Nine in ten APAC companies intend to recruit MBA grads in 2019

10 July 2019 3 min. read

Companies in the Asia Pacific are set to load up on business talent this year according to a survey of more than 1,200 employers in 45 countries.

Businesses in the Asia Pacific have emerged as the keenest on MBA graduates in the coming year according to a worldwide survey of more than 1,200 employers in 45 countries. The survey, conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), found that 87 percent of companies in Asia Pacific plan to hire MBA graduates in 2019. A rising number of local companies (71 percent) also either plan to or are open to hiring international talent.  

While slightly down on last year’s highs of 90 percent, the nearly nine in ten positive response rate from businesses in the Asia Pacific as to MBA recruitment is well ahead of the 69 percent stated in Europe, with that figure standing at 77 percent in the US after falling once again. APAC companies are also expecting to hire more Master graduates in Accounting, Finance, and Data Analytics compared to last year – and in greater numbers than other regions.

Actual hiring tells a different story however. While 90 percent of APAC companies expressed intentions to hire MBA graduates in 2018, the eventual ratio was 70 percent, close to par with the US and ahead of Europe at 56 percent. And for those graduates who are picked up in the Asia Pacific, they can expect a substantially lower median base starting salary – at just $45,000* compared to the $115,000 banked by their counterparts in the US.

MBA graduate recruitment projections for 2019

Demand for advanced business talent was the strongest for companies in the energy/utilities, healthcare and consulting sectors – each at 82 percent of respondents or above – with 45 percent of recruiting companies overall across sectors and regions planning to put their MBA hires to work in strategy & innovation. This function however trailed ‘consulting’ in the Asia Pacific – the intended task for 53 percent of the potential MBA hires in the region.

While the data wasn’t given for the Asia Pacific, the consulting industry itself was handing out the highest wages for fresh MBA grads in the US, with base starting salaries of $135,000 (direct-from-industry consulting recruits average $105,000 and bachelors grads $75,000), most closely followed by the finance/accounting ($125,000) and tech industries ($115,000). Across sectors, the majority of Asia Pacific employers plan to raise MBA wages this year. 

As for the candidates themselves, the consulting sector remains the most attractive for management graduates according to a separate GMAC survey, at 36 percent overall, followed by accounting/finance at the 34 percent, the latter skewed by two points toward interest among male graduates. These figures ballooned for across Asia, with around 45 percent of management graduates from East and Southeast Asia eyeing a career in consulting or accounting/finance.

Participating companies in the consulting sector meanwhile, were outside of MBAs most interested in Masters of Data Analytics graduates – at a stated 61 percent stated recruitment rate overall, with Asia Pacific on the rise compared to declining interest in the US – while Masters of Finance and Masters of Accounting graduates drew just 30 percent and 25 percent interest from consulting firms for the coming year, reflecting ongoing industry-wide shifts.

*As compared to the data for Europe, the participating countries from the Asia Pacific included a higher proportion of poorer economies (Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan among them), likely skewing down the regional median average starting salary given.