Post-MBA career opportunities in the DACH region

The DACH region refers to German-speaking European countries Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. With powerhouse industries and economies, the DACH region is a major source of employment opportunities for ambitious MBA graduates. MBAGRADSCHOOLS spoke to Dominique Gobat, Senior Career Advisor at the University of St.Gallen’s MBA Program, to learn more about careers in the DACH region.

In short

What are the top three concerns students have about working in the DACH region?

Dominique tells us there are three main concerns that MBA students bring to the table every year:

  1. Language. Since the University of St.Gallen is in the DACH area, German is the predominant language. Do you need to be able to speak German to get a job in the DACH region? Dominique’s simple answer is no. “There are a lot of companies that would like people to [be able to] speak German, but [in] the majority of companies that we are engaging with, English is the main language,” Dominique explains. (00:22)
  2. Work permit. Many MBA graduates are successful in landing a job in Switzerland post-MBA. As Dominique puts it, “Getting a work permit is not necessarily impossible, it just means that the company has to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job.” (00:41) Getting a permit to work in Switzerland depends on many factors. To learn more, click here.
  3. Career transition. Whether it’s transitioning from outside the DACH region or from a different industry or function, Dominique ensures, “We have some fantastic stories of individuals who have made industry changes. We have a few tools as well that we encourage students to use that can help them in this transition.” (01:00) Corporate projects enable MBA students to gain hands-on experience of a new country, industry, or function, in an exploratory way. Each person can test out whether a permanent transition into this new environment is what he or she ultimately wants and can excel in during their immediate post-MBA career.

Switzerland: The world’s most innovative economy in 2020

Most full-time MBA students at the University of St.Gallen receive offers from five major industries:

  1. Manufacturing (e.g. ABB, Schindler, Siemens)
  2. Financial services (e.g. Partners Group, Crypto Finance)
  3. Technology (e.g. Microsoft)
  4. Consulting (e.g. EY, Deloitte)
  5. Pharma (e.g. Lonza, Novartis, Roche)

“In addition, there are other opportunities opening up in Switzerland,” Dominique tells us. “Switzerland is a great location for startups and scale-ups…We have a lot of hidden champions that students are not necessarily aware of. When they come and do the program, part of the process is to discover some of these hidden champions.” (03:29)

Many of these “hidden champions” can be found in the fintech and blockchain sectors. The Zug region in Switzerland has even earned its own nickname of “Crypto Valley.” However, Switzerland also has a thriving startup scene across sectors. Home to over 47 accelerators and incubators, 20 investment funds, and 18 events and networking opportunities, Switzerland was ranked the most innovative economy in the world in 2020.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, you will more than likely find an opportunity, whether it be in a startup, scale-up, medium-sized company, or [large] corporation within Switzerland,” says Dominique. (03:47)

Post-MBA salary at the University of St.Gallen

“From a career perspective, we [use] a more holistic approach,” says Dominique. (02:18) The careers team at the University of St.Gallen examines each student’s “internal motivators” which are very personal and individual. What do they want to achieve? How do they define success?

In each graduating class of the full-time MBA, “Typically, we have 85% of the class that have received offers within three months post-graduation,” Dominique reveals. (01:20)

While it varies across industries and individuals, the annual base salary of an MBA graduate from the University of St.Gallen is around CHF110,000 (USD$119,111). Adding performances bonuses and other benefits, the total comp comes to around CHF120,000 (USD$129,939).

“Our MBAs do end up with a significant salary increase at the end, and that’s something that is important for us,” Dominique adds. (02:40) The Financial Times listed the University of St.Gallen with a 60% salary increase for MBA graduates.

In short, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in the DACH region, think about your own drivers and measures of success. What do you want to achieve? As we’ve seen, Switzerland, alongside Germany and Austria, offers many opportunities: from startups to scale-ups to large, multinational organizations. The MBA at the University of St.Gallen could be the perfect launching pad for a successful career in the DACH region for you.

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