6 Prerequisites of an Excellent Marketing Student

MBA Marketing GraduatesEvery year India pours a high number of MBA’s into the corporate out of which a huge chunk is specialized in marketing. However, only a few make it to the premium or say Fortune 500 companies. Hence, to clear the myth that all marketing students are equal, I would like to bring to your notice some aspects that make a marketing student, a more desirable employee for the recruiting companies. Let us now explore the 6 prerequisites I think make a marketing student person more lucrative to companies.

Research Oriented Behavior

MBA equips each individual in statistical tools by which one can conduct and interpret researches. However, students lack in rudiments of data interpretation and observation making. One really needs to develop one’s analytical skills such as the habit to read between lines and figures because numerous reputed companies reach various campuses with ‘Data Analyst’ kind of profiles that require minds that can read and interpret reports and numbers.

Basic tests like Chi test, ANOVA, t-test and techniques such as Factor Analysis, Linear Discriminant Analysis etc help people make useful interpretations which should be on the finger tips when a person plans to sit for placements with a view to make it to research firms. Software awareness and excellence is required with respect to SPSS, MS Excel and MS Power Point.

Coming to the kind of input required by the subject; initially you need to put in constant efforts but once mastered, this stream of knowledge makes you lucrative to research firms that are willing to pay high and thrive to employ talented people. As far as sales profiles are concerned, you can try and learn to read faces, understand body language and conversations, slightly over think to help with your sales pitches.

Fluent English and Creative Expression

It may sound difficult and heart breaking but you have to let go your obstinate ways and welcome some good quality English in your life. Remember incorrect English makes you a subject of chortle behind your back. Just imagine a business meeting where someone pitches in incorrect English and is oblivious of his errors; what impression would he build?

Hence, bring fluency and grammatical correctness by using books like Wren n’ Martin, Word Power made easy, other grammar books or sites that provide grammar tests and explanations. Watch English movies, sitcoms or cartoons with subtitles and begin to read books even if you have to pick up Durjoy Dutta or Chetan Bhagat, but begin somewhere to avoid formal embarrassment. Enable and empower yourself to write articles, essays and texts correctly and make a confident mark. Also, remember formatting and working in MS Word should be one of your mastered skills. Please be aware of what is going on in the world and have a view on it.

Hands on Experience with Designing and Editing

Designing is a crucial part of the creative and is essential to make copies of print advertisements and promotions. Editing, cutting, pasting, everything should be a cake walk for you. It may sound extremely disturbing but gain some experience by not only following print adverts and commercials but also make custom advertisements for your personal learning using designing tools.  Learn and equip yourself with Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw etc to design posters, pamphlets, print ads, logos, mascots etc. Make it a habit to participate in inter college and other competitions which challenge your creativity because each victory adds to your market value. Observe the kinds of work professionals do and merge it with your creativity. Also let go of all stiffness and adamant behavior because creativity is a very flexible skill.excellent marketing

Animation and video editing is an added advantage for those who want to create video campaigns. Make concepts, draw story boards, be attached to social media and issues being highlighted there, work with short deadlines, execute your ideas, present on social media and learn from mistakes. Having an additional skill will bring more experience, maturity, excellence and will win rewards like good job offer, recognition as well as some money out of freelancing for you.

Practice Out of the box thinking

First of all as an aspirant you need to change your intake of information from conventional sources to unconventional sources such as credible articles, blogs and notice how people express different views. Indulge in creative pursuits and try to think away from both extremes and equilibrium on any issue. This new method of thinking will invite criticism; accept positive and constructive criticism and reject what is useless.

Read, understand and write on abstract and fiction understanding their vivacity and vagueness. Have a view on everything by taking up online courses on Coursera. To understand and practice better product development, indulge in clay modeling, drama classes, watch art shows that add to creativity, attend art and craft workshops or even visiting handicrafts fairs.

mba marketing students

Grooming and Mastering Body Language and Etiquettes

Etiquettes, grooming and mastering body language takes a lot of time. Firstly, grooming is an integral ingredient that makes a good marketer. Nobody likes a haphazardly dressed or weird looking person walk in their office for a meeting. A nicely groomed person makes a lasting positive first impression that in turn increases his own confidence.

Etiquettes, especially dining etiquettes are important as absurd behavior on the table gives an insight to what kind of a person you are and nobody wants to risk impressions. Coming to the body language part, I have explained earlier (http://blog.ibsindia.org/10-magical-ways-to-mastering-body-language/) that body language gets you judged unknowingly and needs to be mastered to be more lucrative to companies.

Develop Persuasive skills

To make others believe something is an art which is mastered over time. When Steve Jobs talked about his company’s path breaking products, this skill backed by a good product helped him and his company hit the minds of the customers and led to sales. It was persuasion along with other efforts that helped Dhirubhai Ambani raise money from public as investment in his company. If you lack this skill, how will you persuade interviewers to take you in their company and negotiate the salary?

When it comes to corporate, HRs’ really want to select already cut diamonds for their companies. Today these ideas may seem extremely irrelevant, futile and demanding but the long term effort can really help you. Hence, to have a cutting edge over others you can choose to add some or all of the above mentioned prerequisites. It is prudent to inculcate skills in oneself before and during MBA than to be mocked behind the back in the company by seniors and subordinates.

