Features Friday, September 05, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 5, 2014 | 06:48 pm IST The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree has been one of the most sought after courses for graduates for some years now. 3.5 lakh students join for a MBA degree every year all over India. With such a rush among the students for this and over four thousand colleges offering the degree, it is important to understand why one should do a MBA, and from where. ‘It’s critical to determine whether your expectations for an MBA are aligned with what the degree will likely do for you,’ says Prof. E.D. Batista, an instructor at the Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, one of the top three B-schools in the world. In his article in the Harvard Business Review, he says that there are three benefits with a MBA degree. 1. Practical leadership and management skills2. A credential that sends a signal to the marketplace3. Membership in a learning community and access to an alumni network He also adds that every college offers each of these benefits in varying degrees. As a solution to this, he asks the students to ask themselves twelve questions that will help them get a clear idea. 1. Practical leadership and management skills. B-schools have come to realize that it is not sufficient to provide quantitative and analytical training alone. What is required is not only the conventional theoretical training but also a ‘different interpersonal skill set.’ The B-schools have understood that ‘within a few years of leaving school (or even immediately upon graduation) their alumni will add value more through their ability to lead and manage others than through their talents as individual contributors.’ Stanford Dean Garth Saloner is of the opinion that ‘the softer skill sets, the real leadership, the ability to work with others and through others, to execute, that is still in very scarce supply.’ It is thus important to achieve these skills as and cater to the market needs. So ask yourself: • Do the MBA programs I’m considering provide practical leadership and management training?• How well-established are these courses? How much support do they have from the school? How much support do they have from the surrounding community?• What do alumni say about their experiences in these courses? How have they benefited from this training?• And what alternative means are available to me to develop these practical skills? 2. A credential that sends a signal to the marketplace. Unlike many compulsory post graduate degrees without which one cannot continue in a particular profession, the MBA degree is not compulsory. It is only an added credential that sends a signal to the market or employer, a reputation. Often, a person with a MBA degree will get a higher pay than one who does not. Your credentials will be based on the reputation of the college in which you studied. Top B-schools will have a good reputation but the employers also see their ‘reputation for entitlement and arrogance,’ says Prof. Batista. He adds that ‘there are many fields and organizations in which MBAs are viewed with skepticism and even disdain.’ So ask yourself: • What market am I in now? What markets might I seek to enter in the future?• Who’s interested in my services? How might this change if I had an MBA?• How are MBAs perceived in these markets? What signals does an MBA send in these markets? What stereotypes (both positive and negative) might I face as an MBA?• What is the specific reputation of the MBA programs I’m considering? How are these schools and their alumni viewed within my desired markets?• And what alternative means are available to me to send the signals I desire to communicate? 3. Membership in a learning community and access to an alumni network. This is again a major benefit and a crucial factor that needs to be considered before selecting any particular B-school. In every B-school it is group work that is given more importance. Students get to learn from their peers as much as they learn from their faculty. Thus the kind of students that come to a particular B-school, too, needs to be factored in before deciding the B-school. The alumni network may vary from one institution to another based on many factors including its location and age. The alumni network becomes an asset when you change your career path. Generous help from the alumni mattered the most to him during his professional transition, says Prof. Batista. So ask yourself: • What do I know about the students at the MBA programs I’m considering? Are they like-minded peers? Do I see myself learning alongside them?• What do I know about the alumni networks of these programs? How active are they? Are they concentrated in geographic areas and professional fields of interest to me?• What support does a school provide to its alumni network and to individual alumni? Do alumni return frequently to participate in events and activities at the school?
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