In conversation with Ishita Saxena, who pursued an MBA in Human Resource Management after pursuing law. Read on!
Let’s start with the most cliched question - Why a career in MBA, specifically with an HR specialisation? Why not be a lawyer instead?
Post long introspection sessions trying to come up with a definite answer, I have finally settled for one. Initially there was a distinct answer for family and friends, and yet another one reserved exclusively for b-school Interviews. Post so many shades of why MBA, I would simply share the honest candid version, skipping all the sugarcoating and MBA-ishness.
I was clueless in my final year about what career path to choose. I had a law degree, and definitely not because my parents wanted one but because I found it interesting, internships including ones at the Supreme Court , High Court and reputed law firms. The final year at the law school was exciting, I had been placed with a law firm, but I decided not to join not being sure if it was my calling. I wanted to pursue a master’s degree and started researching on the available avenues. My brother had just completed his MBA and shared how he had a couple of lawyer batchmates who got placed well and how “diversity” was the holy grail at these b-schools. I realized how business education would complement what I learnt during the last 5 years and how it would accelerate my career graph and it would become steeper. Everything seemed sorted until I started prepping for the entrance exams. I dreaded the quants section, it was simply an overkill.
In retrospect, do you think it was the right choice? How do you think life has been different?
Strictly no regrets, everything about opting for an MBA seems the right decision even when the economic outlook seems gloomy, especially because I am pursuing an MBA in Human Resources, which seems well aligned with law. First year at XL has been nothing short of amazing (though technically I am still in the first year, corona being the culprit), I met people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. The learning was steep and everything felt as if on steroids, the rush is real. It was initially tough, but I stood by my life-long mantra - “No pain, No gain”.
What do you think are the challenges that you face because of your background while pursuing MBA?
The toughest part was the preparation phase. I had no batchmates from my law school to seek guidance from and almost everyone who I knew preparing for this exam was an engineer. The thought of facing lakhs of engineers on the D-Day felt intimidating. Quantitative aptitude was something I dreaded. I had not touched math for a pretty long time, it was an absolute nightmare! The mocks made me lose confidence, thanks to the quant section where I consistently performed poorly with little improvement. They say it is elementary level mathematics, unfortunately not so for a lawyer. I can relate to the engineering batchmates at XLRI now who find elementary labor law a tough nut to crack. I needed a strategy to get past, I started looking at tricks to get through, some even targeting SSC students. But I am sure, most of the non-engineers will relate with me when I say that quant continued to haunt me till the very end.
What about the advantages, considering the benefit of diversity quotient? How does your domain expertise/knowledge contribute to the projects/case studies/group work? Is there something you do differently?
Being a lawyer is a great conversation starter, the much-needed icebreaker. The beauty of an MBA is that everyone comes with a different skill set and since almost every assignment is group work, you get to imbibe a whole lot of new things. Over the past year, I have been fortunate to have group members from varied specializations. One has a great numerical aptitude, other an analytical mindset, and yet another who is extremely creative. “Diversity” is a real thing, you have subjects from computer languages to law, and it is collaborative learning wherein each one is on a level playing field. Yet a lot remains to be learnt, but having a law background has given me an advantage when it comes to case analysis and reading between the lines. I always strive to find a counter approach, relating to real-world experiences and find myself constantly curious with the “What if” questions.
How do you think your skill-set and background will be a plus for your future organization?
Well, I hope to be an asset to an organization by providing a two-fold benefit of ensuring growth while ensuring compliance. The project for my summer internship is also aligned to my legal background and is an opportunity to understand the implementation of laws and the restrictions that come with it, from a business viewpoint. I am expected to stay abreast with the legal developments and ensure that business grows in-hand with the changing scenarios. Hopefully, down the line, I will be able to merge this knowledge and be a decision maker who ensures that decisions are not only beneficial, but also right.
Share something wherein you managed to leverage the MBA gyaan to come up with a hybrid work involving both law and MBA?
As an HR student, I analyze the varied aspects of human resource management and understand their harmony from a legal standpoint. A long way to go leveraging the recently acquired MBA gyan, I have started taking baby steps and recently developed a website for law updates in collaboration with my graduation mates. It was named lawsspot and it has something for everyone; students, professionals, lawyers and general readers. I majorly focus on labour laws and interview people primarily within this domain aiming to understand their journey. We plan on conducting labour law webinars in the near future. Law and MBA is a killer combo. Honestly, everything is a killer combo. It is just a matter of perspectives, and everyone can pursue an MBA, regardless of what they graduated in. All the best to those joining b-schools this year. Have an exciting year ahead, and buckle up: It’s going to be a joy-ride.