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The number of business school graduates choosing a career in the oil and gas industry has fallen by 16 per cent since 2019 and by 40 per cent since 2006, new research shows. And an analysis of the data highlights how millennials and Generation Z are placing an ever-greater focus on climate change as they enter the MBA jobs market.

Over that longer 15 year period, there has been a 20 per cent increase in students recruited into the renewable and environmental industries — taking the total to a new record. Most have joined employers such as Vestas, Alstom Power and Siemens Gamesa. At the same time, there has been a shift away from Shell, Exxon, Chevron and other energy groups whose businesses are based in fossil fuels.

But the figures also reveal that MBA students in the green sector are more likely to become entrepreneurs and start their own companies immediately after graduation.

All of these findings emerge from a survey conducted for the Financial Times by LinkedIn, the professional networking site, based on the early careers of 3.5 million MBA graduates since 2004, and the extent to which they regard jobs as being “green”. They also give insights into students’ career aspirations and opportunities — and the relative influence of various business schools.

Karin Kimbrough, the chief economist of LinkedIn, says: “This generation is voting with its feet. I see this as an evolution not a revolution for the green economy. Even MBA graduates are getting greener. They are doing the same jobs as before but in a greener way. Every sector will include more and more green skills.”

According to the research, the proportion of students moving into sustainability-linked careers rose to 0.58 per cent of the total in 2020. Conversely, the figure for those who started jobs with the more traditional oil and gas sectors fell to 1.24 per cent last year, continuing a gradual decline from a peak of 2.04 per cent in 2007.

Data points also show the business schools that have trained a particularly high share of MBAs to take green jobs. These include Copenhagen, IESE (Barcelona) and Yale as well as the Brazilian institutions São Paulo university and Fundação Getulio Vargas.

Meanwhile, some schools trained a significant number of graduates who joined either sustainable companies or fossil fuel companies, notably Harvard, London Business School and the University of Texas at Austin.

Michel Rassy, associate director of admissions for Latin America at IESE, says: “This generation is more likely to think about sustainability. Every year the number of candidates for MBAs interested in long-term purpose is increasing. They are the first to say that money doesn’t buy happiness.”

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He says the factors that explain IESE graduates’ engagement with the issue include the school’s Catholic principles, its electives on sustainability, a social impact fund, and a responsible business student club.

Himanshu Gupta — who grew up in an Indian village before taking an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and has since created ClimateAI, a business to help predict climate risks to supply chains — says the school reflected and supported his interest in sustainability.

“There is a self-selection mechanism to identify a certain quality of students with a certain DNA,” he says. “It all starts with the application essay, which asks about what matters most to you in life. When you go to parties and ask what others are working on, they are discussing impact. It gets you thinking what you are doing with your life.”

Top business schools sending MBAs into oil/gas employers
2004-2020 (alphabetical order)
Anna University
Annamalai University
Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport
Fundação Getulio Vargas
Harvard Business School
London Business School
Louisiana State University
Rice Business — Jones Graduate School of Business
Rice University
Savitribai Phule Pune University
Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)
Texas A&M University
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
The University of Texas at Austin — Red McCombs School of Business
Tulane University — A.B. Freeman School of Business
Universidade Federal Fluminense
University of Calgary
University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business
University of Madras
University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
University of St. Thomas (TX)

Top business schools sending MBAs into sustainability careers
(alphabetical order)
Columbia Business School
Copenhagen Business School
Fundação Getulio Vargas
Harvard Business School
HEC Montréal
IESE Business School
IPOG — Instituto de Pós-Graduação e Graduação
London Business School
National Power Training Institute, Faridabad.
Savitribai Phule Pune University
Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business
The University of Texas at Austin — Red McCombs School of Business
The Wharton School
UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
Universidade Anhembi Morumbi
Universidade de São Paulo
Université de Sherbrooke
Université Laval
University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business
University of Madras
University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
UQAM | Université du Québec à Montréal
Yale School of Management
Source: LinkedIn

Leading employers in oil/energy and renewables industries
Company NameIndustry Ranking
ShellOil & Energy1
ExxonMobilOil & Energy2
ChevronOil & Energy3
bpOil & Energy4
SchlumbergerOil & Energy5
PetrobrasOil & Energy6
Reliance Industries LimitedOil & Energy7
Baker HughesOil & Energy8
HalliburtonOil & Energy9
GE PowerOil & Energy10
VestasRenewables & Environment1
Alstom PowerRenewables & Environment2
Siemens GamesaRenewables & Environment3
GE Renewable EnergyRenewables & Environment4
Hydro QuébecRenewables & Environment5
Suzlon GroupRenewables & Environment6
ENGIERenewables & Environment7
NextEra Energy ResourcesRenewables & Environment8
NeoenergiaRenewables & Environment9
AbengoaRenewables & Environment10
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