Mythbusters : MBA Edition

So they say B School won’t teach you everything. Specifically many myths travel under the “Things you won’t learn in an MBA” catch line. Notwithstanding the massive difference between what you won’t learn and what an MBA can’t offer, let’s get cracking on these allegedly missing bits of a puzzle called B school, one “You won’t learn X” myth at a time


1)      Doing Business:                      That age old myth, of how B School teaches no business. Never mind the paradox in eponymy. Or all the ex-entrepreneurs and people with family business spanning generations studying at most B Schools. Never mind the visiting faculties, who collectively have more years of business experience than the number of students on campus. And just in case you have none of the above, every B School thrives on the numbers of WIFEs on campus (Wannabe Innovator/Founder/Entrepreneur). Never mind how many of them up with nothing more than soiled tissues – occasionally with mysterious doodles for a legendary B plan– their zeal and gyan will wash over you till you even dream in elevator pitches! Some of them will inevitably come together to launch a venture while on campus. Such is the power of B school. Irrespective of the outcome, there is no better way to cut your teeth on business. Moreover with every B school getting an E Cell or an incubator or entrepreneurs as guest faculty, the art of doing business is in fact gaining prominence if anything.

And while 2 years of real world experience could help, doesn’t it make brilliant sense to start trying out your venture on campus, with all the amazing support an incubator, as well as the faculty can provide? If you fail, the opportunity cost is actually just sleep-hours, with your future actually getting a shot in the arm, not getting shot down. And finally, if you think you’ve hit The Mother of All Ideas and B School is just a hindrance, the League of Extraordinary Dropouts will gladly welcome you!

2)      Communication:        Despite all our prep for entrances & GD’s, just to get in, a lot of us might have less than god-like communication skills. And while most B Schools actually recognize the need for communication skills class and hold enough of them, some of use still long for more. So for those among us, who’re busy learning-with-eyes-closed in these crucial class, we then have innumerable student activities, both formal and informal. Not to mention that the typical B School has more than enough intrigue to fill a small medieval court room. You’d be surprised how just immersion and rigour will take your classmate who came in sounding like Inzy, to kicking your behind ala Harsha Bhogle. Who, incidentally, happens to be an MBA.

3)      Networking:   The buzzword every B School loves to throw, and dread to catch. While indeed not all of us will become Lord Varys, an MBA, by its sheer intensity will leave you with the strongest, most meaningful networks of your life. Between fests, Guest Lectures, Committees, liaisons & cells, networking has a way of finding even if you don’t want to be found. And most of all, who can forget the thicker-than-blood bonds of chai-sutta.

4)      Selling:                        To be clear, you actually start learning how to sell even before you join MBA. It’s your ability to sell that actually got you there in the first place. Then comes selling yourself to committees, cells, elections and occasionally, even a person of the opposite gender. What about non first-person products? Many B School pedagogies actually incorporate a formal competition that gives you X rupees, 1 day and your wits to sell anything and everything. Nothing beats the experience of selling out there in the real world, and this is exactly what is built upon formally, to ensure everyone, irrespective of performance has the best learning outcomes.

5)      Writing:          From graffiti to business plans, from Facebook confessions to case reports, MBA will actually make you write more than you ever have. And while practice truly does make perfect when it comes to writing, formal instruction is provided for most business writing requirements. And while great copy is always hard to find, there will always be some very good business writing on any campus. Since all assignments in B School are group assignment, never mind what the professor says, it is a mathematical probability you will work with, and learn from some very talented individuals. Finally, it’s a well-known fact that when running behind schedule, and running short on pages, the average B School student’s vocabulary will increase by up to 25%.

6)      Politics:                       Getting back to our mediaeval courtroom, politics indeed finds little formal education in the MBA curricula. But then, curriculum is barely half of what an MBA offers you. Right from love, to sports to even the mess committee, politics will not leave you untouched. The question is whether you will respond to these advances? In the best of MBA traditions, practice is hardly a requirement to learn, so you can actually sit back, get a bowl of pop corn and observe. There really is nothing more instructive than watching the kind of shenanigans you only read about get enacted every other day. And just in case you think you’re still missing out, feel free to dip your toes in the original murky waters that be campus politics.

7)      International Business:                     For those who actually pass their token IB courses, a lot of b schools are catching up to IIFT, in offering a decent number of international business oriented electives. For everyone else, the author (a to-be IIFT Alum) will gladly hold guest lecture sessions.

8)      Patience         Life at in MBA is essentially like a local train. You can either submit yourself to the crowds, or simply keep calm and carry on. Yes, you will be pushed, shoved and occasionally even face a blow or two, but it is entirely your call whether you throw a punch, or throw out the matter. There will be so many occasions in MBA life, when all you can really do is wait, be it for the grade of that test you’re failing, shortlists for companies or something from the person you asked out last week. It’d take actual effort, to not learn the value of patience in these 2 years. Finally, just in case that’s who you are, welcome to B School in India. Where the spirits come easy, and yoga is compulsory.

In conclusion, how many of us are at an MBA for the “education” alone? The truth is, you will learn much more outside of classrooms, than you ever could inside. Your amazing batch profile will constantly amaze, surprise and drive you. Learn from them, share their life experience, and give as much as you can in return. Make the most of they have to offer. Because very soon, they’ll start charging you for it! Till then,

 Keep Calm


This post is formally an entry for the InsideIIM B school Debate.

BSchool:       Indian Institute of Foreign Trade

Team Name: The Foreign Hand

Team Mate: Satyaki Mascharak

Link for article refuted: