Masters degrees: the key to a higher salary and better future earning potential?

In today’s highly competitive job market, it’s important to invest your time, money and efforts in areas that will best enable you to fulfil your career ambitions. For many grads, the prospect of not seeing a return on their mounting student loans is a real concern.

If a Masters degree is one of the investments you’re considering, it’s worth taking some time to identify how it might act as a stepping stone to your professional development, future job opportunities, personal fulfilment and earning potential.

Does a postgraduate degree lead to a better salary?

While various factors can affect your lifetime earning potential, education – specifically higher education – is one of the key differentiators. As a general rule, the higher your level of learning, the higher you can expect to rise on the pay scale.

Findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the difference in earnings between a Bachelors degree or undergraduate degree and a Masters degree is approximately 15% for those in full time work. Furthermore, those with a Masters can expect to earn upwards of 100% more than individuals without a high school diploma.

What Masters degree leads to the highest paying job?

If future earning potential is a key factor in deciding which subject, discipline or career is right for you, then identifying the average salary for each can provide useful information. You should also take into account the type of Masters you want to pursue. For example, a Master of Science qualification may lead to a higher salary than a Master of Arts.

Here are the top 10 highest paying master’s degrees in the UK – based on the median salary earnings of graduates five years after the end of their programme:

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA) – average salary £70,400. Careers in the business, management and leadership space are wide-ranging and span all industries.
  2. Economicsaverage salary £51,100. Graduates often work in stock brokerage, investment banking, asset management, corporate finance and as economists.
  3. Medicine and dentistry – average salary £47,100. Careers extend throughout the healthcare sector, with roles such as physician associates, nurse practitioners, nurse anaesthetists and physician assistants.
  4. Engineering – average salary £44,500. Engineers can work across different sectors such as electrical engineering, manufacturing, aerospace, defence, and many others, either in specialist roles or engineering management.
  5. Computing – average salary £44,500. Careers include computer systems and software engineering, artificial intelligence, information systems, programming and IT project management.
  6. Mathematical sciences – average salary £43,400. You could apply your mathematical knowledge and skills to fields such as financial trading, insurance, statistics and big data.
  7. Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy – average salary £43,400. Job sectors include drug design and development, public health and clinical practice.
  8. Business and management – average salary £39,100. These programmes are often popular with college graduates pursuing positions such as marketing manager, entrepreneur, business development manager and project manager.
  9. Politics – average salary £38,700. Graduates may choose to work in local or national government, human resources, journalism, marketing, policy analysis and development, or other related fields.
  10. Architecture, building and planning – average salary £37,600. Many students go on to pursue professional accreditation – for example by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Your starting salary will vary according to job role, industry, and professional work experience and background. However, with additional years of experience and responsibility, you can progress to top salaries and increased lifetime earnings.

What is the most common Masters degree?

Selecting a subject area or skill set in high demand is another way to increase your employability and job prospects.

According to FindAMasters analysis of Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data, the top 10 most popular Masters degree programmes and subjects in the UK are:

  1. nursing, healthcare, and other subjects allied to medicine
  2. education and teaching
  3. business and management
  4. social sciences
  5. law
  6. psychology
  7. computer science and information technology
  8. creative arts and design
  9. medicine and dentistry
  10. architecture, building and planning.

In this job market, many of the most popular degrees with grads are also among the highest paying.

What are some other benefits of studying a Masters degree?

There are many reasons you might choose to study a postgraduate degree. As well as helping you meet current job requirements, it can also help boost your employability more generally while broadening your career options, allowing you to switch roles or industries, follow a specific interest or develop a new skill set. Many opt for postgraduate study in a bid to increase annual salary and future earning potential.

Plus, by studying an online Masters, you can gain other benefits.

  • Cost-savings – tuition fees may be slightly lower than in-person programmes, and you’ll save money on costs associated with accommodation and commuting.
  • Option to learn at your own pace – many universities, business schools and training providers enable asynchronous learning via their online platforms, meaning you can study and complete modules and assignments/coursework when it suits you.
  • Flexible start dates – unlike campus-based programmes – which usually have one or two fixed start dates throughout the year – online Masters programmes often offer multiple start dates for enrolling, allowing you to begin your studies at a convenient time. Plus, full-time, part-time and fully flexible options allow you to balance your studies with existing commitments.
  • Accessibility – many people cannot attend in-person learning environments for any number of reasons. Distance learning removes this barrier – and also means you end up in a far richer, more diverse, international cohort
  • Greater choice – learning online means geographical restrictions and limitations don’t apply, giving you more freedom to search for institutions that offer the best fit anywhere in the world.

What online Masters degrees are available at the University of York?

You’ll have the opportunity to choose from a range of popular, in-demand subject disciplines and specialisms.

Business and management 

Computer science 

Master of Public Administration

Master of Business Administration

The University of York is a member of the elite Russell Group, a marker of the quality of our research and teaching – which feeds into your learning. We’re also passionate about delivering the best possible learning environment and programme content, and proud to rank joint 17th overall in the Complete University Guide 2024.

Are you ready to take the next step on your career path by gaining an advanced degree? Browse our available online Masters programmes now and come and join us at the University of York.

How much does an MBA increase your salary?

In today’s competitive job market, professionals often seek advanced education to gain a competitive edge and boost their earning potential. Among the various academic pathways on offer, pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is frequently seen as a strategic move towards achieving higher career goals.

Here, we’ll explore the average salary increase for MBA graduates, whether an MBA provides a good return on investment, and industry-specific trends.

The MBA advantage

Business schools, universities, and higher education institutions worldwide offer MBA programmes that cater to a diverse range of students – from those with substantial work experience to recent Bachelors degree graduates.

Employers recognise that MBA students possess a unique and invaluable skill set that combines business acumen, leadership capabilities and strategic thinking. Before enrolling, it’s worth asking how much the advanced degree will translate into a tangible salary increase.

Post MBA-salary and the average salary increase

One of the key metrics used to measure the success of an MBA programme is the average salary increase experienced by its graduates. According to a survey carried out by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the organisation responsible for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), MBA graduates witness a significant bump in their salaries post-graduation. 

In the UK, Glassdoor notes that the average MBA salary is around £47,000, though it can range from a base salary of £35,000 right up to £61,000.

The post-MBA starting salary is a crucial indicator of the programme’s impact on earning potential. This figure often reflects not only the investment in education, but also the enhanced value employers place on MBA holders. 

The exact annual salary increase an individual can expect depends on their pre-MBA work experience and their chosen industry.

The higher education return on investment 

When deciding whether to commit to an MBA, the cost of the programme should be weighed against the potential financial rewards. The return on investment (ROI) is a key factor in this decision-making process. 

ROI in the context of an MBA programme refers to the financial gain achieved through higher salaries and better job opportunities upon completion, compared to the initial investment in tuition and other associated costs that come with further study.

While the cost of MBA programmes vary between institutions, the programme delivery can also impact how much it costs to study. On-campus programmes will likely be more expensive than distance learning programmes due to the costs associated with commuting. Degrees taught part-time may take longer and be more of a long-term time commitment, but the reduced schedule compared to full-time MBA study enables working and earning an income at the same time. 

Industries with the highest earning potential post-MBA

The job market is dynamic, and MBA holders can leverage their versatile skill sets to explore diverse career paths. The demand for professionals with a Masters degree in business administration cuts across industries because corporate recruiters value the academic and transferable skills that MBA grads can bring to the table.

