Why MBA? At some point in our lives, we all get asked this question. It mostly comes from the aspiring, admiring, employing and jealous individuals.
I was once asked by a friend- What is it about MBA’s, from top business schools, that they get paid so much? He truly believed that MBA, after all, was one of world’s most successful marketing campaigns. He believed that barring a few specialization topics, most of what we learn is an overview of broad category of subjects. Well, after having spent two years in the program, I must admit, he wasn’t far from the truth about the content. It is widely believed that only a minority of topics learnt during the course are actively applied in the real-world setting. So then why is it that we spend a year in preparation for a host of competitive exams, compete with lakhs of aspiring students and grab one of the finite number of seats available in either of the elite MBA institutes in the country? How does the course magically transform us to be perceived as better candidates for managerial positions than our technical graduate peers?
One important aspect that differentiates us from the rest is our ability to efficiently deliver an assigned task. In a regular MBA program, students undergo stress test throughout the course. We are bombarded with assignments, trainings, corporate-to-campus events and club activities. Every student has to pre-read lengthy reading materials to productively participate during the class lecture. Most of us compete in multiple business competitions simultaneously, pursue additional academic certification courses of interest and are actively doing live research projects on the side. Managing one’s time becomes crucial to maintain sanity. In the process, every student masters’ the art of planning, prioritizing, structuring and executing the deliverables- religiously following Pareto’s 80-20 principle to goal setting.
It requires an effective team effort, in addition to personal commitment, to achieve a set goal. Initially, we struggle to find a ‘good’ team but, eventually, learn to adopt and appreciate the diversity of the existing group. Since, the team members change frequently, we become flexible and quickly learn ways to get things done- as one’s reward depends on the performance of the team.
It is said that experience is the mother of wisdom. Throughout the program, in various forms, students are exposed to best practices and mistakes from a variety of industries thereby leaving very little to imagination. Our exposure to equally diverse subjects helps us become aware and sensitive to each one. We also recognize the importance and refine our soft skills. We quickly learn to tell and sell a good story.
We learn to implement good plans than dwell on the perfect ones. General George Smith Patton, Jr. had once said that “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later.” A company’s administration function, where most MBA candidates begin their journey, is to ethically achieve and maintain leadership’s vision. It requires the right attitude to maintain speed and consistency to deliver on that expectation. We are equipped with the tools to help achieve that.
In essence, our exposure to a variety of topics that are relevant to a business, combined with the engrained attitude and skills that are desired to be part of an administration and mastery in delivering time bound consistent performance is what is valued by the industry.
Intensity of the zeal to perform may differ between candidates but, undoubtedly, the program raises the bar.