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Column
Published on: Dec. 14, 2020, 11:39 a.m.
Doing that MBA
  • Doing an MBA is not just about salaries or job offers. Photo credit: Sanjay Borade

By Anirban Das. The author is MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, with 22 years of work experience

There is an oft-quoted statistic. According to an Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India study, only 7 per cent of Indian business school graduates, outside the top schools, are actually employable. This raises some pertinent questions as to why the remaining 93 per cent are still functional. It also raises concern as to why the magazines doing B-Schools articles do not highlight this issue.

Maybe, one day, we will see an article titled ‘Top 100 MBA Colleges students should avoid’. Magazines looking at B-schools need to furnish an explanation as to the reason for such a large deviation in the top 100 colleges. It wasn’t too long ago when a college which exhorted students to ‘dare to dream beyond the IIMs’ found a top ranking mention in many of these magazines, forcing many students to stop dreaming and wake up. Let’s use the college student-college-company (CCC) perspective framework to raise more pertinent issues.

College student perspective

Why do an MBA at all? Doing an MBA is not just about salaries or job offers but developing multiple perspectives on the same issue, as also the ability to ask the right questions. Doing an MBA after graduation or doing an MBA after reasonable work experience also raises the issue about the futility of graduation. Why would anyone in their right minds want to study for two more years after completing three to four years of graduation and 12 years of schooling?

But once we have worked a few years in a corporate, we begin to realise our areas of interest and the skills we lack. And yearn to go back to college days and wish we had paid more attention in class. Wouldn’t it make far more sense to do an MBA with some work experience under our belt after which we are in a better position to appreciate and apply the lessons? If the objective is to indeed increase learning, nothing beats a full-time MBA as compared to a part-time MBA. Having decided to pursue an MBA course it makes sense to weigh Indian MBA degrees as opposed to doing an MBA from the US/Europe. Especially, in light of the fact that most of the global companies are looking at India as the most attractive investment destination.

Another point of debate is whether an integrated MBA makes sense. If one will be consigning his/her basic graduation to the bin anyway in favour of an MBA, then why not study Business Administration for five years and term it Integrated MBA? Great branding! But then, what is the logic of doing something for five years when it can be completed in 1-2 years? Who does this product really benefit, the student or the college?

Ninety-three per cent of students are unemployable ‘old age MBA’. And what is new age MBA? One college defines it as MBA in Technology Management or MBA in Data Science. I guess all the reputed IIMs missed a trick here, since they continue to teach old age MBA, yet continue to do well. If I can learn a technical skill in two months, why do I need to spend two years?  And now, maybe, we will have MBA in mechanical, civil, electrical
engineering, etc.

Company perspective

If you are part of the group cribbing about 93 per cent students as ‘unemployable’, what is your role in making them employable?

• A few companies after having completed their recruitments, ask students to forgo the remainder of MBA programme in Tier II colleges after placement? Why? Will the company lose millions, if the MBA completes his/her programme? Have you reimbursed the student’s time and money in doing the MBA programme?

• Are you recruiting on the basis of mindset or on the basis of technical skills which can be developed in-house? Most companies insist on MBAs and then use their recruits for grunt work, essentially negating over 90-95 per cent of their MBA learning. The real need is for specific skills, not MBAs. For this 5 per cent, would it not be worthwhile to sponsor a two-month training session?

• Are you using the Internship programme effectively to attract potential recruits, expose them to real-life business problems, appraise their mindset to fit with company culture during this period?

•  Are you playing an active role in vetting the college curriculum?

• You want recruits who can solve real business problems. How many problems have you shared with colleges in the form of caselets/challenges? This is a great way to crowd-source solutions, identify potential recruits and promote the company.

Finally, could we have a universal ranking for colleges based on the ‘net promoter score’ principle? A common independent third agency could
ask the student “How likely are you to recommend this college to your friends and relatives?” On a scale of 1 to 10. Interview at least 50 per cent pass-outs. Customers (students) know best. Keep it simple.


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