Management education is not like other streams of education which have monotonous class room teaching. Students have to possess flair for self-learning. It focuses mainly on the factors which influence on the conduct of businesses, techniques to understand the organization and the economy. Management education requires extensive analytical skills and the students should have the ability to understand various internal and external factors that affect the organization or business.
The current day business manager is required to have greater proficiency in functional knowledge; problem analyzing skills, communication skills, inter-personal skills, self- confidence and motivation, management skills and entrepreneurial skills. The students aspire for MBA degree to advance in their careers or to become businessmen establishing their own.
The first year of the program is basically common for all the students across all b-schools or universities. Electives determine the course specializations which attract students and recruiters. Students who have not decided on their career goals may get confused with a host of electives that are offered in various fields; they require a piece of advise from all quarters. However, students who are highly focused on their career path are likely to know exactly which electives they have to pick up. The career path is governed by the right electives chosen in the program. It is easier for certain people as they would have been involved in certain activities, for example, a student has been involved in marketing or selling after his graduation and would like to progress in marketing or sales, he or she must choose the marketing electives to become a marketing specialist; or if the student has worked in a bank after the graduation, he or she must pick up electives pertaining to finance or banking to advance in the field of banking or finance. However, if the student does not have a proper career goal, then guidance from seniors must be taken before choosing the electives as per the current opportunities available in the market.
Again, electives should not be chosen for short term gains. Many students select the electives which would help them to move ahead fast in their business, but these students tend to face elective regret as they go longer in their business.
It is also important to keep in mind the academic background, professional background, personality and interest before selecting electives. A person who is an extrovert with excellent communication skills, outgoing personality should go for marketing jobs as these jobs demand such qualities. An introvert may look for operational jobs in logistics, baking, supply chain management or human resources.
In addition to the field of specialization you are interested, it is advisable to take some electives which have communication and presentation skills embedded in them. The recruiters know the students they select have strong analytical and problem solving skills, but they realize after sometime they their students can not pitch for new clients, negotiate business with clients to lead the company.
Some of the areas the students should focus are globalization; communication and presentation skills, ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, not for profit organizations etc.
Globalization: Business have no boundaries these days. Hence, it is important for the students to also understand various business perspectives of other countries, culture of other countries, regulatory compliance for business in other countries; financial transactions of business. Students may consider picking up electives such as International Business, International Finance and Trade; global management, GAPP etc.
Presentation and communication skills: While students may have tremendous business and technical skills required to be a successful person in their career or business, but if he or she can not give a coherent presentation, their career will be at stake or will not be successful in business. Students without any doubt should attend the class that help them to make effective presentations and interact with others to be able to do business across the continents.
Ethics: Not many electives are offered that address business ethics in b-schools. It is important for a student to be successful in business to have followed business ethics. There are several things beyond keeping the stake holders happy and doing the business without breaking any laws, but to become ‘professional’ .
Corporate Social Responsibility: B-Schools have built into the curriculum the idea of corporate social responsibility and offer electives. These electives prepare students for sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts to make a positive impact on the company.
Nonprofit management: There are several not for profit organizations in the world. Electives pertaining to management of not for profit organizations will benefit the students from learning how to raise funds and financial management in not for profit organizations. As the funds are a major crunch in the not for profit organizations, students learn how to manage organizations with meager sources.
Students may keep in mind the above topics while selecting their electives, they will become an ethically grounded professional managers who can add value to their organizations. They will be able to make a mark and presence felt in their organization and achieve their dream career goal.
Good Luck and take a right decision.
Contributed by: Dr.P.Venkateswarlu, Program Head, PGPM