The Magic Wand!
It’s almost a ritual for most commerce, science and engineering graduates in India to consider MBA as the next career option. One can attribute this popularity to the growing Indian economy and the promise it presents in form of a great career. The reasons to enrol for an MBA program are mostly that of peer group influence, percieved career success and parental pressure . The result 1000s of youngsters out of Business schools with limited real world skills. For one to appreciate the nuances of business, they have to experience it first hand and then put the theory in right context. Off late, there is some sense prevailing and I see more people opting for MBA education after spending a reasonable time working in the industry. The responsibility also lies with educationist, academia and parents to guide the youngsters on these lines.
Euphoria around placements
We can not get rid of this at least in India. Lets accept it, the primary motive for higher education in India is to get a good job & financial security. Definitely not for reasons of passion or interest in a subject area, unlike the developed world. But somehow I always felt the MBA programs in India are designed only around getting employed rather than building capabilities to become employable. I thinks that’s because of focus B schools put so much on placements, as if it is the nirvana of the corporate career!
Students should be encouraged to build their own networks and get jobs on their own (like in most top global schools). What is concerning also is the low number of B school graduates taking up entrepreneurship as an option? Some how the job option is perceived to be less riskier and more acceptable in the community. I would partly blame this on the pedagogy and euphoria built around campus placements
Amongst the teaching faculty, you will find mostly those who chose academic career early on, did their Phd and took up teaching positions. While the ones from academia come with great analytical skills and acquired industry insights, their ability to relate with and articulate corporate realities is challengeable. So one way to ensure they bring in real corporate perspectives is to make industry assignments mandatory in their doctoral programs. We should also encourage candidates from the industry apply for Phd programs in management. Career in academics would sure be a different track for these corporates, but I am sure there are many souls who would love to jump in to this for lack of intellectual stimulation in their work life. The challenge though is how to attract such talent to academia?
Majoring the Minor and Minoring the Major
Ask any MBA candidate at the end of their first year and there are just two things on their mind, one is of course placements and second is the specialisation/major. This generally gets decided by the number of electives he or she chooses to study in a particular area like Finance, Marketing, HR et al. This approach, I believe goes against the fundamental objective of MBA program which is to create Business Managers / Leaders and not functional specialists. While there is nothing wrong in concentrating in a set of electives, but to think that one would be working in the same area for rest of work life is flawed. Here is where the pedagogy plays a vital role in explaining to students they need to see things holistically and try to get a hang of most business topics they would need to navigate their careers effectively.