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MBA jobs with best work-life balance (do they exist?)

Thinking about MBA jobs with the best work-life balance might feel strange to those who are currently at or thinking about business school - where late nights with your team mates ahead of big group project deadlines, cramming for tests and exams, and relying on great time management (and plenty of coffee) to balance the workload of classes, projects, recruitment events and socialising that is MBA life.

But post-MBA careers can be a different matter. Studying for a full-time MBA allows you to focus fully on your course for a year or two, but what about the return to real life after business school? Career options such as consulting appeal to a lot of MBAs, but the long hours and constant travel aren't for everyone, particularly if you are trying to balance your career with a family or just want to have a decent amount of free time outside of work. Where should you look for the MBA jobs with the best work-life balance?

When it comes to work-life balance for MBAs it's often easier to start with the roles and sectors to avoid. As mentioned above, consulting is notorious for long hours and often a punishing travel schedule on top, with Monday-Thursday travel to the client site being the norm. Whilst it's possible that the post-COVID era may see a reduction in this travel, tight deadlines, demanding clients and a billable hours culture are still likely to keep consultants busy into the evening and on occasions, at weekends too. Top tier strategy firms tend to have the worst reputation for work-life balance, but generally speaking long hours can be expected across the sector. For those looking to work in strategy and still retain a life outside of work, in-house corporate strategy roles or internal consulting teams (where your clients are teams within your organisation) may be an option worth considering.

Banking (particularly corporate/investment banking) and private equity are other - very popular - MBA sectors which also often come with long hours. However - work-life balance isn't just about the amount of hours you work - it's about the amount of support you receive from your team and employer, your ability to disconnect or switch off outside of non-working hours, and the amount of control you have over your own work - demanding hours can be a lot more manageable when you have an element of flexibility in how you handle them. These are things which are often determined by the kind of company you work for, the culture established in your team, the expectations of your manager, and even the country that you are based in. This is where your MBA network should come into play - not only can it be difficult to broach the topic of work-life balance during the formal interview process, you are far from guaranteed to get an honest answer. Reaching out to alumni etc informally will be much more enlightening and also allows you to ask more honest questions. So if finding MBA jobs with the best work-life balance is important to you, ensure that - like any job search - you build out your network and start your due diligence early.

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