Contributed by Chayan Jain (Class of 2011-2013, IBS HYDERABAD)

A view of Marketer’s WINDOW

MBAGraduatesMarketer’s view out of his window would be a view that will showcase future of marketing. Today we have witnessed the change that has brought startups to the zenith of success. Right marketing is just like fishing out the right fish in the sea. Once brands get right click then they become eternal.

Changing is called trending now.

The customer relationship with brand has evolved, now google is in their pockets and they can know things better than Marketer and that too at snap of fingers. We don’t call them customers we call them digi-ters. Marketers have realized, now customers are not loyal to product they are loyal to the approach of branding and connect with them. Value creation is in limelight. No push sales required create value it will pull out profits. Advent of social Media has brought a great platform for small startups to communicate and engage customers.

Witness the change or be the Change

Change is the only constant and Brands have proved it right. To keep pace with changing customer, companies are prioritizing to customer experience and connect. Companies have lot of data but data is in silos, they are converting data into big data. Companies are creating content that create impact and an image of what you should expect. Marketers are working on digital channel optimization. Each channel should have integrated communication. Brands are connecting people and engaging them through various campaigns which result in brand identity and loyal customers.

Companies like flip kart, LinkedIn, Facebook, WhatsApp have changed the view of marketing. They take a 360 view of market and then set their foot right. People create Brand like Steve job for apple. Great companies create market for their products. There is lot of things that’s happening around.

As a marketer we can either witness the change or be the change and drive sales.

Key Notes on Marketing

There is need of analysis in marketing, but it is moving into much more advanced realms with Big Data and Predictive marketing. The art of marketing is evolving to focus on bold platform ideas that work in any media and can be amplified by the customer. Trust is first as in the digital era all business practices are transparent. Companies can’t stay in field by only portraying values. Value creation is the need of an hour. Customers move in the moment, but corporate budgets and processes are quarterly and annually. Companies need to fundamentally correct systems to deliver betterand also different ways of working to react and move in real time with the customer.The digitization of the customer decision journey has made it so much easier for people to research and buy different products. At the same time, that trend has unlocked an extraordinary degree of insight into what people really want. Creating those relevant communications, truly personal connections, and messages that clearly convey a brand’s value is what will differentiate excellence in marketing for winners in the battlefield.

Management Skills

Budding Marketer in you

From hashtag to likes on FB big brands are doing all to set their foot right to pitch in their target audience. Now this is new age marketing, old tips and tricks won’t work. With this sudden change companies don’t want to recruit the same old minds they are setting their eyes on creativity. How you can be a creative resource for them. Do you have the some domain knowledge and know-how of marketing tools. Are you socially connected and have deep dived into basics of what’s digital and how big brands reach their. Do you see a marketer in you?Do you really dream big like working for some sci-fi MNC and sitting in a cabin with a cup of coffee working on a launch of product? Or you have a plan of startup, why not to have a name in the list of people who are not just ordinary they are the icons of new age marketing. Plan an MBA and reach to your goal of being a marketer. See a world of opportunities for you and wear those marketing glasses and work on it.

Looking for a reliable shoulder

Getting hitched up with big brands is not easy; you need to create a profile they want. A good B-school, good grades and Foremost important an excellent set of skills.  Rome wasn’t built in a day so students need to gear up with their preparations and nail it. An MBA can do wonders for you it will teach you about

  • How to be a good team player big companies always look for fresh talent at management position wherein they will make you handle a team of people and you will churn out ideas for them.
  • You will comeout with perfection as you will get exposed to industry standards and benchmarks so you would know the level of work and expectations.
  • Deadlines and work pressure would be easy to deal with once you will get to know the right direction to look for data. MBA will open you the set of white papers, thought leadership articles and many more databases to dive and find useful insights for you.
  • You will be able to read and understand every company related document like annual report, balance sheets, marketing report or any other. You will be well versed with a true marketer’s knowledge.
  • How to sell ideas to a team, vendors and customers. Many entrepreneurs only want to develop products and don’t think about how to market, sell and distribute them. They are afraid of these other areas or think they are not responsible for them. Business school emphasizes their critical nature of all these areas and how they represent a key barrier to entry for competitors.
  • How to network. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Going to MBA School teaches students how to meet other people and determine who they can trust the most. Powerful networks for future work are always built at school.

After an MBA, you can actually look out and understand the catalyst of this change in marketing era is brains like you. Creativity is about ideas that got wings.  Choose the right direction and set foot towards it. Let there be light and enough guidance for you.

Written for: Beginners

Source: http://www.mckinseyonmarketingandsales.com/the-future-of-marketing



Contributed by Sonali Jain ( Class of 2014, IBS GURGAON )

“Choose the Electives-Carefully”

MBA ProgramWhile most of us would be gearing up for the admission day, we would be facing a plethora of choices-be it colleges, courses or even the trivial minded-what clothes to wear!

Going a little ahead, and peering into the crystal ball, one year down the line, as students of any regular MBA we would have to again make a choice. This will be crucial, compelling and at times cruel choice.

So what is this choice which we have to make which is likely to have us splitting our hair?

Exact after the first year of our MBA ends we will be asked to choose our specialization (streams) and our elective subjects.

All students who have decided to pursue their MBA after their engineering degree will be asked by the society, friends and family (not the college of course) to take up Finance.

