Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In defence of yuppieness

In March 2004, I wrote a piece titled ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of yuppieness’. It was a deeply personal 1500 words and inexplicably, touched a chord in many, many readers.

Two key observations I had made:

1) The decision to do an MBA is more about external validation than internal conviction. The first validation occurs when you are accepted into the programme, the second when someone offers you a fantastic salary on passing out.

2) I'm not saying "Damn placement!" But let MBA students also be exposed to non-conventional choices…“ What makes us tick, what makes us passionate, fulfilled and happy? … If the answer is 'leading and managing corporations', are there any challenges beyond our usual frame of reference that we can explore?

Well, Sanjeev Chandran, an IIM A alumnus who currently works for ICICI Bank looks at the other side of the coin. A recent post of mine received this comment:

"MBA's are highly overrated. I wish magazines would cover people who actually make a difference rather than those who pass exams and then sell soap or shuffle money around for the rest of their lives."

Sanjeev wrote me an email which I share with you. He feels such comments are far too common nowadays:

There's a general impression which is conveyed which disparages the MBA community. These constitute two broad thoughts:

1. What a waste of intelligence that you sell "soaps"- as if it were this useless thing and doing nuclear research was the only sensible thing to do.

2. Walking down the trodden path is wasting your life - This has become especially prevalent in the last few years with cases of some IIM graduates choosing to start a business immediately on passing out and OOPSing (Optnig Out of Placement) rather than going to a corporate job. And the general impression given is that by joining the corporate world one

A. is doing something useless which adds no value to anyone

B. has sold out to Mammon and

C. is not repaying a debt to society (which one owes because one was in an IIM) because one earns a lot of money (and sometimes, by implication - hence one should be ashamed of oneself)

Sanjeev’s take on this.

"I never understand why selling soaps is considered such a stupid thing to do. Someone has to do it. And it isn't just about you paying the Rs 10 for the soap - it is about ensuring that you get that soap and that Rs 2 sachet of shampoo in the remotest of villages in India - a distribution nightmare- which those same "selling soap" people in HLL, Colgate, P&G struggle with every day and solve- so that you and I get that soap when we want it as also does "Radha Bai" living in one of the 600,000 villages in India.

Also the point that MBAs work only for money and make no difference to society seems a narrow view point. I work for ICICI Bank. I am not directly involved with retail loans- but the reality is that we have changed the face of consumer lending in India. Sure, we make money on it. But millions who otherwise could not have dreamt of owning a house till they retired today have one when they are 35. Has that not added value to society?

I am involved today, among other things, in rural insurance and we have insured a large number of people - insured their lives, their loans and their health. People have used this insurance to get themselves treated for serious diseases at small hospitals and nursing homes. It has enabled some people to repay loans when an accident occured. Some farmers were not destroyed financially when it did not rain and their crops were destroyed. We have actually made a difference to all those lives.

Yes, while doing this business, I looked at profitability- because if I didn't, this service would not last for a long time. Yes over the last couple of years, I got a salary raise, a bonus and a promotion -for doing a good job in this area. But that doesn't take away from the fact that thousands have benefited because of the work we have done. I have gained personally- so have a large number of the rural populace. What better example of win- win could there be?

I believe as an MBA, now working for almost seven years I have made a huge difference to people's lives. Most of whom I have never even met. And I am fairly certain that most of my batch mates have done the same - directly or indirectly.

Yes, at some times (in fact, I would say quite often) there is unnecessary corporate hype which disguises the actual work being done. Some crazy organizational structures and procedures can often make one pull one's hair in frustration. And yes, people here do make money!! Unfortunately, most people tend to see only the huge salary figures and the comfortable lifestyles- not the actual impact their work makes.

I am proud to be an MBA- and that too from the finest college in India. If I do nothing else but what I have done till today - and if there is a judgement day- then just my work till now will give me enough reasons to hold my head high in front of the Judge."

What I think
Sanjeev has raised some important points Yes, someone has to sell soap, as well as home loans. And this job can be imbued with meaning if you see it – at some broader level - as reaching hygiene to the masses, or making the common man’s dream come true.

