To have or not to have. Some consider an MBA degree passé, whereas others still swear by its efficacy. Whether you want to go down the entrepreneurial road or take up a cushy job in a good firm, is an MBA compulsory for attaining corporate success? Weighing the pros and cons and taking a timely, well-informed decision will hold you in good stead.
For one, all of them are great leaders heading successful businesses of their own. For another, none of them have an MBA degree under their belts.
Steve Jobs didn’t go to management college but his insight into technology was developed by numerous other factors in and around him. Oprah came from a life of poverty and personal hardship but went on to eventually launch her own production company successfully. Dhirubhai Ambani was a natural businessman as well as a financial wizard. Similarly, in more recent times, we have the young Ritesh Agarwal, a college dropout but a successful entrepreneur nevertheless.
Moreover, young India is replete with numerous examples of young people breaking stereotypes and becoming brilliant entrepreneurs, even before they finished college. For instance, Trishneet Arora, Sreelakshmi Suresh, Arjun Rai, and Advait Thakur, just to name a few, all began their businesses without any formal education in management.
Considering this information, does it mean one doesn’t need an MBA to achieve success in the corporate world? Furthermore, what about examples like Melinda Gates, Indra Nooyi, Tim Cook, Sheryl Sandberg, Anand Mahindra, and Gopal Vittal, all of whom studied at prestigious business schools worldwide and proved to be exemplary leaders of profitable ventures. Steve Jobs might not have had business education himself, but Apple does hire a lot of MBAs from premium institutes globally. So do Microsoft, or the Mahindra’s, or Airtel and so many other organizations.
Firstly, let’s not forget that not everyone aspires for entrepreneurship straightaway. A lot of people don’t want to go that way at all. Others want to gain experience in the corporate world before embarking on their own. There are as many possibilities as there are people. However, it can be safely said that most people want well-paying, satisfying careers in the pre-existing corporate empires. Likewise, organizations are looking out for certain, well-defined skill sets and educational qualifications, before they hire, at various levels. Globalization and industrialization have made the corporate world dynamic and complex. As a result, people in managerial positions need to hone their analytical skills and logical thinking constantly for rising to industry challenges. To this end, management education does help to acquire practical and professional domain knowledge.
So the question is, what is the formula? Moreover, is there a formula in the first place when it comes to acquiring an MBA? Is it compulsory for corporate success or not?
Before a conclusion can be arrived at, let us look at three facets of this debate.
Why you need it
- Since the liberalization era began two decades ago, the popularity of MBA spiked immensely and it began to be seen as a means to get a high-paying job in the burgeoning corporate sector of India. At one point in time, it became like a fad. Likewise, the demand for MBAs also went up considerably in organizations.
However, in current times, there is stagnation in the MBA market. There is an overall job crisis in the economy and the demand-supply ratio is skewed. In such a situation, it would be wise to make a prudent choice depending on whether the kinds of jobs an MBA prepares you for are suitable for your current skill set or personality. If you are already experienced, acquiring an MBA should add value and boost your existing career, or else it’s useless. If you plan to go solo in business, an MBA does provide a foundational framework for your business idea in terms of marketing and finance, but we have examples of entrepreneurial success indicating that it’s not always imperative.
Where you get it from
- While this may be true that getting an MBA these days is not enough. According to a 2017 report from ASSOCHAM, leaving aside graduates from the 20 premium colleges, only 7% of MBA students from other management schools were placed in jobs that year. The scenario two years later is no different. The biggest reason behind the decline in job offers to MBA’s is the obsolete curriculum most institutes follow.
Where you get your MBA from is of paramount importance now. The overgrowth of institutes offering MBA, as well as the drop in quality of education provided there, has been the major cause of this fiasco. Graduates from these institutes are neither taught well nor are equipped with the requisite foundational skills needed for corporate survival. Students enrolling in such institutes are lured mainly for commercial profitability purposes, with no thought given to a serious selection process.
Students of premiere institutes, on the other hand, do not face such falsification and erosion of value in the job market. That is because these schools have established processes of training, exposure to real-life case studies, and a dedicated placement cell. They are guided about career opportunities too during the placement as per their skills and specializations. Moreover, they are groomed to be industry-ready so that they are directly recruited by well-known companies.
Which companies demand it and at which levels
- Most good, profitable, and culturally sound companies are seeking MBAs at the entry-level because they want people with a framework of understanding of organizational working. That basic foundation is what their in-job training builds upon. If you are a fresher and want a management job in a good company, MBA will increase your chances of being hired, but as discussed, if you are from a good school. However, some firms look only for a basic degree like BMS and judge the potential in a candidate through tests and interviews, not necessarily insisting on an MBA. They provide extensive in-house training to such employees.
- For middle or senior-level positions, other factors like experience definitely count, with or without academic qualifications. If you are experienced and are sure that by doing an MBA you can enhance your skills, then the combo of work experience and academics blends beautifully. Alternatively, you might possess exceptional skills and domain knowledge which are more important for the company than an MBA.
A good MBA curriculum provides a simulated reality of the corporate world but there is no substitute for hands-on experience. Most management gurus attribute the larger part of corporate success to attitude, grit, diligence, and an open mind, rather than to a degree. Though MBA is touted as a generalist degree, there is often a singular focus on the specialized training of the function chosen, ignoring the inculcation of management practice in a cultural way. To that extent, people who pursue MBA after gaining some experience in the corporate sector, benefit more effectively. Freshers are too raw to ingest everything taught but do acquire certain basic skills to familiarize themselves. Additionally, a good MBA from a reputed institute does increase the probability of good job placement. MBA can accelerate your career if taken up at an appropriate time and from a well-known school, and only if truly needed.