All Humanities graduates will be asked to take up Marketing and all women, well will be expected to take up HR. Human Resources being regarded as a so called ‘soft role’ further reinforcing the stereotypes we already have.

Engineers, on account of their supposed familiarity and comfort with numbers need not necessarily do well in Finance. The same is true for graduates of Humanities stream as well. Engineers might actually be better at marketing (some usually are!).

Post the completion of our school life, we have been constantly given the chance of choosing between various electives. And yet, our choice is usually predetermined by others in most cases and very rarely by ourselves.

The electives we choose, be it in languages, or a course in accounting, or a course in digital marketing will define whatever course we take in our professional lives.

Choosing these electives is not merely a matter of formality-studying for them since the course requires it. These electives will actually define how well rounded we are, how we are able to judge and make through many difficult situations. These are skills which every recruiter and every company looks for in a candidate.

We must choose an elective with the sole aim of learning, not merely because the market sentiment echoes taking up of the said elective or simply because majority of the batchmates are signing up for it.

Electives in the second year of our MBA are a natural continuation and expression of the summer internship which every student of a regular MBA course must undergo.

The agonizing decision over electives must be made well before the onset of the summer training programme and the onset of the new semester.


There is no one elective which will make or break your professional life. Rather, blindly choosing electives without a thought as to where your strengths, and your interests lie could be detrimental to your career.

Very obviously, a flair for numbers is required for taking up core Finance, however, don’t let your interest and acumen in finance be dampened by a few formulae in mathematics.

If your basic understanding and grounding of any subject is good, the syllabus will not be too much of a hurdle for you to learn and yes eventually clear.

The age old adage-if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life rings absolutely true. There’s absolutely no sense in pursuing in a course or elective in which you don’t have an inkling of what’s going on and worse still, don’t have an inclination as well.

As students, once we have decided to undergo preparation for an MBA and spend a valuable two years of our precious professional lives into investing into a course as deep as the MBA, we as students must spend time on deciding on electives as well.

Dividing electives merely on the basis of Marketing, Finance or HR is a gross injustice of the MBA program.

Unlike many other postgraduate and graduate programs, the MBA is a highly interactive program, requiring active participation of the students, who are used to merely attending the lectures and skimming through exams, an average MBA course requires much hard work and thorough preparation on part of the students.

This diligence also extends, but obviously to choosing of electives as well.

There is a very real and distinct possibility of students getting trapped in electives which they have no clue how to study for ( in the best of cases) and what the course actually is ( in the worst of cases)!

Electives can be thought of as a final icing on the cake after one finishes of the MBA. Since any MBA is not merely the sum of a few subjects here and there and does not specifically involve breezing through lectures, electives add the necessary component of lateral and out of the box thinking which is actually a skill-it cannot be taught or ingrained. In other words, it can only be acquired-through making informed and judicious choices which includes choosing electives which will make us more informed and skilled.

Without realizing it, when any course or institution offers us a choice of choosing electives as per wish, we should treat it as an opportunity to express ourselves as freely as possible. As students, we very rarely get the chance to actually pursue our wishes and our calling especially when it comes to education and courses.

Choosing from an array of electives, introduces to us as students the options available to us to hone up our skills, to create knowledge for ourselves and also in many surprising cases, a God sent opportunity for many of us, to actually study something which we long wished for but were never able to pursue it for a variety of reasons-the chief culprit being never having had the opportunity to actually get a choice.

Choosing electives is a thought provoking exercise, intended to make us choose between various topics and subjects with the express intent of enabling us to build a new knowledge base (by studying for topics,subjects and areas which we never knew existed or about which we didn’t know anything hitherto).

We must make wonderful use of this opportunity and not squander it by treating the choosing of electives as one more formality.There in lies the catch.

Contributed by sunil iyer ( Class of 2008, IBS GURGAON )

Importance of MBA Subjects – Reality or a Myth?

Importance of MBA SubjectsI 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.

mba programme

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 )

Spirituality and its Relevance to MBA program

MBA programThere are many ways to define the word ‘spirituality’. In words of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Spirituality blossoming simply means blossoming in life in all dimensions; being happy, at ease with yourself and everybody around you. It primarily deals with finer human aspects.

Classical definition of management is that it is the art and science of getting things done through other people. It is science because there are certain principles and rules which operate on logic. These can be seen in the areas of accounting, finance, marketing etc. It is art because in management we deal with people all the way and people cannot be handled with logic. People have thoughts, feelings, emotions, instincts and certain values & morals in dealing with situations.

Most management programme syllabus cover the intellectual portions which operate on principles of logic very well though these programme fail miserably in dealing with people aspects. People aspects are generally covered under the subject of organizational behaviour which primarily include topics like motivation, morale, leadership etc. but these do not touch upon the finer issues of human aspects.

We shall look at the past nearly 140 years and see how the human aspects have evolved. In early stages of industrial revolution in the late 19th century, the people aspect was not well known and scientific management principles propounded by F. W. Taylor, Frank & Lillian Gilbreth and others were based on the science aspects of management i.e. on the logic part. It was only during 1932 -1936 while conducting of the Hawthorne experiment at Western Electric Company, Chicago that management thinkers for the first time got a feel of the human aspect. They were puzzled with findings of the experiment. The electrical assembly shop had been divided into two parts, one being a reference group and the other experimental group. The purpose of the experiment was to study effect of changes in light intensity and noise level on productivity of workers. It was observed that whether we increased or decreased the variable parameters, productivity always went up. It was proved beyond any doubt that treating workers as meaningful human beings instead of a cog in the production system was the reason behind continuous increase in productivity.

