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Career Trends Business School Graduates Should Anticipate

There has never been a more exciting time to earn an MBA degree, with several global trends poised to challenge conventional ways of doing business. New technologies and scientific breakthroughs are creating new opportunities; business models are being reinvented; and crises like inflation, the supply chain breakdown and COVID-19 are inspiring forward-thinking leaders to transform their organizations.

The following are five important career trends for business school students and graduates to understand for the future:

1. A Proliferation of Startups

An MBA program has traditionally served as an incubator for entrepreneurs and their ideas — it offers a safe space to learn, grow, be bold and test new ways of thinking without real market pressures. MBA courses strengthen the business acumen of aspiring entrepreneurs in core disciplines and in specific areas of interest such as human resources (HR), supply chain and construction management. In Northern Kentucky University’s online MBA program, for instance, the Innovation with Competitive Intelligence stack operates like an Entrepreneurship concentration and supports students in launching their own ideas.

The United States leads the world in number of startups, with nearly 71,000 as of January 2022. India is in second with 12,524 startups. The confluence of several trends is further accelerating the startup movement, including remote decentralized finance and new forms of funding that include initial coin offerings (ICOs), tokenization, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) and crowdfunding. The United States is the primary hub of this activity, and 58% of micro venture capital funds in the world are now located in North America.

Remote work is another driving force for startups, with more than 69% of these businesses starting from people’s homes. With more types of businesses able to operate remotely than ever before due to digital communication, collaboration technologies and a widespread freelance workforce, new businesses no longer have to cover office and overhead costs.

2. Smart, Sustainable Business Practices and Corporate Responsibility

Millennials and Gen Z professionals have grown up in an age of environmental, social and ethical awareness. As a result, organizations that want to attract and develop top talent in the environmentally conscious generations realize the importance of demonstrating corporate responsibility through smart, sustainable business practices. Business schools like the Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Haile College of Business have been preparing graduates to drive this agenda forward.

In sectors like transportation — long known for unsustainable, polluting practices — artificial intelligence and robotics have enabled sustainable innovation and the rise of new careers. Smart technology roles are often aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using renewable forms of energy, along with keeping organizations compliant with fast-changing government regulations.

3. Tech Jobs that Value Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) has been reaching new historical highs for years, a sure sign that investment is steadily pouring into technology. This bodes well for business school graduates. According to a recent Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey, almost 90% of technology companies believe business school graduates are prepared to be successful within their organization today.

Employment in technology companies only represents the tip of the opportunity iceberg. Organizations are deploying big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies in nearly every sector, including financial services and consulting. AI and ML tools are able to extrapolate meaningful insights from large data sets, resulting in innovation in complex systems like supply chain.

In every business, these technologies create opportunities for organizations to create competitive advantages, foresee trends, innovate and even to prepare for a wide range of business risks. According to an Accenture survey, 88% of C-suite respondents said that “using more forward-looking data sets and analytic approaches to better predict and respond to future events will be important to their success.” There is no doubt that business school emphasis on applying big data analytics, AI and ML will open new doors for graduates.

4. Digital Businesses That Emphasize Digital Consumer Communication

Digital marketing channels continue to account for a growing percentage of ad spending across sectors, and for good reason. Digital consumer communication technologies allow for more specific segment targeting. Newer technologies such as GPS-enabled mobile marketing harness the power of technology so that companies can target potential customers who are in physical proximity of their businesses.

Expertise in Google Analytics is especially in demand, as this tool enables professionals to capture information about website visitors, analyze sources of traffic, provide data about online consumer behaviors and continually refine the user experience (UX). The creative application of new technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, will continue to enhance digital engagement.

5. Cross-Functional Teams and Hybrid Professional Profiles

Organizational structures have been re-envisioned in recent years, with hierarchies giving way to flat structures, open workspaces and virtual teams. One popular approach is cross-functional teams where professionals from different departments work together to find innovative solutions to business challenges. In cross-functional teams, employees with hybrid profiles — such as MBA graduates with general business acumen and expertise in a particular area — have even greater value. Benefits of this new structure include gains in productivity, coordination, communication, problem-solving and decision-making, as well as a shortening of project timeframes.

As innovation accelerates, the NKU MBA online program curriculum continues to prepare graduates for the trends shaping the global economy and your career.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s online MBA program.

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