August 4th, 2018
Let me start by Defining an MBA for you. What is an MBA? Will an MBA prepare you for senior role in your target company in your country? If you aspire to work in Goldman Sachs in Mumbai, will an MBA from Columbia be helpful?”
I think it will really bring in a very new perspective before you waste your money on an unwanted MBA Program. I want you to think, introspect, and really understand what is it that you want from an MBA program OR if you even want an MBA ?
Imagine, an MBA Aspirant working with an IT firm in Bangalore suddenly gets this urge to start his career in investment banking and work for Goldman Sachs. This urge stemmed from the IT systems that he created for a bulge bracket Investment bank, and was exposed to something bigger than his current work reality, and he starts to picture a new future. He starts exploring courses in Finance, and zeroes in on an MBA.
In this note, I want to address the needs that this applicant should be looking to fulfill. An MBA is not about getting a functional understanding of Finance, spending time on books, and building spreadsheets. These are the necessary tools that are needed to work your way up. However, what an MBA does is much more than what one currently conspires in his or her mind.
We are witnessing so many schools building academic partnerships with other MBA Campuses, and initiating the seamless exchange programs. What is the need that we are addressing through these human transactions? Why are programs such as Wharton, IIM-A, SP Jain, INSEAD, Duke, Darden, IMD, HBS, and many others building competency in the Global Education model ? What are the necessary skill sets that these programs are trying to give an access to through the academic environment?
An MBA is not a formal education in business. Neither is it about building the basic skills in marketing, finance, or operations. An MBA is that practical exposure that surpasses geographical boundaries. Economies have become more intertwined through trade and finance, which has made business cycles more synchronised, and not less. Companies are pooling into global resources for raw materials, capital, and human capital. All of us witnessed the 2008 recession and how the American housing market led to a collapse in the markets in Mumbai. In such a state of the world, more and more MBA programs are venturing into creating programs that prepare candidates to work in the global landscape.
Well, I am not going to address the coupling of the economies in this note. Rather, I want to address the skills needed to operate in this marketplace. Through this note, I want to recreate the definition of an education in business, and help the readers understand the skill sets will need to play in an international gaming environment.
– Building a Functional Capability: Are their fixed equations in finance that one needs to cram while working on a deliverable? Do we need to learn any formulas in operations? IS that enough? Are their specific theories in marketing that will work while you are taking your product to the market? Think about Marketing Dove in India Vs. Marketing Apple I-Phone in the world. Consumers have different and changing needs, and both these products have a different competitive landscape. The definition is an MBA is severely misunderstood by many and I want to start by offering a new version of this. Defining an MBA “Someone who can identify the need of the market, collaborate with different parties( investors, companies, technical teams, marketing and sales personnel), deliver the right product fulfilling that need, and generate the promised shareholder returns, and create the self-sustaining linear equation known as business that will employ people and enable them to earn a living. This MBA will do it by delving deeply into key business functions—such as strategy, marketing, finance and accounting, and operations, and will learn how they interrelate and how to use them to lead change. MBA Defined
– International Business and Regulatory Environment: An MBA is not about getting an international job. It is not about getting an international work visa and working in a local company of another country. Rather, it is about moving the things in a rapidly evolving volatile markets, changing regulatory structures, and widely varying government structures. Think about the regulatory machinery that Wal-Mart had to move while it was trying to gain entry to India. Managing local partnerships, complying with the FDI policies, and creating shareholder value in an alien environment. Think about how Amazon had to rethink its business model and had to evaluate whether it wants to be an online retail or a marketplace for the retailers, and how the company contemplated changing its strategy to get the things up and running in a new environment. A global MBA should provide you with the frameworks for structuring your intuitive understanding of business environment in World markets.
– Building an international Network, and understanding the cultural sensitivities: When you think of an MBA, think of the network that you will be a part of and the power it can help you create in business. Think of those 1000’s of MBA Alumni that are spread across the world, and how you could find your future partners, employers, investors, and may be mentors. Execution of an idea( in your own venture or in a large enterprise such as Google) requires many tangents. Actually, getting an idea is overrated. It is the ability to join the dots and assessing the arbitrage in the market, and getting the right minded people to come together into fulfilling the need of the market. An MBA can assess a profitable model in the United States, get funding from an investors in South Africa, source a product from China and launch a business in India, and take it to the IPO route. In addition to the network, an exposure to the diversity in a business school will make one aware of the sensitivities of different cultures. If you need to lead your employer’s move into Latin America, it is important to learn about areas such as business culture, business etiquette, meeting protocol, and negotiation techniques in order to maximize the potential of the investments. Business gifts maybe well accepted in China but may be misconstrued in India. Different cultures speak different business languages, and GLOBAL MBA programs train the managers into these sensitivities.
In the nutshell, I want you to look at the following while developing expectations from an MBA Program:
Develop a strong understanding of business functions, and hone foundation skills to integrate these functions across the organization.
Examine new techniques, or arbitrage that exists in the markets, and use those for driving results in any market cycle in any part of the world.
Build a holistic approach to identifying problems, and solving them. These problems could be related to investments or regulatory challenges. Address all of them.
Sharpen effective decision-making skills for strategy development and implementation. This could mean leading large international and cross-functional teams, building relationships with them, and also ensuring that they have a great sense of camaraderie amongst them.
Expand your ability to lead corporate projects amid challenging and diverse competitive markets.