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Why tech professionals are leaving IT companies for MBA

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Why tech professionals are quitting

When we think about IT professionals and their various known avatars like software engineers, data engineers, software developers, and what have you, we usually conjure up images of vast huddled masses hunched up in front of propped up laptops in matchbox cubicles.

Only now, in the great (?) pandemic world, they are huddled up in front of propped up laptops in their bedrooms, living rooms, couch, or garages. Got the visual?

Software Engineering currently holds the badge of being one of the most in-demand professions, not only in the US but elsewhere as well.

The need for Software Developers will overshoot a million in the next few years, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics claims (22% rate).

In India, as reported by NASSCOM, the IT sector has created over 40 lakh direct and over 1.2 crore indirect job positions in 2019.

With an average salary of over $90,000 it thus provides a more than valid reason for throngs of newly minted graduates to seek IT sector positions to kick off their careers.

But if career seems to be “on track”, why is that tech workers are quitting with tech firms grappling the state of growing attrition among their employees?

Why is employee retention one of the big concerns of tech companies and why are we writing an article dedicated to tech professionals leaving IT companies, for MBA or simply for the woods?

Why are Tech workers resigning?


Why tech professionals are leaving IT companies for MBA

Unfortunately, because an entry into the software profession doesn’t guarantee job security, satisfaction, and above all career growth for each of those cubicle habitants.

A testament to the statement lies in the recent survey done by TalentLMS and Workable and their published report of 72% of tech/IT workers thinking about quitting their jobs in a year, higher than the average in other professions. Why?

Several studies have keyed in to one of these usual reasons.

Lack of demand for less skilled tech workers

While it is true that there is a positive job growth in the IT industry, this demand is mostly in the upper echelon of highly skilled workers.

The lower level computer programmer jobs are looking at a negative curve with a decline of nearly 10% jobs.

The global pandemic has brought about a shortage in the supply of fresh graduates who would have otherwise provided a continuous stream of low-skilled tech workers.

With experience, they would have fed the ever increasing (claimed to be 22% job growth by BLS) demand, especially upstream among the highly skilled experienced tech workers.

Unfilled tech positions can lead to reduced productivity in tech firms as most of these skilled tech workers would be absent from taking innovative projects to fruition.

Such scenarios also create increased migration of skilled workers to hop positions to better and more attractive job positions. Usually ones that allow them to upskill even further.

Upskilling is a major requirement to stay afloat in the IT industry. But low-level tech workers face yet another challenge when it comes to their job security. Automation.

NASSCOM and Bank of America’s evaluation of the giant IT sector in India seems to suggest that there can be massive job cuts in the low skill segment of the tech industry. In the millions.

This leaves very little doubt as to why pumping up skills is an important if not a survival strategy to grow and have a career, even.

Hence the mass exodus of workers to upskill – either through advanced degrees in the tech field or through more broad management level education, like MBA, to widen ones’ horizon.

Lack of job satisfaction and career growth

There is no doubt that learning and staying ahead is a necessity for relevance in the IT sector.

With the pandemic, remote working conditions has even taken away the usual geographical restrictions that bind talent to local regions.

Not to mention the growing need for technology to have its presence in virtually every aspect of existence – from education to retail.

However, the above survey also found that one of the major “want” of IT employees is that their employer provides ample learning and development opportunities (32% respondents).

That their management focus on employee talent development as much as, if not more than, new talent acquisition (72% respondents).

41% respondents within the IT sector feel that they would quit because their current positions don’t offer them the opportunities for career progression.

Quitting for either positions that encourage growth and learning or formal degrees in cutting edge technology or MBA is highly common.

Stress and lack of flexibility

Job burnout is a reality for as many as more 50% of tech employees. The biggest complaint is lack of flexibility and in these remote working conditions, the constant need to be “logged in” and ready.

That, coupled with poor employee management, lack of motivation, lack of clear client needs, and training opportunities, makes for toxic working conditions, especially for the lower level employees.

Why do techies go for MBA degrees?

It is clearly evident that leaving techie jobs for other ventures is not uncommon. Software professionals are constantly seeking better jobs with more learning opportunities or advanced degrees for newer skills. MBA being a popular path.

The marriage of tech experience with business management training creates future leaders who are capable of each and wiser for the other.

Need for MBAs in the tech industry is growing. According to the GMAC 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey, the projected MBA hiring for both 2020 (at 89%) and 2021 (at 96%) was higher in the Technology industry as compared to traditional biggies like Finance and Consulting.

One of the most traditional career growth paths for software engineers takes them through various senior tech positions into more management roles like senior software engineering, team leader, software architect, or even the coveted Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

And tech companies look for highly skilled managers for these roles who also have the advantage of tech knowledge.

