Why should you do an MBA?


Ms. Kanupriya Sekhri
School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL)

Article written by Ms. Kanupriya Sekhri
Lead- Strategic Partnerships and the Social Innovation Program
At SOIL, Kanu Priya leads Strategic Partnerships and the Social Innovation Program where she mentors the student teams on consulting projects with various non profit organizations on diverse projects ranging from marketing and branding to process improvement and HR systems.

Why should you do an MBA?

In all the rush to prepare, how many of you have honestly stepped back and asked yourselves why you want to do your MBA? Does the world need more MBAs? I often hear students ask about the salaries that have been talked about by the media time and again. But someone once pointed out that the monthly average salary of an MBA graduate in India is 10,000 rupees. Surprised? Well, think about it. Several thousand MBAs are without a job. Many others are struggling for base level salaries. The ones who get talked about with multi crore annual compensations are not even 1% of the 90,000 who graduate each year. They are the exception not the rule! So if that's the criteria for you, please think again. Allow me to give you 4 better reasons to do an MBA. (and these could prove useful during your interviews as well!)

More than 30 years ago, when our parents began their working careers, the key to success was in Production – Eli Goldratt's Goal was a Bible and every manager with an engineering background was focussed on improving quantity as well as quality of factory made products. Today, these processes have been so streamlined and automated that you hardly need an education to man these processes. All you need is on the job training and good experience.

Then began a focus on Finance and Taxation - CAs and Company Secretaries were much in demand...And they worked hard to showcase the company's financial strengths and performance every quarter as well as annually. Today, we have well built software packages to fill in and the taxation laws are getting simpler by the day.

Then came an era of fighting government regulations and getting the necessary sanctions – of course this was a pre liberalization era that I am referring to. It was an art and science on its own! But today, thanks to Manmohan Singh and Narsimha Rao, you and I have never studied that art and things are mostly smooth sailing without government interventions, in fact thanks to their support.

The 80s ushered in an era of MIS – Management Information Systems. And all of senior management were putting their heads together to figure out how to present information and use it to the best of their abilities. Today, MIS technology is enabling management to get maximum results with least time inputs. The 80s also saw an era of foreign collaborations. Every manager would spend his time finding out possible partnerships and then using his creativity to plan it. But today, with the FII inflow raising the stock market back to 20K, foreign collaborators are knocking on Indian doors rather than the other way around. So then managers started spending their time on Planning – a very important function, but one that is now supported by robust SAP like technologies that allow this complex job to be completed with ease.

So you must be wondering by now, that with all this automation, what people really do in 12 hour days! Well, the manager today really has to focus on 2 major functions – Marketing and HR. These have not been automated yet! When I talk of Marketing, it needs to go beyond Sales. It's about creating a value proposition for the clients. And HR is no longer about giving Diwali bonuses or tracking attendance. India as a young country sees people as its biggest resource. Managing people, high performance virtual teams, cross cultural expectations and growth is one of the most important tasks of any good manager. So these are some of the functions that you need to learn the basic conceptual frameworks for as you move ahead. That is reason 1.

Coming to the second reason - When the board of directors is looking for a CEO for their company, do you think they look for just financial abilities, or just a good sales person, or just a good people's manager? No. What they really need is someone who has a 360 degree view of all the functions – and that is what your MBA should provide you with. A full buffet is served and it remains with you for life. You can always refer back to it depending on the situation's requirement.  In fact, have you wondered why people spend 12-14 hours in office when work should ideally not be more than 8-10 hours? Well, research shows that 30% of time is wasted in arguing! Arguing about decisions, analysis, requirements and so much more. Why? Because people do not know enough about each other's functions! And that's why it's important for those who want to rise to have an all round understanding. 

The third reason to pursue this education is Whole Systems thinking: Understanding the impact of one variable on others. And a non MBA can miss this aspect throughout his 40 year career span. Of course it is true that Ambani didn't have an MBA and neither did various other successful businessmen world over. But, those are the exceptions, not the rule. The rest of them with potential are probably still selling petrol somewhere!

And finally, the world is all about Networking – or peer learning. The one gift your post graduation gives you is an alumni base: networks that you can be in touch with electronically, meet at common gatherings and reach out to as you all grow professionally.

300 of the Fortune 500 companies are already in India, and by the time some of you complete your post graduation, another 200 could be here as well. It's time to gear up to prepare and be ready to receive them. An MBA gives you perspective of Core functions like Marketing and HR; an overall functional view that is necessary to rise; the gift of systems thinking and peer learning and a fabulous network. Do you need any other reason?

The question is from where. And that's where the confusion begins. There are 1700 business schools in India today and hundreds more slated to come up in the next 3 years. One would think this is a problem of plenty and we can be choosy. Well the fact is quite the opposite. The education world has also become an 'industry' and B schools are getting more and more commoditized. And for students and their parents, the advertising and loud claims would confuse anyone! And in this confusion and chaos, we tend to lower our aspirations and tell ourselves that beggars can't be choosers so let's just choose whoever chooses us. Wrong. Life is all about excellence and excellence begins with the institute you are part of. The difficulty is about how to choose this institute. Well, I would suggest stick to 3 basic things–

1. Continuous and varied opportunities to interact with industry leaders

2. Background and ability of faculty

3. An environment suited to your individual learning needs.

So evaluate your chosen schools carefully on these parameters to make the most of your time investment. All the best!

Ms. Kanupriya Sekhri
School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL)

Source: E-mail December 17, 2010



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