Another interesting story came from Japan. During the World War II (1939-1945) the economy of Japan was totally shattered and atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki knelt a deadly blow to the economy. Japan does not have many natural resources and hence revival of its economy was a distant possibility. However, the spectacular rise of Japanese industry in 1960s and 1970s stunned the whole world. Researchers from all over the world, notably the US went to Japan to study the underlying causes of such spectacular progress.

Surprisingly, they found the humble ‘Quality Circle’ was doing miracles at ground root level. A quality circle comprises a group of 8 to 10 workers from the same work area, who meet periodically on voluntary basis to discuss, analyse and solve problems and issues related to their work area. The quality circle members use seven tools of quality circle viz. brainstorming, histogram, pareto chart etc.

American firms tried to replicate the quality circle concept in their work areas but it was utter failure everywhere. The basic concept of quality circles in Japan was based on the fact that managements in Japan believe all employees to be intelligent and capable human beings, who know their jobs and work areas the best. Thus, it was the dignity and respect for human beings which results in people doing wonders in their work areas. The seven tools were simple techniques which were used only to formalize ideas and thoughts of group members. American culture which primarily operates on the principle of hire and fire could not appreciate the spirit behind quality circles and tried to copy only the methodology. In many other countries of the world, including India the concept of quality circle has been introduced, but due to very limited success most of these quality circles died a natural death.

Next important milestone came in 1985 when Mr Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of emotional intelligence through his book ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’. A lot has been published on the subject since then and it has given impetus to all types of organizations. It is well known now that success of  a person depends only 20% on his intelligence level (Intelligence Quotient – IQ) and 80 % on his emotional intelligence level (Emotional Quotient – EQ).

The real breakthrough in dealing with human beings has not yet come through and it is expected that spirituality (Spiritual Quotient – SQ) may provide the answer.

MBA Graduates

Spirituality may be defined in any one of the following ways;

  1. Living values as integrity, probity, passion, co-operation, ethics, commitment, loyalty and tolerance at workplace.
  2. Wisdom required to effectively function in a complex business environment.
  3. It helps eliminate prejudice, biases and subjectivity.
  4. It leads to leadership excellence, balancing spiritual and material aspects and helps coping with stress from within.
  5. It denotes ability to effectively communicate with people from diverse global backgrounds and perspectives.
  6. It helps us to recognize and nurture giftedness in other people.

Spirituality primarily deals with total fabric of inner core values of a person. People differ very widely in all aspects, but the most crucial is the spiritual aspect.

Spirituality is often confused with religion but these two are poles apart. A person’s religion may be Hindu, Muslim, Christianity etc. and each religion has its own set of guidelines including concept of God, rituals, worship methods etc. Spirituality is above all religions, i.e. it looks at human being as a unit and innermost cravings, thoughts, aspirations, feelings, instincts and perversions etc., are considered.

Today’s executives operate under extremely complex and demanding work situations and one has to deal with people of all hues and mentalities. Unless the person is well grounded in his innermost core values and convictions he may falter under highly conflicting demands and temptations.

One technique which is extensively used for improving spirituality is meditation. Meditation implies stilling and calming down the inner chatter of mind in order to perceive and judge an emerging situation clearly so as to arrive at appropriate action step. There are many methods of meditation but the most common are vipasana (focusing on breathing) and transcendental meditation (focusing on any neutral object not associated with any religion).

The MBA courses of high grade do realize the significance of spirituality and develop & use the teaching methodology in such a way that it leads to development of spirituality in students. Group projects, role plays, weekend retreats, outdoor activities like hill climbing, community living in hostels (where 100% students live in hostels), reviews of spiritual books by groups of students, guest speakers, personal journal etc are all aimed at developing spirituality.

Recent scandals like fraud in Enron, Worldcom and Satyam, collapse of Lehman Brothers and other such cases point to spiritual bankruptcy of the individuals involved. Even though persons at the helm of affairs managed the results very efficiently, they all had low inner morals and values, so that they succumbed to extreme greed, criminality and other low values.

Today’s MBA’s are required to be insulated from such situations. They would not be tempted by the lure of temptations as their grounding is on strong values and morals. In a nut shell we can say that strong founding in spirituality is the sine qua non of MBA education. We can briefly state as follows:

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) – How you think?

Emotional Quotient (EQ)  – How you feel?

Spiritual Quotient (SQ)     – Who you are as a person?

Contributed by Sumit Gulati (Class of 2009, IBS HYDERABAD)

How to prepare for MBA entrance written exams?

Management GraduatesAs notifications are about to come for the next year’s MBA entrance exams, time is probably right to ponder about one’s strengths and weaknesses and gearing up for the battle. Once you are able to qualify the most important question, ‘Why MBA’, the stage is set for a series of strategically planned events which will eventually help a candidate in assuring a seat in a top b-school. First of these events is applying for the entrance exams and then secondly and most importantly writing those exams as many b-school gives a lot of weightage to the scores in these exams. In this peace of text, I will put forward my approach in tackling these entrance exams efficiently.

So, what is the right time to start preparing for these exams? I will keep my reference point around the CAT exam because almost all institutes follow the same pattern in written exams except IIFT, XAT etc. In my opinion one requires intense preparation of 6-7 months before ‘the day’. By intense, I mean 3-4 hours of time every day with a clear goal to achieve after each day’s investment. Please understand the entrance exams are a test of your temperament when you are out of your comfort zone. It is not a test of your knowledge really. Because, in MBA a cliché line is used which is ‘We are generalists and not specialists.’ So, as a candidate you are expected to do reasonably well in all the sections of the exam and not only in one.

Now, when a candidate looks for preparing for these entrance exams he gets perplexed when he sees various institutes claim 100% strike rate in getting students to top b-schools. In my opinion, one needs to spend time with oneself for preparing well, especially if the student is from science background. One needs to play on its strengths and cover his weaknesses to perform well. Practice holds the key. The more you practice, the more probability increases of your success.

Understandably, if the student is from non-science background, he needs to get extra attention to get his basics right, for which joining a coaching institute is a fair call. The questions which are asked in the quantitative ability and reasoning section don’t require intensive calculations in most of the cases. Most of them can be solved by proper visualization based on basic concepts. Questions on geometry, trigonometry are an example. As mentioned above, practicing in a timed setup will reap maximum dividends in terms of increase in performance. Mock tests come into the picture now.

For practicing in a real time environment, one needs to subscribe to one of the leading coaching institute’s test series. Caution: Don’t let the frustration creep in into your mental set-up on low scores but do note your mistakes/weak areas. Focus on accuracy and the speed will follow. In these high pressure scenarios, the judgment that which question to attempt and which one to leave becomes very critical in the final score. This judgment will only come if the candidate will follow the mock test series schedule religiously. Don’t run chasing each and every test series in the town, because all of them are mostly same that is they have same level of difficulty. Please…please…don’t exert too much pressure on yourself for solving too many questions in too less time. Trust me it is not going to help you and will decrease your efficiency.

mba graduates

One needs to develop reading capability for scoring in the exam by solving reading comprehension questions. Reading will help you in increasing your vocabulary. In questions like, synonyms-antonyms, one word or choosing the odd one out a good vocabulary comes very handy, because in these kind of questions either you know it or you don’t. So, having a good vocab will enable a candidate to score quickly without thinking much. The time saved here can be devoted by candidates to solve more questions in data interpretation and reasoning section where candidates complain about lack of time.

In many exams like XAT there is a section named as ‘decision making’ which asks for your course of actions in certain corporate/business scenarios. My take on this is that one cannot prepare oneself for this by mere practicing. Rather, reading economic times or following up with the activities happening in the business world and trying to decipher the business logic will help the candidate a lot. In this kind of sections, candidates with work experience hold an edge because they don’t need to prepare for it specifically. As a matter of fact, there have been instances in previous years when XAT also asked candidates to write an essay in the entrance exam itself. I will talk about it in my next article.

Also, now various institutes have started to keep a section of general knowledge/current affairs in their entrance exams. In exams like CMAT, SNAP and IIFT students already feel the pressure of lesser time. But if can attempt this section in a better way, it will save them a lot of time apart from increasing their score. In this case also, either you know it or you don’t know it. In today’s mobile age, it won’t require much effort to download an app of a good newspaper and be in touch with the recent news/current affairs on the go.

In the above discussions, I have not endorsed any book or study material for the preparation. What I did was, I referred Norman Lewis for vocab and read articles in various newspapers for comprehension. For quant and logical reasoning, I followed material of a coaching institute religiously. Most importantly, I monitored my performance during mocks very closely.

Thus, prima facie everything depends on, how well you managed your time to give an optimal performance across the sections in an exam. Remember, an exam cannot decide your career, so be calm and composed. Having a composed state of mind increases your performance by at least 10% and in this tough race, every inch is important. Be sure that you do well in areas of your strengths and cover your weak spots efficiently. Everything will be good. Good luck!!

Contributed by Sthita Sahu

Social capital and small-firm Entrepreneurs

MBA HR ProfessionalsWhat does “social capital” mean?

Social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea “that social have value”.

The term capital is used by analogy with other forms of economic capital, as social capital is argued to have similar (although less measurable) benefits. However, the analogy with capital is misleading to the extent that, unlike traditional forms of capital, social capital is not depleted by use;[50] in fact it is depleted by non-use (use it or lose it). In this respect, it is similar to the now well-established economic concept of human capital.

Social Capitalism

Social capital is also distinguished from the economic theory social capitalism. Social capitalism as a theory challenges the idea that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Social capitalism posits that a strong social support network for the poor enhances capital output. By decreasing poverty, capital market participation is enlarged.

Relation with Entrepreneurial Success

A growing number of studies is finding that social capital can contribute to entrepreneurial success. Pull apart the data, though, and some of the results seem to contradict each other. So does social capital help? And what kind, and in what circumstances?

Wouter Stam, Souren Arzlanian and Tom Elfring tackled these questions by doing a “meta-analysis” of 61 independent samples that looked at the social capital-performance link in the small firm context. They found overall solid support for the performance benefits of entrepreneurs’ social capital, but also teased out the kinds of network relationships that were most effective in different circumstances.MBA Graduates

“Social capital is embedded in the personal networks of entrepreneurs – those of family members, friends and business contacts. These ties are critical to the development of small firms,” they said.

A closed network generates trust and social support from members

“Compared to executives in large firms, entrepreneurs in small firms are more directly involved in daily firm operations, they have greater discretion in decision-making, and they more frequently perform key boundary-spanning roles. Their social capital may thus importantly influence small firm performance.”

Relationship between types of capital

The following stylized model illustrates the relationship between the three capitals.

Relationship between types of capital

Key Types of Social Capital

They considered three key types of social capital – strength of ties, gaps in networks, and network diversity– and aligned these with conditions that might moderate the effects of social capital – whether a firm was young or old, low- or high-tech, or in an emerging or established economy.

The strength of ties concerns the frequency and closeness of interactions with others and they can offer interesting trade-offs. Strong ties increase the willingness and ability of network contacts to provide needed resources, but they also require a lot of effort to maintain. Weak ties, on the other hand, provide access to more novel information because they are more likely to connect the entrepreneur to people from distant social circles.

Structural Holes

Gaps in networks, or “structural holes”, are the lack of direct relations between the entrepreneur’s contacts. This provides an opportunity for the entrepreneur to bridge ties between otherwise unconnected others, and increase access to resources. In contrast, a closed network generates trust and social support from members.

Diversity rather obviously refers to the extent to which an entrepreneur is connected to a wide range of individuals and organizations located in different positions or industries.

Overall, the study confirmed that social capital creates value for small firms. “The observed effect sizes are comparable to those for personality traits and substantially greater than the impact of human capital on performance,” the authors found. In particular, “weak ties, structural holes and network diversity were all positively related to performance.”

However, not all types of social capital had the same performance implications. Weak ties had a significantly smaller impact on performance than structural holes, while neither was as significant as network diversity. It thus appears that small firms benefit most when entrepreneurs form sparse networks to a wide range of actors, which offer greater opportunities to access and recombine diverse resources.

The authors also found that the optimal type of social capital varied across different types of small firms. New firms benefited more from networks with structural holes and weak ties, while older firms performed better when ties are dense and strong. Structural holes and network diversity were also more advantageous in high-tech industries than in low-tech ones. And weak ties and network diversity yielded stronger effects in established economies, whereas strong ties mattered more in emerging economies.

Relation with Investors

The start-up community of investors and their associates tends to be characterized by cohesive networks for several reasons. New ventures are highly risky and network cohesion mitigates risk because it signals reputation. For example, an entrepreneur is more likely to successfully get the attention of investors if they make contact with the investor through a trusted referral such as a well known attorney specializing in start-up law, your professors at IBS, help from staff at the IBS Centre, your membership in the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, among others. Cold calls and emailing your business plan are highly unlikely to result in making a successful contact in the venturing community either with Angels or venture capitalists. Under conditions of high cohesion in the investor community, one way for an entrepreneur to mitigate investor cohesion in brokering terms and conditions is to seek term sheets from geographically different regions such as Research Triangle Park (RTP) and Silicon Valley (SV). While cross region syndications are becoming more common, in theory regional differences in all likelihood will dampen the probability of network cohesion. However, such brokering strategies may result in relocating as investors typically require geographically local control.

“For entrepreneurs, the results clearly indicate the importance of cultivating personal networks rich in bridging social capital, but also reveal that distinct networking strategies are needed at different points in time and different industries and countries.

Contributed by Suchin Kulshrestha, (Class of 2008, IBS Hyderabad)

Pursuit Of Happiness At Work

career after mba‘I have been expecting a salary hike for last one and a half years’- said one of my close friends. ‘I am not happy with the way things work in my office.I need a job change’. It was a college reunion party; we were catching up on the progress in each other’s career and life.

The next moment the entire room had to share similar kind of thoughts. There were some who said, ‘I do not care about the kind of work I do as long as they pay me well’ while there were others who mentioned ‘I need to work for a company who has a bigger brand name’.  The entire room reverberated with the grim words –“we are not happy”.

In retrospection, ‘not being happy at work’ is fast becoming a very common phenomenon. It will be incorrect to generalize that everyone is not happy at work, but it will not be wrong to state that a vast number people who are in the middle of their professional careers are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that they need to do something more meaningful in their professional lives.

Money, Meaning and Mastery are the three main factors that dictates happiness levels at work and at home.

A friend of mine worked for a major oil drilling company in one of the gulf countries. Last year when we met, he mentioned that his pay is very good and not everyone has the skillsets or mastery to do the kind of work. But his biggest challenge was that he has to stay off the shore (off the coastline) for weeks without his family.  He told me that he is a person who is very connected to his family and wants to look for a more meaningful personal life.  I could understand his sentiments – work life balance is different for different persons and it has to be maintained at any cost. The latest update from him this year was that he changed his job. Though he gets a lesser pay than his previous job, he is very happy because his new job does not require him to travel much and he still gets to use the same skillsets, which he mastered over the years. ‘I am a very happy person’- he messaged.

In any work that we pursue there has to be the correct balance of money, mastery and meaning for us to enjoy that work. All the three factors are required togather. The absence of any one of them will prove to be reason of unhappiness within a certain period of time.

