A good b-school

 

I was always an ideal inattentive student, distracted by everything other than the teacher(wayyyy) in front of me. It felt like I was scuba diving in a sea of thoughts and this trend unfailingly continued during my b-school days too.

During those days, one thought that showed up most of the time was about the b-school itself. Everyone around talked about rankings, admissions and b-school popularity. So I thought and thought and thought and came up with this –

“B-schools teach strategic management, marketing, advertising, leadership, business plans, cost and resource management and statistics; all of them claim to have top notch faculty; then why don’t these guys just use all those books, statistical tools, analyses techniques, diagrams and group dynamics to sit around a table and come up with the best ideas to show up in the top schools list.”

 

Whew! Waaw! Suddenly I felt like this unique, intelligent, street smart girl who needed no more b-school gyan!! Alas, that should have been the last living cell in my brain!

But, if you think of it, what really makes a good b-school? Why do the IIMs and ISBs deserve top rankings? It is not the age of the institute, because IIMA is 30 years older than ISB. It is not about the collaboration with international universities, because TAPMI wouldn’t figure in the list then, nor is it the metro location because IRMA’s sprawling campus in Anand is 75kms far from its nearest city, Ahmedabad.

Let’s see if answering some simple questions will help us.

Q) When does a business or a business school do well?
a) When its stakeholders are happy

Q) Who are a B-school’s stakeholders?
a) Companies and Applicants

Q) What do companies want from B-schools?
a) Smart graduates with managerial expertise to fulfill company needs

Q) What do applicants look for in a b-school?
a) Anything that can prepare them for company expectations

Q) How does a b-school attract companies?
a) sell the quality of the other stakeholder, the students
o How?
Select the right candidates
Groom them to prepare for the challenges of industry

Q) How does a b-school attract applicants?
a) sell the quality of the other stakeholder, the companies visiting the campus
b) sell the grooming facilities and techniques being provided to prepare them

Q) How to match the needs of the two stakeholders?
a) teach management fundas – good faculty
b) provide sufficient teaching aides – good infrastructure
c) provide exposure – create base for interaction of stakeholders
d) create premise – for stakeholders to trust in the school

With so much competition around, it is never easy for a b-school to shoot up in its ranking; but i believe, the answers to such simple questions that is the idea behind the very existence of a b-school should not be forgotten in the process.

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MBA in India – An overview

 

This is from an email i recently sent to a cousin who is doing her second year in commerce and is having thoughts of doing an MBA next.

“Now that you are thinking of a post graduate degree, thought I’ll share some views. (I’ve been a victim of overloaded advice, now my chance to fire!). Kiddin, just want to make sure you make good choices, and taht I give you some tips based on where I went wrong. I would strongly recommend not doing an Mcom, unless you are thinking of doing a CA side by side. MBA is a good option for a person of any background. But there’s lot of hardwork that goes into it. 
  
1) Admission

    > The entrance exam – CAT is the king of MBA entrance exams, which is conducted by the IIMs. Many other top breed institutes use the CAT score for screening. CAT is the toughest of the lot, and is very competitive. There are other exams too XAT, entrance for the Xavier group of institutes, then MAT, for a large number of lower breed institutes and many more. But by far these are the three most popular ones.
Questions are mainly divided into quantitative (maths, not high level, but tricky) verbal(english) and data interpretation(graphs and statistics). These are not all that difficult but can be very very tricky. Basically they want people to think simple and use loads of common sense. You ll need to learn (simple) formulae and shortcuts and practice as much as you can. And the good news is that most exams dont have a general knowledge section! Coaching centers provide a great deal of resources, training and good  attention.
 
> The Group Discussion and Interview – Based on your CAT/entrance score, these b-school call you for a group discussion based on any topic.. (literally any topic, current events, sports, movies, business, anything). There would typically be around 8 people for the discussion, and what they test there is not only how much you knw abt the topic but how you make your presence felt, communication skills, leadership qualities, angane okke. 
 Then a personal interview by a panel of professors, who would ask you about your background, why you want to do an mba, your career goals, some questions about your degree subjects and all.
 
