Over the last couple of days, I was getting some updates about friends-family in India, while talking to my mom. During conversation, my mom mentioned about two recent graduates, who’s campus placements (in IT companies) were deferred due to the uncertain economy. And so, they were considering pursuing – applying for an MBA in the meanwhile.
And for some reason, that topic lingered on in my mind – bothering me. Why would two recent graduates consider an MBA as a ‘way out’ ? How much did they even know about what MBA is about ? After all, by the time you graduate with a bachleors degree, you hardly have any insight into real world, leave aside an MBA. Who counseled them into an MBA program ?
It didnt take long for me to figure out that no one else is to blame for this distorted notion but our society. A B.E + MBA combo is seen as the holy grail for Indian technical professionals. BE + MBA candidates are not only paid highly – they are valued highly by the society, professionally and even from the matrimonial perspective. Not to mention the extent to which the media has glamorized the MBA degree – touting the crore plus salaries and the direct placements abroad. Now that I revisit some of the conversations i’ve had with my peers, several of whom have graduated from top-tier MBA schools in India & abroad, it seems that the common motivation to do an MBA seems to be for one of the following three reasons:
1) I want to do an MBA to get a higher salary
2) I want to make a shift from technical to the business aspects of the profession
3) I’m stuck in a rut in my job and so need a change
Taking the entrepreneurial route would guarantee you points (2) and (3) above. Point (1) is something that is not guaranteed and apparently, the riskiest aspect of the proposition. So I guess the sheer uncertainty of point (1) leads people to opt for an MBA rather than taking the entrepreneurial route.
I actually find it quite ironic, because Indian B-schools are shifting into overdrive when it comes to B-plan competitions (just look at the increase in the number of b-plan competitions being held across b-school campuses) – implicitly encouraging graduates to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs. So, its like you joined a b-school, the b-school encourages you to become an entrepreneur when you could have completely skipped b-school and gone into entrepreneurship directly.
Personally, I believe that the biggest value that an MBA provides is the access to the network of people and the alumni. The other 3 reasons listed above seem frivolous in comparison and dont seem to justify doing an MBA – I might very well be wrong, but its just me.
The reason I decided to write about this is because if entrepreneurship needs to be encouraged at the college level then we need to change their mindset that BE + MBA is not the only way to go. Entrepreneurship is a viable career option and chances are that they will learn much more being an entrepreneur than pursuing an MBA.
Ok. Time to go and talk to those family friends about their MBA plans.