Indian MBA v/s Foreign MBA

A very pertinent question among a lot of MBA aspirants, especially those with workex, is whether an Indian MBA is comparable to one from the United States. Or maybe Europe for that matter. Even freshers, at times, think about working for a few years and then pursuing an MBA from abroad. Then there are some who believe that work experience is a mandatory criterion to make an MBA course fruitful. Let us look at the intent behind these points of views and examine whether the IIMs or for that matter all the top institutes in the country live up to their expectations.

People with Workex

For people with workex, there is one thing that weighs heavily in favour of a foreign MBA. In the countries abroad, you are sure to get a far better value for the years spent slogging in the office. Consider a simple situation. At the time of placements, say in one of the top 3 IIMs, you want the coveted Consulting or Banking Job on Day 0. You will be pitted against people with workex like yourself and also against freshers who are just out of their colleges. Assuming you make the shortlist, from thereon, you have an equal chance of being recruited by your dream company as that of a fresher. Further assuming that you both are recruited, you will start at an equal salary! Your previous salary or your prior experience is now all but irrelevant.

To add to this, there are certain recruiters who do not shortlist people with 4 or more years of experience. They prefer freshers or people with lesser work experience (max. 2 years). They want people who do not have any prejudices, who do not have any set way of working so that these people can be moulded into what the recruiting company wants. Thus, if you have 4 or more years of workex, placements are bound to be on the tougher side more often than not. This can never happen in an MBA from say Harvard or INSEAD where the average workex of the batch is ~5 Years. The companies which recruit at these colleges come for a different role and need people who have prior experience. This is not to say that the placements in these colleges will be a cakewalk. But rest assured, you are bound to get a good value for your work experience.

Hence, my advice, if you have 4 or more years of work experience, go abroad!

Freshers

For freshers, the question is slightly different. It is about choosing between doing an MBA now in India (provided you have an admit from a top institute) vis-à-vis working for a few years and becoming a part of the above category i.e people with workex. First things first, the misconception that workex adds value to the MBA course and helps you get more out of it is really worth being called a misconception. Yes, you may be able to relate a few things taught in class to what you have done in your office, ‘few’ being the operative word. And that is as far as it gets. What you should actually look at is why do you want to do an MBA in the first place. If you are doing it to get into a line of work where at some point an MBA is mandatory to climb up the corporate ladder, then it is imperative to do that MBA as early as is possible. A big advantage that freshers get is that they are in that flow where they are used to studying day in and day out, a big necessity in this course. You tend to lose this somewhere once you start working. Also, if you are eventually going to do an MBA, you might as well do it now to put your career progress on fast-track mode. You get the same opportunities during placements as people with workex, sometimes even better; and you start at the same level as a person who has worked for 2 years and then does an MBA for 2 years. The math simply points at doing your MBA now! The only caveat to this being if your life goal is to settle abroad. However, even for this, you get plenty of opportunities to move abroad once you start working post-MBA.

Hence, my advice, do your MBA from India and do it NOW!

Disclaimer:

This article heavily biased towards the placements aspect of an MBA course. This is intentional because this is where the decision point ends up being eventually. In terms of the course itself, the course in the top IIMs is as good as the one in Harvard.

Also, cost of doing an MBA might be a factor for a few but I believe that the ample student loan opportunities available, negate this altogether. Lastly, the recent political developments across the world should now have a huge bearing on this decision; and they point towards an Indian MBA for Indians. However, this is a very long debate and is beyond the scope of this article.

Amol Aranake

Chartered Accountant May 2016 IIM Bangalore PGP 2017-19

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