But, I suspect, this is organization specific. ICICI Bank is a company which topnotch MBAs join for quality of job and exposure – not because they offer the best pay packet or post you to London/ Singapore. Moreover, it was originally a development finance institution, which metamorphosed into a bank. And I think this gives it a unique DNA.

The question is – would Sanjeev feel similarly had he worked for Citibank, ABN Amro or Lehman Brothers? Honestly – I think the answer would be no. In fact, had Sanjeev been associated not with rural insurance but credit cards, I doubt he would be feeling as good about his job. The simple reality is credit cards are a convenience but they are ruining a lot of people’s lives.

And that’s the story with many a company MBAs choose to work for. What’s more, you are generally doing a job which has been done before. Systems are set, the wheel is turning…increasing the market share of soap X or paint Y by 2% in northern region might be my achievement of the year. And I don’t think that is achievement enough.

Even in home loans, I think really bright minds must find a market solution to the biggest problem urban India faces today: Slums. People who can afford prepaid mobile phones - and haftas to slumlords – can pay installments for their homes. And I am sure it will happen one of these days…

And it may be an MBA like Sanjeev who finds an economically feasible way to make this a reality. In an organization that encourages innovation and can see ‘wealth in waste’, so to speak.

On the other hand, I'm not saying MBAs have to serve only the bottom of the pyramid. Look at the contribution Phaneesh Murthy made by joining an Infosys at a time when marketing software was about as unglamorous as Ajay Devgan before he married Kajol.

This article in Businessworld some years ago, sums up the story:

When he left IIM-A, FMCG was big. The Nirma versus Hindustan Lever battle was drawing to a close; most people from the top of the class headed for a Lever or a Britannia. Phaneesh made the first unconventional decision of his life. He chose Sonata Software, a start-up in a tiny industry.

To put things in perspective, TCS, a $1-billion company today, had a turnover of $15 million in 1987. "I did not find soaps intellectually stimulating. I wanted to do product management. In soaps or industrial products, most of the product definition is rarely changed. In software, you can use the customer feedback to improve the product," says Phaneesh.

In Sonata, he also started on his first Mission Impossible. Design and sell a software for the Indian market. All the heroics were in vain though. The Indian IT industry was undergoing a disruptive change.

Apparently an ad in India Today caught his eye:

It was a two-page recruitment advertisement for a company called Infosys. There was a small line at the end of the ad: "We also need a marketing manager for the US. Should be willing to relocate and travel extensively." The position did not require major qualifications. "I said this is a company that needs some serious marketing help. For every other post advertised they had at least a paragraph of qualifications!"

The article credits Phaneesh with creating the 'two cultures' of Infosys. The process-driven, conservative software developers... and the more customer-facing culture that he developed, which resulted in Infosys being able to command a far higher price for its work

In 1996, that point was proved. For the first time Infosys went head-to-head with a formidable consulting firm - Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP). The contract was for about $9 million. CTP bid $8 million. Phaneesh and his team's math: total cost, including profits, of $4 million. The majority was for quoting this price.

The sales team figured it would be a mistake: the client would think they had no idea of the project's complexity. So the team doubled the bid to $8 million. Infosys got the project. It was a crossing of the Rubicon. Infosys could beat the heavy guns at their own game.

OK - we all know the Phaneesh Murthy @ Infosys story had a sour ending but it seems to be a great example of an MBA 'making a difference'. And not necessarily in the social sector. There are, of course, many others.

The bottomline is I have nothing against MBAs earning a lot of money (if their work results in profit for their companies, they certainly a share of the spoils). But I would disagree with the notion that ‘most of my batchmates’ have made a huge difference to people’s lives. At least not yet.

But I know many are thinking about it.. and that’s a start.

Lastly, one can argue that the notion of 'making a difference' is pretty arrogant to begin with. I mean, who are MBAs, to stake such a claim anyways?

But then arrogance is ... natural to MBAs. So kindly don't mind it!


  1. This argument is well in the grey area. As you say "who are MBAs to make a difference" but, in some way it also bolsters the fact that you consider them to have that potential. Why not speak the same about a lawyer, doctor, accountant, engineer, media and so on. How are they making a difference. It is just that they are not the hype of the day. The hype ofcourse seems because of the big pay packets.
    Well if this argument implies big pay cheques means higher obligation to serve the social cause then it is a totally different story. At that point it will sound like one is discussing politics which by itself is more than often a futile exercise. What I write is just something that warrants thinking instead of just targetting people based on their degree.

