What imperative actions MBAs from unbranded B-schools should take
MBAs from unbranded BSchools do face a number of problems. They do not enjoy the prestige and brand value of branded B Schools. However, if they do act on some imperatives, they can very well emerge successful. Certain dimensions of what MBAs from unbranded B-schools should do are described in this article.
IntroductionThe MBA qualification has several dimensions. It is the most comprehensive qualification that leads one to managerial success in an increasingly diverse world where glorious uncertainties are taken as realities of life at any point in time. The ISB and IIMs have the tremendous advantage of Faculty Members with research backgrounds who can easily make any class come alive with industry-oriented case-studies that reflect the exact challenges that MBAs face as a matter of routine in the real world. This is not available to any unbranded BSchool MBA. Most Faculty Members may not have good research backgrounds. Furthermore, industry linkages are almost absent.
Given the aforesaid shortcomings, the imperatives for any MBA from any unbranded institution is a) Wider horizon of knowledge far beyond syllabus b) Go to urban centers for internship c) Take internship very seriously d) Take up jobs in market-driven companies d) Enlarge scope of learning through wider interaction and e) Go on learning through practical experience.
Wider horizon of knowledge far beyond syllabusYou cannot afford to stop by just reading the syllabus and knowledge pertaining only to the syllabus. Here is one example. Apart from understanding the basic idea of Competitive Advantage, you need to find out the Competitive Advantage of any particular organization by anchoring it in the practical context of the five forces model. Take the ITC group of hotels as an example. Michael Porter's classic five factors strategy model is relevant even today. The five factors are rivalry between existing competitors, For example, the bargaining power of customers. Take pricing for instance. The customers have no bargaining power pricing of the hotel rooms or the food served. These hotels always cater to the tastes of the rich class. Similarly, the bargaining power of suppliers such as wholesalers of vegetables and fruits and meat, for instance, cannot be so good either. This is because of the prestige associated with being suppliers to such a prestigious group. The big volumes that each supplier would be entitled to would act as a factor. The regular and assured market position would keep prices at a reasonable level. This is the sort of analysis that you need to do to acquire cutting-edge knowledge. Such examples may not be taught by your teachers. Most of whom would lack any experience in the industry. They would be rather interested in just completing the syllabus.
Go to urban centers for internshipWhen you are due to take up an internship, do so only in the urban areas. For example, those who are in Marketing can sign up with any Housing Finance organization and suggest to them that you could do a door-to-door survey to explore the potential for housing loans in a particular area. This will give you a deep insight into their actual needs and their financial problems and aspirations in life and so on. You could gather useful information on the personal profile of so many people and the organization will reward you. However, you should do the internship only in urban areas. The biggest advantage is that you will obviously rub shoulders with highly educated professionals who would be engaged in value-adding tasks in a big way.
Take internship very seriouslyRemember, every bit of knowledge that comes from the real-world will deeply enhance the kind of knowledge and the connect to concepts in HR, Marketing and even Finance and you will be able to connect all the dots. Do not be tempted to socialize and distract yourself. Never give up on short term losses like not being able to get some information that you need. For instance, if you are doing your internship in a manufacturing organization, it is impossible to engage with shop floor workers. The only time you can catch up with them is during the breaks that are allowed. And during lunchtime. Learn every bit of what you need to learn and then go ahead. Once you take the internship seriously, you will realize that your transformation to a better MBA graduate happens in due course.
Take up jobs in market-driven companiesAs a rule, keep on exploring the chances of joining only market-driven FMCG companies. For instance, there are so many small brands of detergents sold only in the rural and semi-urban areas. But they also have a presence in the market and their niche markets are also growing day after day. Go and talk to them and even work without any salary. More so, in Marketing. This is similar to those who join as assistants to the established actors in the cinema industry. They are often paid a pittance. But after some years of hard work, they become experts in whatever they do. You will also have good careers when you do this kind of hard work as a routine.
Enlarge the scope of learning through wider interactionJust go over to the hostels where most bachelors stay in the metro cities. They could be just one or two years experienced. But they have seen it all. Meet with them and ask them to share their experiences. You will learn so much. Get to know from them how they managed head-on, all the challenges in their official lives. Managing tough bosses, for example. Such insights will enable you to make your learning curve short and also meaningful. Of course, you need to keep on exploring ways and means of reaching them as a routine. You just cannot afford to relax.
Go on learning through practical experiencePicture this situation. You have been taken as an HR trainee in a manufacturing organization. The HR chief has told you to go and learn all about time office management. There is a minimum amount of IT application. However, there are several complications. Learn not only the IT application but also the complications. There could be some issues with the "off" days that workers are entitled to. Someone would have made the wrong input. Go through every minute detail. Your success will always depend on the skill-sets that you possess as a matter of routine and then extrapolate that knowledge to take on better roles. Once you do this well, you will have made a mark for yourself and you are on the sure path of success.
Let us take another example. Let us assume that you are without a job. Go over to any organization engaged in transporting goods from one part of India to another. This is a highly complicated business that does have a recession at any time. There is always a good demand. Goods need to move from one end to another. Opt to work without any salary. Learn every bit of the action. Driver behavior and their lives. The complications associated with loading and unloading operations. The felt needs of the employees at various levels. For instance, even over a cup of tea you can engage with a driver in useful conversation and learn so much about the nitty-gritty of supply chain management. You could learn what distance he would cover each day. You could understand where he stops to have a bit of a rest and so on. Once these things are clear, you will be on the path of success. Every bit of learning is important. The drivers and cleaners are often those who can come up with innovative solutions. Safety on roads is one example. If a driver has a record of no-accident service, talk to him. Many useful lessons can be learned through such interaction. Life is always tough. The tougher you become the more successful you will become.
ConsclusionYou should always realize that no matter where you get your MBA from ( even from Univesity affiliated Arts and Science colleges), you stand a big chance of a good career, only if you take on multiple learning avenues. Some of these have been discussed in the aforesaid paragraphs.