Is the Indian School of Business (ISB) Over-hyped?


Is the Indian School of Business (ISB) Over-hyped? This question asked on Quora drew strong denials from the alumni but some others tended to agree with the “hype” part.

Hardik Batra says when he informed his parents on joining ISB, they were less than enthusiastic, being unfamiliar with the relatively new business school in the private sector. They also confused it with another school with a similar sounding name.

He then goes on to list the advantages ISB offers including its tie ups with prominent b-schools like Wharton, London Business School and Kellogg whose faculty comes over for teaching. The students need not spend the huge amounts needed to enrol in any of these schools. The ROI (Return of Investment) including fees, average salaries and shorter time-frame will be as good as these b-schools, if not more.

Almost everyone uses whtsapp, but no one really knows Neeraj Arora, one of the key persons responsible for its $19bn acquisition is an ISB alum. And, there are many such alums at various leadership positions, from partners to business unit heads. Several noted entrepreneurs including Vinod Khosla, Adi Godrej, Anil Ambani, Rahul Bajaj and KV Kamath are part of ISB’s governing board.

In 2008, ISB became the youngest institution to find a place in global MBA rankings when it was ranked 20. It is worth noting here however that IIM A’s 1 Year Full Time MBA (PGPX) trounced ISB in the very first year of its debut on the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking when it was ranked No.11 in the world among Full Time MBA programmes – right at the top with MBA courses of Harvard, INSEAD and Wharton for company. IIM A’s 1 Year MBA continues to lead ISB’s 1 Year MBA and is currently ranked No.2 in the world for Career Progression

Few ranking agencies even place it at India’s top. The school is also noted for diversity. Instead of a class with more than 85% engineers aged 21–24, you will share classrooms with ex-Armymen, NGO founders and volunteers, painters and even Ranji players.

Pranav Thakur, another ISB alum, agrees with Batra. Apart from rankings and class diversity, he finds it a truly transformational experience. “And rest assured, people who really matter – in the professional/business world – all know of ISB very well and hold the school in highest regard. Not to forget, it was the first B-School not only in India but in the entire South east Asia to be accredited by AACSB (the toughest accreditation to achieve),” he says.

A contrary view is expressed by an anonymous contributor who says that most of those who end up in high profile jobs were already in such positions. The others may land up with salaries lower than what they were earning earlier.

However, a contrary view is expressed by an anonymous contributor who says that most of those who end up in high profile jobs were already in such positions. The others may land up with salaries lower than what they were earning earlier. The reason is that fresher oriented companies are absent and most give a high weightage to your previous work-experience. So don’t expect any major leap if your company post your graduation is a run-of-mill one. Incidentally, this person got admission at ISB but opted for a 1 Year Full Time MBA at IIM, Calcutta.

The huge batch size is a hindrance or at least a big cause of anxiety during placements unless one already has a good profile. Even in 2 year MBA programs learning is extremely under high pressure and 1 year can make it only worse. Also, most companies shortlist students giving hardly any importance to academic performance. It is all about extra-curriculars and your past work experience or soft aspects of your profile. As a result, your own motivation to devote long hours towards academics will be dim unless you are somebody exceptional who wants to shell out 30 lakhs just for learning.

The huge batch size is a hindrance or at least a big cause of anxiety during placements unless one already has a good profile.

Last but not least, tuition fee is huge for an average Indian. There is no reason why an Indian should have to shell out hefty fees (even if backed by loan) if the placements give jobs only in India. And even those few jobs abroad again go only to those who already have had some foreign history.

Sandeep Patwa would have a qualitative and quantitative analysis to answer the question. He says look at the total number of quality business schools in India, the total number of applicants and assign a probability to applicants making it to Ivy League schools.

ALSO READ: Why Is An ISB MBA Pursuing A Second MBA From INSEAD?

Now do an internal analysis of what the applicant/recruiter wants from a business school including a cost benefit of 1 year vs 2 year, qualitative analysis of the curriculum, assign weight to instructors quality, method of teaching, school infrastructure and incoming peer set, he says.

Now do an individual career aspiration introspection and take a look at the score ISB has vs other India schools and Ivy League and you will get the answer.

Vaibhav Doshi, a former student at ISB says it may seem over hyped to a layman because of the relative high cost associated with the 1 Year Program and not many people know about it as compared to an IIM. The relative obscurity coupled with the high cost may result in statements such as ” Too expensive for one year”

But certain factors need to understood before making that judgement. It is relatively young school compared to certain established colleges. These colleges have had 50+ years of rich heritage behind them which has allowed their name to pervade into the psyche of the common people ( People not researching about colleges or from the industry)

The high cost of the program might seem reasonable when compared to similar programs in the US. The cost situation is further improved by the fact that it is a 1 year program. Moreover, to understand the cost aspect, it is necessary to personally experience the teaching and facilities available. Taking the context into account, ISB is definitely not overhyped but seems underrated.

ALSO READ: Ranking Mess Up! The ‘Executive” Word In 1 Year MBA Courses At IIMs Continues To Erode Brand Value

Yet another anonymous contributor adopts a contrary view. This person says that with a batch strength of 840, ISB is trying desperately to be an Indian Harvard, except for Harvard, it is a 2 year and better designed course. “I mean, can you really know 800 students in 1 year? And what about strength of career services? Is it possible for the career staff to sit with students on 1-on-1 basis frequently? I will be honest that I don’t know the answer, but I can imagine placement scenes. More like a Btech College with 1000 students. Many of them get lost in the crowd (800 is a big number), not all are winners at ISB.”

If you do not have a good profile already, or some good brand names to back ISB degree, the brand name of ISB won’t add the value you might be looking for. Obviously, the leverage would be there, but not same for everyone. If you have been average, chances are you would remain average. Yes, your perspective to life/work style/soft skills will redefined for sure.(Image Source:wikipedia.org)



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