During my consulting days, I came across a lot of colleagues who were always unsatisfied with their work. There used to be complains of staying up late in office, about the way in which appraisals are handled, their colleagues being promoted, opportunities being given to underserving candidates and what not. There was a time when yours truly have also indulged in such discussions. Now that it has been sometime I have come out of the environment and I am totally on my own, I have realized that there is no meaning in being unhappy with such things. The reason is quite simple. No place can be perfect. Every office will have its pros and cons. If we choose to be judgmental about it by seeing its cons, then we will land up being depressed or unsatisfied on a perpetual basis. Rather, we should keep ourselves off from such discussions and work towards our own happiness. Once, we start working on a positive note, things definitely change for better and we start seeing the good things in our environment. So choose to stay away from negative discussions and stop being judgmental about people and other’s work.

Business School

As students, we always hated when we were being compared in school or in college. Now, we unknowingly land up doing the same thing with ourselves. We compare ourselves with our colleagues and friends. We tend to compare our achievements- both professionally and personally.  But more shockingly, many people define their benchmark of success and achievement based on others success. I still remember one of my colleagues stating – “My friend from college has become the senior manager of the company he works for. I am still in the middle management level. The worst part is that we share the same educational background and started our careers together. I feel bad for myself. I need to do something to boost my career and reach the same level as my friend”.  His statement did not shock me because it was not the first time that I came across such a situation. I have met many people who have compared their lives with others and have seen them becoming desperate and depressed in the process. Not that they hate their friends or colleagues but they have chosen to be unhappy with their own work life. They have forgotten the fact that they are all unique human beings – with different skillsets, intelligence, mindset and goals. We lose self-esteem by comparing ourselves with others. We should try to define our own parameters of success and learn to cherish it when we get it. It goes a long way in building happiness in our lives.

A good manager or boss has a great part in contributing to happiness at work. I have seen colleagues excel at work when lead by a competent manager. At the same time, in some rare cases people quittheir jobs due to bad managers. To an extent I agree that having an incompetent person, as your manager can be very damaging to your work and personal life. One’s motivation levels and efficiency comes down when we have to work with a manager who does not understand our individual skill sets. No matter how bad your manager is, it is important to understand that we cannot let our lives be effected due to someone else’s faults or incompetence. We should not take our anger to our personal lives. Rather we should find out ways to deal with it instead of living with it.

Human Resource (HR) professionals will always advice that you should have a word with your manager if you are having any troubles with him. If it does not work then there is always a means to file an issue with the HR.

However, one should always devise their own ways to deal with managers because in your corporate career you will always find both kinds of managers and you cannot always keep on complaining to the HR. It is important to learn to manage the manager. First of all one should not be judgmental about one’s boss by being a part of office gossips. Before starting any work under a new manager it is important to have a word with him regarding your role and work expectations. It is also your responsibility to build a rapport with your manager and understand his problems. Learn to work under minimum supervision and to update your manager before he seeks a report from you. These kind of small changes helps in building the rapport and you may find that with time the same ‘bad’ manager will turn out to be a ‘good’ friend of yours.

I conclude this post by mentioning the quote: ‘ Happiness is a state of mind’. We can truly be happy only if we choose to be. Let happiness be a part of your journey rather than it becoming a destination.

Contributed by Sanjit Das ( Class of 2005, IBS HYDERABAD )

Where from to do an MBA?

Business SchoolWith globalization, industry’s demand of people who can handle cross-functional skills, shrinking economies and an increase of functional activities in day-to-day business over routine transactions the need for business ready managers is increasing day by day. In Indian scenario, the mushrooming of b-schools is an understandable reaction to the demand of business ready managers having above mentioned skills and background. So, after qualifying the basic question of ‘Why MBA’, a candidate looks for a convincing answer for ‘Which b-school I should finalize for pursuing my MBA.’ In this peace of text, I will try to help you by giving you various qualifying pointers on the basis of which you will get a better idea for answering ‘the’ question.

Now, to find out the health of a particular college, the candidate goes to web and types the name of the college in the search bar. He sees a rosy picture on the b-school’s website. He then turns up and ends up searching ‘top MBA colleges’ and gets 1000+ responses in less than 0.22 seconds, only to baffle him more about his approach to go about finding the health of the college in his options. So, to have a clearer picture, try to see the parameters on which a particular website has given your wish-list’s college a particular score. The most important parameters to look for are faculty to student ratio, accreditations from various reputed bodies, college’s age, the profiles of the important persons (deans, HODs etc.) and infrastructure.

Secondly, candidates try to have a view of RoI scenario. In this, they consider the fee +other expenses as a ‘cost’ to MBA which is fundamentally wrong. In my opinion, it is an ‘investment’ towards an exciting career which is very fulfilling and rewarding, if one will try to see the bigger picture. By bigger picture, the point which I am trying to stress is that one should not do the naïve calculations of RoI by the immediate benefit one gets after MBA be in terms of salary package or role. Rather, one must try to interact with the alumni of that particular b-school and then try to evaluate if what role (and CTC) they are into after 5 years, 10 years or 15 years.

As discussed above, the shrinking economy has made it a buyer’s market, so a candidate will not see a very pronounced effect on its career immediately but he will surely see the effect in a period of 3 to 4 years. But one thing will be for sure, an MBA from a good college will give wings to its career and will be deciding factor in the later stages of its career.

