Missing Elements in an MBA
(Published in: HT Horizon)

For HT Horizon

Missing ‘Elements’ in an MBA…

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There are more than 2000 Bschools in India where students pay between Rs. 2-6 lacs fee, hoping to find their dream career. Unfortunately, most of these schools (beyond the Top 100) are actually running on a meager 20-40% placements. Remaining students leave the campus either without a job or end up working on some low skill base job. Think about this: 2 in 3 of all MBAs in India remain either un-employed or severly under-employed!

Why is this happening? Of course, there are larger issues of student input quality (today anyone who can spend Rs 5 lacs can get an MBA/PGDM degree without any entry level selection criteria). And larger issues of academic delivery quality (most run-of-the-mill colleges spend less than 10% of their revenues on actual academic delivery). But that doesn’t help students who have already enrolled. What can they do?

To find out why our MBAs are not employed, Elements Akademia conducted an intensive nation-wide research amongst the CXOs / HR Heads of more than 40 companies from various verticals, 60 MBA / PGDM colleges across 12 cities and more than 3000 students and MBA aspirants.

This research brought us face-to-face with some startling revelations. First was that there are enough jobs. In sectors like BFSI, KPO, Pharmaceutical, FMCG etc, there will be approximately a million new jobs in the next 3 years: sufficient to absorb most MBAs in India. However, these companies continue to work on a 3-5% hiring rate: 95% of all applicants are rejected, despite having job openings.

Why? The research found that the industry needs certain skills beyond the regular AICTE/University MBA curriculum before it can hire a candidate. However, the academia continues to teach what it has been teaching for many years (70% of MBA faculty in India have little or no quality industry experience) versus teaching the key skills industry needs.

This results in today’s classic paradox: Corporate world continues to have jobs but keeps complaining that there are not enough “employable” candidates. And students keep complaining of lack of jobs despite degrees. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…

The research also found that the gap between industry requirement and academic curriculum is mostly in the “finishing” or overall grooming of the student. Experts suggest that 70% of the hiring decision gets taken in the first 5 minutes of the interview! Since most entry level jobs in Tier 2 (and beyond) Bschools involve either Sales or Customer Service, deep technical knowledge is often not essential. But a presentable personality, with the ability to impress people and leave an impact, is crucial.

Unfortunately, HR interviewers lament that most students lack in the following:

     Business Communication – Spoken and Written English is usually very poor, with basic mistakes in subject-verb agreement, tenses, use of articles and prepositions. Pronunciation, esp. Mother Tongue Influence (s for sh, j for z etc.) is another major issue.

     ✔ Confidence – Students find it difficult to fully articulate their views and are often not confident when presenting to interviewers. A good interviewee channels the interview to his/her areas of strength, a bad interviewee is too nervous to think beyond simple answers.

     Grooming – Dressing sense is often too loud or too rustic. Hair is unkempt, men have not shaved properly, women haven’t put up a decent makeup. Colour combination is completely absent.

     Corporate Exposure – Basic knowledge of what’s happening in the industry and the world is missing. Students become blank when quizzed on general awareness. And practical exposure of their function is missing too (they may have memorized Kotler’s 7Ps but stumble when asked to sell a pen then and there).

     Attitude – For most entry level jobs, interviewers want a humble person willing to get his/her hands dirty and learn on the job. But often students come with grandiloquent ideas of their self worth and expect a high salary without any targets/pressure.

Many of the above probably flow from the background of the students: Tier II/III town graduates often from vernacular medium, with limited real world corporate exposure. But the good news is that this “finishing” can be developed. A rigorous comprehensive “bridge” training can correct each of the above gaps, but obviously requires will and sustained effort. There is no proof that quick fix solutions (those 2 day workshops just before placement season) work. Just like this article, they, at best, can sensitize you on what’s needed. But actually improving fundamental aspects like English, Presentability, Corporate Exposure or Attitude requires six to nine months of guided effort. Like they say… there are no short cuts in life!

The author, Nishant Saxena is CEO of Elements Akademia, started by a group of 15 IIM Alumni. He is also a Guest Faculty at IIM Lucknow and can be reached at n.saxena@elementsakademia.com

9 replies
  1. Tony Rockzz says:

    Thank you for this research based article Sir, Now I understood why MBA’s are not hired in-spite of having degree in their hands.

  2. Sai Kalyan Kunapareddy
    Sai Kalyan Kunapareddy says:

    Its a well researched article. I recommend this post to every MBA aspirant. Thanks for giving such a valuable information through this blog post. Looking forward to seeing more stuff in this blog.

    Thank you
    Sai Kalyan Kunapareddy

  3. AKshay Nair
    AKshay Nair says:

    This article is a sheer example of the effort that you put into your work as the amount of research needed for this article might have BEEN IMMENSE


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