The Secret World of the MBA

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The MBA is a much coveted degree that is believed to have almost magical properties. It is believed to open all sorts of doors and deliver fat paycheques to the bearer. This magical MBA is usually only associated with finance, marketing and HR, but the degree is so much more than that. Youth Inc explores some lesser known specialisations that offer an equally exciting study experience

022/365: Fix up, look sharpA master’s degree in business administration is a one-way ticket to success. Or so it is believed all over the world. In India alone there are 4,500 business schools that collectively have the capability to churn out 3,60,000 managers annually.
The MBA began existing as a legitimate degree in 1908. In a century’s time, it has gone from being an obscure field of study to one of the most sought-after ones. The promise that an MBA can secure one a job just about anywhere is unique; no other degree or qualification can guarantee an education with similar universal appeal or application. No wonder then, that in a country like India where money is scarce and jobs out of reach the MBA finds so much favour. However, with the increased interest in the MBA, there is also much ignorance and confusion about the degree. The three specialisations that nearly every student hankers after are finance, marketing and human resources (HR). But the science of management exists beyond these three fields. It is possible to do an MBA in a subject as academic as economics, as industry-specific as IT and rural management, and as versatile as international business, operations and infrastructure. It is not only the curriculum that is wide; the modes of study have broadened too, beyond full-time classroom learning. The MBA can now be studied from the comfort of your home, during your free time, during weekends and even from the other side of the planet. The online MBA, part-time (executive) MBA, customised MBA and the oneyear intensive MBA have all been developed to cater to the schedules and budgets of all kinds of people who might be interested in the degree.
The world of business is vast, exciting and continually evolving. Is it any surprise then that the MBA too is matching step?

shutterstock_5214280THE SCIENCE OF DEMAND AND SUPPLY
An MBA in economics encompasses within its reach the analysis and the study of production, distribution and the consumption of goods and services in a nation or an organisation

The degree
An MBA in economics is focuses on the study, the analysis and the forecasting of market trends that define nations and organisations. A crucial part of every business, it is no surprise why economics has become one of the most sought after career options in the periphery of an MBA degree.
The purpose of economics is to study losses so as to completely banish or minimise them, so an economist will study and predict market trends under sectors of law, crime, commodities, services, health care, finance and even governments, keeping the broader outlook of its demand and its supply in mind.
An MBA in economics touches upon a number of different subjects like micro and macro economics, international economics, etc, thus giving a student the prerogative to fully understand and gauge national and global markets. Due to its broad reach, a student of economics has a number of job outlets. From playing an active role in studying the economy of a country, an economics major can also hold important positions in corporate organizations.

Skills from this MBA
An MBA in economics quips a student with a certain skill set. They are:
* Conscious: A student learns to always be aware of market happenings
* Enhanced analytical skill: Constant market research and analysis helps understand economic situations better.

Higher education
An MBA in economics is an extensive study area, due to which a number of students go on to pursue PhDs. Some PhDs include business economics, agricultural economics, labour economics, financial economics, industrial economics and many more. While most MBA degrees in economics have generic outlines, a PhD helps an individual pick an area of study in economics that he can master.

Careers
* Market analyst
* Economist
* Financial advisor
* Finance law consultant
* Market forecaster
* Public policy making
* Loan Officers
* Lawyers

Course canvas

* S.P. Jain Institute, Mumbai
* Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
* Christ College Institue, Bangalore

shutterstock_2304953INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MAVERICK

As the world is losing its borders, so is the MBA. A degree in international management and business is essential for an entrepreneur with a global vision

Everything is today global, from fashion and music to politics and economies. No longer does a country function in solitude or isolation; every economy creates a ripple effect, which is felt globally.

The degree
An MBA in international business/management aims to equip students in these fields:
* Export and import management. Exports and imports are one of the first points of contact with the outside world.
* International marketing, which is essential for selling global brands or for expanding one’s business at a global level.
* Foreign exchange management. International businesspeople always keep an eye on international currencies and how they behave in order to manage and maximise their profits.
* International finance, which is a focused look at international markets and raising capital in those markets.
* International logistics, which concerns itself with creating and maintaining an international distribution network for the company’s goods.
While the first year of this two-year programme deals with the general aspects of the subject, the second year is the year of specialisation. Students are expected to choose between marketing, finance, supply chain management and HR, which they will study with an international perspective.

Skills from this MBA
* Multi-cultural business skills
* Global finance skills
* International legal skills
* Foreign language skills

Higher education
It is possible to do a PhD in international business after the MBA, but at this level the coursework shifts focus to research and academic specialisation. PhD graduates typically go on to become teachers/professors in the subject. PhD programmes in international business are typically found abroad. In India, one can opt to do the more general PhD in management.

