Friday, June 19, 2009

To MBA or not to MBA!

The tough times continue. Markets are stabilizing, but everyone seems to be making the same wrong assumption. About things getting back to where they were before as soon as the recession recedes. And I am getting kinda tired of reminding everyone of the economic cycle, boom does not follow recession. It goes some thing like this - Boom - Slowdown - Recession - Recovery - Boom. Hence there is a Recovery period, where things wont look as gloomy as the Recession, but at the same time will not be as rosy as the Boom as well. And by the way, nobody really notices when we go into Slowdown, if they would, recession would never come :P.

A lot of companies have announced salary decrements. Some have announced zero increments and no salary corrections (or market based adjustments or whatever other HR jargon you wanna use). My company recently declared me to be a "top of the line" performer in the last appraisal, which means that they will be obliged to give me some increment, even if it is an absolutely negligible percentage. The increment will probably be accompanied by a small note from my manager "Yes I know it sucks considering you did a terrific job last year, but lets just say that you should be happy that its an increment, and not a decrement like in some other companies". Well, I am not complaining. Most people find this weird, but money has never really been the biggest motivation for me. Yes strange but true. I am happy as long as I work with the right people and get to learn. Consulting is the best place I can be. Europe is the most balanced Geography to be in, a good amount of action with satisfactory stability, and lots of new things to learn. I can’t see myself getting such a kick out of work anyplace else. Hence I shall not complain and continue being happy.

Recently I have discovered a strange kind of inexplicable discrimination in the consulting line. It is with regard to years of experience vs. qualifications. Consulting, especially in IT is a game of skills, relationships and ability to be innovative, sharp and flexible. It is of course function of your years of experience and maybe qualifications but there is much more to it than just that. The recent discrimination works against me sometimes because I happen to have 2 less years of work experience because I left my job midway to pursue my MBA (as compared to peers who didn’t do a masters) and then got back into the corporate world post MBA. I have never really flaunted my MBA at any point in life; I really do not think that a single degree makes me immortal, especially in my profession. But then I am totally lost when people overlook and discount the two years I spent slogging to survive in MBA.

Agreed, the two years of my MBA were spent more in romantic pursuits than academic ones. But give me some credit for 2 years of compulsory 100% attendance, multiple rigorous industry seminars, summer projects in topline companies, no vacations, fear of being kicked out for the smallest of reasons, hundreds of presentations, thousands of group meetings, clearing subjects in Finance which can only inspire hatred in the heart, tolerating hours of HR lectures, digesting tones of management books and reading management theories and "merging their essence with my soul", 7 days of advanced jungle survival course (I will explain the relevance later) and an obnoxious amount of time learning Yoga. And for some reason people discount the whole deal when they count "years of experience". Why does nobody discount my engineering degree in the same way? Somehow the 4 years of engineering is supposed to be a big deal. To be honest, the 2 years of B-school, even with all my "extra curricular" activities, was more value addition to me than my 4 years of engineering.

Think about it. There must be some logic to 3,00,000 people applying for CAT in order to pursue MBA. There must be some logic in top corporate being ready to pay obscene paychecks to hire people from even second rung business schools. There must be some logic to the curricula designed by world industry experts in order to teach people management. There must be some logic to hundreds of thousands queuing up to get a seat in a B-school, even with the incredulous fees. How then can all this be discounted by certain biased individuals just because they didn’t take the decision to pursue the degree?

Ok I agree I am biased as well. You know which side of the debate I am on if you read my qualifications, I decided the side I wanted to be on when I left my job a few years back to study management. So I hear this question a lot... did you really learn enough in MBA to be able to rank yourself higher than non-MBAs? Umm.. tough one... because you can’t really give a politically right, diplomatic, "lets-not-sound-arrogant" answer to that one. I did my MBA from a second rung business school, and in spite of being the most insincere student in my class, I have to answer YES. Because however dumb you might be, just the fact that you left a good job or job opportunity, invested a considerable amount of money and got 95+ percentile in CAT means that you take your career seriously. The fact that you survived the rigors of multiple management subjects, hurdles designed to throw out students because of vague "ethical" reasons, summer internship and GPA cutoffs means that things were being drilled into you even when you were not really aware about it. And the fact that some firm was ready to pay twice or nearly twice the salary you used to get, in a position a few rungs higher than you were means that you have added value to yourself. If you did not get these, then maybe your answer to the fated question should be a NO. But knowing myself, and knowing most of my friends and batch mates from B School, I feel in most cases the answer will be Yes.

Ah, at last with so much of gibberish I have finally convinced myself that it was worthwhile spending those years in my business school. By the way, along with the degree, I also managed to get a decent "phoren" job, industry contacts and a girl for myself. Obviously the latter was the toughest one to get, and the most prized of all the other "achievements". For those who are still not impressed, let me tell you about our Outbound programme. It was a 7 day advanced jungle survival course in the rainy season. No dry clothes, new shoes getting torn, wearing rope on feet to be able to walk, limited rations, self cooking, drinking water from dirty jungle puddles, stomach rappelling, free hand 300 feet climbs, night trekking in wild jungles, 2 cases of broken legs and bones, 1 case of displaced joint, 3 cases of dehydration, cheetah attack, ... SIGH.. can I ever explain these things to someone who has not been in our Outbound??

Let us try with some pics:

You can see all the pics HERE ... I just dug these out because the current students at my B School refused to believe that we had a really rigorous Outbound, so these were to scare them :)

Well, if after this really long post, you still strongly believe that MBA is an absolute load of gibberished and gaseously modulated form of hypothetically jargoned virtual entity, then maybe you should be told about this really amazing book I stumbled upon. Believe me, if I had laid eyes on this baby before I started my preparation for CAT, my life would have been a very different game altogether. Whether for better or for worse I shall leave upto you.

Heres the book, the complete and perfect alternative to MBA:


  1. we had a rigorous outbound as well!
    in the aftermath there were plenty of headaches, joint pains, serious lost and found issues (some yet to be found) and one case of 'love'...
    I really don't know how that came about in the midst of all the chaos and sweat! eeikkksss!!

  2. Hmmm...I empathize with you.

    No. I don't hold a degree in management. But I know it takes a lot to get one and it can do wonders to one's career.

    I don't have the brains needed for MBA. Seriously!

    And now take a deep breath :)