Every MBA aspirant across the globe would have, at some point of time in her/his MBA application preparation, been exposed to the argument that exists about the utility of the MBA itself, notwithstanding its various forms (full-time/part-time, weekend, distant, etc). Return on Investment is now a standard ranking parameter for major listings like the ones prepared by FT, Forbes and so on. While the frameworks for evaluation would vary, my personal take on this is that there are MBAs and there are MBAs. While it is possible to zoom into certain aspects of aspiration like the desire to work in a certain geography and hence pick a particular school which acts as a gateway, there are some schools and some programs you can never go wrong with choosing. As the PGPX batch of 2016~17 enters into its second term, we are all unanimous in our belief that the PGPX is one such program.
It is an unspoken gospel that the single point focus of a majority of incoming MBA students is placements. Period. However, only a few schools are successful in instilling an atmosphere of academic rigor in the MBA programs irrespective of the pedagogy they follow, especially at the Executive Education level. IIM-A wins handsomely on this front and the key enabler in its success is the Case based pedagogy.
My long term goal in pursuing a management education was to develop the ability to take swift, judicious decisions. With a focus on manufacturing, I have worked in two stints which have been as diverse as possible. World’s largest car-maker vs. Growing Indian MNC, Product vs Services Sector, Operations Vs Strategy, highly rigid culture vs. highly flexible and open culture. These are just some of the aspects of diversity, these two stints have given me an opportunity to experience. However, the missing aspect was the scope to be involved in decision making at strategic levels. Going by the premise that I will be in the job market for more than two decades, the PGPX offers both the ability to quickly learn decision making by simulation in classroom as well as the accelerated opportunity to join top notch firms at roles that involve decision making.
First, the learning part. Case based pedagogy works well for two reasons, particularly in a class with significant work experience. The process of putting oneself in the shoes of a protagonist in a case and making decisions in the face of uncertainty is the closest proxy to actual scenarios which are encountered by senior executives who operate in a competitive world. Maintaining the diversity of work experience in the participating batch is the best way to ensure that this process is practiced in a realistic manner. Moreover, cases never have a right or wrong answer and the best approach is always contextual, a philosophy which applies to the real world of business as well. Hence, the iteration of going through the case and coming up with contextual approaches strengthens the belief of the participant to be able to make swift, judicious decisions and more importantly, live with their consequence. Another important reason for the preference of the case method is the unattractiveness of the alternative, learning by theory and gutting it all down the drains that are exams are designed to be! When you consider that it has been a long while since most of us pursued such tiring endeavors, the case method becomes even more attractive.
In recent times, the PGPX program has completely captured mindshare of recruiters in the sub-continent who want to pick up candidates for their leadership positions. The sustained attempt to keep the class profile at a consistent quality, high and diverse work experience of the candidates and the academic rigor of the Institute have contributed to this positioning of the program. However, for many a potential applicant to the program, one thing needs to be clear; you do not get a job just because you are in the PGPX program. Recruiting happens for very specific roles and the fit of the candidate is crucial, unlike in the PGP program where the potential of the candidate is much more focused upon. Hence, candidates in the PGPX program have to make crucial choices not only about the careers they want to pursue but also the methods they use to prepare for such careers. Avenues are aplenty but discretion is paramount. Though preparing for the recruitment process is short-term but a subject in itself, the PGPX candidates also need to think carefully about the skills they need to acquire in order to effectively perform in their outgoing roles. As one Professor put it succinctly, “Refined Intuition” is the hallmark of a great CEO and that is what the case pedagogy endeavors to equip us with. This is what we do, day in and day out, at the PGPX classroom. Practice the skill of refined intuition which enables us to become better executors and decision makers. And this is the unique value that an IIMA PGPX education provides to its participants.
About the Author:
Aniruddha Srinath is a current batch student at PGPX (2016-17) batch at IIM Ahmedabad. He has more than 7 years of experience in Manufacturing Strategy and Operations with Cyient Limited and Toyota Motors. He has a Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. His passions include, reading, blogging, yoga and cricket, in the same order.