Careers
An MBA in international business is best suited to a role in an MNC. As per the specialisation, a graduate may work in the marketing, accounts, logistics or HR department of an international corporation. Financial giants, as well as IT heavyweights are regular recruiters of international business graduates, as are automobile companies, import and export divisions of FMCGs and other products, international shipping companies, tourism companies, and even courier companies.

 Course canvas

* Symbiosis Institute of International Business, Pune
* Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi and Kolkata
* Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi
* GITAM Institute of Foreign Trade, Vishakpatnam
* Annamalai University, Chennai

Nick Saltmarsh, FlickrTHE SKILL OF MANAGING A BUSINESS

Operations involves processes that begin from the making to the distribution of products. Here’s why operations is one of the most favoured MBA options

The degree
An MBA in operations is an umbrella term used to denote a host of different management responsibilities in the corporate sphere. In simple terms an MBA in operations would include operational management from the making of a product or a service to its final delivery and distribution.
In the initial stages of their career, an operations manager will deal with the day-to-day happenings of certain sectors in company factories, but from there on their role will only go on to get bigger and better commanding the handling of an entire factory and its happenings. Ensuring products are manufactured with the least possible wastage and damage and in an ecofriendly manner is also a role that an operations manager has to cater to.
An area of MBA that is being pursued by many, operations managers are today of great importance in every business area. From consultancies, hotels, airlines and manufacturing companies, the role of an operations manager is crucial.

Skills from this MBA
* Market oriented: Two years of studying the different areas of businesses keeps a person abreast with trends thus encouraging constant thinking towards betterment and profits.

* Analytical skills: Studying markets helps in better analysing the operations of organisations, thus helping in solving problems and increasing business growth.

Higher education
For those who wish to enhance their skills in the area of operations a specialisation in a brand of operations will be helpful. Specialisations in the form of diplomas, degrees and PhDs in operations include supply chain mangement, logistics and e-business and e-commerce.

Careers
* Forecasting
* Managing imports exports
* Quality management
* Warehouse management
* Manufacturing
* Retailing
* Supply chain management
* Transportation management
* Cutomer service manager
* Facilities coordinator

Course Canvas

* St Xavier’s College of Management Research, Mumbai
* Symbiosis Institute of Operations Management, Pune
* Delhi Business School, Delhi
* IES Management College and Research Centre, Mumbai
* Institute for Financial Managment and Research, Chennai

shutterstock_12392455TECH MANAGERS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

In a world where everything is computerised, IT managers are important people. Learn how an MBA in this subject can open up a plethora of careers

Technology drives almost all our activities today. The world is digital, and spearheading this revolution are those with tech know-how. Technology is constantly upgrading itself, and the need of the hour is engineers and managers who can keep pace with the changes.

The degree
A combination of information technology and business management is a winning combination in the 21st century. An MBA in IT management couples knowledge of the latest technology with financial and analytical skills. It is the gateway to a number of careers in e-businesses, digital commerce and telecommunications. Some topics that are touched upon are:
* IT in the context of globalisation
* E-business strategies
* How to identify and manage emerging technologies
* Core competencies in running a high-tech firm

Skills from this MBA
* Insight into the nexus between business and corporate level technology
* Data management skills
* Project management skills
* Network management skills
* Systems management skills

Higher education
PhDs in technology and operations management is available for those who wish to study further, but outside India. Prominent universities that offer this mode of study are NYU Polytechnic School, UCLA Anderson School of Management, Bridgeport University, INSEAD and Georgia Tech, to name a few.

Careers
There are a number of careers for a graduate who straddles both tech and business skills. Corporates require project, network and systems managers who overlook the digital faculties of the organisation. At a higher level, MBAs may also take on the roles of IT Director, Chief Technology Officer, Information Systems Manager and Vice President of Information Technology. For the more enthusiastic, there is also scope to branch out and become an IT entrepreneur. E-commerce ventures are booming in the present clime, and an IT entrepreneur would feel at home in this space.

Course canvas

* Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
* Institute of Management Studies, Ghaziabad
* ACN College of Engineering and Management Studies, Aligarh
* Institute of Foreign Trade and Management, Moradabad
* IILM Business School, Bangalore and Chennai
* School of Management Studies, Kochi

Wikimedia CommonsTHE AGRICULTURAL CONNECT

Contradictory to popular belief, an MBA is rural management doesn’t merely involve administering day to day activities at farms. From planning, organising and managing agribusiness and related fields, an MBA in rural management is the need of the hour

The degree
Rural management includes the application of management knowledge in a rural context. In an agricultural country where 70% of the population is rural, there are many avenues that are untapped, misused or are not being utilised optimally. The job of a rural manager is to identify these resources and help to put them to their best use. As a rural manager one has to put to practice all that he has learnt or is still learning. Basically, they need to provide guidance and supervision that will help rural folk develop and get better at their trade.
An MBA in rural management is important not only because of India’s dependence on agriculture, but also because of innumerable opportunities that yet have to be monetised positively.