    PS: I am neither an MBA nor an aspirant.

  2. Just wanted to say I enjoyed your writing as usual and since my husband is applying for an MBA next year, very relevant.

  3. The bottomline is this :-

    An MBA is not an original.

    He studies abt some case studies abt McDonald's , he will study abt originals like Steve Jobs , Lalu Prasad Yadav, Bill Gates and even the Dubbawallahs.....

    A leader has to be born ....And you dont have to be an MBA to be an entrepreneur. Infact, that suggests a case of a halo-effect of so many case studies.

    But the salary , the glamour and the position and all the pampering is all that matters...

    And thats why it is so alluring and tempting to do an MBA.

    "Make a difference" is too hackneyed and finally an MBA's arrogance is ignored....

  4. 'Even in home loans, I think really bright minds must find a market solution to the biggest problem urban India faces today: Slums'

    Rashmi, there are another set of really bright minds working on these sorts of problems - the IAS. If a person is bright and really wants to make a difference of the type which you are referring to, he should join the services. Its true that the IAS has political pressures and in many occasions has done absolutely nothing, but it is also true that wherever there have been some stunning changes in government attitudes there have been exceptional bureaucrats responsible for that. The Indian Railways off late, for example.

    This is also not to say that MBAs also cannot pitch in with whatever brainpower they have. But when Mumbai's Municipal Corporation seeks McKinsey's help to chart a course for the city, its these MBAs who provide their intelligence. And its upto the bureaucrats to implement it!

    Disclaimer: I'm an MBA. :p

  5. Hi,

    I relate to your words here, and agree with the notion that a lucrative job is not a bad thing when it helps the society. At the same time, I feel it is not wrong for a person to have his priority as earning quick-investment-bank money or to get posted in one of the preferred locations.

    The irony, however, is that a lot of people just consider their personal priorities and forget that they also carry certain responsibilities. A lot of people from the 2006 batch of my college (IIT Madras) went in to investment banking, finance firms and consultancies after earning govt.-aided degrees in metallurgical, mechanical and civil engineering.

    In our convocatio address, Sh. Ratan Tata made the following comment:

    "… while you will have the opportunity of participating in a very interesting and exciting moment (in India’s growth as a power), you will also carry with you a special responsibility... I hope that will also carry a responsibility of giving back to the country what it deserves.

    ... India needs its engineers to devote their full-time minds in to inventions, discoveries and enterprises, and not have to go to other countries, to multinational organizations, to have this happen."

    I guess that just like engineers, India needs its MBAs to share the social/national responsibility on their shoulders.

    P.S.: The full speech was wonderful and enlightening, and I've posted it at http://saurabhmadaan.blogspot.com/2006/08/star-of-my-convocation-ratan-tata.html.

  6. I am an avid reader of your blog and while most of your posts are well researched and backed with facts, this post has a few areas that are not in the right perspective.

    "The simple reality is credit cards are a convenience but they are ruining a lot of people’s lives."

    Not sure about this. The spend that a card (credit/debit) generates is phenomenal and has much far reaching effects than one can envisage. An increase in spend generates more demand for the goods purchased, thereby making retailers order more, in turn increasing production and which in turn benefits the labourers. Extremely handy (as acknowledged by you, hence a value addition like a mobile phone). Of course, just like one would argue against the usage of nuclear science for evil so can one say about credit cards. It is upto you as to how you judiciously use it.

    Why is the tribe of MBAs discriminated alone as far as difference to the society is concerned? And how does one define “difference to the society”? Does a singer/fine arts person make any difference to the society? Any value addition by looking at a painting? Anything and everything can be trivialized just as you trivialized the art of “selling soap”.

    “Shuffling money” if were so easy then everybody should be doing it. And if everybody were to be doing it then maybe the profit margins would not be so high. So since everyone is not doing it, it must be one that requires considerable skill. If it requires skill then either the person must be gifted or he has worked hard for it. And if he has then he/she better get some returns out of it. I am sure nobody like to see our hard work go un-noticed.