Lucrative job opportunities and higher salaries for individuals with an MBA can be found across a variety of sectors. Some industries where they may be available include:

  • Consulting – consulting salaries keep rising, and these roles are very much in-demand. 
  • Finance – finance managers and investment bankers are two of the possible high-paying roles MBA graduates could aim for within financial services.
  • Technology one of the fastest growing sectors which shows no sign of slowing down, this is a future-proof industry where those at the forefront of innovation can be financially rewarded.
  • Energy – individuals with an understanding of how politics, money, and the environment interact, and those with specialised knowledge in sustainability, are in high-demand.
  • Consumer packaged goods this industry has seen consistent growth and resilience against economic hardship, making it a buoyant sector to progress in.

Specialised MBA programmes

In addition to traditional executive MBA programmes, there  are also specialised courses that are tailored to career goals in specific sectors.

There is a wide range of specialist MBA courses and the course content may vary by institution, so if you have a certain career path in mind, it’s important to look for the programme most suited to your needs.

Entrepreneurship and start-up success

The MBA advantage extends beyond climbing the corporate ladder. Many entrepreneurs and start-up founders hold MBA degrees, utilising their business acumen to navigate the complex landscape of launching and managing a successful business.

An MBA degree can give you a full view of what it takes to run a business, covering essentials  such as business strategy, finance, human resources and marketing. This knowledge can help business founders, who often have to wear many hats during the early days of establishing a new company. And, along with the entrepreneurial spirit instilled during an MBA programme, it can be used throughout the life cycle of a startup to improve its chances of success.

Increase your earning potential with an MBA

Pursuing an MBA can lead to a substantial increase in salary for graduates. The post-MBA salary increase, return on investment, and industry trends showcase the tangible benefits of investing in a Masters degree in business administration. 

As the job market continues to evolve, an MBA remains a valuable asset for working professionals and recent graduates. Whether you aspire to progress in your current industry, switch to a new industry or start your own business, the comprehensive skill set acquired through an MBA programme can open doors to high salaries and fulfilling career opportunities.

The University of York offers two online MBAs which will equip you for roles with a higher average starting salary – the Master of Business Administration (MBA) which will prime you for success in the private sector, and the MBA Public Sector Management for those with leadership ambitions at nonprofits. These part-time MBAs allow you to study flexibly, fitting your degree around current commitments. Taught entirely online, you will connect with peers across the world and grow your global network as you study.

Understanding the link between Masters degrees and earning potential in the UK

In the contemporary job market, a Masters degree is not just a symbol of academic achievement – it’s a strategic tool that can significantly enhance your career prospects. In certain sectors, the distinction between a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree can have a profound impact on career and salary potential.

The value of a Masters degree in the job market

Enrolling in a Masters degree such as  a Master of Science (MSc), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a specialised degree like a Master of Public Administration (MPA) means delving deeper into subject matter compared to an undergraduate programme. Advanced programmes like Masters or doctoral degrees equip postgraduates with a greater understanding of their field and help develop a number of valuable traits.

Because of this, employers often view candidates who have a Masters degree as more desirable for higher-level positions. This preference stems from the perception that candidates with Masters degrees possess a greater depth of knowledge, advanced research and critical analysis skills, a dedicated commitment to their field, and a mentality that is well-prepared for the complexities and challenges of the working world today.

“Having a relevant Masters degree could give you a crucial competitive edge in a crowded job market – employers are increasingly looking for ways to distinguish between candidates, and this higher-level qualification shows your ability to commit to an intense period of work,” says Prospects.

According to, holding a postgraduate qualification means your chance of gaining a professional occupation, over a less senior associate role, is more than 20% higher. It also notes that a Masters degree means someone is 20% more likely to be in a high-skilled job.

All of this is particularly true in rapidly evolving industries such as business or computing and information technology, where an advanced degree signifies that a person is not only well-versed in current best practices, but is also prepared to adapt and innovate as the field advances.

It’s also worth noting that the process of obtaining a Masters degree often involves developing a wide network of colleagues and other professionals. This can be invaluable in the job market, with connections frequently leading to job opportunities.

The impact of a Masters degree on job salary

The value of a Masters degree is also reflected in its impact on earning potential and its links to some of the highest-paying jobs available. Data from various sources indicates that someone with a Masters degree can expect a higher average salary than someone with just an undergraduate degree. What’s more, this difference is not just evident in starting salaries but continues throughout one’s career, with Masters degrees often leading to more senior, higher-paying roles over time.

For example, the Higher Education Policy Institute stated in its Postgraduate Education in the UK report that postgraduates earn 18% more on average than those with only undergraduate qualifications. 

What are the best Masters degrees in terms of earning potential?

From economists and human resource management professionals, to nurse practitioners and those in social work, a Masters degree is a good indicator of greater earning potential. However, certain types of Masters degrees are more likely to be associated with higher salaries and lower unemployment rates.

For example, a Master of Science (MSc) in Computer Science is highly valued in the tech industry, known for its high-paying jobs. Emerging fields like artificial intelligence are actively recruiting, while in information systems and cybersecurity, demand outstrips supply, leading to a higher median salary. Grads with these degrees often secure high-earning roles as software engineers or project managers.

Arguably the most lucrative postgraduate degree is the Master of Business Administration (MBA), renowned for its potential to significantly boost earning potential. MBA graduates often move into high-level management roles, with salaries reflecting their leadership positions and breadth of responsibilities.

Other in-demand Masters degrees associated with an enviable annual salary and payscale are in fields such as engineering management, economics and healthcare.

It’s important to note, however, that while all of these Masters degrees typically offer higher earning potential, this can also depend on other factors like the institution’s prestige and rankings, research specialities, location and experience level.

The added benefits of studying a Masters degree online

A Masters degree requires considerable investment in time and in resources, including student loans, but can pay dividends with respect to your career path, earning potential and job prospects, so it’s an increasingly popular option. Online Masters degree programmes offer several additional benefits::

  • Flexibility and accessibility. Online Masters programmes allow you to balance your studies with other commitments like full-time or part-time work, enabling you to earn an advanced education while still gaining a salary and real-world experience.
  • Relevance in the digital age. Studying online prepares students for the increasingly digital work environment.
  • Expanded networking opportunities. Online programmes typically have diverse student bodies, offering broader networking opportunities across different industries and geographies.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Online degrees can be more affordable, with pay-per-module fees and the elimination of associated costs like student housing or commuting.

Enhance your career prospects with an online Masters degree

Earn a Masters degree from a Russell Group university – without putting your life on hold – with a 100% online Masters degree from the University of York. Our online programmes give you the flexibility to fit your studies around your professional and personal commitments and have been designed for working professionals and ambitious career-changers.

Our programmes span degrees in management, business administration, public administration and computer science. There are six starts per year as well as a pay-per-module structure, so you can begin whenever you’re ready. You’ll be able to access course content and study anytime, anywhere, and on a variety of mobile devices.

What can you do with a business management degree?

A business management degree is a versatile qualification that opens up a myriad of opportunities in the professional world, and can equip you with a diverse skill set that is applicable across various industries. 

On top of this, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business management graduates have competitive earning potential. The average salary varies based on factors such as experience, industry and job role, but the median wage of workers with a business degree in 2021 was listed as $69,000, slightly higher than the median wage of all work fields at $63,000. As professionals gain experience and climb the corporate ladder, their earning potential increases significantly.

