Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Magic Box of Answers (MBA)

The one question that we all REALLY prepared for the MBA entrance interviews was "Why do you want to do an MBA?" I am sure no one can claim with 100% confidence that they knew why they wanted to. Lets face it, almost everyone looks at an MBA as a quick machine for a higher pay job, or acceleration in career. Those who do not reason with this, will kick me and say they wanted to do an MBA in order to change their profession and move into a different stream. All in all, almost every answer fits into one of these 2 heads, and that is where the problem begins.

Not many would admit in an interview that they want to do an MBA for career acceleration. I mean, how can you claim that, when you have not even done your MBA? This is never really a convincing answer. The interviewers catch you with all kinds of words, and then you mess up with even stranger answers as "I have a road map, a vision..." , or "I will acquire the skills necessary for a manager in a prestigious B-School like yours.." and other such crap. We all have done that. The interviewers know this to death.

THe other option of changing career is even trickier. One better be sure that he knows his stuff just too well. I mean, how is a 20 month MBA gonna help you change your career path of 3 or 4 years? The MBA is still studies remember.

This is not to say that people have not gotten away with one of these 2 answers, but these are far from "WHy we REALLY want to do an MBA". I am still struggling with this answer! I am yet to figure out why I did the MBA and spent a fortune on it;how my career has really taken off AFTER the MBA.I am in the same industry as I was pre- MBA so that option is also ruled out. To take the liberty of speaking for my fellow MBA batchmates, I can also say with confidence that none of us got the even remotely close to the salary we were hoping from the MBA. In fact, some of us actualy received MUCH LESS than what we earned before MBA!! I am not kidding and you will know why. We passed out in Dec-2008, a time when the world was going throug the darkest economic and financial turmoil- the Sub-Prime mortgage crisis or simply "recession" as we have come to call it. And while 3 years since it started in 2007, the recession still continues,I have no doubt that around the end of 2008 was the WORST time in this. Forget salaries, we had to wait for 6 months to find a job!!

So then, this situation takes away both the above options of WHY one does an MBA. Atleast in my case right? Well partly yes, but mostly not, as I am learning now. It is only AFTER one does an MBA that he realises WHY he did it. The less known cliche to this is 'The exerience' that one goes through when doing the MBA, that comes into picture when he gets into the job. IN a short period of less than 2 years, the MBA subjects you to ALL possible situations that you could ever imagine in the life of 50 years after that- intense study pressure, hectic timeline schedules, peer group pressure, inter and intra group politics, simply too many projects, crocodile tears, some great friendships, networking abilities and a lot lot lot more! Add to this the lesser realised, but probably more important factors as - education loan, family pressure, voluntarily not having a job, and ofcourse, expectations!!!

It is all these factors that you are subjected to, that come into play when you get into a job. Because you have seen it all, it becomes easy to handle everyday situations and problems in your job. Decesion making, the one thing we associate with both managers and MBAs, truly becomes more effective and quick. Situations and prblems become easier to handle. Being a manager, your team members look up to you for guidance and info, and I very strongly believe that an MBA manager is much more qualified to handle these things than someone who has not done an MBA. Being an effective manager, according to me, takes some formal classroom training and guidance, and cannot always be picked up with only experience as effectively. And it is because of this improvement in performance that MBAs generally, and I mean only generally, get a slightly better career growth, which then eventually translates to higher salaries.

So there..The 2 common objectives of salary and career acceleration do indeed follow for an MBA. But not because the MBA degree says so. It is an indirect result of doing an MBA. Both salary and acceleration are only milestones of the journey. The eventual destination is EXCELLENCE. The MBA, as I have always mainained, is NOT a Magic Box of Answers (MBA). It only trains you to handle common life situations slightly better and faster than otherwise. Do an MBA not because you want a higher salary, but because you want to be better, quicker and diferent in doing everyday things. Because you want to experience this awesome roller coaster in 2 years. That is all that is to it. True talent will always do well, with or without an MBA.