Thursday, January 25, 2007

Email of the week - II

This is an email I received a couple of months ago. But I thought it was a refreshing take on the whole b school brouhaha. What's more, there's a topical edge to the subject raised, in light of the film 'Guru', which is inspired by the life of an extraordinary man who thought exactly the way.

The 'Shell' job he spurned, being the equivalent of an 'IIM type' job in his time...

hi Rashmi,

I am a final year Bachelor of Management Studies student from Mumbai. I am taking the CAT' 06 in November and had a few questions. I would be really glad if you could answer them.

I found out that the average salary of an IIM-A gradutate is around 8 lacs. I do not have any work experience but I still feel that I could earn a lot more than that in a few years after completing BMS by starting my own business or joining my dad's business depending on where my passion lies.

Don't you think one can make more money by starting their own business where they have full control and freedom inspite of the risks involved?

I would love to have financial security which a job would provide but a pay of Rs 8 lakhs per annum is nothing great in my mind and considering the background I come from, I don't think a pay of that kind would offer me much financial security. I know you are not a education or career counsellor but I thought you would be the perfect person to answer this because you have studied in IIM-A and now you have your own business.

Ultimately, even i want to start my own business. Can you tell me how an IIM experience will help me in doing that?"

My reply: The question is, would it help or hinder you in starting your own business? Assuming you make it to the IIMs in the first place.

Not making it - or even trying for it - may actually be a good thing. It could mean you're a streetsmart person who can't be bothered with swotting over the CAT exam... when you can be out there doing 'bijness'. But the fact that you are asking these questions indicates a level of self-doubt. So here are some general observations on entrepreneurship and MBA.

There are MBAs who are successful as entrepreneurs but it is a fact that the vast number of highly successful entrepeneurs are not MBAs.

Coming from a background where the family already owns a business, it is generally easier to visualise a career as an entrepreneur without an MBA. Whereas those who do make it to IIMs and other top b schools generally come from middle class backgrounds. Through a mix of intellect and intensive effort they make it to these institutes, and to them the concept of a job paying Rs 8 lakhs (more, with every passing placement season!) is very attractive.

Yes, at these institutes there are courses and seminars on entrepreneurship. There are even business plan competitions. But, let's face it. The MBA best prepares students to operate within existing frameworks. The most obvious fit is as an expensive cog in a designer corporate wheel.

Secondly, placement is the default option. The reason most aspire for an MBA in the first place. NOT taking placement requires action. It means taking a risk. And that upsets parents and well wishers. But again, those who are truly convinced go ahead and follow their dreams.

There is a trend of b school grads opting out of placement to set up their own enterprise. Last year around 16 students across IIMs opted out, this year 4 IIM A students have spurned PPOs from the likes of Deutsche Bank to set up their own business venture.

But it's still a very small trickle, compared to the overall bschool population.

So the answer is - MBAs become entrepreneurs despite the temptation to 'play safe' and stick to jobs. Lack of family support and more importantly, lack of capital are hurdles. But those with spirit and self-belief overcome these hurdles.

Back to the final year BMS student.
Firstly, an MBA immediately after BMS is quite redundant. It would make sense only after a couple of years experience - either with the family business or running your own enterprise. That's a call you have to make.

The 'own enterprise idea' may not go down well with the family. And it may not take off immediately. But you should stick in there, learn and grow with it.

After 2-3 years, if you feel the need for an MBA, you could consider IIMs. But a 1 year course at an institute like ISB would make a lot more sense. Around 8 students who are part of ISB's class of 2007 are entrepreneurs and most plan to go back to their own business. That kind of profile is unheard of in IIMs.

The other option is a 1 year MBA at INSEAD/ LBS/ IMD, provided you have the money. Again, the idea of pursuing the MBA is to be able to grow one's vision, as often a family concern is stuck in the old pattern of doing things. The focus would be on gaining as much knowledge as possible, as getting a job is not a prime objective.

