If you’re out of the market, casting about, looking for something very well paid on an hourly basis but which won’t suck all of your time, you could do worse than becoming an MBA careers coach. The head of finance careers at a leading business school tells us the going rate for careers coaches is between £50 and £125 per hour ($81 to $202).
Some ex-bankers have made the move. Take Natalie Nahum, a former VP in M&A who now coaches students at London Business School (LBS), or Roger Howgego, a former managing director at Lehman Brothers, who now works as a sector specialist offering finance careers coaching to MBA students everywhere from Imperial Business School to Warwick Business School, Judge Business School and IE in Spain. Derek Walker, a former head of recruitment at Barclays and Merrill Lynch is now head of the careers service at the Said Business School in Oxford.
But while the money may be good, working as a counsellor easing MBA students into jobs is tough. Especially if those students want jobs in finance.
“It’s about expectation management,” one careers counsellor, who requested that he remain anonymous, told us. “People expect that because they’ve paid money for the MBA course, they’ll be able to do anything. If you’re in the careers team, you have to break it to them that this isn’t the case.”
Another MBA careers coach, also requesting anonymity, said students’ unrealistic expectations have often been seeded by MBA recruitment marketing. “Students will often have been mis-sold the course. I’m the first person to break the news to them that they can’t get the job they want because they don’t have the right experience, or they don’t have a visa, or they haven’t worked in the UK.”
She said MBA students are prone to leaving their job search until the last minute: “They all come at once, like a herd. Out of 50 or so students, you will usually only get two or three who appreciate that they need to get onto it early and to take responsibility for themselves. The rest like to be spoon fed – coaching MBAs is surprisingly like coaching school leavers.”
Unlike school leavers, however, MBA students are prone to escalating their disgruntlement if they don’t get the treatment they expect (or if they’re told their expectations are delusional). “They complain all the time,” says the coach. “If they call you and you can’t give them an appointment immediately, they’ll email the Dean. They will always go over your head.”
In financial services, career coaches’ pain is compounded by banks’ preference for MBAs with actual experience in the field. The most recent LBS MBA employment report shows that 58% of MBAs who went into finance careers had prior finance experience – more than in any other sector. “People come expecting that they can make a triple jump and change sector, location and function, but that really isn’t the case,” says the coach. “A lot of careers coaches end up disliking the MBA students a lot,” she adds.