Before Racing From Engineering to Management

Ever wondered why MBA is a natural choice for most engineering graduates in India?

Well, each of them might have their individual rationale to pursue management education as their post graduate qualification but the overarching truth is awfully simple. In India it is believed that on an average, a MBA degree double your value in the job market. How and why is neither known nor desired to be known. Coaching institutes don’t talk about it, parents often don’t get into it and b-schools don’t speak about it. Yet the magic wand is supposed to work and double your likely CTC soon after you graduate.

Let me start by sharing my thoughts about this issue by breaking the problem into smaller parts. First, what is management? Why do companies need MBAs as managers when they can train engineers to become good managers? Management is all about perfecting execution. Planning and designing can be perfected on papers but with lack of execution plans remain on paper. Management education is supposed to teach preparedness for this execution. Companies are willing to pay higher price to hire people who have this bent of mind for ‘getting things done’. It’s a simple give and take for corporations. They pay for what they get. In fact what they get done is worth more than what they pay.

Second, do all engineers need MBA degree? The answer is an astounding ‘No’. Some of them might be better-off without one. They might already possess the killer instinct to get things done. This is like having a natural flair for action and results. No matter what problems they face for achieving those results, they are geared-up to find an alternative to make things work. No wonder training at a b-school will only make it better but the point is that it is not a must. This brings us to the other related question. Does that mean some others who are not ‘up and going’ by nature need MBA degree to grow in their careers? Well, to my understanding this time the answer is ‘Yes’. The interactive and competitive nature of learning which takes place in a b-school environment can add several dimensions of thinking to their non-proactive personality. There is no assurance but a reasonable logic in expecting such a change to happen.

Finally, what really doubles the average value? In b-schools, as also in many other organizational control systems, there is a bell-curved distribution of grades, placement packages and all other forms of success. Only a select few attain the best. Who are these folks? What makes them so attractive for corporations? The answer barely rests in the intellectual potential of these top performing pupils. These are students who work very hard to expand their boundaries of understanding. They read, they connect, they participate and they become ‘doers’. Exposing themselves to uncomfortable situations, taking tasks not preferred by others and seeing beyond the obvious makes them problem solvers. And companies want problem solvers at any cost. This is so because a lingering business problem can cripple the business. After all value is a relative term. One company may while them much higher than another. But the overall assessment rates them significantly above others.

So, before you start this race please be prepared to be go-getters and not just thinkers. And if your race is long over, you might be sitting on the other side of the table now. Look for these action-oriented enthusiasts, the next time you are on campus.

About the author: Prof. Anil Kshatriya works as Assistant Professor in the area of Finance at Institute of Management Technology, Nagpur. His teaching and research interests include Managerial Accounting, Management Control Systems and Strategic Management. Prof. Kshatriya is a professional accountant (CMA India) having associate memberships of Institute of Cost Accountant of India (ICAI) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA UK). His industry experience includes working as cost accountant with the Auto Sector at Mahindra Group. Prof. Kshatriya teaches courses in Accounting and Strategy at IMT.