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Five "Must Do" tasks for MBA students of Unbranded institutions

The MBA colleges have multiplied manifold. Even the number of IIMs have increased. The quality of education in unbranded institutions is pathetic, to say the least. These University colleges do not have trained teachers. And no industry exposure too. Hence these MBA students are not able to perform well in the industry. This article talks about Five "Must Do" tasks for such MBA students to match the competencies of competitors from branded institutions.


There are some one thousand six hundred unbranded MBA colleges affiliated to some University or the other. There are quite a huge number of AICTE recognized institutes that also offer the PGDM course, said to be equivalent to the MBA. Sometimes these institutions also run the MBA course of the local University with AICTE approval. The quality of the course is very poor. This makes it imperative for every MBA to a) acquire all extra relevant knowledge b) grab the internship opportunity c) read all business publications d) interact with other MBAs and e) learn to stretch yourselves. These tasks are described in some detail in this article.

Acquire all extra relevant knowledge

MBA students from unbranded colleges should always acquire all extra knowledge. This can happen if you read journals like Indian Management, Harvard Business Review and so on. This should also come about by reading extra books. For example in Strategic Management, one should read books like Built to Last, Good to Great, Blue Ocean Strategy, Competing for the Future, and so on. Marketing books published by Indian authors will not do. Books by Philip Kotler are the bare minimum. There are so many advanced books that you should read.

As far as Finance is concerned, it should be clear that you have to know what is Activity Based Costing, Economic Value Added, Zero Based Budgeting and so on. You do not have any alternative. There are chances that your own college library may be having such classic books. If not, buy the books through Amazon. If resource is a constraint, pool resources so that five students join together, share the cost and buy all the books. Reading such books is a must if you were to catch up with the knowledge of MBAs from IIMs and the branded colleges. Please do note that you do not have any alternative.

Grab the Internship opportunity

You need to grab the internship opportunity to learn everything. For example, imagine you get a HR internship in a fast-growing FMCG company. This organization may be having a two thousand crore turnover at the moment. What you need to do is to interact with the HR executives to understand who is the marketing head, what strategies were put in place to get the advertising on track on television, who is coordinating such a task and so on. In short, though you are in HR, your knowledge in HR will improve only if you can anchor the HR concept to ground realities pertaining to business excellence in the particular organization. For example take an organization like Cavinkare that is giving tough competition to the mighty Unilever in several product segments. You need to understand how the Marketing team jells together and how they plan their strategies. Check how their distributors plan their distribution channels to reach the ultimate customer. Your HR internship should not be limited to seeing some files or attending some training program. This is only one part of the internship.

Your internship should span the entire nuts and bolts of business excellence as it applies to such an organization. You should simply exploit the opportunity. You should volunteer to do the work normally given to regular employees. For example there are still some organizations that organize day to day meetings with individual employees where grievances are written down. Do this task happily. Even visit the house of the employee with Management permission, to learn more about him.

If you get a marketing internship, learn everything from the field. Rain or shine, be out there, in the real world. Take this true case study as an example. Mr Sunny (name changed) approached me for help in getting a suitable internship opportunity. He was doing his MBA from a college in Kerala. This was not a great college. Lecture method was the only method of teaching. I put him into a FMCG company headquartered in Chennai. This company manufactures pain balms and is a good brand leader. This fellow took it so seriously that he got feedback from every single distributor about a competitor brand, this company's strengths, the threat of unbranded similar siddha and ayurvedic products and so on and passed on vital information to the Management. Based on some leads, he even visited the houses of some customers to get an idea of why they purchased the unbranded products. His insight lead the company to focus on the core attributes even better. After his MBA Mr Sunny was given a regular job in the same company.

This is exactly what you should do. Taking initiative is a task that has intricacies. It has no limits. It is very much in your hands to learn everything from the real world, during your internship. Do not take it lightly.

Read all business publications

If you do not know anything about Government policies, about the real world happenings, about mergers and acquisitions, job markets, the competencies required and so on, you are doomed to fail. In depth knowledge pertaining to each of these can be obtained only from daily business newspapers like Economic Times, Business Line, Business Standard and from superb fortnightly magazines like Business Today, Business India, and Outlook business. You also need to read business newspapers like Business Line, Economic Times and Financial Express everyday. You are no choice. If you do not read these, you will be nowhere. The branded B schools have such knowledge in-built in their case studies. There are experts who prepare such case studies day in and day out. If you miss out, you are gone. Please do read such magazines and organize your thoughts. Make sector wise notes in your computer. To give a simple example, take the solar energy industry. Make notes on all the best companies, Their strategies, their records of successes or failures. The latest Government policy and so on. Only such knowledge will help you go ahead. Take notes on Mutual funds. Go to even outfits like Integrated Enterprises where they deal in all mutual funds. Learn from the real world and from the business magazines. Learn to make huge notes running into several pages. Only this knowledge will help you cope with the real world challenges.

Interact with other MBAs

MBA students from branded institutions are the real fountainheads of knowledge. Make friends with them, wherever they are. Get introduced to them. Learn a lot from them. Revise your learning in line with suggestions from them. Take notes on whatever they tell you. Ask them to share their experiences in the real world. This will help you understand everything far better. Remember there is no need to feel sorry that you are a MBA student from an unbranded college. You can cope with the challenges if you try. It is still possible. It is very much in your hands.

Learn to stretch yourselves

Hard work is the only answer. Even if you work for eighteen hours per day, slog it out. Keep your eyes and ears open. In each of the aforesaid tasks, you will need to stretch yourself. On the weekends even volunteer to work in some organized retail outfit without salary. They might gladly take you in. Learn from customer feedback. Take notes. Learn from interacting with experts in the field. Domain knowledge can only come from experts. Similarly do not underestimate the ordinary kirana fellow near you. He or she will know as much marketing management as you do. He or she will be applying each Management concept in marketing, in their own way, within the boundaries of their practical experiences and customer satisfaction tasks. They are also experts. The whole real world is your laboratory. Even the fellow who sells unbranded textiles can teach you something. Learn to be humble. Learn to be hungry all the while, and you will succeed.

The catching up game for the unbranded college MBA is not easy at all. Hard work is the key. If the learning is cemented with an urge to learn everyday, success will be yours.

All the very best!!

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