Written by G. John Cole

Wondering whether an international business degree can help you advance in your career? The reality is that in today’s intensely competitive business landscape, a master’s degree with a global view can give any aspiring business leader a critical inside edge.

Like learning a new language, taking an international business degree provides the key to unlocking whole new worlds. It gives you the tools to adapt and excel in changing markets and to connect at the top level with professionals across the field. And these tools and skills can be applied across a wide range of potential careers and business opportunities.

Here’s a closer look at seven examples of fields where an international business degree can help you level up, along with one program primed to position you for success. 

1. Accounting and Finance

Some people are drawn towards the business world by numbers. Accounting and finance roles are a challenging way to scratch that itch. Working as a financial analyst, it will be your responsibility to track, analyze, and review business accounts and balance them against the broader economic outlook. You will advise company directors and investors on matters of tax, shares, and the daily financial running of the business. And you may be involved closely with mergers, acquisitions, and other major financial events that are critical to the survival and success of your company.

Accounting and finance is an area of high responsibility that requires meticulous attention to detail and a strong ethical backbone. Those who are up for the challenge can lay the foundations with a master’s degree and then fine-tune their skills and understanding with further courses as they work (perhaps helped by further, more specialized in-work qualifications, which can be paid for by employers).

2. Supply Chain Management

Working at the operations end of the business is an exciting alternative to finance-oriented roles. It is a fast-developing area of business due to rapidly diversifying methods of inventory and distribution. As such, companies are keen to fill available roles with bright, engaged graduates who will bring imagination and a fresh sense of strategy to the position.

A business can thrive or fail on its ability to source and co-operate with reliable vendors across a range of markets and territories. Timing, storage variables, and stock-flow are critical to keeping a business' overheads manageable. You will need to ensure that customers, clients, and the factory floor are never left wanting for whatever it is your job to supply.

3. Retail and Sales

Business graduates with a keen sense of customer service and the shifting preferences and desires of the buying public may find their natural home in a leadership position in retail and sales. At a shop, in an office, or on the road, sales leaders must listen, research, and analyze their market.

You will need to hold together multiple strings -- supply chain, marketing, location management, customer service - to keep those all-important sales happening and seek out areas for streamlining or expansion.

4. Media and Communications

Entertainment isn’t what it used to be! The way we listen to music, read the news, and watch films and TV has changed enormously in recent years. And it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The industry is looking towards growing markets such as India and China; the growing number of big players in digital distribution; and – as ever – the ‘next big thing,’ be it a break-out genre or the rise of virtual and augmented reality. This works in favor of international business grads, who may find it more straightforward to find work with a modern ‘tech entertainment' company than within longer-established organizations.

Today’s business graduates “are uniquely prepared to tackle business challenges that rely on big data, analytics, and an entrepreneurial mindset,” according to the Financial Times. But the traditional tech giants are catching up, too, which means there are a variety of opportunities available for entrepreneurs with a penchant for showbusiness. Media and communications jobs for business graduates include roles in corporate strategy, marketing, finance, and film distribution. A business education may also even lead you to a high-flying career as a film or TV producer.

5. Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations 

The PR world needs critical thinkers with a solid understanding of how business works and a well-honed instinct for getting the numbers to sing. Budgeting, analysis, and strategy are all fundamental elements of a PR team’s work. If you come from a liberal arts background and already work in advertising, returning to study in international business might be the foot-up you need to take your career to the next level. 

But even if you're purely business-oriented, there is a place for you within an industry that depends on communication, forecasting growth, and understanding how a company's various cogs affect each other. In other words, just what you will learn at a business school. This is also why MBAs interested in marketing may be more likely to work on the corporate end of things than at an agency.

6. Human Resources

HR is another area where international business graduates have an advantage. Human resources professionals with a solid business background are in a very strong position to discuss and coordinate the needs of corporate management and the regular, ground-level team. Doug Stirling, an employee development consultant at DecisionOne Corp., a provider of technology services, says learning about “financial processes, basic economics, forecasting, marketing, statistical analysis, labor relations, organizational design and development, and strategic planning” helped to round out his professional skills on the way to his top HR position.

7. Higher Education Management

The higher education sector is evolving as fast as any other. Higher education management professionals need to balance the changing expectations of today’s students with increasing economic pressures. Schools need to be run like businesses – customer-first, like any other – but without sacrificing the human element that makes academia special. Marketing, finance, recruitment, and analysis are among the driving factors for a flourishing institution. Universities can only benefit from the knowledge and critical thinking a business graduate can apply to these areas.

The EMIB Advantage

The Executive Master in International Business (EMIB) at ESCP Europe Business School is a triple-accredited online Executive Master with an opportunity to attend on-site seminars. The program is ideal for experienced professionals who are already working and want to develop their managerial skills further and expand their international network while studying at their own pace and on their own schedule. 

ESCP Europe is the world’s oldest business school, with campuses in Berlin, London, Madrid, Paris, Turin, and Warsaw. These firm foundations equip the school to innovate for tomorrow’s business graduate. Online and hybrid courses, fresh educational techniques, and a diverse alumni network of 55,000 members working for today’s most exciting companies make it a monument on the international business education landscape.

Eric Kouessi Sossou is an EMIB graduate who is now Head of Corporate Banking Department at BAIC in Benin, West Africa. He was particularly impressed by the faculty, which is made up of the same professors who teach ESCP’s top campus programs.  “The quality of EMIB Faculty is unbeatable,” says Sossou. “All of them are very experienced professionals and experts in diverse areas.”

This flexibility makes the course particularly appropriate for professionals with technical backgrounds who are rising to perform managerial or business unit management responsibilities. The EMIB program operates ‘learning through doing,’ which means students can immediately apply lessons learned to their job.

“Being a part of EMIB has influenced a lot my daily work,” Sossou adds. “I've gained a lot of new knowledge and tools in terms of Management, Finance, Strategy, Business planning, and many other aspects. My way of thinking has also changed: I am now a critical thinker, who has a new way of planning my activities and seeing things in a more strategical way. I see big now!"

Meanwhile, Margaux Chave, Communication Africa Advisor at multinational energy firm Total S.A., said when she was studying on the programme, “I choose the EMIB programme because I wanted to make sure I can focus on my career and work, keeping all the flexibility with high quality studies. Since I started the programme I definitely feel I am evolving because I can widen all of the projects I am currently doing. I can go in depth into issues and have better and adapted conversations with the different fields. The level of professorship at ESCP Europe is very high. Not only we do have to work a lot with the quizzes, handing papers, but the professors are very available for us by email or calls and they also enjoy sending us newspapers to give the extra mile for us to better understand our courses.”

So wherever your next career step may take you, the customized online EMIB program (pdf) will prepare you to adapt and to flourish. Are you ready to climb on board?

Article written in association with ESCP Europe Business School.

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