Thursday, March 17, 2005

The $150,000 googly

An IIM Ahmedabad student has reportedly bagged a job offer of $ 150,000 (Rs 50 lakhs). The news has made headlines in all the morning papers. And a million more 'I-want-to-attend-IIM A' dreams have been created in one fell swoop.

My warm congratulations to the student but, in the public interest, a few points that need to be highlighted:

* The student in question has work experience - so in effect it's a 'lateral placement'. The highest offer to a fresher is $110,000

* Only 58 students out of a batch of 250 got placed on 'Day Zero'. Some 84 job offers were made but as one student was being wooed by more than one company, not all could be accepted.

* This means that 80% of the batch is - as I write this - still appearing for interviews with all the regular rupee-paying companies. The average Indian salary - last year - was Rs 7 lakhs.

Expect that to become Rs 8 lakhs this year, thanks to a buoyant job scene. But remember, that if the 'average' is 7 lakhs there are a good number of students below that figure too!

So while the $150,000 salary may make headlines let's be clear about the fact that it is a 'jackpot' - as the papers are describing it. It's the good fortune - and brilliance - of one individual. Not something you will necessarily have a shot at - even if you do make it to IIM Ahmedabad!

As my brother, an IIM A 1998 batch graduate, working for P & G Singapore, remarked,"Even I don't get paid that much - after 5 years on the job!" With an MNC, in a foreign posting - I might add. Most IIM alums would have a similar story.

Yes, they get paid well and hold positions offering challenge and responsibility. But, few are actually 'obscenely rich'.

Bottomline: Take all these figures about MBA placements with a fistful of salt. There are many good reasons to consider doing an MBA but the hope of that $150,000 job should not be one of them.

The richest men in the world - like L N Mittal - have made their millions not on the backs of MBAs but native intelligence, hard work and good luck. If that's your dream - follow their example!


  1. Rashmi,

    A post with head on shoulders... I appreciate this bit of advice from you. Wish it reaches out to a whole lot of em' who now have a $150k dream.

    It was a topic of discussion everywhere, yesterday and i too had the same advice to a youngster who has just started his first job after doing CA. Poor fellow was almost about to sign his papers to appear for DEC 05 CAT! (has a lot to study to get into IIM's...)

    Now i am forwarding your post to him... if not me may be you'll make sense for him.

    Here's CHEERS to the $150k guy.

  2. Rashmi,

    Very nice post to explain the fine print behind all the press hype. I feel that the Indian press should not convert the dollar salaries into Indian rupees as it gives a very wrong signal to the reader.

    In the year 2000, an IIMB alumnus cracked a GBP 100K salary with an investment bank and there was a similar craze in the press to cover the action behind it.

    An Alumnus of IIM-B

  3. Does that mean that the salary can actually be negotiated ? If not, then saying that " XX" came to campus should suffice.

    In the Indian parlance, are these numbers "Gross" or "CTC" ?

  4. Rashmi, I saw your latest article in BW on students who don't take the beaten path of placements and it made for good reading. One suggestion about your Comments box is that Blogger has made it easy to have your comment window pop-up and not scroll down when you click on the Comments after a post. You may want to go into your Settings tab for this blog and change the settings under the Comments section, for the window to pop up.

  5. Anonymous12:10 PM

    if you could also explain the concepts of CTC (Which many B-Schoolers themselves, unfortunately are unaware of even in the 2nd year), and the take home people actually make on the job, I guess aspirants will not be disappointed when they know the real story on campus.

  6. Well said...I am one of the many who joined IIMA due to such news items, among other incentives...Once here, however, I realize exactly what you mean and how it's not a piece of cake even here...

  7. Anonymous10:13 PM

    You left out one more thing. Even the average is an inflated figure only considering the number of offers received at each salary level instead of the weighted average of the number of offers received at each salary level. And salary is not the actual salary - it is the cost to company which is in many cases an inflated figure which may include cost of company housing and perks(especially common in FMCG and banking firms). In reality the actual average salary obtained would be only around 35-40k as cash which may reduce further due to taxes and dedutions for pf and gratuity.

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  10. Anonymous12:01 PM

    very very aptly titled, I must say. Though not an eye-opener to me, I would agree with most of what you penned. Another interesting thing would be that the man in question already had a CA to his credit.
    Such a googly is well-deserved when ambition takes precedence over complacency.
    As the Commonwealth '98 motto summed up -
    "Aspiration leads to motivation,
    Motivation leads to Determination,
    And that's how new stars are born..."

  11. Anonymous12:05 PM


    The hype about the salaries and job offers at IIMs are only distractions. Let's forget them for a minute. The fact remains that the average life an IIM grad leads is much better than the rest of the junta. There can be debate on what is a 'better life'.... nevertheless the fact remains.....

    This is because IIMs admit people who they think have the capability to be the Mittals of the world. True there are errors to this human judgment. But it is this aggregation, of potentially good folks, which make IIMs great.

    India has an excellent talent pool, and a part of the cream goes to IIMs, no denying this fact. Ofcourse there are others who can be better than the best IIM grad. IIMs do not claim a monopoly over the best of talent in India.

    Practically you can be successful irrespective of you being an IIM grad or not. The fact is probability of success increases if you are from IIMs.


  12. Anonymous12:40 PM

    I dont know why these IAM students are getting the exacellent salary credits.

    I think that With out MBA knowledge also people can run successfully theire Business.


  13. read ur article on rediff ... wow !

  14. Anonymous12:19 AM

    Thankx Rashmi,
    U really took the words out of my mouth. Just reading ur stuff makes me believe that I m not an IDIOT looking for job experience before considerin Post Graduation.
    Thanx again...Shashank(

  15. Anonymous12:20 AM

    Thankx Rashmi,
    U really took the words out of my mouth. Just reading ur stuff makes me believe that I m not an IDIOT looking for job experience before considerin Post Graduation.
    Thanx again...Shashank(

  16. Superb post.. It brought some more factors to the confusion I have now- whether to continue working/do an MBA. I have no interest whatsoever in doing an MBA course as of now..

  17. Anonymous12:43 PM

    A very good article
    Most people go to an IIM for the "money" only to soon realize they would have been better off working in their respeotive companies

    The media and IIMs are doing a great disservice by having more hype than reality

  18. Anonymous1:21 AM

    RAshmi well said...but i think itz an open secret that all colleges inflate their figures and some colleges even push students to accept offers so that colleges can present impressive figures...
    media have to run the show they infact a re the benefactors of such someone pointed media circulation increases for such issues wherein survey figures are quoted........but in the end when some one has decided to take a plunge he should and normally does research the figures and knows the real picture...a candidate appearing for exams and having an intellect to clear the stuff(entrance) would definitely do some survey himself before taking a decision...leave everything to market...let the consumer(the candidates) and the industry to decide whats good..

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