In this post, we outline the vast array of career paths a business management degree can take you down while exploring job opportunities and the valuable skills you canacquire along the way.

What is a typical career path with a business management degree?

A degree in business management offers a broad understanding of organisational structures, strategies and operations. From human resource management to financial data analysis, the coursework covers a wide range of subjects, making graduates well-rounded professionals.

Business management degree students gain a broad oversight of the work that goes into all areas of a company, so there is no typical career path for graduates. This means you can choose the path that most appeals to you, with the freedom to choose opportunities that align with your personal and professional goals. Once you have a Bachelors degree, you can then specialise further in your chosen field with a Masters degree to further your career.

Below are some of the paths you could take.

Business administration: A gateway to leadership

With experience and further education, business management graduates often progress to leadership roles in business administration. These positions involve overseeing the entire organisation or specific departments, making strategic decisions and driving the overall success of the business.

Human resources: Nurturing talent and building teams

One of the most common career paths for business management graduates is in human resources (HR). With a solid foundation in organisational behaviour and interpersonal skills, these graduates are well-equipped to become HR specialists or managers. These roles play a crucial role in recruitment, employee development and ensuring there is a positive work environment.

Project manager: Mastering the art of coordination

Effective project management is vital for the success of any business endeavour, and a business management degree provides the skills necessary for individuals to excel as a project manager. They oversee tasks, manage budgets and ensure projects are completed on time, showcasing their exceptional organisational and problem-solving abilities. 

Marketing manager: Shaping brand identities

Business management graduates with a flair for creativity often find their niche in marketing. Whether developing social media campaigns or conducting market research, their understanding of business strategies and communication skills make them well-suited for roles in marketing.

Business analyst: Decoding data for informed decisions

Analysing trends, interpreting financial data and making data-driven decisions are integral aspects of business analysis. A business management degree equips students with the analytical skills necessary to become successful business analysts, aiding companies in making informed choices that drive growth.

Management consultant: Advising for success

For those with an eye for identifying inefficiencies and proposing solutions, a career as a management consultant may be the perfect fit. Business management graduates often enter this field, offering valuable insights to organisations seeking to optimise their operations and strategies.

Sales manager: Driving revenue and building relationships

Sales is the lifeblood of any business, and business management graduates with strong interpersonal and communication skills often excel in sales management roles. They build and lead sales teams, develop strategies to sell products and services, and drive revenue growth.

Entrepreneurship: Carving your own path

Armed with the knowledge of how to create and run business strategies and with precisely honed decision-making skills, some business management graduates choose the path of entrepreneurship. Starting your own business allows you to apply your skills in real-world scenarios and employ the knowledge you’ve gained to help bring a new business idea to life.

International business management: Navigating global markets

The global nature of business today requires professionals with a deep understanding of international markets. A specialisation in international business management allows graduates to navigate the complexities of global trade, cultural differences and diverse business practices. 

Risk management: Mitigating challenges for success

Every business faces risks, and effective risk management is crucial for long-term success. Business management graduates with a focus on risk management contribute to identifying potential pitfalls and developing strategies to mitigate them, ensuring the stability and growth of the organisation.

Transferable skills: The key to versatility

One of the greatest advantages of having business management skills is the acquisition of highly-sought after transferable skills.

Skills such as good communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and efficient decision-making are applicable across various industries and valued by employers across many fields, making business management graduates adaptable in the ever-evolving job market.

Gain a competitive edge

In the digital age, networking is key for career advancement. Platforms like LinkedIn provide an invaluable space for business management graduates to connect with professionals in their field, discover job opportunities and stay updated on industry trends.

Employers also value practical experience, and internships or work placements during postgraduate and undergraduate studies provide valuable insights into the real-world application of business management concepts. Internships and entry-level positions will also enhance a graduate’s work experience and marketability.

Further study for specialisation

While a Bachelors degree opens doors to entry-level positions, pursuing a Masters degree in business management or a related specialised field can enhance your career prospects and open a gateway to a multitude of career opportunities. Further study provides a deeper understanding of business theories, advanced management concepts and the opportunity to expand knowledge into a preferred niche.

At the University of York, we offer an entirely online MSc in Finance, Leadership and Management programme, equipping you with the specialised skills to master the opportunities and risks in financial management. Taught part-time, this degree allows you to continue progressing your business management career by working around your studies. Plus, with six start dates a year, you can begin your higher education journey within weeks.

Masters research projects: what to expect and how to prepare

Embarking on a Masters degree is an academic journey that often ends with a research project. This in-depth exploration into a specific topic or area of interest is a rite of passage for many postgraduate students, and can be both a challenging and rewarding endeavour. 

Unlike Masters coursework, which imparts foundational knowledge and develops or expands skill sets, an academic research project or dissertation is an opportunity for students to delve deeply into a specific area within their field of study. It involves original research and the application of theoretical concepts to address specific research questions. But good research isn’t just about finding answers – it’s about asking the right questions and pushing the boundaries of knowledge.

What is the purpose of a Masters research project?

The purpose of a Masters research project is multifaceted. It showcases understanding of the subject matter and also demonstrates an ability to conduct independent research. This process hones critical thinking skills, cultivates a deep understanding of research methodologies and contributes valuable insights to the academic community. 

Understanding the difference between a research project and a thesis

In the United Kingdom, a research project or dissertation is typically undertaken at the end of a Masters degree, while a thesis is typically undertaken during PhD studies. But both offer an opportunity to conduct extensive, in-depth exploration of a research question.

A step-by-step guide to developing a research project

Beginning a research project can be daunting. The task ahead requires extensive planning and exhaustive research before the writing even begins. Breaking the project down into smaller pieces can help to make it more manageable. 

Step 1: Choose a research topic

Identify an area of interest within your field of study for the research proposal. This might be a current issue in the field or perhaps a more theoretical problem. 


At this stage, it helps to explore existing literature to understand gaps in knowledge and research, and to identify potential research ideas. Then, narrow down the focus based on personal interest as well as feasibility. 

Step 2: Formulate a research question 

Develop a clear and concise research question that encapsulates the essence of the project and the research aims.

Ensure the question is researchable, relevant, and will contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the field. 

Step 3: Conduct a literature review

Explore relevant journal articles, books and other scholarly sources, and analyse existing literature to identify key theories, methodologies and any gaps in knowledge.

Step 4: Develop a research plan

Outline the scope, objectives and timeline for the research project. This step also includes specifying the research design, methodology and data collection techniques such as focus groups or questionnaires.

Step 5: Data collection

Implement the research plan by collecting data and conducting research using appropriate methods. Ensure ethical considerations are adhered to throughout the data collection process.

Step 6: Data analysis

Use qualitative research and/or quantitative research methods based on the project’s specifications, and then interpret the findings to address the research hypotheses or questions.

Step 7: Write the research paper

Structure the paper with clear sections such as an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Remember to ensure proper citation of sources and adherence to academic writing conventions and styles.

Advice on preparing and researching for a Masters research project

There are a number of ways to ease the pressure during the pre-writing stages of a research project:

  • Start early. Begin as early as possible to allow ample time for each stage. Early planning minimises stress and allows for thoughtful consideration of research ideas.
  • Seek guidance. Consult with any dedicated academic advisors regularly. Seek feedback on the research question, the methodology and overall progress.
  • Use resources wisely. Leverage the university’s libraries, databases and online resources for comprehensive literature reviews, and attend workshops and seminars to enhance research skills.
  • Stay organised. Implement effective project management techniques. Keep meticulous records of the research process including data collection and analysis.