In case you still feel ki nahin, MBA karna hi hai, abhi karna hai there is the 'Family Business MBA' option. Options include SP Jain, NMIMS and Nirma Institute of Management. FMB programs do not offer placements.

Of the lot, S P Jain has the most hands-on approach. Classes are held 1 week in the month and the rest of the time you are expected to apply what you have learnt in your own business.

In the final analysis the phrase 'I would love to have financial security' is what is creating the dilemma. A 'secure entrepreneur' is an oxymoron. Let go of that desire, believe that you will make it happen. Everything else will follow.

P.S. If you are a young entrepreneur - with or without an MBA - do share your story and any views on this subject. Email Some of these stories will get featured, in a future post!


  1. Anonymous1:36 PM

    Very very nicely put...clear and unambiguous...:)

  2. Anonymous3:07 PM

    Hi Rashmi,

    I agree with Jay - very clear and unambiguous.

    Also, whats good to see is that the emails being featured here are not restricted to negative ones (i had feared after reading Part 1 of this series that only grossly negative emails would be featured here, with you playing critique).


  3. Rashmi, agree with you. What an MBA does is give you a certain perspective on business and indeed life.

    However, i've always believed that individual passion, knowing what excites you in life, plus a little bit of faith are far greater drivers of success than any MBA...

    And true that you can get an MBA at any stage of life, especially if you want to pursue an entrepreneurial career

  4. Ppl who do their MBAs make a very common mistake:

    During their MBA education, they forget the fact that they are also growing up as in, age. So when they suddenly start seeing things with broader perspective, they wrongly attribute this to their MBA education, whereas the reality might be that the "perspective" is just bcos they have become grown ups, MBA or NOT.

    - DrDoubt.

  5. @DrDoubt

    I have to disagree with you. When we joined our MBA program it became quite obvious within a few days that there was a huge difference between us and our immediate seniors, in the way we thought and carried ourselves. It seemed to make more sense to go to a 22 year old senior for career/personal advice than to approach a 28 year old classmate. In fact there were interesting situations in which 21 year old guys mentored their 30 year old juniors, and the older juniors appeared to be perfectly happy with the situation.

    My take on this is that a year of MBA education can really bring a huge difference to your worldview irrespective of your age. How much of this 'perspective' can help an entrepreneur is a different question

  6. MBA is not imperative for enterpreneurship but certainly for those coming from middle class background ,don't have that kind of capital to start their own enterprise. At that moment, an MBA from IIMs & all makes it a bit less tedious to get loans sanctioned ,to make people believe and invest in your idea.

  7. Anonymous6:58 AM

    Amidst high media hype we generally tend to forget that an IIT or IIM have several hundreds of students to place and only a small portion of them land up in these super dream type of jobs. In some cases people end up in jobs that pays even lesser than non IIT engg colleges. I agree this a comparison between the best from one place to the worst from other. But it still proves the point that the notion of only IIT and IIM giving a plum job and rest all crap is wrong.

  8. ".....I don't think a pay of that kind (8 lacs per annum) would offer me much financial security." What kind of a lifestyle is this person aiming for? Does this person want to own a stable of Ferraris!!!

  9. Anonymous11:43 AM

    Frankly I have started founding your posts boring. Always wandering around MBA, IIT and IIM and some movie reviews.

    Please come up with something refreshing.


  10. This e-mail of the week was better than Part-I as it was on the positive note.

  11. An advise to that student:
    An MBA would help you dig into an alumni base - many of whom could be your future business clients or employees with them. Ofcourse, it depends on what business you want to set up, but that's something you wouldn't want to ignore.
    Otherwise, pretty much everything you learn in b-schools can be learnt in a month or two. Most people in b-school (esp. the engineers who are omnipresent) just want to study some finance :)

  12. We are still waiting for the goan account , Rashmi!

  13. Hi Rashmi,

    I am visiting your blog for the first time and found the topic very useful. I was researching whether an MBA would be needed for becoming an entreprenaur with my wellwishers and the knowledgeable people i know. The views of many coincided with yours. Thank you for educating us about the short term management study plans

  14. This blog is a tasty curry which will sweeten and strenghthen the tongue. In this modern world the art of Management has become a part and parcel of everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory and in Government. In all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, management principles come into play through the management of resources, finance and planning, priorities, policies and practice. Management is a systematic way of carrying out activities in any field of human effort.

    Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says the Management Guru Peter Drucker. It creates harmony in working together - equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcity, be they in the physical, technical or human fields, through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management.

    Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita
    There is an important distinction between effectiveness and efficiency in managing.

    Effectiveness is doing the right things.
    Efficiency is doing things right.
    The general principles of effective management can be applied in every field, the differences being more in application than in principle. The Manager's functions can be summed up as:

    Forming a vision
    Planning the strategy to realize the vision.
    Cultivating the art of leadership.
    Establishing institutional excellence.
    Building an innovative organization.
    Developing human resources.
    Building teams and teamwork.
    Delegation, motivation, and communication.
    Reviewing performance and taking corrective steps when called for.
    Thus, management is a process of aligning people and getting them committed to work for a common goal to the maximum social benefit - in search of excellence.

    The critical question in all managers' minds is how to be effective in their job. The answer to this fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita, which repeatedly proclaims that "you must try to manage yourself." The reason is that unless a manager reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness, he or she will be merely a face in the crowd.

    Old truths in a new context
    The Bhagavad Gita, written thousands of years ago, enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading us towards a harmonious and blissful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation and so on, common in most of Indian enterprises today – and probably in enterprises in many other countries.

    The modern (Western) management concepts of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning, decision making and planning, are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita. There is one major difference. While Western management thought too often deals with problems at material, external and peripheral levels, the Bhagavad Gita tackles the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking. Once the basic thinking of man is improved, it will automatically enhance the quality of his actions and their results.

    The management philosophy emanating from the West is based on the lure of materialism and on a perennial thirst for profit, irrespective of the quality of the means adopted to achieve that goal. This phenomenon has its source in the abundant wealth of the West and so 'management by materialism' has caught the fancy of all the countries the world over, India being no exception to this trend. My country, India, has been in the forefront in importing these ideas mainly because of its centuries old indoctrination by colonial rulers, which has inculcated in us a feeling that anything Western is good and anything Indian, is inferior.

    The result is that, while huge funds have been invested in building temples of modem management education, no perceptible changes are visible in the improvement of the general quality of life - although the standards of living of a few has gone up. The same old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy, criminalization of institutions, social violence, exploitation and other vices are seen deep in the body politic.

  15. Anonymous1:48 AM

    rashmi bansal...
    I knew I had heard the name somewhere... what a coincidence to drop by your blog.
    how are things with the magazine...can't wait for the issue to come out.

  16. Anonymous11:01 AM

    I hope u read these comments, bcoz I have been trying to reach you since long, I tried posting my contributions on your magazine jam but it keeps showing errors.
    Hi, I have heard that u are on lookout for talented writers, I am one...please visit my blog, u will agree, I am not elaborating much since I believe in DEEDS MORE THAN WORDS,So I feel my blog can explain me better.
    I am awaiting ur response.

  17. So in effect, are you saying that an IIM MBA is good only for those largely middle-class students who have aspirations of a secure job with a slightly higher-than-average salaries?

    Is there nothing about an IIM MBA that would build perspectives in future entrepreneurs? Or even a network of people? Or ummm - the confidence? Or the ability to put it all together and work with calm in stressful situations?

  18. hey rashmi whether i agree with you or not.but must appreciate ur dtime when pple cant stop talkin abt IIMs you say they r not the only great ecoles.true to some extent coz of the new batallion of top notch B-schools

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