Skills from this MBA
* Far sight: Policy assessing and studies of agriculture and agribusinesses helps greatly in improving the industry.
* Social satisfaction: A rural manager helps the country’s rural folk grow and move forward indirectly helping the country prosper.

Higher education
Study PhD programmes at:
* Amity School of Rural Management
* Institute of Rural Management Anand
* Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Careers
With the development of technologies, discovery of rural resources and hopes to discover more, the demand for rural managers is only going to swell. The Government of India, non-governmental organisations, multi-national companies and small scale industry units all require rural managers, and that too for a plethora of activities. If an individual has a background of finance along with an MBA in rural development a job in banks and other financial institutions is also possible.

Course canvas

* Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat
* Indian Institute of Rural Management (IIRM), Jaipur
* Amity School of Rural Management, Noida

shutterstock_31390381BUILD THE FUTURE

An MBA in infrastructure can propel you to the forefront of infrastructure development in the country

Infrastructure in India is growing as we speak. For the next few decades, the need for able professionals who can plan and guide the development of infrastructure will only grow.
Infrastructure managers are professionals who see to the proper utilisation of resources and help in the execution and completion of the project.
If you are someone who wants to contribute to the new, developed India with world-class infrastructure and facilities, an MBA in infrastructure management is what you should be looking it. It involves everything, from building dams, roads and buildings to developing electricity, water, oil and telecommunications.
If you cultivate a love for building and creating and think you have the ability to manage both large and detailed operations, this is right up your alley.

The degree
While you will be expected to study the usual modules of marketing, management, economics, accounting, business communications, etc, you will also be expected to take up modules relating to:
* Sustainability
* Infrastructure policies and law
* Operation and management of power systems
* Supply chain management
* Urban infrastructure management

Skills from this MBA
A MBA in infrastructure management sure limits you to only the field of infrastructure, but with India pumping in lakhs of crores of rupees into this field and private companies vying for more and more projects, it is a world worth getting lost in. It sharpens your capability to plan projects as infrastructure development in India is quite challenging. Above all, you get to be a part of something that propels the nation ahead and helps raise the standard of living of people.

Higher education
If you already have a degree in civil engineering, an MBA in infrastructure management will give you leverage over colleagues and will also make you eligible for senior job roles in organisations. After the MBA you may choose to do a postgraduate diploma in the subject or go on to a PhD. IIT Delhi and IIT Bhubaneshwar offer research-based PhDs in infrastructure management.

Careers
The opportunities are vast. Since the infrastructure sector deals with a number of large and growing industries that demand and employ lakhs, the job opportunities are exhaustive for at least the next few decades. Both the public and private sector are developing and hence are employing infrastructure MBA degree holders on a large scale.

Course canvas

* University of Petroleum and Engineering Studies (UPES), Dehradun
* MIT School of Telecom Management, Pune
* TERI University, New Delhi

DepressedTHE ONLINE MBA EDGE

Online MBAs are creating waves in India and overseas. How are theydifferent from full-time MBAs and do they hold the same value? We try to decode these pertinent questions

A lot has been said about online MBAs – they are not as good as full-time MBAs, they are not taken seriously and an online MBA is as good as no MBA at all. In spite of the criticism that online MBA has garnered, its demand is still growing. An online MBA is useless if the person studying it has no interest in it or if he is clueless about what he wishes to do with it. Career status, educational needs, money, time the programme chosen depends on its success.

What is an online MBA?
An online MBA is one that can be pursued virtually with the help of online lectures, ready-made study material and one-on-one chats with teachers. Online MBAs have become popular mainly because of their easy accessibility, time-saving characteristics and the fact that a student can shuffle between managing a job while still studying. It has dual advantage, giving a student the opportunity to study as well as gain work experience.

Online degree VS full-time degree
The online versus full-time MBA debate has been raging for years. While some say online courses are not valued, many others have contradicting points to make. Without a doubt, a full-time MBA is advantageous in terms of employment, knowledge and faceto- face interaction. Online MBAs don’t lag far behind. An online MBA’s dual nature is what steals the show more often than not. While a fulltime MBA student can promise to work hard, a student of online MBA already is. An online MBA is usually a fraction of the cost of a full-time degree and online MBA graduates are often more savvy in terms of market trends and happenings as opposed to a fresh-out-of-school MBA graduate.