Tips for writing a Masters research project

After all the preparation, planning and research are underway, it’s time to start thinking about writing. This process can be time-consuming but can be made more straightforward by:

  • Crafting a compelling introduction. Clearly outline the significance of the research through introducing the research question and justifying its relevance.
  • Ensuring a thorough literature review. Synthesise existing literature to provide a solid foundation for the research. Highlight gaps and justify the need for the study.
  • Establishing and maintaining methodological rigour. Clearly articulate research design and methodology. Justify the choice of methods and demonstrate their appropriateness.
  • Creating a clear results section. Present findings with clarity and precision. Use tables, charts and graphs to enhance data visualisation.
  • Building a coherent discussion section. Interpret results in the context of existing literature in order to discuss the implications of the findings and propose avenues for further research.
  • Planning for a solid conclusion. Summarise the key contributions of the research and emphasise the significance of the findings in the broader field of study on the topic.

Conduct a Masters research project in finance, leadership, and management

Develop leadership skills and professional adaptability with the University of York’s 100% online MSc Finance, Leadership and Management programme. This flexible Masters programme will give you valuable insight into your own professional development while building your problem-solving and communication skills.

Your studies will prepare you to respond rapidly and effectively to changing business and financial environments, and upon graduation you will receive affiliate CMI membership and be awarded a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice.

As part of your postgraduate programme, you’ll also conduct a longer sustained research project that you can use to demonstrate your critical analytical skills, your ability to gather and synthesise data and literature from a range of sources, and your subject-specific knowledge. You’ll work under the guidance of a personal supervisor with expertise in the subject you’re studying, and they’ll help you develop research questions and identify methods and theories to investigate and analyse your topic.

Mastering the clock: the necessity of time management skills

Mastering the art of time management has become more critical than ever before in our fast-paced world.

Time management skills can empower people to take control of their lives, enhance their productivity, and achieve better work-life balance. Developing good time management skills can therefore be thought of as an investment in your personal and professional success. And, importantly, understanding effective time management is not just about doing more, but instead doing what matters most with the time you have.

What are time management skills?

Time management skills refer to your ability to plan, organise, and prioritise tasks efficiently to make the most of the time you have available. It’s a soft skill focused on allocating time wisely and prioritising the activities that most contribute to both personal and professional goals. 

These skills encompass a range of abilities, from setting realistic goals and knowing how to say no to people, to avoiding procrastination and multitasking effectively to prioritising getting things done.

Examples of time management skills


Setting goals is a fundamental time management skill. By defining clear, achievable objectives, you can create a clear roadmap for your actions and give yourself enough time to complete tasks. This includes setting both short and long-term goals which provide a sense of direction and purpose and can guide daily activities with greater intention.


Prioritising tasks involves identifying and focusing on the most important activities or the actions that will have the most impact. This might include categorising tasks based on urgency and importance to determine which are the best areas to dedicate time and energy to.

Task-list management

Creating a to-do list is a classic and effective time management technique. It can help you to visualise yourworkloads, break them down into manageable tasks, and then track progress. Regularly reviewing and updating your to-do list ensures priorities remain aligned with overarching goals.

Overcoming procrastination

Procrastination is a common obstacle to effective time management, whether it’s putting off a big task with lots of little, unimportant ones that eat into your workday, or just scrolling on social media for a lengthy amount of time. Overcoming this challenge typically involves recognising and then addressing the factors that contribute to delaying tasks. It also helps to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, which can make them less daunting and therefore feel more achievable.


Multitasking can be a valuable skill, but it requires careful consideration because juggling multiple tasks simultaneously can be counterproductive if not done efficiently. The key is to identify tasks that complement each other. Grouping related or similar tasks often means they can be performed simultaneously without compromising quality.

The advantages of developing time management skills

Time management skills bring a number of benefits:

  • Better work-life balance. Better time management enables youto strike a balance between your professional and personal life. By allocating time strategically, you can fulfil your work responsibilities without neglecting personal wellbeing, family or hobbies.
  • Reduced stress levels. Poor time management often leads to increased stress levels and even burnout. By organising tasks, setting realistic goals, and avoiding last-minute rushes, you can minimise stress and maintain a healthier mental and emotional balance.
  • Increased productivity. Good time management skills are associated with heightened productivity. This is because focusing on the most important tasks and avoiding time-wasting activities means you can accomplish more in less time, leaving room for additional projects or leisure time.
  • Achieving goals and objectives. Setting and prioritising goals are integral components of time management, and having a structured and intentional approach to your daily tasks can help you achieve your objectives, both in and outside of work.

How to develop time management skills

Set SMART goals

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound objectives. By adopting this framework, you can set goals that are well-defined and realistic, and enable effective planning and execution in your work.

Prioritise tasks

Prioritising tasks requires assessing both the urgency and the importance of each task. The Eisenhower Matrix, which categorises tasks into four quadrants (Do, Decide, Delegate and Delete), is a helpful guide for allocating time to the urgent tasks and important activities that best align with your goals.

Use time management techniques

There are various time management strategies to explore and experiment with, including the Pomodoro technique, which involves working in short, focused bursts with breaks in between. 

It’s helpful to try different approaches to find the ones that best support individual preferences, workflows, and specific tasks. 

Delegate tasks

A top time management tip is to recognise the importance of delegation. Delegating tasks to other team members or colleagues can free up time for more crucial responsibilities. It also helps to foster collaboration with peers and can help enable more efficient project management.

Tools for time management

The number of tools available for time management increases all the time, but most fall into one of a few broad categories:

  • Task list apps. Use task list apps to create, organise, and manage to-do lists efficiently. These apps often come with features like due dates, reminder notifications and prioritisation options.
  • Project management tools. For larger tasks or projects involving multiple team members, project management tools like Trello, Asana, or can be invaluable. They provide a centralised platform for task allocation, progress tracking and collaboration.
  • Time-tracking software. Time-tracking software helps people monitor how they spend their time. This awareness can be crucial for identifying time-wasting activities and optimising daily routines.
  • Calendar apps. Calendar apps help people to schedule and plan their days, weeks and months effectively. They often come with features such as reminders and the ability to block out specific time frames for focused work. Some of these tools can also remind you to take regular breaks in order to stay alert and reduce stress or strain. They may even be helpful in determining the time of day when you’re most productive so you can schedule specific activities in optimal time slots.
  • Boost your time management skills while advancing your career

Develop your professional adaptability alongside leadership skills with the 100% online MSc Finance, Leadership and Management programme from the University of York. This flexible Masters programme will give you valuable insight into your own professional development while building your problem-solving and communication skills alongside self-management and time management skills.

Your studies will prepare you to respond rapidly and effectively to changing business and financial environments, and upon graduation you will receive affiliate CMI membership and be awarded a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice.

Modules on this programme cover topics such as:

  • Operations Management
  • Business Finance 
  • Leading and Managing People
  • Marketing and Ethics in Global Business
  • Corporate Financial Strategy
  • Investment Management
  • Asset Pricing.

The benefits of learning about international business management at Masters level

Our era is one marked by globalisation and interconnected economies, so it’s no surprise that a solid understanding of international business management has become increasingly important for anyone looking to succeed in business, finance or leadership. 