    Of course, you would say it is all about “ME Earning, ME Enjoying”. If I earn, I definitely need a channel to spend. In other words, my money will flow down to someone else making him/her a little prosperous as well. And so on and so forth, lifting the entire society at large. Next point, charity. Well, a lot of people do their bit for the society and if they don’t then it is not by virtue of their MBA. Atleast, as far as their duty towards the nation is concerned, most do pay their taxes (whether by will or company TDS) unlike most doctors, lawyers, actors etc who under declare their income.

    I am an MBA and I work for a IT company in a vertical that provides IT solutions for cards

  7. Rashmi,
    Once again your words are food for thought. You raise some very interesting points that are likely lost on many MBA aspirants.

    However, I don't see much of a difference between a P Murthy changing the way Infosys bid for jobs and a soap salesman who targets an annual sales increase of 2%. They are both attempting to improve the bottom line.

    Most MBA graduates probably haven't made the "difference" that Sanjeev suggests. But, they have made a difference to their country by seeking education and applying it to become a productive paticipant in the economy (developed countries are still grappling with an effective method of promoting this attitude - even though educational resources are so abundant). They have reduced a burden on the State by not asking it to support them, whilst supporting their own families and loved ones. Moreover, the taxes from their maligned and hefty incomes are applied to help those in need (in theory anyway).

    This is a very complicated world. The sheer number of choices available to a person dictates the need to think outside the box when estimating one's relative value to the nation/society/community.

    However, thank you for a little philosophical stimulation. Love your work.

  8. All I can actually see from this entire article is .... arrogance.

    The typical IIM arrogance.

    Your last line aptly sums it up: "But then arrogance is ... natural to MBAs."

    Let me put it in your own words :
    A little humility never hurt anyone. And arrogance never takes you into the superleague of 'success'.

  9. By making a difference, I meant magazines should cover people who are responsible for the potholes in Mumbai or any such utilities. There are many places which get far more rainfall and have better roads. Everyones time is wasted because of traffic jams and potholes. China has much better roads than India. Most people do an MBA mainly due to peer pressure to get an "MBA tag", a fatter salary and better growth path.

  10. For me, the definition of "making a difference" would be intentionally doing some good, doing something, that’s your primary goal. And doing it with conviction. It’s not something that comes "by the way".

    The kind of examples you are giving, I feel, I am making a difference just by not killing anybody.

  11. A thought provoking article once again. I can relate to this article more so because I have been an MBA who's worked in ICICI in the credit cards division.It was always about more and more sales without caring if the customer actually used the card.All the IIM MBAs joined the business and marketing divsion while the next layer MBAs(ICICI has 3 layers for MBAs)like me worked in Operations.This only meant guys who never understood the operational and system related issues would launch new products at the drop of a hat and we had to scurry to ensure that this was possible to do operationally.This was not an exception with the market savvy IIM crowd deciding on products without consulting operations or call centre for their inputs.

    At the end, MBA is another tag which helps us to move faster in the organisation.We may have made a difference to certain lives but that was purely incidental in the scope of things.There are many,including me, who are now beginning to ask whether this was what we wanted to do?It's just that we took life as it came and became wannabe MBAs.Hopefully,we will be able to flow against the stream.

  12. Not sure what the desire to make a difference and live a meaningful life has got to do with having an MBA ? I am guessing most honest professionals strive to do just that - whether they are MBA's or not is irrelevant.

  13. A few points

    There are three broad ways i see where a "difference" can be made
    1. Decide to make it your mission- such as many NGO's do
    2. do it within the ambit of your job
    3. support others who are doing 1 -either financially or through time commitments

    My belief is that very few can do 1, indeed have the courage to do 1. I know that today i don't have it.

    I think most people do 2.

    It is impossible to say how many do 3 - but that is clearly not a function of your educational qualification.

    In spite of most people doing 2, I feel that MBA's get castigated more often than others for going after high paid corporate jobs and abdicating social responsibility. While they are perhaps as good or as bad as anyone else.