2) Choosing the right b-school – There are a whole lot of b-schools in the country, too many of them. Good ones are only about 10% of the lot. IIMs of course rule the list. Basically there are A grade schools(the likes of IIMs), Bgrade (like Bharatidasan, Alliance, IFMR, or Amrita, where i studied) and C grade (the bad ones, dont even look at these)
If you browse thru you will find many sites, that show rankings of top schools. You will also find it in magazines like Business today/world, India today etc.
There is no point in applying to all of them, you have to sit, think and choose as each application form costs from between Rs500-1200. You can make your choice based on the ranking, location, the placement (job) % of the school, the faculty experience, etc. (I can help you on that)
 
3) Fees – Bschool fees are always high averaging around 4 lakhs for the whole course. There are options of taking student loans, and if you get into a good school, where chances of getting a very good job is certain, you dont have to worry about the repayment. In Govt run institutes, like REC trichy (a very good b-school) the fees is very low.
 
4) In the Bschool – The idea about going to a Bschool and taking up a career as a manager is to be very capable, mature, smart, active, make good decisions, be approachable, competitive, aggressive and fearless. So thats the kind of attitude they are looking at, the bscools and the companies who recruit from bschools. You must be able to show that kind of an attitude throughout, ie in your attention in classrooms, assignment and projects, the discussions within classroom as groups and interviews.
 
5) The course – As an MBA you can choose what specific field you would like your career to move in, human resources, marketing, operations, systems/IT or finance. In the first year they teach you basics of all this, and in the second year you can choose the field that interests you the most.
 
6) Placement – The idea of getting into a Bschool is to end up getting a very well paid job, That is the reward of a 2 yr long competitive professional course, so anything you do right from this moment of deciding to do an MBA should be totally focussed on that final reward and how good you want it to be. Thats the goal.
 
I would suggest you attend a good coaching class, like Time or IMS for a 6 months or one year course (pref a one year course). They have weekend classes/weekday classes, lots of books and handouts, and very good classroom training. The good part is that they not only train you for the exam but also for GD and personal intw. Another good thing is that you will meet a whole lot of students with different backgrounds, mostly engineers. You ll have to mingle with people from all backgrounds, and show a lot of interest in learning. There will be instances where you lose confidence, seeing the speed and agressiveness of the engineering students but never put yourself down.
There will also be instances where you tend to lose interest in the class itself and focus on having fun and making new friends. I have seen many of my friends who attended a 1 yr course and scored poorly for the CAT, because they lost interest. Make sure that doesnt happen to you. Get yourself a good gang of friends who are very ambitious to make it to the top.
In the exam, its important to not only get answers correct but do the maximum in the given time. thats not an easy task; the key is also to make sure you practice what you learn, specially, being a non-eng student, focus on maths is very important…keep practicing everyday for atleast 1-2 hrs. Trust me, with a stop watch, its fun!
 
www.coolavenues.com is a good site for MBA aspirants,
http://www.time4education.com/  coaching classes
http://www.imsindia.com/  coaching classes
http://www.businessworld.in/content/section/14/45/ for basic ranking and info “

 

YemBeeYae — Why do it?

They say you learn more from your mistakes. My ‘gyan’ on why one should do an MBA comes from my ‘no gyan’ when I decided to do it or even when I did it!


Ask me and I would say don’t do an MBA if you don’t know what it means to you, if you don’t know how it adds value to your self/career, if you think it’s just a big bait to fish out a well paying job. No, that’s not it! Why do you think companies would want to hire MBAs? They want your ability to see the bigger picture in aspects concerning the company. They want you to analyze where they stand, what they are capable of, where they can get to, how soon they can get there, why certain things do not happen the way they should and what is to be done to make them happen. In short, they want you to lead the way.

Now you may think that this is not a real world situation and all jobs don’t throw this kind of experience. Like, when I was handling retail banking operations in ICICI, I was responsible to handle teams that processed checks and opened accounts. I never saw a big picture when I started off. I was frustrated, is this why I did an MBA? Slowly I realized, the catch is to visualize the large scenario in smaller ones and relate it to other scenarios and then think from a company point of view. Its fun, real fun, because then you start realizing that you of course can make a difference to your company. Now I know why those case studies were a relevant part of my course!
You need to go in there with a perspective.

Well, this applies to anything you do. But your ability to see the big picture is the very stress of this 2 year rigorous course. Its not just your content, but how you present it, how you can make people relate to it; not just about numbers, but how you apprehend them; not about selling products or services but selling yourself.
Now what I just said may have many counter arguments. I myself can think of at least 7 of them. But my point is not whether or not you should do an MBA, but if you are doing it you better know why and do it well. And this again holds true to anything you do.

 p.s – you can check out my next article on an overview of MBA in India