Campus Champions to Corporate Duds
A manager, on being asked the difference between Graduates and B-Schoolers, quipped
‘I don’t have to teach the Graduate Boys how to write an email’
Such is the state of Management education that most B-Schoolers (even from premier B-Schools) are not equipped with the hygiene factors to flourish in a corporate setup. A B-School grad who hasn’t made a business communication blunder is a rare species (maybe an extinct one).
The biggest difference between B-School and Corporate is that mistakes become unpardonable. The stakes have skyrocketed overnight, & even small errors can be devastating. For Grads equipped with unduly theoretical knowledge and markedly low practical exposure, mistakes are inevitable, not to mention reprehensible. Underprepared and overconfident, they are thrown unarmed into the battleground under the pretext of ‘hitting the ground running’.
At B-Schools, meeting CEOs and CMOs was a weekly affair. They just seemed so much in reach, that one could not help but target those roles. Repeated ego massages by friends and constant deification by families helps build an ivory tower block by block. All B-Schoolers think of themselves as the ‘Cream of the Crop’, there exists no bell curve that differentiates best and great, ‘Bad’ does not exist. However, in reality good is not good enough, what matters is to be ‘Better’.
While recruiting from a premier B-School companies pay a premium, to survive the rat race for slots. The urge to get ‘Leadership Talent’ at any costs is driven from senior Leadership (at times Alma Mater groupism at work). This regal treatment continues with grandiose facilities during induction & on-boarding. The distinct feeling is of having ‘arrived’.
An abrupt journey from being a demi-God to being a mere mortal is initiated in no time. One fine day, they snatch away your ‘Intern Pass’ that lets you cruise unperturbed by the encumbrance of deliverables, & hand over an Employee card that reads ‘Earn your livelihood, & our respect’. Burgeoning expectations land you sweating on the field selling more products to a rude shopkeeper who already has his shelf full to capacity. Reality strikes when the incessant struggle to meet insurmountable deadlines and delusive expectations begins.
Cultured and erudite faculty is replaced by callous managers struggling with their own careers. While they may be brilliant at their jobs, and that is what has got them there, they aren’t articulate enough or at times are unwilling to share their learnings. This is where people plunge into the ‘corporate slaves’ trap. The options available are to crib or to accept that things will no more be the same, & accept the challenge to make the most of it. From here on one makes his own journey, with the only external influencing factor being ‘Company backing’. The Education system hardly features ‘ambiguity’, with a sacrosanct syllabus, right or wrong answers and a common criterion for success. In Corporates, handling ‘ambiguity’ is often the differentiating factor.
An ill-equipped education system, lack of industry readiness, massaged egos, lack of appreciation for organizational politics and an overvalued premier tag are all ingredients that go into preparing a Grumpy and disenchanted ‘Corporate Slave’.
To avoid falling into the trap, the action plan is simple– Do what Einstein once asked us to
‘Learn the rules of the Game, and then play it better than anyone else.’