Pursuing a Masters degree that builds this knowledge not only equips students with a comprehensive understanding of global business practices but also opens doors to a myriad of opportunities. And as businesses continue to expand across borders, the demand for professionals with this knowledge is set to soar, making it a strategic investment in your academic and professional future.

What topics are covered under international business management?

The term international business management covers a broad spectrum of subjects and sub-topics that help put the global business environment into context. 

Areas of study can include:

  • international marketing
  • business strategy
  • marketing management
  • operations management
  • decision-making in an international context
  • sustainability
  • entrepreneurship
  • human resource management
  • project management
  • financial management
  • supply chain management

In the context of Masters-level study on the topic, coursework typically aims to prepare students for the multifaceted challenges of managing business on a global scale. It may involve case studies, seminars, and research projects that employ real-world simulations and help to explore the international business landscape, as well as honing practical skills essential for success in the globalised job market.

Advantages of studying international business and management as part of a Masters degree

Enhanced employability

An in-depth understanding of international business management can be a powerful catalyst for career advancement. Employers worldwide recognise the value of specialised knowledge in navigating the intricacies of global business, so graduates with this understanding often find themselves in high demand across various industries, from multinational corporations to government agencies and international consultancies.

“In a nutshell, students need to develop a global perspective to be successful in business,” Prospects explains. “Studying international business allows you to see how globalisation has brought about an increasing ‘connectedness’ of businesses, markets, people and information across countries.”

“Studying global business can enable you to navigate the challenging, ever-changing business world while capitalising on opportunities for expansion and connection,” adds Harvard Business School. “As the world becomes more interconnected than ever before, employers are increasingly regarding international business as a desired skill for future hires.”

Practical skills for the real world

Unlike undergraduate studies, postgraduate programmes often emphasise hands-on, practical research methods and learning. Students are frequently exposed to real-world scenarios through projects, internships or work placements. Those who are employed may even relate their learnings directly to their existing professional roles and work experience, allowing them to apply theoretical concepts to actual business challenges. This practical approach cultivates enhanced problem-solving skills and equips graduates with an ability to make informed decisions in a global business context.

Specialised expertise

In addition to building expertise in the fundamentals, international business management studies at Masters level offer the opportunity to delve deeply into specialised areas, enabling students to carve out a niche in their chosen field through optional modules or independent study. Whether focusing on strategic management or supply chain logistics, this specialisation enhances their expertise and makes them valuable assets in the job market.

How to apply international business management studies to a career

There are several ways to apply any knowledge gained in international business management to a career. 

For example, make use of any available networking opportunities. Masters degrees in business often facilitate networking through industry partnerships, seminars, and open days, providing students with the chance to connect with other students – including UK and international students, professionals, potential employers, and alumni, creating a bridge between academic knowledge and real-world applications. These connections can lead to mentorships or even job opportunities.

It’s also worth noting that the diversity of the subject area – and the diverse perspectives and cultural insights that it brings – creates graduates with well-rounded skill sets suitable for any international or business environment.

Current trends and challenges in international business management

Examples of some of the conversations happening in international business management right now include:

  • Globalisation and technology. As businesses continue to expand globally and technology continues to rapidly evolve, the integration of both is increasingly important. The rise of e-commerce, digital marketing, and virtual collaboration tools have already reshaped how businesses operate, but technology is also being leveraged for international business expansion and transformation. 
  • Sustainable business practices. Sustainability has become a central concern for businesses worldwide, so topics such as corporate social responsibility, ethical considerations in international trade, and green supply chain management are all becoming increasingly important.
  • Evolving regulatory landscapes. The international business arena is subject to an ever-evolving regulatory landscape, so it’s useful to have the necessary knowledge to navigate complex legal frameworks and trade agreements, and to understand current geopolitical considerations. 

These conversations largely align with the Five Forces Driving the Future of Business Education, as described by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – a global nonprofit that works with business schools and other institutions in higher education, so international business students learn the key themes of importance to the sector today.  

Develop your knowledge and skills in international business and management

Build leadership skills with an international lens with the 100% online MSc Finance, Leadership and Management programme from the University of York. This flexible Masters programme will give you valuable insight into your own professional development while building your problem-solving and communication skills.

Your studies will prepare you to respond rapidly and effectively to changing business and financial environments, and upon graduation you will receive affiliate CMI membership and be awarded a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice accreditation.


Modules on this programme cover topics such as:

  • Operations Management
  • Business Finance 
  • Leading and Managing People
  • Marketing and Ethics in Global Business
  • Corporate Financial Strategy
  • Investment Management
  • Asset Pricing

Find out more about our MSc Finance, Leadership and Management including entry requirements, tuition fees, English language requirements (including IELTS), academic year start dates, course content and the online learning environment.

How do cultural attitudes to work affect international business?

Operating in the global marketplace requires an understanding of the nuances related to business attitudes, approaches, and ways of working that exist between different countries and cultures.

Cultivating the ability to adapt in cross-cultural situations is key for interconnected, multinational, global businesses where teams, business partners, customers and markets are spread across the world. Even for organisations without geographically disparate teams, bridging divides within multicultural teams is critically important. After all, cultural backgrounds, values, and expectations relating to workplace etiquette, experiences, and communication styles may be richly diverse.

Why is it important to understand cultural attitudes to business?

Global human resource experts Multiplier identify cultural variation as one of the top challenges in international business.

If an international company fails to take into account the nuances of different cultures – including how they relate to work and business – the number of obstacles to business success, profits and growth is likely to increase. As international business  contexts are likely to become more complex, communication breakdowns may occur and employees and customers alike may feel alienated.

Where cultural differences and attitudes are recognised, understood and managed effectively, cultural barriers to business dealings can be greatly reduced. Cultural awareness and sensitivity – reinforced by high emotional intelligence – bolsters cross-cultural communication, fosters a positive shared business environment, and enables strengths from each culture to contribute to overall business success.

It’s important to learn about the different cultures of countries where you’ll be doing business, so let’s take a closer look at how attitudes can impact different aspects of the workplace.

How does national culture affect international business?

Cultural variations between different countries – and how they intersect with attitudes to work and business – have the potential to impact business relationships and activities in a number of ways. In order to mitigate the business impact of cultural variations, it’s important to firstly understand how different countries engage in business practices and etiquette. 

Here are three examples of how culture can impact business expectations and attitudes.

  • Organisational culture and hierarchy. There are four main types of structure that affect an organisation’s culture: market, clan, hierarchy, and adhocracy. Some cultures feature formal organisational structures that depend on top-down control and rigid levels of authority, where decision-making and business negotiations are the purview of senior management and everyone else is expected to coordinate their activities accordingly. Others favour looser hierarchical structures, with shared, democratic decision-making processes, a more relaxed approach to authority, and less rules governing how team members complete their work.
  • Leadership styles. Different leadership and negotiation styles, and management behaviours can be seen as weaknesses or assets depending on the cultural context. Harvard Business Review shares research indicating that leadership styles are heavily influenced by geographical regions. Findings show leaders who: self-initiate and demonstrate flexibility tend to be more desirable in Scandinavian countries, as well as Western countries on which the UK has substantial influence, and Asian countries that base their governing and economic institutions on the British model. Alternatively, diplomatic leaders who prioritise ‘getting along over getting ahead’ are preferred in Latin America, New Zealand and Sweden. Finally, straight-shooting leaders who favour directness are expected in Northeast Asia and countries like the Netherlands.
  • Business practices. Differences in business practices and ways of working can range from the profound to the minor. For example, the working day typically starts at 9am and finishes at 5pm (and often extends earlier or later) for a North American office worker. However, in Spain and other Mediterranean countries, working hours are often 9am to 1:30pm – with a rest after lunch known as a siesta – and 4:30pm to 8pm.

