Professor of economics and social sciences at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
Gowda, who obtained his PhD from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, US, weighs the merits of pursuing a master’s in business administration programme in India versus abroad.
The business school may be the ticket to ride the gravy train, but for most people, there is only one ticket booth they can choose, only one shot at a master’s in business administration (MBA) programme and all that it offers—a practical education, a great job, a brand name that signals your quality and a network of alumni. So, should you get this MBA in India or abroad?
Cost and placement are the key factors that affect your decision. An Indian MBA is a bargain. If your Indian business school is good at getting its graduates into jobs, then you will quickly be on the fast track in one of the world’s hottest economies.
Elsewhere, apart from the US, you are on your own when it comes to getting a job—assuming, always, that you are even permitted to work in that country. You may well discover that, after all that expense, you are just a year or two older, a little wiser, but still unemployed. If your chosen school is not a well-known brand name, then it will not open any doors back in India either.
But getting into a top school in India isn’t easy. Below the top dozen schools, the quality of education and placement prospects are both very suspect. In contrast, in the US, you can get a quality MBA education even at a mid-ranking university, and even these business schools will get you a decent job in a regional market.
There are many excellent reasons to study abroad. A foreign MBA opens your eyes to the complexities of different markets, cultures and people. You will grow as a person and gain many of the softer skills required to be a successful executive. You will become sensitive to cultural nuances. You will learn to wine and dine and romance, and to balance that with being a serious, solid student. And crucially, if you are an Indian male, you will learn to appreciate the challenges of cooking, cleaning and running a house!
More options: Today, going abroad is no longer about escaping the country. It is just one more aspect of being part of the transnational managerial class, and one can readily work abroad after studying in India.
More strategically, you could choose an MBA by thinking about how it would position you in the job market, in the near and long terms, abroad or back home. For example, I advised one youngster to go to Scandinavia and set himself up as a European market expert; now, he is sought after by Indian firms that aim to enter those markets. I urged a couple of others to choose Hong Kong as a way of becoming bridges to the markets of China. In order to make these choices, it is important that you already have some Indian experience and some fallback options. But, for sure, through your friends and teachers, you will become part of networks that give you a competitive advantage.
The fantastic thing, really, is that Indian students have these options. Today, going abroad is not about escaping the country. It is just one more aspect of being part of the transnational managerial class, and you can readily work abroad after studying in India.
At the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, the number of foreign placements and summer internships has grown exponentially in the last few years.
Whether you get your MBA in India or elsewhere, as the Reliance slogan goes, kar lo duniya muththi mein—take the world into your hands.
As told to Samanth Subramanian