Prof Debashis Chatterjee
In 2017, the placement season in India had witnessed its share of challenges post-demonetisation. While several jobs were affected and most of the companies had imposed a hiring freeze, MBA pass-outs were still highly sought after by many top companies. It was because of their belief that these young Turks and fresh minds were capable of driving innovation and optimising their business to generate new opportunities in the challenging business environment that existed. The aftermath of demonetisation also saw digital transformation picking up pace in the country. According to a report, Cognizant Consulting, the biggest recruiter of management graduates, hired close to 600 MBA students from the 2017 batch of top management schools to place them in different capabilities. Even tech giant Microsoft hired 30% more MBA graduates in the year as compared to the previous year. Microsoft’s head of global talent acquisition, Chuck Edward, commented in a report that the demand for MBA candidates has seen a significant rise in the past two or three years, with recruitments made from nearly 150 different schools in 40 countries. The question here is, why are companies willing to hire more MBA graduates as compared to other degrees? Why are they ready to dole out lucrative compensation packages to MBAs and attract top talent?
An MBA programme trains you to make use of your skills efficiently, exposes you to a high-pressure environment, and makes you work in a team and deal with different people tactically and strategically. Business and management degrees focus on how an organisation operates, their styles of management, and application of business strategies. An ordinary graduate is sure to undergo a metamorphosis and turn himself/herself into a capable leader and solve many business-related problems that can arise in the highly challenging corporate environment after undergoing the rigorous training that an MBA offers. No wonder, then, that MBA graduates are touted to be a worthy educational investment in today’s highly competitive market.
Over the years, the number of students pursuing MBA has been significantly on the rise. While the reasons may vary from person to person, some of the reasons why Indians opt for management degree are:
* Helps in developing managerial skills;
*Offers an understanding of the current markets, people, trends, operations;
* Teaches one when to make tough calls and make a company tick;
*Urges students to constantly challenge themselves;
*Paves the way for top management positions with lucrative packages; and
*Develops entrepreneurial acumen.
Pursuing an MBA post-engineering or other science studies has become a new norm. The past few years have seen a high number of students with engineering and medical backgrounds appear for CAT, alongside other management entrance exams in India. Surprisingly, the CAT results that got declared in 2017 revealed that 20 candidates who had scored 100 percentile were all engineering students—and none with management background. Let’s look at why there is a rush amongst engineering/medical students for a seat in the prestigious management institutions and how does a management degree help:
Better career prospects: Often, engineering and medical students are in a dilemma about what to pursue post their graduation. While MS or MTech degrees can help students to further strengthen their core expertise, pursuing an MBA gives them additional knowledge and makes them explore other areas apart from technology and medicine. Medical students with an MBA degree can bag impressive job roles in hospital management, healthcare management and administration. Besides, medical students with a management background can do an exceptional job in terms of product development and administration. It is not necessary for a doctor or an engineer to move away from their core expertise once they obtain a management degree. The managerial skills will only accentuate their demand in the job market.
Highly preferred by recruiters: Engineering graduates with an MBA degree have an upper hand in the job market, as they are able to make use of both technical as well as managerial skills. A degree in engineering helps students sharpen their analytical and mathematical skills. A managerial degree, giving an edge to their area of expertise, enables them to fulfil job roles in fields like investment banking and other fintech firms, consulting, equity research and various other disciplines that require data analysis and business intelligence. They are also trained to handle a team, effectively increase networks, and develop good interpersonal and man-management skills to mentor and motivate subordinates, freshers and trainees.
Attractive salary packages: An engineer or a medical professional powered with an MBA degree stands a better chance to earn a hefty package than other courses. Students having an eclectic skill-set are in demand in the corporate world. The market has always valued candidates with a good combination of technical skills, communication skills and managerial skills.
Enter entrepreneurship: Young professionals are keen to become their own bosses by choosing the path of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs like Akshat Saxena (co-founder at ePaylater), Manoj Barot (director, Marketing at Mauj Mobile) and Mayank Premi (co-founder & director of Beacon) are some of the successful examples who have set benchmarks in their chosen fields after pursuing an MBA from a reputed institution. These are some of the vibrant entrepreneurs who are changing the game for their generation and taking entrepreneurship to a whole new level.
The advantage of pursuing a management course postgraduation has unlocked new avenues for students and enabled them to develop a competitive edge in the current job ecosystem. It hones their abilities and apprises them of the dynamics involved in business operations. This might as well be the reason why MNCs and leading organisations are mobilising resources to get hold of and retain the best of talent, before they perhaps embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.
Now, why do Indian students take up management degrees?
A prestigious management degree offers social and economic mobility. It enables MBAs to assimilate insights and interaction from their peer group—fellow students who have plenty to offer from their varied experiences. Good MBA schools also offer opportunities to find mentoring through guest lectures. Studying remotely at a distance learning school does not limit this opportunity. As any business school graduate knows, networking is a major part of personal and professional growth. Through networking, knowledge capital gets amplified by the social capital that each student acquires through the two years in a postgraduate management programme.
The author is director general, International Management Institute, New Delhi (and former director of IIM Kozhikode)