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Financial Times Global MBA ranking

This morning the Financial Times published their worldwide ranking of full time MBA programmes for 2012, based on submissions from the 2008 graduating class. I am happy to report our MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 for the first time. Our worldwide ranking–at 93–implies our full time MBA programme is ranked 23rd within Europe. No other MBA programme from the German-speaking world was ranked in the top 100.

The improvement in our ranking would not have been possible without the hard work and support of our alumni and of the MBA office staff. Over the past two years, numerous reforms have been put in place in every aspect of the programme (from admissions through to post-graduation career services support) and I have been impressed with everyone’s commitment to strengthen our programme.

A preliminary analysis of this year’s rankings, as compared to last year’s, is that the percentage increase in salaries reported by the 2008 graduating class improved over last year. Actual salary levels (corrected for international differences in cost of living) remained stable for HSG. Most of our European peers that fell sharply in the rankings saw substantial deteriorations in one or both criteria, each of which have a 20 percent weight in the overall ranking.

While I am determined to see that our programme develop in quality over time, I cannot make any promises about where our full time MBA programme will be ranked in future years. It was not uncommon for European schools to fall 10, 20, even 40, places in this year’s rankings. Volatility is to be expected.

The 2009 classes that the Financial Times will survey for next year’s ranking had a very tough time on the job market before and after graduation. I am heartened that so many of our MBAs from that class have ultimately done well, but I am under no illusion about how much work was involved in securing good positions and how stressful that was.

The potential for sizeable changes in our ranking over the next few years is precisely why I have long argued that we need to learn from the rankings process–but not let the rankings process drive our strategy.

The emphasis on seeking quality improvements in every aspect of the MBA programmes–admissions, functional courses and electives, career and personal development, outreach to firms, thought leadership, and alumni engagement–is the right one as it provides a rationale for why employers should pay large salaries to our graduates, to engage in the recruitment events, and to offer instruction and coaching to our MBAs. The next set of reforms that will be implemented will take our MBA programme closer to that goal.

The many different facets of a MBA programme take years to introduce, strengthen, and integrate into a coherent, appealing package. What we have at HSG are the makings of a first rate MBA programme. By ranking the HSG MBA programme in the top 100 programmes, the Financial Times has acknowledged that. However, we still have a long way to go in a market that is getting more competitive by the year.