Other aspects include communication styles, meeting etiquette, level of formality, dress codes, punctuality, as well as gestures and body language.

What is the difference between high-context culture and low-context culture?

The concept of high-context cultures and low-context cultures, developed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, refers to the importance of contextual cues and cultural orientations in interpreting meaning and messages.

In low-context cultures:

  • importance is placed on the exact, literal meaning of words
  • communication is direct and explicit
  • individuals prefer being given comprehensive information ahead of a meeting or task (for example, meeting reports, detailed agendas and information packages).

Examples of low-context cultures include Australia, Germany, Canada, the United States, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

In high-context cultures:

  • importance is placed on when, where and how people say things, rather than just what is said – or not said
  • information is implicit and embedded in relationships, non-verbal cues/body language and context
  • communication is indirect and implicit
  • individuals prefer face-to-face meetings and long-term, relationship-building opportunities, and mutual understanding is developed via close contact.

Examples of high-context cultures include Japan, South Korea, India, China, Singapore and Indonesia.

No culture is entirely high-context or low-context – and many countries sit somewhere between the two, such as Brazil, Spain, Italy and France. However, the distinction broadly indicates communicative preferences within and across different cultures – and can be invaluable in everything from greeting clients to negotiating deals and partnerships. Leaders should be cognisant of bringing high-context expectations into low-context environments – or vice versa – and be aware of any cultural miscommunications or misunderstanding this may cause. In this way, they can lay the foundations for effective communication.

How can leaders overcome cultural differences and attitudes to work?

Researching countries and cultures goes a long way in helping to understand how to build cross-cultural relationships, as well as not inadvertently disrespecting the customs and beliefs of others.

Learning about cultural diversity while promoting and respecting it in the workplace is a great place to start. It creates a more inclusive environment for doing business, where team members feel comfortable communicating and the benefits of diverse skills, mindsets and perspectives can drive creativity and progress. Investing in business language and cross-cultural and cultural sensitivity training, encouraging open, clear communication, and empowering leadership and management teams to champion cultural understanding and inclusion will all help overcome barriers to business.

Gain the leadership skills and sensitivities to navigate cultural differences in the workplace

Are you ready to develop the ability to lead anyone, anywhere? Interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of how culture affects business – and how it can be managed?

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Why do companies engage in international business and trade?

International trade and business refers to the exchange of goods and services (imports and exports), knowledge, technology, and capital between at least two different countries. Global transactions can span all manner of business activities, from sales and research to development, manufacturing and distribution.

International business, trade and supply are currently undergoing significant transformation resulting from factors including the ongoing rise and evolution of e-commerce, a shift towards sustainable business practices, new approaches to venture financing, and challenging, unpredictable geo-political and economic environments.

Global trade growth is slowing according to the World Economic Forum. In this context, are there still tangible benefits for businesses seeking to operate internationally? What options are available to them? And what are the upcoming trends business leaders should keep an eye on?

What are the benefits of international business and trade?

Who do companies choose to pursue international expansion?

78% of respondents in FedEx’s Trade Index Report 2021 cited international business as a route to new opportunities and job creation. For those considering whether to expand beyond domestic markets and ‘go international’, it’s worth evaluating what it could mean in terms of increasing business growth, resilience, competitive advantage and the overall bottom line.

Some of the most common reasons behind a move to internationalisation and expansion into foreign markets include:

  • extending the life cycle of a product or technology
  • reducing business costs by outsourcing larger-scale production at lower costs, for example in developing countries (driving economies of scale)
  • seeking resources such as raw materials or technologies unavailable in the home country
  • growing market share by tapping into new markets and customer bases when existing ones are saturated
  • improving brand image, recognition and standing
  • responding to international competition
  • following multinational customers.

American Express lists further advantages to international trade and business.

  • Increased revenues – resulting from entering larger markets and revenue streams.
  • Decreased competition – products and services find a home in markets that aren’t crowded and are warmly received by potential customers in foreign countries.
  • Easier cash flow management – negotiations and payments may work differently, which can lead to money being received upfront.
  • Better risk management – as diversification can reduce dependency on a single market, supply chain or retailer.
  • Access to export financing and foreign direct investment (FDI) – can increase available financing opportunities
  • Disposal of surplus goods – due to additional avenues through which to sell goods and services.
  • Benefitting from currency exchange – currency value fluctuations can work in your favour and allow you to reap the rewards of favourable exchange rates.

Operating in international markets may also open up additional investment opportunities, service and product development incentives, partnerships and collaborations, variations to business models, career and professional development, and cultural differences and exchanges resulting in improved goods or ways of working.

Who are the key stakeholders in international business?

Stakeholders are individuals or organisations whose interests may be affected – either positively or negatively – by what another individual or organisation does. The number of stakeholder groups typically increases when domestic businesses move into global markets. 

Depending on the business, stakeholders typically include employees, competitors, interest groups, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), suppliers, shareholders and investors. Conducting a stakeholder analysis helps to identify and determine the relative importance of key people, groups, and institutions that may have significant influence over your planned projects, activities or wider business ambitions.

What are the different types of international business?

Running a global business – even if you’re a relatively small business – can be incredibly lucrative, offering ways to achieve both short-term and long-term business objectives. For business leaders in the process of developing or refining their international strategy, it’s critical to understand how best to drive growth in overseas markets and shore up success beyond domestic borders. This might involve thinking about how an existing business model might need to adapt in order to drive the most growth.

For example, there are various methods international and multinational companies use when conducting business in different countries and markets. These include importing and exporting, outsourcing, franchising, offshoring, and launching joint ventures with international partners.

What are the latest trends and developments in international trade and business?

HSBC lists some of the key trends in international business including the growth of trade in services, a revolution in supply chains, embedded financing and more. Let’s look at these in more detail.

  • Growth of trade in services. Services account for approximately a fifth of the estimated $32 trillion value of global trade. As a significant proportion of total global trade, services show no signs of slowing – particularly in relation to digitally delivered services. Leaders who can embrace and adapt to changing service dynamics – for example, by harnessing digitally enabled services and developing ancillary services – are likely to be victors in the long-run.
  • Supply chain revolution. Leaders must re-evaluate traditional supply chain models. HSBC points to ‘re-shoring, near-shoring and friend-shoring’ as methods that will become increasingly widespread to increase business resilience. Above all, supply chains must be organised in a way that promotes flexibility, transparency, agility and sustainability, and feature less reliance on outdated modes that leave them exposed to vulnerabilities.
  • Embedded financing. Leaders should consider embedding financing into their business operations, alongside encouraging digitisation and direct-to-consumer models. This new method of boosting revenues could offer lucrative new sources of revenue and support wider international strategy.

Gain the skills, tools and know-how to succeed in international business environments

If you’ve got leadership ambitions within the fast-paced, changeable finance sector, choose the University of York’s online MSc Finance, Leadership and Management programme.

Pave the way for business transformation and growth within the global economy on a highly flexible, 100% online programme that works around you. Your studies will span the breadth of the business, management and finance disciplines, enabling you to make strategic decisions, think critically, and navigate complex and competitive financial services environments. Gain financial expertise in areas such as business finance, investment management and asset pricing, alongside core business topics including entrepreneurship, operations management, human resource management, strategy and more.

