Why MBA And Why Not MBA As Answered By An XLRI Student

One of the most banal questions that plagues every MBA aspirant during this time of the year… The average aspirant would have undergone at least an hour long session with his/her mentor, trying to forge a suitable response to this question and its nuances. What follows is a period of non-stop verbal rote, in front of the mirror, window or any other reflective surface, as well as every chance available, be it on the bus home, a free moment at work, and finally, a perfected version of the answer is ready to be presented to the interviewers at mock interviews and B-School interviews alike.

They say this answer soon gets included in the average sleep-talkers somniloquy in the January-March period. Indeed, this is the most common question, after “Tell me about yourself”

Then comes the day of the interview, and the interviewer moves on from the more personal questions, and comes to the point-

“So, why MBA?”

A small jubilant smile lights up the aspirant’s face! This was indeed what the entire last month has been all about! This was the question she was waiting for! This interview is won!!! She then rattles out the well-crafted response, complete with enunciation and the right body language. The interviewer is impressed, and moves on to other topics, and by the end of the hour, the interview is in the bag. The aspirant walks home elated- the results will take their time, but she will be on the ‘selected’ list for sure.

 The days pass, the interview experience has been recounted countless times to keen-listening co-aspirants and the transcript has been posted on a thousand websites, and multiple people have assured her that this interview will definitely get her through. The demands for “treat” have been coming in by the tens, and with every passing moment, she considers herself more and more a part of the B-School. Yet, a small voice pops up in her head and poses a very familiar question-

“But, why MBA?”

This voice refuses to be appeased by the answer that impressed so many. It is then that she realises that she has never really stopped to deliberate on the true reason.

Unfortunate as it may seem, the decisions that govern the let’s-do-an-MBA decision, are sometimes based on optimistic notions and over-hyped hearsay. In this article, I wish to present a devil’s advocate’s perspective to this.

“Engineering is coming to an end, what do I do next?” – “MBA kar lo!” – “Idea achcha hai! Let me join a CAT/XAT-prep-course.”

Ironically, for a few of us, this was exactly the same rationale which got us into the engineering stream in the first place- Studied through 10th, slogged through 11th & 12th, got into a good engineering college, and only then started thinking about what we wanted to do in life, and regretted not taking up some other course which we had a passion for. Indeed, one of the most common comments on CAT-aspirant forums is “Kaash commerce lia hota” (If only I had taken commerce instead), and though this is again driven by a reason other than the poster’s passion for the field, we wouldn’t want to make the same mistake twice now, would we?

“I am tired of working 10 hours a day at my current job, let me go for an MBA instead!”

The average day in the life of a B-School student usually far exceeds even 15 hours of effort, and chances are that after completion of a MBA degree, the level of effort demanded from your work might just increase manifold.


“My current job has become monotonous! Let me go in for a change in career… Ah! An MBA perhaps!”

“I loved college, and I want to go back to college life!”


Well, I happen to know a few people who started an MBA, and then realized that they actually liked their old job, and that all their complaints before were just transient. Yet others wished that they had chosen a totally different stream as a career shifting move (with Civil Services, Film Making and Teaching being the real examples that come to mind), and it’s the engineering story all over again.

With the darker side covered, the brighter side now- If you have realized a passion for finance or marketing, an MBA is a great choice. Even if you truly know you have a keen interest in the managerial/business aspect of the corporate world (which was a part of my answer to “Why MBA”), a B-School is definitely the place to be. I personally made the decision to pursue an MBA a few years ago, and am currently half way through it, and in spite of all the rigor and the working-on-projects-all-night, I have never come to regret my decision even once. The world clearly has different kinds of people- with different interests and motivation triggers- it’s just a matter of finding yours… So the next time you repeat your magic answer to “Why MBA”, make sure that it pleases the interviewer, but also satisfies that little voice in your head, because that little voice, only watches out for you.