Thursday, November 29, 2012

Would the economy be better off without MBA students?

Disclaimer: I am an MBA and I love my MBA. I am also proud of both these facts.

Now let’s answer some thought provoking questions.

Q. Are MBAs the best managers in the world?
A. No. But they are also not the worst and if you pick data, they are more likely to be in the better half. And managerial skills have a lot of do with personality, something not many MBA courses take in account.

Q. Are MBA better equipped than their non-MBA counterparts?
A. Yes. Numerous case studies, live projects do help. But again they don’t give a ready to use manual.

Q. But MBAs take wrong decisions, make mistakes. What about that?
A.  So do Doctors, Lawyers, and Economists. They are all human beings after all.

I am writing this article as I keep on getting constantly appalled by some people who look at MBA or perceive them in a certain manner and offer opinions. My knowledge’s sources range from anecdotes with friends, Social media and random article here and there. I used to ignore them mostly because I knew I had earned my MBA, worked hard during it, had a hell of a time, forged best relationships and was lucky enough to get a job also.

But then I saw this debate going on The Economist with the same heading and it made me think. And it was enough fodder to pour out something for my dying blog.

I can unabashedly state that I do not use most of the things taught to me by my professors during MBA. And neither do I use most of the things taught by my teachers since Nursery. So just to set the tone straight I don’t use most of the things I have been taught in the classroom. Although I am still trying to figure out a way where I can use log tables or at least apply differentiation in a day to day life.

But then what do I use. I use most of the things I learnt during the time I was not in the classroom. While playing football, captaining a chess team, finishing an assignment just in time, leading a group for a successful task and many more such activities. Quite frankly in my 8 months of work experience, it is hard to count the number of times my profile has changed, probably more like the opening pair for the Pakistan cricket team. But the work remains constant and so do the learning and hence the application.

MBA as a programme is still evolving and will perhaps always keep on evolving. The teaching methodology, the curriculum will keep on changing. The process will not remain the same. What will not change, is the outcome, of course we will have deviations and some errors also.

I need not take names, there are so many companies started by MBA in India, let alone the world, who are doing great. And so many more are led by them also. And here is where the problem has started.

I have noticed many companies tend to have strong institutional relationships and tend to form an elite circle where outsiders are not allowed. We might see some companies only hiring Harvard guys, some only IIM and not below. This eventually gives way to entitlement mindset. I am an MBA from so and so college and I will get job in such and such company with X package. And I will directly formulate strategy after finishing the management training. Companies need to break this mindset. Meritocracy should prevail at all costs and old boys club should be clamped down.

MBAs need to earn everything after MBA also. They should not think they did an MBA, hence they should get management positions, should be the strategy guy, need not get hands dirty, need not to sell and so on.

And finally I have met enough MBA who can’t even write a mail properly but so is the case with non-MBAs also.

Many things like risk appetite, leadership style and other facets of one’s personality determine what kind of decision he or she will take and not the degree one holds. We can always focus on the right cause rather than finding an easy scapegoat.   

As far as this question is concerned, I leave the answer to you, my reader.  

1 comment:

  1. Well written, RSS. I guess the flaw is that we see education as a means to a successful career. I think that is a limiting perspective, perhaps demeaning the existence of education. Further, the sadder part is that the material richness of a person is taken as proxy of a successful career.

    We need to see education as a means to build beautiful people who get a better understanding of the world and the people.

    Also, some programs provide higher payoff depending upon the stage (and not age) of the student. I believe that MBA pays-off more when one has seen a bit more of the real-world, rather than just jumped out of one's undergrad knickers.

    However, I can't blame transitioning economies such as India for this oversight (or should I call this, undersight). We are largely a poor country, where the focus is to earn bread, and hence, what I typed above may sound too intellectual, and hence, nonsensical. :-)

    C'est la vie, mate!