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A Graduate Management Admission Council survey finds that 80 per cent of companies surveyed plan to hire an MBA graduate this year.Brett Gage/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Globe's biweekly business-school news roundup.

A promising job market awaits this year's business school graduates with MBA and specialty master degrees, according to a new global survey.

The Graduate Management Admission Council reports that four out of five companies surveyed plan to hire an MBA graduate this year compared with 73 per cent last year and a dismal 50 per cent in postrecession 2009.

Half of employers plan to hire master in management graduates, compared with 45 per cent looking for those with master of accounting degrees and 44 per cent seeking those with a master of finance – interest levels higher than last year and well above 2009.

"Bottom line, companies are less fixated on the economic cloud of overcoming the challenges we have seen since the recession," says Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communications for the Reston, Va.-based GMAC, with a shift in emphasis from cost cutting to growth.

GMAC's annual corporate recruiter survey includes 36 Fortune 100 companies, with higher demand for MBA graduates by region (the United States, Europe and Asia) and sector, including consulting, finance and health care.

The findings are consistent with trends in Canada.

"The big picture is very positive," says Rob Hines, executive director of the Career Development Centre at York University's Schulich School of Business in Toronto, citing global demand in particular. "I don't think Canada will see a massive increase [in hiring], but for students who are looking globally there are tremendous opportunities."

For example, on a recent trip to China, he found companies making conservative estimates of a 30- to 35-per-cent increase in growth for their businesses despite spending cutbacks by the national government.

Brent Collingwood, director of alumni and corporate relations for the University of Alberta's School of Business, stated in an e-mail, "The trend we are seeing in 2014 is that graduates are getting, and accepting, offers earlier than in previous years."

HEC Montréal revamps MBA program

After nine years as an engineer with SNC-Lavalin Group, Marco D'Angelo decided to pursue an MBA to enhance his management skills.

He chose HEC Montréal for its one-year program, global orientation and a new start date of April instead of August to accommodate employer recruitment schedules. For the HEC program offered in French, English or both, the multilingual Montreal native chose English to hone his command of the language of business.

When he started classes in late April, Mr. D'Angelo also knew he would be the first cohort of HEC's newly-redesigned MBA program, the first major overhaul in 15 years. But he says it took several weeks to fully appreciate the significance of the changes.

Instead of taking multiple courses at once, students work on a succession of intensive, short-duration modules that span subject disciplines. Professors no longer teach a subject specialty, but collaborate with other instructors on a variety of managerial themes.

The integrated curriculum, increasingly popular at business schools, seeks to simulate the demands of the modern workplace.

"Decisions in the real world are not made in functional silos," says Michael Wybo, director of the MBA program. "Management decisions are multifaceted and management education should probably reflect that."

For example, a module on managing with financial information includes content on accounting and finance, with students expected to learn how to gather and assess data for informed decision-making.

The format, says Mr. D'Angelo, "has enabled everyone to completely concentrate on the material. If we had several classes at the same time, we might have been distracted by the other course work."

In group projects, adds Prof. Wybo, students now must contribute in areas beyond their existing expertise, forcing them out of their comfort zone. With current enrolment of 58 students this year, HEC plans to expand to a class of 100 next year.

The revised structure also encourages collaboration among professors. "They know what the others are doing, plan together what the readings will be and what the exercises and homework will be," says Prof. Wybo, noting the learning objectives are consistent with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

With all electives now three weeks in length, HEC has increased flexibility for opportunities to travel abroad throughout the program. "We can time that now based on when it makes sense to go to the country," Prof. Wybo says.

Students this year can earn a credit by spending two weeks in Colombia, India or Argentina and Chile with faculty and overseas business contacts.

While still early days, Mr. D'Angelo says his first impressions are positive.

"When I chose HEC I don't think it was immediately obvious how good this would be," he says. "Only now am I realizing this is something special."

Ivey snags entrepreneurship research conference

It helps to be a little enterprising to land the job as host of a top international conference on entrepreneurship research.

On June 4 through 7, the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference, named for the U.S. business school that founded the event in 1981, will be held for the first time at Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.

It will be the conference's first visit to Canada in 26 years.

"We were pretty proactive," says Simon Parker, director of Ivey's Entrepreneurship Cross-Enterprise Centre. Ivey representatives visited Babson near Boston to lobby and cited their school's new $110-million building.

The annual event attracts 300 and 400 researchers from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, including a doctoral consortium for 25 young researchers worldwide who are mentored by established professors.

The growth of startups has more researchers paying attention to the phenomenon, says Prof. Parker.

"The citation impact and recognition of entrepreneurship journals has never been higher," he says. "We are seeing growth not only in the quantity but also the quality of research."

He hopes that the conference at Ivey's new building boosts the profile of his school and the work of Canadian scholars in entrepreneurship.

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