Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top MBA Salaries

Find out which MBA's are getting paid the most, and how much they're making. Tom and Miro discover why people who work in private equity are the best people in the world. Plus, the new painless way to write group papers.

(1) Business Porn: 2011’s Highest Paid MBAs

Some outrageous numbers:

The highest paid Wharton graduate reported a $350k starting salary. He’s going into private equity. That’s more than three times the median salary of $110k.

It’s about time! The market is finally working correctly. I love to see hard work getting rewarded.

Tom, how can you possibly justify a 27 year old kid who has been sitting in a classroom for 2 years getting half a million dollars.

If you want to get the best person from Wharton, you might have to pay $0.5M.

Who could this mythical person be?

It’s a combination of two things. It’s the skills of this person are tremendously important to this job. And second, the nature of the business that they’re being hired into allows for more productivity.

So are you saying that someone in private equity is more skilled than someone at a non-profit?

Not by definition, but probably. That’s not my point though.

My point is that the value of the job you are doing and consequently the value of your salary is based not only on what skills you possess, but on the job that you are performing. Someone mining diamonds will probably make more money than an equivalently skilled counterpart mining coal.

You’re assuming rational behavior here. When I look at these numbers, I see irrational factors at work. If you’re classmate comes to you and says they got a job with a $500K salary, I’ll bet you you that their last name matches the name on the firm and probably the building you are studying too. Any industry where 29 year olds are making over $500K a year is headed for a crash as surely as a real estate bubble.

Tom, these folks are making 20x what the lowest paid MBA is making. What do you think about the lowest paid Wharton MBA making $25K at a ‘media’ company in the Midwest?

Let’s hear it for personal fulfillment.

(2) Headlines: Harvard Changes Curriculum

Harvard announced that they are going to change their curriculum. Harvard has been know for there tradition of teaching every single class with the case method. They are going to include more experiential learning and global perspective.

Woah woah woah, stop right there. I can already call this a good decision. I don’t even need to know what they are mixing in to know that this is a good decision. When you teach 100% cases, mixing in 3% of anything else will be a move in the right direction.

They are adding exactly one class that will be a field learning class. It’s going to span the whole first year and actually have an international field component.

When you have a investment portfolio that is 100% bonds, you could invest 3% in rocks and be more diversified.

(3) Jargon: Air Time

Air time describes how much time you get to talk in class. So if someone talks a lot during class, you might say, they got a lot of “air time” that day.

In case study classes, the learning primarily comes from students talking to each other. Sharing their perspectives and analyzing the case.


And the majority of your grade is based on the quality and quantity of your airtime.

...This is bad :(

As you have probably noticed. Most MBA’s have an insatiable appetite for air time that manifests itself in several ways [arm gesture, pause, guilty look].

Business school and the case study method teaches us one thing. It’s that there is no sweeter sound in the world than your own voice.

(5) Business School Tip of the Week: Google Docs

Miro’s latent, homoerotic dance. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! Tell them about google docs.

If you write papers in groups. No, if you write ANYTHING in groups, you need to be using google docs.

Real-time multiple edits.
No version control.
Revision history is captured.
Saving happens automatically.
You can

You don’t even have to steal it. This software comes pre-stolen.


(7) What’s on your Radar?

Tom: I’m going to the tobogganing world championships in Maine.
Miro: My wife and I have an annual Valentines tradition? We go to Providence, Rhode Island and go to Dave & Busters.


  1. My friend Bart asked:

    If there were 2 machines used for mining that cost the same amount to make and operated in exactly the same way, except that one was used for diamond mining, and the other was used for coal mining, would the diamond machine be more expensive? (His question implies that they should be the same price.)

    Here is my response:

    I think this is a case of price discrimination. The question is, can you discriminate?

    Can you segment the market? I.e. can you diamond mines from buying coal mining machines? Probably not.
    Can you prevent coal mines from reselling mining machines? Probably not.
    Are the machines substitutes. Maybe. I think in the analogy, we are considering that they are perfect substitutes.

    So in short. You're totally right. But what are the answers to these questions in the MBA market?

    Can you segment the market? Absolutely. You choose who to apply to.
    Can you prevent companies from reselling labor? Usually. You can't prevent outsourcing, but that's not rampant w/ MBAs.
    Are MBAs perfect substitutes? No way.

    You're right about the mining machines, but I think MBA's can still price discriminate and thus make huge salaries.

  2. Which points out that what a savvy business person would do with these otherwise similar machines is create some sort of differentiation.

    In a market where I can get the same machine from a coal mine supply company for my diamond mine, I'm going to to that and drive down the price of diamond mine machines.

    As a savvy business person, I'm likely to build some sort of differentiation between my mining machines. Maybe the diamond mine machine have more security on it to prevent diamond theft.

    Similarly with MBAs, it's important that we differentiate ourselves from each other based on our unique past experiences to try and command a personal premium in the market place.

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