The positives
* The fees for an online programme are much less compared to a full-time programme.
* Less time-consuming; no travelling to make it for daily lectures.
* An online MBA can be used to sharpen a person’s skills while also improving employment opportunities.
* The admission procedure is less strict in comparison to full-time MBA courses.

The negatives
* Online MBAs do not always facilitate interaction between classmates and teachers * They are sometimes not as valued as a full-time MBA mainly because the effort put into each varies considerably although the course material is almost the same.
* Online MBA programmes require a student to put in a certain amount of hours each week. This might pose a problem for individuals who have demanding jobs and careers.
* Less preferred employmentwise when compared to a full-time MBA.

Why an online MBA?
An MBA – full-time, part-time or online – has the power to boost your career. What matters is not what kind of MBA a person chooses, but in what capacity it is optimised. Online MBAs work best for those who wish to keep their jobs while also building on their academic skills. Hypothetically, a person with a marketing job can add to his know-how and keep his job by pursuing an online MBA in marketing.
Although an online MBA acts career boost, what matters the most the accreditation of the institute it is pursued from. The programme chosen has to authentic, affiliated to a university or a regulatory body and recognised.

Course canvas

*ŠŠ MIT School of Distance Education
* ŠŠWelingkar Management Institute
* ŠŠSymbiosis Centre for Distance Learning

shutterstock_85369126THE EXECUTIVE MBA

If you want an MBA qualification but are wary of interrupting your career to obtain it, there is an MBA for you. The part-time MBA, aka the executive MBA, is a popular choice among professionals

Let’s clear the air first; there are a number of different MBA and PGPs (postgraduate programmes) available in India. The most common kind is the full-time, two-year MBA. However, there are also full-time, one-year programmes, but these are not executive MBAs. Several institutes and programmes advertise their courses as programmes for executives, but these are not executive MBAs either. The executive MBA (EMBA), irrespective of how long it runs (usually it is two years), is a purely part-time management programme. Owing to the nature  of the course, it is popular among working professionals who are eager for the academic top-up but hesitant of interrupting their career in the process.

Who is it for?
You might be forgiven for assuming the EMBA is pursued only by midcareer professionals. In India, it is more common for professionals  with a few years’ experience to go back to school and upgrade their skills. This, coupled with the requisite of at least a couple years work experience for the regular MBA, has made the EMBA a qualification for middle-aged people.
However, this is just a misconception. The EMBA is open to both the young and old. If you have a job and want to study part-time, the EMBA is the way to go.

How do I study it?
The EMBA is usually conducted through evening and/or weekend classes. Additionally, some modules may be conducted online or through a distance-learning facility. The idea is to create study time around a professional’s otherwise busy schedule.

What are the specialisations?
Like the regular MBA, most EMBAs offer specialisations in:
* Marketing
* Finance
* Human resources
However, there are EMBAs that offer these majors too:
* Operations
* Business economics
* Strategic management
* Business laws

How do I apply?
Most institutes are straightforward with the EMBA applications. What they need from you are:
* Your bachelor’s degree certificate/ marksheet/transcripts
* Employment history
* Recommendation letters/references
* A statement of purpose/motivation
* Completed application form
* Application fee
Additionally, institutes may ask for GMAT scores. Many of them conduct their own written tests and interviews for applicants. All ask for work experience, ranging from two, three, five, and some even ten years.

What do I gain?
People might tell you an EMBA does not match up to the traditional MBA; this is untrue. Not only does the EMBA have the same market value as an MBA, but it also has some additional benefits:
* Several companies sponsor their employees to study for an EMBA. Full-time MBA students have no such luxury.
* The acceptance rates into EMBA programmes are higher than the traditional MBA. One has more chance of being accepted into an EMBA course than a full-time MBA.
* An EMBA is flexible to fit around a working professional’s schedule. It does not require full-time attention, unlike the regular MBA.
* One’s peers in an EMBA class would range from newbies to experienced managers and professionals, thus creating a classroom atmosphere that is diverse and educational.
* You might graduate before a fulltime MBA student.

What do I lose?

* Your free time, as your days are either taken up by work or study.
* A considerable chunk of your bank balance – EMBAs are far from cheap. Prepare to shell out at least a lakh to lakh-and-a-half for the qualification.
* A larger choice of subject specialisations. While the traditional MBA has many more majors, the EMBA has far fewer options. In many institutes, specialisations are also dropped if there are insufficient students.
* If you are unsure about what path your career should take, the EMBA is a poor choice since it will only complement the skills and  knowledge of someone already on the right track of their career. A traditional, full-time MBA would be more suited to you.

