When I was a student at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) pursuing the one year MBA, a candidate from the two-year PGP course once came to me for some advice on joining advertising. He shared that he had a huge interest in advertising and asked me if he should join an ad agency after graduating from IIM.
I asked him a simple question – Are you willing to work 16 hour days for one third of the salary you will get in a typical job after IIM, for the next three to four years? He responded in the negative.
As someone who joined advertising after his Bachelors degree and pursued an MBA many years later, I reflected on this situation. Here was a 23 year old young man with barely a year’s experience for whom management education had not only opened doors but had also closed many. And closed doors at the age of 23 did not make sense to me.
I chanced upon a similar discussion today on Quora which I felt many of our readers in India could benefit from – especially those considering rushing into management courses without gaining any work experience.
The question asked is “How good is a Rs 16 lakh per annum salary for a 21 year old”. Rupees16 lakh in dollar terms at a purchasing power parity rate of Rs 22-24/ dollar (a measure of the real value of a currency) is around $70,000. The answer to the question was surprising. The sentence from the answer that made a big impact was,“16 Lakhs per annum for a 21 year old is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you.”
While the question has been asked by an engineering graduate, I felt the situation is equally pertinent to someone aspiring to the two-year PGP course in India.
For the benefit of readers who are unaware of management education in India, historically a bulk of fresh college graduates in India aspire to a two-year PGP course (a Masters in Business Management as per AMBA, UK accreditation) in India as a ticket to a good salary. Often the decision to join the course is not driven by an interest in the course or the kind of job that will follow but instead by the placements that accrue at the end of the course.
The placements for candidates graduating the course ranges between 10 to 12 lakhs per annum which is a reasonably good starting salary. A bulk of the candidates join companies in a junior profile such as a Management trainee.
The One year course is relatively newer in India and started about a decade ago. As opposed to the two-year PGP course, the one-year course in India is an MBA level course as per accreditation awarded by AMBA, UK. The course like its international counterparts mandates on an average 5 years of work experience for the joining class. Candidates graduating this course join companies as Senior Managers, Vice Presidents and CEO’s like their international MBA counterparts.
The mandate of 5 years work experience for joining the globally accredited MBA course is not just a diktat. One reason behind the stipulation is that work experience ensures that participants understand the nuances of what is being taught in class – most case studies for instance taught at business schools in India even in the two-year PGP course are sourced from Harvard, Kellogg, INSEAD and the like and typically revolve around the problems faced by middle to senior managers, something a class with work experience can relate too.
The bigger reason behind this stipulation and the one pertinent to this discussion is that an MBA level course gives you time to discover yourself before you manage others.
No one is born a manager. Neither can a manger be manufactured in a classroom. Past work experience shapes us into professionals who have both learnt the minute details of their craft and have also understood their own core desire and aim in life.
Becoming a manger after this follows naturally. The proper tools and framework gained at business school only provide a formal structure to such candidates.
Consequently, I would advise students to not simply aspire to a high salary and look at management education as a means to that end.
By no means do I intend to imply that a MBA course is always better than an Masters in Business Management (MBM/MIM). No, for some students who are sure of their aims in life an MBM may well be the right course. My advice is for the many others in India who rush into management education in order to bag a big salary.
I would suggest first discover yourself, then arm yourself with management knowledge and a great salary will follow naturally. Or for all you know, the high salary may just end up becoming a roadblock in your journey of exploration.
Without further ado, the conversation on Quora that sparked the chain of thoughts –