Why MBA?

Why MBA? : Lakhs of students aspire to an MBA every year, some plan to study in India and some plan to go abroad. But not many students are clear why they are aspiring for an MBA degree. When I say “students”, I am referring to both students as well as work-ex aspirants. However, this is the first thing that any B-school interviewer would like to understand. In order to gain entry to a B-school one must have clarity as to why he/she is joining the course and how the course will help him attain his goals. Again, when I say “he” or “his”, I am not trying to be gender-biased, but just trying to maintain the readability!!!

There are many reasons for wanting to do an MBA, sometimes one knows it and most often, one is unable to articulate the reasons. So for the benefit of such students, I am only trying to articulate a few thoughts. There are no answers in this article, so if you are trying to search for answers here, you can stop. This is only intended to jog your grey cells to start thinking.

1) Growth prospects. Most often one hears answers like ‘It has good growth prospects or career progression”. But do you really know how or why the prospects are higher? Is it the degree that makes the difference or is it the pedagogy? Or is it the environment and the peer interactions? Compare what you are doing today vis-à-vis the institute/organization that you are joining and then decide.

2)  Good salary. Hmm. This depends on where you are going to join and how you fare in the course and the subsequent placement activity. However, you also need to compare the current salary that you are getting and the normal growth in two years if you continue to work. If the difference is significant, it makes sense, else, it does not sound convincing.

3) I like managing people. I often hear students say this. Do not think that just because one does an MBA, one is entitled to manage a set of people, and probably get to boss around, without having to actually do stuff!! This is the biggest myth, and if you are thinking on these lines, please take a reality check!! There are various streams and not all of them involve “managing people”.  You will need to start your new career as a trainee and only if you perform well, you can aspire to “manage people”. In any case, a management degree is not a pre-requisite to manage people, it is most often your performance that will matter. Moreover, jobs in finance, hr, marketing in most organizations may not form part of the mainstream activity, so these departments may actually have fewer teams than normal line functions. So set your expectations accordingly.

4) I am not good at technical stuff, I am better at managing/organizing stuff. Do remember that if you are not good at technology and you are not enjoying it, then you need to read up a lot about the management courses and understand what you are getting into, before you jump in. There is no point in realizing that you are not interested at a later stage. Only if you have a flair for understanding the “big picture” or organizational issues, you can comprehend management concepts. Technical aspects are much more straight-forward and easier to comprehend compared to organizational aspects. Do your homework thoroughly.

5) I like interacting with people. This is an interesting one. There are various careers that bring you closer to people interaction. Every customer-facing job involves interaction with a variety of people. Every job requires interaction with the team in which you are working. So there is actually no need to take up any specific career for this reason. However, do understand that all these interactions come with targets and are most often very stressful. Understand the nature of the interactions that will be required and see if you are game for it.

Whatever be your reason for wanting to join an MBA program, it is important for you to list down your goals in life and try to align your path towards your goals. A proper understanding of the course curriculum, what it entails, what job prospects are there both in terms of salary and type of work involved will go a long way in helping you find the right answer to the question “Why MBA?”