IIM Ahmedabad Vs IIM Bangalore – A Comparative Guide
Between IIM Bangalore and IIM Ahmedabad, or even IIM Calcutta for that matter, it would be too naive to say that one is better than the other. Considering that placements is the major factor in deciding an Indian b-school for most aspirants, the placement scenario in IIM A and IIM B is pretty similar. However, the culture and the course structure in these two Meccas of Indian education has stark differences. I will point out the differences based on which I made my decision to choose IIM Bangalore over IIM Ahmedabad.
IIM A is the most academically rigorous b-school in the country. There shouldn’t be any complaints about this; as academics is the major reason why we go to a b-school in the first place. Given that you will be in a place which has an open library of knowledge like no other, it is only fair that you spend most of your time taking in as much of this as you can. However, as economists love to put it, there must be an equilibrium for pretty much anything to function. Here is where the balance makes a difference. The balance between academic and non-academic activities. Now, at this point, a lot of people would argue that someone saying that the academics at B are less rigorous than A is hugely mistaken. So let me clarify. The academics at B are almost as rigorous as at A in terms of the vastness of the syllabus. However, there is a major difference in the effort required. At IIM A, the entire curriculum is taught using a cased based pedagogy compared to the mixture of Case+Lectures+Seminars at IIM B. This means that for a student at IIM A, to stay on top at academics, he has to spend at least 3–4 hours everyday at pre-reading those cases before class. Combine this with group projects and assignments, there is hardly any time left for catching up on sleep, let alone extra-curriculars. This is not to deny that IIM A doesn’t have a vibrant social life. But you end up sacrificing a lot of things on a daily basis which happens relatively less at IIM B. Rest assured, you have those additional 3–4 hours (at least 2 out of them) to pursue your passion every single day at IIM B! And that is what work life balance is. No matter how much you love your work or whether it even seems like work to you, it is necessary to pursue interests outside its purview to develop and/or maintain a well rounded and a complete personality.
2.Foreign Exchange Program:
This was a massive factor in my decision. Given that this student exchange program lasts for an entire trimester (3 Months) and has an enviable list of partner b-schools, it is imperative that an opportunity like this should be grabbed with both hands. In terms of the Ivy league b-schools and some of the top universities in Australia, Europe and Canada, IIM Bangalore has far more choices than IIM Ahmedabad as mentioned here:
IIM Bangalore: Booth School Of Business, Yale School Of Management, Stern School of Business, London Business School, Fuqua School of Business, UCLA Anderson School of Management, Johnson Cornell, Australian School of Business, Melbourne Business School, University of NSW, QUT, McGill University, Queen’s School Of Business.
IIM Ahmedabad: Australian Graduate School of Management, Melbourne Business School, Stern School Of Business, UCLA Anderson School Of Management, Booth School Of Business, Columbia Business School, McGill University.
Especially since the foreign b-school you go to is decided based on your CGPA, having more choices among the top b-schools is a huge advantage. As can be clearly seen, the choices at IIM B are considerably higher than at IIM A.
Note: This list covers only the Globally top ranked B-Schools in USA, Europe, Australia and Canada. There are a lot of mid-rung schools partnering with both IIM A and IIM B which are mostly in Europe and are used by students for enjoying a Euro Trip for 3 months which was not among my considerations.
As I mentioned earlier, IIM A has a complete case-study based course structure compared to the Lectures+Cases+Seminars mix at IIM B. This means that subjects such as accounts will also be taught based purely on case studies. Now, the case based pedagogy is a major reason why many people prefer IIM A. However, I believe that there are subjects in which the case study pedagogy is apt (marketing, strategy, etc.) and there are subjects where the professor, who is a master of that subject, teaching you the basics in theory before letting you apply them will enhance the learning profoundly (accounting, finance, etc.). The bottom line is that, a mixed pedagogy breaks the monotony and also leads to a better transfer of knowledge from the professor to the students.
4.Choice Of Electives:
IIM B is the only b-school in the country which offers 3 electives in the first year. The advantage of this is that you would have done 3 courses in the field in which you will be pursuing your internship, which will be a massive advantage. Also, the 2nd Year at IIM B is fully elective based whereas IIM A has a couple of compulsory courses even in the 2nd Year.
5.Brand & Networking:
This is where IIM A would be a clear winner. The brand value of IIM A in the minds of the people is far higher than that of any other b-school. Also, the alumni network of IIM A is more organised and more active. However, the importance of this point should be tailored as per your requirements. The pertinent question is, how often will you actually end up using the alumni network? And is it leaps and bounds ahead of IIM B? Also, how much do Brand Names help you massage your ego?
6.Sporting Culture and Infrastructure:
Sports are an important part of a b-school life and IIM A and IIM B are no different. However, IIM B takes its sports far more seriously than any other b-school. The Sports Center at IIM B is a testament to this. The sporting facilities available at IIM B are unmatched across all Indian b-schools. And there is no better way to develop team building skills required for management than by playing sports. Also, IIM B emphasises that healthy minds dwell only in healthy bodies and sports form a major part of the everyday life at IIM B. So if sports are extremely important to you as they were to me, then perhaps IIM B will have a slight edge.
All in all, both are amazing places to spend 2 invaluable years of your life. And there is no right answer as to which one is better. However, it is important to understand the culture at these 2 b-schools and identify which culture will suit you the most.
So the reason I chose Indian Institute Of Management Bangalore was because that is where I would culturally fit in and that is where I belong. A lot of people since then have said that it takes a lot of guts to reject IIM A and choose IIM B. I would actually say it the other way round. It would have taken a lot of guts for me to leave IIM Bangalore for anything in this world! Because this is where I have always wanted to be. This is my dream!
And at the end of the day, as Steve Jobs says, “Always have the courage to trust your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become!”