PICKING THE RIGHT INSTITUTE
It’s important to pick the right institute for an EMBA because not all of them have equal standing with employers.
* Check EMBA rankings and institute ratings. Reliable rankings always come out of established publications and organisations, including QS and Access MBA.
* Check the market value of EMBA courses. How many graduates of a certain institute have found employment or gained promotions after the programme?
* Talk to alumni to get a sense of balancing work and study, and the teaching methodology in a certain institute.
* Talk to your employer on which institutes they recognise and/or highly recommend.

shutterstock_78057925THE DIVERSITY STORY

In spite of an increasing number of women opting to study management, the MBA is still very much a boys’ club. MBA graduate Pooja Shetty reports from the trenches

The age of the woman?
Over the years corporates have realised the importance of having a more balanced workforce. Study after study has reflected the benefit of having more women on board. But how do we get more women on board? More importantly, how do we ensure that women remain in the workforce? With women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Myers taking up important roles and a significant amount of media space, one  would almost be convinced that the age of the woman has finally arrived. But what has arrived instead is a book for working women followed by another unnecessary one to ride on the success of its predecessor.

Unintentional sexism
To solve the issue of an imbalanced workplace and to get more women in jobs, most business schools have come up with a so-called brilliant solution. They have decided to make it easier for women to get into MBA programme; so now you get a few additional marks and therefore a higher probability of making it to the interview rounds if you are a female candidate. However, this is far from being an equalising practice. We have in fact stooped to a new form of gender discrimination. If you are a woman doing an MBA, you might see men raising a hue and cry about this gross injustice. But we women should be the ones offended. After all, colleges seem to believe that we aren’t as smart as men and that we cannot compete on the same platform.
The big picture to focus on is that the number of women applying to business schools is considerably lower than the men. Yes, it is crucial that we encourage more women to apply. But is lowering performance standards the way to do it? All it does is probably make the entry easier for those women whose primary purpose of getting a degree is to get a better marriage proposal. There goes one seat which could have gone to a guy who would have put it to better use.

Getting recruited
There is also a sea-change of difference in how women are perceived in business schools. It is a common belief among male students that placement is not something to be worried about if you have a pretty face or are of the right gender. While I have never been able to figure out the rationalisation behind this, I wonder why any company would recruit someone who is expected to be an asset based on their gender? Perhaps the men would be kind enough to let me know someday.
All things considered equal, it is true a company may prefer a woman to a man. Then again, because the proportion of women in the workforce is currently so small, it should really not be something to raise hell about. If you look at the positive side, it won’t matter in the long run; the attrition rate among women is much higher than men. Instead of complaining, why don’t men appreciate the women who will quit and keep a nice ripe senior position ready for them soon enough?

The ambitious women
Sure, there are the resilient, ambitious women who want to work their way up. Their only roadblock is networking. In an age where your growth is directly proportional to the strength of your networking skills, women are at a disadvantage. A lot of networking happens over chai-sutta (cigarette) breaks and beer parties, which play host to more men than women. If you, a woman, does join in, it creates a dissonance in the minds of your colleagues who have certain expectations of how a woman must behave. If you don’t, you lose out on a lot of networking opportunities. It’s the classic case of ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’.
Even if you get over the networking barrier, how do you get over the location sensitivity? How many men move to a new city because their wife has an exciting new job offer? The proverbial glass ceiling may be self-imposed rather than by the organisation. After taking into consideration all the complications work throws at you, the discomfort you feel from gaining a few extra marks is innocuously quietened. So yeah, we may get into a business school easily but I truly hope we reach a point where we don’t get out of our careers easily.

When women turn on other women
Often your aunts, mother-in-law, and even your mother don’t consider your career to be as important as that of a man’s. I remember receiving an arranged marriage proposal from a man who had completed his master’s degree in the US. My mother said to me, “Why don’t you do a master’s?” despite her knowing that I was feverishly preparing for an MBA. When I was asked to change my career choice for a marriage prospect, it broke my heart.
We have a long way to go with relatives too. Even asking for a well-educated partner sends them into frenzy. A woman demanding things is  novel to them. I have heard comments like “She can’t have everything! She has to adjust.” And here I thought I had already adjusted by reducing the eligible pool to just men from my caste.
The more we compromise, the more the society demands. To bring about change, we have to change. We must not ask for equality but demand it. Note to women: Make no compromises. Trade-offs, yes, compromises no.

 

Volume 4 Issue 2

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