    One other thing- there has been a point made, i think more than once, that for some people an MBA is something which just happened in the flow and after a few years one wonders if that is what one wanted to do. Quite possible.
    But if you are in the wrong profession, why blame the profession. I did my engg and i know if i had continued as an engineer I would have hated it. But i realized that only in my fourth year. Till today, I remain officially an engineer. Thankfully, i did my MBA and i am okay with that today.
    Similarly for others, maybe balance sheets and credit proposals and advertising and media planning and "selling soaps" doesn't get their adrenalin going. Fine, do something else. But don't tar everyone (whose adrenalin does get going by these things) as doing something meaningless. You have not found meaning in it- just as someone else might not find meaning in cricket, or in a film or in a painting or in social work or in politics. It doesn't make all of them useless

    There is a lot of talk often about flowing against the stream, about doing things differently, in typical MBA speak -"thinking out of the box". To my mind, a highly overrated concept.
    First, to harp on my earlier point, only MBA's seem to be accused of "flowing with the stream", not doctors or software engineers.

    Secondly, fundamental changes don't happen daily. Else they wouldn't be fundamental. And flowing against the stream just to flow against the stream is simply being rebellious- not sensible.

    Finally,as pentium77 said "Not sure what the desire to make a difference and live a meaningful life has got to do with having an MBA". I couldn't agree more. But let's please stop painting only an MBA's life as one without meaning and done only for "filthy lucre"


  14. I dont see why mba's have to make a difference when others dont have to. True, some mba's get insane salaries, but then that happens in all professions. And when mckinsey does some consulting for anything in India, it is not only mba's who are involved.. a lot of engineers from IIT are also involved. and an mba like sanjeev anyway never made the difference...it was the guts of kv kamath to take risks which made the difference - just like Bill Gates made the difference to people with Microsoft - and he left stanford becos he knew that the prof's there were idiots who could not help him achieve his goals.

  15. K V Kamath is a 1971 batch MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Bill Gates is a drop out.
    So, anyone can make a difference- And make money as well. Education is not a sure shot criterion.

  16. Hi Rashmi,
    It’s funny that people in India are opting and more people will opt for an mba cause like fast food its a fast career. Lesser people are interested in critical subjects like math or physics. Arts and Humanities have lost this race long back. They have lost it to engineering and medicine. Last year I spoke to a 10 year old cousin of mine who's a math gem, as to what he would like to be, his answer was,” I all do IIMa or IIBb". Just then I knew we have lost a mathematician.
    We are losing a lot of talented people to MBA.Sounds tragic, doesn't it?
    Like in the 90s there were too many engineers who didn’t know what to do with their qualifications and there are still around.
    Some of my good friends are IIM pass outs earning big bucks and living in their big designations, but really unhappy with their jobs.
    Somewhere it’s a stringent societal thought, which pushes people into going for an mba, without considering what ones’ inclinations are,like people before were pushed into civil services, engineering or medicine.
    I would not be surprised,If an MBa settles down to opening a vaada paav stall beacuse the scene is so saturated.But then we don't really have to be from a B school to do that, right.
    Life is long and we need to be doing something we like the most.
    If it matters,that is.

  17. "I work for ICICI Bank. I am not directly involved with retail loans- but the reality is that we have changed the face of consumer lending in India"

    Thats a laugh, you know. Sure, ICICI has changed the face of consumer lending in India. They have single-mindedly succeeded in creating large pockets of near-bankrupt people who do not have the repayment capacity to repay the loans that ICICI threw out over the years.

    ICICI has captured the microfinance - rural lending market by lending through microfinance institutions. Where a microfinance rating agency would recommend not more than 1cr of lending to an MFI, ICICI would happily give Rs10crores - all in the name of meeting targets! And see what is happening now. With insufficient absorption capacity, there are suicides happening in the Krishna district of AP and the govt is closing down on MFIs - who lent oodles of money under pressure from MFIs.

    While ICICI may be building up assets for a lot of people, it endangers the savings of 100 times many more people. The ICICI leadership just adds 0s to the yearly targets and you have the young MBAs there running around helter skelter without much thought about meeting minimum credit standards. So they can do without all this chest-thumping! And yeah, working in conjunction with ICICI Bank can be the most frustrating experience where the middle management has no authority in decision making and where the legal dept of the bank takes months and months to get back - well of course...because the bank has an employee turnover rate of 35%!!

