on field trips so they experience the broader world of business while undertaking the course and we have very mixed international cohorts as well."

Professor Lawrence Bellamy
Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism

Graduating from a CMI-accredited course boosts employability

At the University of Sunderland, some MBA courses are accredited by the CMI (Chartered Management Institute), an accredited professional institution for management. Students achieving the MBA are awarded the CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership, in recognition of knowledge enhancement and understanding of the practice of management.

Graduating from a CMI-accredited course has been proven to boost employability by as much as 10%. According to the 2016/17 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 58% of graduates from CMI-accredited courses were in graduate-level employment, further study or training within 6 months of graduating, compared with 48% from non-accredited business courses (based on UK students).

"The CMI is a great supporter. They get involved in assessing some of our students’ sessions and presentations and provide access to additional resources. They are critical components of the course," Lawrence says. 

"Sunderland has got a very unique approach"

Graduates from Sunderland have secured roles in organisations such as Facebook, Microsoft, Sage, HSBC, IBM, Enterprise, Nissan, Accenture, Procter & Gamble, Merck & Co, Barclays, Nissan, Marriott Hotels, Viacom 18, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Adidas.

We also invite business leaders to the University to share their experiences with our students. Past speakers include Divine Chocolate’s Head of Sales and Marketing and Sunderland AFC’s CEO.

Lawrence says: "Sunderland has got a very unique approach. Apart from the inbuilt professional aspects around the CMI, we are very good at experiential learning as well.

"There are some great guest speakers we work closely with and a number of leading regional organisations for student projects. We get students out on field trips so they experience the business world while undertaking the course and we have very mixed international cohorts as well.

"So, you meet people with different viewpoints and perspectives from all around the world."

Professor Lawrence Bellamy’s research interests lie in the area of strategy, enterprise, small business, international management and work-based learning. He is a long-standing examiner for the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) and has taught and been involved with partnership development in countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Norway, Singapore, Finland, Turkey, Malta, Brunei and various parts of Europe.

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