Here are some favourable views on getting an MBA with a tech background.

– The IT experience with the business training provides a big picture of the direction of the tech firm, from the view point of clients, various departments, cost, and the firm’s future. The right kind of MBA program allows hands on experience of creating products and services and working in an environment similar to tech firms. Besides the soft skills like leadership, team work, communication, etc. the hard skills – problem solving, strategic planning, data analytics – working within the frame work of the fast-evolving tech world can really increase the hiring value of MBAs with prior tech experience.

– Good MBA programs also expose their graduates to various hubs including tech companies. It opens up networking opportunities with peers and current leaders who are all invested in building the right kind of talent for the future. This surely beats being stuck in a dead-end software job role with little learning and development.

– Good MBA programs also increase the value of its grads, with better salary opportunities than with pre-MBA experience. According to the GMAC survey, MBA continues to demand a salary premium over direct-from-industry hires (by over $35,000 in 2021).

– MBA also provides a career change option for those who want to look into other roles or increase their versatility. In fact, here are some typical MBA paths sought by Software Engineers – IT Consulting, Product Management, Business Development, etc. Here is an excellent article on a few career change options for IT engineers.


How IT professionals are using an MBA degree to manage a career change

In MBA programs, what kind of career transitions do professionals with an IT/tech background manage?

We posed this question to Erin K. O’Brien (Assistant Dean, Chief Enrollment and Marketing Officer) from the School of Management at the University at Buffalo. Here’s what Erin shared with us.

MBA after IT career change Many students come to our full-time, two-year MBA program at the University at Buffalo School of Management with IT or tech backgrounds in such areas as computer science, programming and engineering disciplines.

Often, they use the UB MBA as leverage to shift to a management career trajectory. Typically, these students want to make the switch from a tech-based individual contribution-type role into finance, marketing, strategy or consulting roles where they can rise to be business or industry leaders.

Once enrolled, UB MBAs with tech backgrounds avail themselves of our core business foundation courses like accounting, finance, marketing, economics, statistics and analysis, and organizational behavior, but then branch out with electives, choosing courses that provide the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills and competencies that make them desirable future employees.

For example, some of the most impactful courses UB MBAs take are Negotiations, Data Modeling, Mergers and Acquisitions, Predictive Analysis, and/or Investment Management electives, which provide necessary business and management skills beyond technical or engineering training.

Most often, we see students with IT and tech backgrounds transition from technical analyst roles to positions that are more strategic in nature, where the ability to develop effective relationships becomes as important as their knowledge base; or more managerial in nature, where competencies like leadership, teamwork and strategic thinking take precedence over programming languages and applications.

UB MBAs take positions in all types of industries, from traditional consulting, finance, investments and banking to new roles in health care and human services agencies. We have seen UB MBAs with tech backgrounds chart career pathways from programming operations analyst to financial analyst with The World Bank; from software engineer to global product manager for a scientific technologies firm; and from computer science engineer to roles in marketing, finance, and strategy to finally take over as president of a board games company.


Stories of techies who quit IT for an MBA

We have come across our share of IT professionals seeking an MBA degree to either further their worth in the tech industry or go for a career change. We share excerpts of some of those stories below for you to peruse in detail.

Georgetown MBA admit for Software Engineer. Ashim walks us through why he sought to build on his specialized technical knowledge with theoretical and practical exposure to management disciplines. He was motivated by the need to understand beyond technology into the field of business fundamentals. Here’s his story of getting into Georgetown MBA with an average GMAT, taking him close to Washington DC, the hub of business, government and international relations for an exciting future.
IT Engineer at Deloitte Consulting shares why his desire to manage teams, handle projects, develop client relations and understand the business side of well, business, brought him closer to a decision of getting an MBA at NUS Singapore.
– Engineering-IT techie, Prateek, shares his views on getting on with an alternate career. He lays out some noteworthy arguments in the various paths/degrees one can pursue and career choices one can make. Here’s his take on alternate careers for software developers and programmers and his career change from IT to Finance with an MS in Finance at the Frankfurt School in Germany.
– ISB grad and MBA consultant with MBA Crystal Ball shares how and why he shifted from an IT/Software career to Product Management after MBA. Here’s more on Product Management careers.

So, as you are reading this, hiding from your manager and taking a break as the loom of the next deadline hangs over your head, consider your interests, your options and how they align for your future.

Check out the articles below for more insight and send us a word if you are looking for professional help with your MBA plans at info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com.
Beyond the MBA Hype provides a good read for those contemplating an MBA, guiding through the process of planning and execution.
Best MBA Programs in Technology Management and Information Systems
Masters in Management Information Systems and Job opportunities with an MIS degree
Impact of the pandemic on MBA student experience
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 | Pic by DocuSign on Unsplash

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