  18. 'who lent oodles of money under pressure from MFIs. '

    correction: under pressure from ICICI - without thinking that the poor people they're lending to may not even be able to repay the loans with too few livelihood options!

  19. Why is only an MBA graduate expected to 'make a difference'? I guess it’s because by going for this qualification, you are automatically and perpetually indebted to the society. Therefore you are rightly castigated if you take a high paying job post degree instead of going to work in a non-profit NGO dedicated for betterment of children of commercial sex workers (sounds clichéd, but then why settle for anything less than a Ms. Universe answer?).

    I would feel that all of us, MBA or non-MBA (sort of funny how easily we accept all kinds of divisions these days) usually strive for happiness. For some, happiness comes from being able to make a difference for the underprivileged, while someone may get his kicks out of taking Infosys to greater heights – but everyone has a different road to happiness. And they may not necessarily involve making a difference. And things that make you happy could keep changing with time. Therefore if at a certain point in your life (somewhere between 24-27 years of age when you are just passing out of a post-graduate college), you equate happiness with a well paying job in a well-known company, it is not cause enough for eternal damnation. You may be earning a high salary, but you also pay your taxes – I don’t know what income tax is, if its not payback to the society. I guess it is partly our taxes that pay the salaries of the police and municipal services. Everyone pays taxes on a host of other goods and services they consume – be it entertainment, housing, transport or just about anything.

    The other thing about selling soaps. People generally tend towards professions and activities that are more remunerative. That is, unless you are really passionate about something and not so bothered about the money. Thus, if research in quantum physics is the best paying job around, the best minds will probably gravitate towards that. Same for investment banking, and same for selling soaps. Selling soaps is tough, selling IPOs is tougher – which is why an investment bank pays more than an FMCG. No need to put a spin on it by giving it a mission statement of ‘delivering hygiene solutions to the economically disadvantaged’. Call a spade a bloody shovel.

    Is it unethical to go for ‘selling soaps’? I don’t think so.
    Am I obliged to ‘give back’ something because I am better off than others? As an individual, I have a pact with the society. I’ll accept some constraints on my individual freedom and in return enjoy the protection of the society in pursuit of happiness. The constraints are mostly social and behavioral, and also economic (income tax). As long as I fulfill my part of the bargain, I don’t think anybody has business asking me for more.
    Do I have to ‘make a difference’ – be it helping poor kids or taking Infosys to new heights? If that helps me in my pursuit of happiness, yes. However, it is my choice. If I am perfectly happy taking up a well paying job that others may feel doesn’t require any critical thinking, it is totally my business.

  20. Rashmi,

    I agree more with Kutti, RedRajesh and Wadi.haddad on this one.

    Why the nitpicking on MBA's? I am sure MBA's are not the only people in the corporate world who hav high pay-packets and are pampered. Why does having an M.B.A behind your name warrant some degree of social responsibility and the need to 'make a difference' in the world?

    MBA is about Business Administration and how is studying how to administer business related to social work? or making a difference in any sphere of the society?If someone is making big bucks selling soap, why not let him/her be?

    And selling soap, is related to only one specialization in MBA- marketing. Quoting it as a be-all and end-all of Biz Admin is taking an extremely simplistic view. Comparable to saying that all muslims are terrorists or all latin Americans are lazy.

  21. Won't agree with you on all the points, though you have ahuffled some feathers for sure.

    I believe it would be a grave folly to sum up one's perceptions on a structure of education with such callousness when the whole issue is very subjective and can be debated to the hilt in a very positive way wherein both parties, for and against the motion can gain a new perspective and the system can be overhauled if need be.

  22. I appreciate the contributions management folks make to the society. I cannot understand the disdain for "selling soaps". A job is a job is a job. Nor can i understand some people who say that MBAs "must contribute to the society instead of living on fat salaries after getting govt subsidised education from IIM". First, working on a job, earning salary, paying taxes and spending money and thus contributing to the nation's GDP, in itself is a contribution to society. No one owes anything more to anyone. I feel the subsidies are a burden rather a boon. I wish higher education didnt get any subsidies and was free from govt manipulation (reservations etc). I wish we had a free market economy in higher education !