How do changes in the economic environment affect international trade?

What is the current state of the global economic environment?

According to the International Monetary Fund, the baseline global economic growth rate is set to slow from 3.5% in 2022 to 3% in 2023 and 2.9% in 2024 – sitting well below the historical average of 3.8%. This is in part a result of high interest rates, rising energy prices, geopolitical risks and conflicts, and a slowdown in gross domestic product (GDP) for the world’s two leading economies: the United States and China.

These shifts in economic systems, which play out on a global scale, can have profound knock-on effects on international business activities – effects that are keenly felt by business leaders. Research by J.P. Morgan indicates that less than half of UK business leaders are optimistic about the global, national and regional economies, citing threats such as the Russia-Ukraine war, general market volatility, cost of debt and energy prices.

How does the global economy affect the international business environment?

The reasons why a business might choose to ‘become’ multinational are generally divided into two overarching categories: strategic or operational needs. Strategic needs include factors such as avoiding stagnation, increasing business sales and profitability, and mitigating future changes in external environments. Operational needs include factors such as shifting a surplus of production, and sourcing or providing technology, materials or equipment. However, economic activity – whether national or global – presents both challenges and opportunities for these globalised businesses operating on the international stage.

Economic factors shape the landscape of global business operations in a number of ways:

  • Inflation and interest rates. High inflation and interest impact the cost of borrowing, foreign direct investment, and overall cost of production – all of which slow economic growth and can lead to falling stock prices. Faced with high inflation and interest rates, many businesses are forced to increase their own running costs and reconsider investments. Low interest rates, by contrast, give businesses more money to invest and can lead to high economic growth.
  • Supply chain disruptions. Global crises such as pandemics or financial crises and recessions can severely impact supply chain operations. This can lead to shortages of key goods and raw materials, factory closures, shipping and logistical issues, price inflation (as scarcity fuels higher prices), and negative consequences for economic well-being.
  • Government activity and economic policies. Generally speaking, fiscal policy is designed to nurture a strong economy and reduce poverty, and involves adjusting tax and spending levels to monitor and influence a country’s economy. Governments may choose to focus spending and monetary policy on specific sectors – for example, technology, manufacturing or healthcare – which encourages these industries to increase wages and job roles and support wider economic development.
  • Infrastructure and technology. Businesses that operate in developed countries with access to advanced technologies and infrastructure will find it easier to bring goods and services to global markets. Where this is not the case – such as in some developing countries – leaders face additional challenges in marketing and distributing products to overseas audiences.
  • Consumer and market behaviour. Supply (the total amount of goods and services available) and demand (the number of goods and services customers want to purchase) can significantly influence how items within an economy are priced. If supply exceeds demand, prices are likely to decrease; if demand exceeds supply, prices are likely to increase and lead to inflation. Customer purchasing power and changes in purchasing behaviour play an important role in the economy at every level.
  • Unemployment rates. High unemployment rates mean consumers spend less money, due to reduced disposable income and purchasing power. Low unemployment rates generally mean the opposite, with wages increasing, disposable income rising, and consumers being less risk-averse in their spending habits.
  • Exchange rates. Changes in exchange rates typically affect the price of imported or domestic goods that require imported materials or parts. Keeping an eye on exchange rates enables businesses who rely on imports and exports to identify whether they are operating at a profit or a loss, and to ascertain how much they should pay international suppliers. High exchange rates can also impact inflation, investments, and the job market and employment rates.

Other economic factors can include wages, laws and policies, tariffs and tax rates, environmental sustainability and political environment.

What growth strategies can help to safeguard against economic instability?

Which economic factors post the greatest risk to your business?

It’s not just a wise move to protect your business amid changing economic conditions: it’s vital. Leaders should take proactive steps to build business resilience, setting their organisations up to succeed despite the challenges and obstacles that might get thrown their way.

This involves strategies such as diversifying portfolios, nurturing customer relationships, prioritising adaptability, embracing technology and strengthening finances. Identifying specific threats and vulnerabilities will help leaders in their decision making – and enable them to pivot business models or business activities to increase overall resilience.

For some international businesses, this might look like:

  • expanding into new distribution channels
  • expanding into new domestic or international markets
  • adapting an existing business model
  • diversifying supply chain partners and other business partnerships
  • focusing on the most profitable products and services
  • introducing new product or service lines.

With small businesses often the first to suffer – as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic – business leaders must prepare to weather adverse and changeable economic conditions well ahead of time.

Use globalisation to your advantage – and lead businesses to success despite economic uncertainty

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Why businesses need identity and access management

In today’s digital age, businesses heavily depend on technology to simplify operations, increase efficiency and enhance customer experiences. 

However, with advancement in technology comes unprecedented opportunities for malicious actors and cybercriminals to exploit security vulnerabilities for financial gain, steal confidential information and inflict costly brand damage to a business. As cyber threats and data breaches increase in intensity, it’s essential for businesses to prioritise the security of their digital assets.

What is identity and access management? 

Identity access management (IAM) is an area of cybersecurity that manages user identities and access permissions on a computer network. Systems used for IAM include single sign-on systems, two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication and privileged access management.  

While IAM policies, processes, and technologies differ between companies, any IAM framework aims to ensure that the right users and devices can access the right resources for the right reasons and at the right time.

What are the benefits of identity and access management?

Enhanced security

One of the primary reasons why businesses need IAM is to protect their valuable data from unauthorised access. With the increasing sophistication of cyber-attacks, traditional security measures such as passwords and firewalls are no longer sufficient by themselves.

IAM provides businesses with a comprehensive framework to manage user identities, enforce strong authentication methods, and control critical systems and data access. By implementing identity and access management solutions, companies can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and protect their reputation.

Improves regulatory compliance

Sectors such as healthcare, finance, and government have strict regulations regarding the handling and storing of sensitive information. Businesses can avoid significant fines and legal consequences by demonstrating compliance. 

IAM is crucial in ensuring compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws, while ensuring businesses meet these compliance requirements by providing robust access controls, audit trails and user provisioning/deprovisioning processes. 

Simplified operations

IAM enhances operational efficiency by simplifying user management processes. With a centralised IAM system, businesses can automate user provisioning, password resets, and access requests, reducing the burden on IT departments. Automation saves time and resources and improves user experience by providing seamless access to resources across different platforms and devices.

Adopt emerging technologies

IAM enables businesses to securely adopt emerging technologies like cloud computing and mobile applications. As businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based services and mobile devices, managing user identities and access becomes more complex. An IAM framework provides businesses the tools to securely authenticate users, manage their access privileges, and enforce security policies across various platforms and devices.

Why do we need identity and access Management?

When the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, companies worldwide scrambled to prepare for the new era of cybersecurity compliance. IAM is one of the most critical components of any organisation’s security and a prominent aspect of GDPR. Furthermore, the traditional approach to IAM was no longer adequate to handle a mobile workforce, cloud-based networks and applications and a distributed workforce at scale. Therefore, regardless of whether a business operates in the EU, a modern and robust IAM system is required to safeguard a business’s critical assets.

All businesses have security needs, but here are six key features for an identity and access management system fit for the 21st century.

User Provisioning/deprovisioning. Creating and managing user accounts are the cornerstone of any IAM system. IAM enables businesses to automate the process of creating and managing user accounts, which includes:

  • creating new accounts
  • assigning roles and access privileges
  • deactivating or deleting accounts(deprovisioning).

