I specialized in MBA finance and today, I use zero ‘finance’ in my job. My friend specialised in HR and he uses every bit of it on a daily basis. So the immediate question that comes to me naturally is – are the subjects taught during an MBA actually relevant?If yes, to what extent? But a better and more important question is -why not put your investment (both in terms oftime and money)into makingthese MBA subjects relevant?
Technically, thereis no set of rules in making your MBA relevant. However, there is always a way to judge what is of real importance. Let us look at some of them.
Choose selectively: Choosing between an MBA in finance, marketing, HR or operations is a question that exists in almost every MBA aspirant’s mind. And it may get tough to decide which field to specialize in. Consider a personality test at that point. Ask yourself if you are a fact based person or someone who gets along with people easily or if you’re a process follower. Learn from your past to direct your future. While you cannot predict your future, you can use your common sense and aptitude to give it a direction. Closely analyse the things that work for you or have resulted in a success in your favour and follow that path. This doesn’t mean asking you to stick to your comfort zone. Choose a specialization that according to you and you alone makes sense for your long term personal and professional growth.
Choose now or suffer later!
Challenge your knowledge: Challenging yourself, especially your knowledge is critical for decision making. It is a brave act since going through the process can be quite taxing mentally, and may even affect your self-esteem. But try it. Do it for your own good. By the time we complete our MBA, we have already absorbed a plethora of knowledge from our learning and experiences at school, during graduation and of course, personal experiences, being the most important. However, the key to success is to constantly challenge your existing knowledgeas we live in a dynamic environment which is constantly changing and evolving.And something that holds true today may lose its meaning or significance the next day. Something as mundane as our choice of clothes or the gadgets that we use keeps changing every few months.The computers that were being so widely used till a few years ago, without which, one could not imagine working, are now considered outdated. By saying this, I do not mean that our knowledge becomes obsolete, but its application changes faster than we can imagine. Knowledge keeps evolving and so does its application. Hence, it is vital for the MBA subjects also to evolve as per the need of the hour and we should not shy away from challenging their relevance and suitability if they seem outmoded, and in the process, renew the confidence in what we do.
Everything has an expiry date, even knowledge!
Challenge your Professors: A B-school today will offer you tremendous opportunities for learning and innovation. However, you will still find a few professors who may burden you with traditional, theoretical ways of teaching and thinking. In such situations, an ideal solution is totake the lead and challenge for new ideas, new ways of conducting classroom sessionsand demand new content. These curious, entrepreneurial acts will increase the value of your MBA subjects and the learning experience, making them much more relevant for the real world. Create case studies in everything possible, try and relate it to real life and if you do not find a way to relate it to the practical world, consider disregarding or questioning it.
Ask your professor,“Am I really going to use this in real life? And if yes, how?”
Commercial alignment: Professionals with a commercially alignedthinking is what corporates are looking for in anMBA graduate today. Your knowledge of the subjects won’t be of much use if you cannot make money for the firm. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to adapt yourself according tothe market dynamics before opting for a specialization. Today, if I were to do my MBA again, I would have not optedfor the traditional choice of finance or marketing. I would have chosen a specialization in entrepreneurship in emerging marketsor risk mitigationor leadership, innovation etc. Considering that the selection of specialization happens after one year in most colleges, you will have ample time to think about the subjects of relevance that cater to your needs and aptitude.All you need to do is to make sure that your time is effectively invested and managed.
Create a new skill: Pursuing an MBA comes with several benefits, one of them being the ability to create and develop in you an innovative skill by leveraging the MBA subjects. One needs to thoroughly analyze the ‘skills of the future’ and prepare himself/herself for it during the course of the program. Organizations demand and value skills over any “specialization”. The future workforce is expected to be more dynamic and innovative. And if you are one of them, you will go places. The more skilled you are, the more employable you become.
A skill doesn’t need to great; Even a simple skill that is ‘commercial’ sells!
What does it mean for you?
The importance of MBA subjects can neither be undermined, nor be considered paramount. The most crucial aspect remains the application of subjects that you study during the course – whichever specialization it may be. And application will only come with experimentation and by displaying entrepreneurship skills. The subjects and degree will just act as a base for a few years after your MBA. Once you’re on the job, nobody really caresabout your degree. But you are expected to know a lot of things, just because you are an MBA graduate. And the expectations are really high from your leaders, colleagues and family. You will be required to handle big tasks and responsibilities. And all you need to do is apply a simple idea to solve them. And the one thing that will keep you alive and help you succeed is your commercial acumen and the ability to deal with the ever changing situations using your skills.
Contributed by Virag Jain ( Class of 2010, IBS MUMBAI )