    P.S. For disclaimer, I am not an MBA and am not planing to be one. I am an engineer IIT/MIT and work for a government organization in TN.

    P.S-2 I love your blog, Rashmi.

  23. hey, this might be on a tangent, but i'm not quite clear about the 'making a difference' funda.. if its about an individual, for himself, i can be a mba/non mba, work in the corporate world, be happy about the job and that's enough... if i am not happy, and am still stuck to the job for whatever reasons, i can write/sing/act/blog/write ad copy or whatever it is that makes me happy and makes a difference to me in all the time that i am not working...now that maybe during my working life or after... if its about an individual making a difference to the world at large, maybe my job allowes me to do so, maybe it does not.. i can sponsor an old person through an ngo, isnt that making a difference, significant or insignificant? when i help the maid who comes to our house, with extra money for her kids' education, isnt that making a difference? maybe i dont want to make a difference on a gandhi/theresa scale.. my point is that i work from age 24 to 50, and that is only a part of my life.. i can separate it easily from what i do to 'make a difference', in a singular or plural sense.. whether i am an mba or not and what i do at work does not need to have anything to do with me 'making a difference'... my job is not (should not be) the 'be all and end all' of my existence..

    P.S. On most other issues, i am usually in agreement with you :)

  24. Rashmi - you need to stop writing about things you have little knowledge about. A lot of your writing is waffle, based on 'general perceptions' etc that a high school kid would have. Credit cards / Lehman Brothers ... general blanket statements ... without any depth or understanding. Rural micro credit = good, investment banking = bad. The world is more complex than that hun.

  25. Jobs for MBAs from the top 10 b-schools in India.


  26. In every transaction in a non-competitive market(where most of the MBAs work), there is a consumer surplus and producer surplus. Now with selling soaps better than anyone else, they do increase surplus and hdence satisfaction and pleasure for the consumers. And they do pay 33% of the money as taxes, which govt supposedly has to invest in the development work.
    The world won't have been the same without Microsoft or google or even Coke and McDs. They do give pleasure to consumers who use them. And hence they do benefit the society. In the process if they also make a huge buck whats wrong in it?

  27. The entire thread seems to revolve around (1) Making Money and (2) Induced guilt of making money. Any sane person will know that these are personal choices and there is nothing wrong with it. I read recently that in Kerala, geniuses were talking about limiting the number of guests at a wedding to 300 because they feel lavishness is a waste of money. What next? I will be told I cannot buy a certain brand of soap and that I should not eat at restaurant Y? What people do with their money is none of anyone's business. Lakshmi Mittal would be lynched in India based on these standards. Why don't people admit that it is plain jealously at the end of the day?

    If money is your motivating factor, fine, knock yourself out but here is the question which so many people have a real hard time answering. What motivates people to get their MBA programs? Honest answers please. For all the brouhaha about MBAs this blog keeps on harping, I am yet to see that answer in clean and simple English. It is probably so because, the MBA in my view does not impart tangible and quantifiable skills. It is fuzzy from the word go. (For your kind information, the answer because the problems are fuzzy to begin with is a lame answer.)

    How do you measure the skill of a manager? No idea. How do you know if someone you are interviewing is good? No Idea. How do you know if some dude in rimmed glasses and a nice shawl is billing you for every mouse click and that is the revenue model for the consulting company? Nada.

    I believe that the world does not need these many MBAs. I for one would personally like to get rid of 50% of the middle-management layers in organizations who are more of a roadblock than a catalyst for agility. Most of the middle management generates its livelihood by generating powerpoint presentations and wasting lots and lots of color toner just because the morons forgot to spellcheck.

  28. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Dear All
    Pranams! Any education that is not inbuilt with a practical exposure will not yield desired result and MBA is not an exception to this rule. If minimum work experience, say 2 + years, prior to joining an MBA is made mandatory then it will help to alleviate this situation. Generalised accusations won't help in correcting situations. Moreover IIMs are not the only benchmark to evaluate an MBA. Not all MBAs are arrogant and not all non-MBAs are brilliant and humble. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. So instead of wasting our precious time in debating on this, let us see what we can do with our little education to better our lives and those of others around.

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