User provisioning and deprovisioning helps streamline the onboarding and offboarding processes, ensuring users have the appropriate access rights to resources based on their roles and responsibilities. 

Authentication and Single Sign-On (SSO). Whenever a user logs in to a new application, it’s an opportunity for hackers. IAM provides authentication mechanisms to verify users’ identity, which include traditional methods such as username and password and more advanced methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA) or biometric authentication. IAM also supports single sign-on, allowing users to access multiple applications and systems with a single set of credentials, improving user experience and reducing the need for multiple passwords.

Access Control. It’s vital that the right employees can access the data they need and have the correct security clearances for the job they perform. With an IAM framework in place, businesses can enforce access controls based on user roles and permissions and ensure that users only have access to the resources they need to perform their job functions, reducing the risk of unauthorised access. Importantly, access control can be granular, allowing businesses to define specific permissions for different resources or groups of users.

Identity Lifecycle Management. A strong approach to identity lifecycle management is essential to keeping an organisation running smoothly and its data and systems secure. IAM helps manage the entire lifecycle of user identities, from creation to retirement, which includes:

  • user registration
  • account activation
  • password resets
  • account deactivation.

Additionally, IAM provides self-service capabilities that enable users to manage their profiles and passwords, reducing IT department workloads.

Auditing and Reporting. Proactively tracking how data is used can help detect anomalies before they become catastrophes. IAM generates audit logs and reports to track user activities and access events. Audit logs and reporting help businesses monitor and analyse user behaviour, detect suspicious activities, and ensure compliance with regulations. Furthermore, auditing and reporting capabilities provide visibility into who accessed what resources and support businesses in identifying and mitigating security risks.

Integration and Federation. IAM integration and federation are essential for managing access and identity across multiple cloud platforms and applications. IAM can integrate with other systems and applications, allowing businesses to centralise user management and access control. In addition, IAM supports federation protocols such as Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) or OAuth, enabling users to access resources across different domains or organisations without needing multiple login credentials.

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What are employability skills?

In the ever-evolving landscape of the contemporary job market, developing a strong set of employability skills has become essential for success. 

Employability skills – commonly referred to as soft skills or transferable skills – are the foundational attributes and abilities that transcend specific job roles, industries and academic disciplines.

Unlike the job-specific skills employers require within a particular career type or sector, employability skills are versatile and applicable across diverse professional settings. They go beyond technical proficiency and academic qualifications, and include a spectrum of interpersonal skills, communication skills and cognitive abilities.

The difference between employability skills and job skills

Job skills are specific to a particular role or industry and are necessary for the daily tasks within the job. They are often acquired through education, training or on the job experience.

Employability skills, on the other hand, enable people to thrive in any professional environment.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)refers to these as essential skills and argues that they are at the heart of almost every single job.

“Most of these essential skills are profoundly human. They are behavioural and attitudinal, and hard to replace with technology. They include communication skills, team working, empathy, problem solving, creativity and positivity. Or looked at another way, these are the essential skills required to ensure we get the most out of technology as we all need to adapt and innovate,” a CIPD blog explains. “With job specific skills changing more rapidly, employers have been focusing more and more on these essential skills and it’s now common to hear employers talk of recruiting for attitude and training for skills.”

The benefits of employability skills

Enhanced marketability

Employability skills significantly boost a person’s marketability, a fact that is particularly important in a competitive job market where demonstrating a strong set of soft skills can help distinguish candidates and make them more appealing to employers.

This is especially true for entry level positions where candidates may have limited job-specific experience.

Improved job performance

Beyond securing a job, employability skills can help contribute to sustained success in the workplace.

For example, effective communication, teamwork, and problem solving skills help people when they’re in post and building relationships with their colleagues. Employees with well developed soft skills are also typically more adaptable to changes and challenges.

Long term career growth

Strong employability skills lay the groundwork for continued career success because as people progress in their careers, soft skills become increasingly important. Consider a person’s promotion into management – leadership skills, adaptability, and critical thinking are all core skills for more senior roles.

The most important employability skills

There is a diverse array of employability skills but the most commonly requested by employers include:

  • Communication skills. Effective verbal communication and written communication skills are among the most essential for professional success. Clear and concise communication ensures understanding, supports collaboration, and helps create an open and transparent work environment. Job seekers should always strive to highlight their communication abilities within their job applications and cover letters, and demonstrate these skills during job interviews.
  • Teamwork. The ability to work collaboratively with others is a highly valued skill, and many employers actively seek candidates who can contribute to a harmonious team dynamic and oversee collective decision-making.
  • Problem-solving. Problem solving skills are crucial for navigating the complexities of the modern workplace. Employers look for people who can analyse challenges, develop creative solutions, and implement effective strategies. As a result, demonstrating problem solving and analytical skills can set candidates apart.
  • Time management. The ability to manage time efficiently is a sought-after skill for many professional teams where meeting deadlines, prioritising tasks, and optimising productivity are all essential for handling responsibilities and projects. Closely related are organisational skills and self-management abilities, which also enable people to work more efficiently and effectively. 
  • Adaptability. The pace of change in today’s work environment often requires people to navigate uncertainty, embrace change, and quickly acclimate to new circumstances, so adaptable, resilient employees are in demand.

How to improve and enhance employability skills

One of the most effective ways of developing and enhancing employability skills is to embrace a mindset that’s focused on continuous learning and building up new skills and strengths. This includes seeking out opportunities for professional development and growth – whether through workshops, courses or online resources – and regularly working to acquire new technical and soft skills. For example, someone with a growth mindset will focus on improving their technical IT skills (such as learning new formulas in Excel) while also expanding their knowledge in soft computer skills, such as communicating effectively on professional social media.

Remember that at their core, employability skills reflect a person’s openness to adapt and innovate. And in an era where technological advancements and market dynamics evolve rapidly, the ability to acquire and apply new competencies is invaluable.

For young people or those early in their careers, this can be achieved through work experience. Internships, part-time jobs, or even volunteer work provide valuable opportunities to develop and apply job readiness skills in real world scenarios. It’s also worth noting that employers often look favourably on candidates with a blend of academic knowledge and practical experience.

For those more advanced in their careers, it may be more helpful to seek mentorship for personal development. Mentors can share their own experiences with developing and leveraging employability skills and can provide insight, guidance and constructive feedback.

Regardless of where a person is at in their career journey, it’s important to set and evaluate goals. When goal-setting, define both shor and long term goals for career and personal growth and then regularly evaluate progress, adjusting goals as needed. This not only enhances focus but also showcases a commitment to improvement.

Finally, a growing area of importance for personal development is in emotional intelligence, or EQ. EQ is an ability to understand and manage one’s emotions – and those of others – and can be developed by practising self-management, self-awareness and empathy.

Enhance your employability skills and grow your leadership mindset

Develop your professional adaptability alongside leadership skills with the 100% online MSc Finance, Leadership and Management programme from the University of York. This flexible Masters programme will give you valuable insight into your own professional development while building your problem solving and communication skills.

Your studies will prepare you to respond rapidly and effectively to changing business and financial environments, and upon graduation you will receive affiliate CMI membership and be awarded a Level 7 certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice.

Modules on this programme cover topics such as:

  • Operations management
  • Business finance 
  • Leading and managing people
  • Marketing and ethics in global business
  • Corporate financial strategy
  • Investment management
  • Asset pricing.