A candidate might want to get back to its current industry or might want to change industry after MBA. As perceived, a one year MBA is more mapped for the former candidate and a two year MBA for the later. Thus, if it boils down to honing one’s skill in a particular industry or a particular skill-set, then apart from choosing between one or two year, one must also see if there are institutes available to focus only on that particular skill-set. For example, there are institutes like MICA and NITIE which are there for specific skill set namely communications and manufacturing domain.

MBA Students

An MBA gives you various perspectives and to get an insight about how those perspectives actually help a candidate in its professional life in the words of various leaders, industry champions and visionaries is very critical. This can only be possible if there is a very efficient connection of the college in the industry. Guest lectures, good internship offers can only be possible if the b-school has great corporate connects. Firms like Deloitte, HUL and Hyundai organize various events year to give chances of b-schools to showcase their talent. Students can use this as a great launch-pad to impress one and all in the list of key stakeholders of that firm. So, candidate must also check about the laurels that students of their concerned b-school have brought in these kinds of competitions.

One can only get an idea about the faculty and the kind of activities that happen in a particular b-school by only getting in touch with the alumni of the b-school. Today, it is a lot easier via the utilization of various social networking sites. You can follow the page of that particular b-school and you will get all the updates about the activities happening in the college in your feed. These kinds of activities give a lot of exposure to the candidates to have overall development of their personalities.

Every b-school has various committees like marketing committee, finance committee, student council, operations club and various non-academic bodies like speaker’s club, sports committee. Though, the tight schedule of academic activities won’t spare much time for these activities but one must try and be a positively contributing part of these activities. Thus, a candidate must also check out the extent of these kinds of activities in the concerned because passing exams and attending lectures will make a candidate a run out of mill MBA.

Lastly, as I discussed earlier that MBA is an investment towards an exciting career. But after every investment one also thinks of the immediate monetary return primarily because of the heavyweight EMIs waiting to be paid in the case of MBA. So, it is important to check the placement record of the concerned b-school in the last 5 years. One most important thing to notice while checking this is the average work experience of the previous batches prior to joining MBA. This detail will help a candidate in viewing a clearer picture because the average CTC gets beefed up due to higher CTC of candidates with greater work-ex and the published figure on the website paints a wrong picture. Also, checking out the kind of companies visiting the campus will help a candidate streamlining its strategy for placements or internships.

Thus, I will emphasize again that an MBA is an experience and must be 100% sure before choosing the vehicle for this exciting, adventurous and fulfilling joy ride because a journey is as comfortable as a vehicle and this experience rubs on candidate’s personality for molding him into a better professional.

Contributed by Sthita Sahu

Sneak Peak into a B-School’s typical day

IBS mba graduatesDid you know? Every morning in Africa, when a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up, it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. Life at a B-School is wickedly analogous to this anecdote. It doesn’t really matter which B-School one has sought admission into. The core modus operandi essentially remains the same.

And actually it doesn’t really matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running. Because there is fierce competition even within the B-School. And there is a damn good reason behind it. Think of it as a specially designed miniature blueprint of the unforgiving corporate world outside. The values of competitiveness and time-management are intentionally inculcated during the course so that they are innately ingrained in your personality after getting through those gruelling two years.

Your B-School knows that you are good and that you are capable of executing a given assignment proficiently. So it is going to test you by making sure that you don’t get enough time to do multiple assignments simultaneously. Ultimately, time management is what they want to teach you. And that too the hard way! The result of this hard-hearted yet ubiquitous approach clearly reflects in the quotidian time-table of a quintessential B-School fresher. Just a few days into it and you’ll quickly realize that the usual schedule is  much tougher and hectic than you had heard.

Here is what is roughly looks like:

6:30 AM

You wake up to a mildly irritating cellphone alarm and sleepwalk through the customary drill to make yourself rather presentable. At this point, you have to take some important decisions regarding time management (especially if you are a guy). Usually, you’ll have four options:

Option A- Have a bath and breakfast (rare phenomenon)

Option B- Bath but no breakfast (manageable for gals)

Option C- Breakfast but no bath (not uncommon for guys)

Option D- Neither (a distinct possibility)

8:30 AM

After arriving at the college campus, meet-up with your classmates at the canteen/reading room. Exchange notes about the forthcoming lectures. Discuss with your preformed group regarding any presentations or group assignments that are supposed to be delivered today. Push off to the lecture hall.

9:00 – 10:15 AM

Find a strategically placed back-seat if you are feeling sleepy. Though I would advise you against it as paying attention inside the class would eventually pay you rich dividends at the end of the semester. That ways you would have to study less after college. Actually, it saves a lot of time, which will be a precious commodity during the entire course. Active class participation, however boringly nerdish it may sound will certainly help you in the long run. There are about 40-50 people in a class. You’ll tend to open-up and learn much more when you are proactive. Its an underrated technique to simultaneously hone your soft-skills as well as your hard-skills.

10:15 – 10:30 AM

Your first mid-morning break. Smell the coffee and gear-up for an impending group presentation on marketing management. At ICFAI (my alma mater), the class constitution remained uniform during the first year of the course. So there was quite a bit of familiarity amongst us. Which led to a certain level of comfort. So presentations were relatively easy unlike surprise quizzes and tests, which induced goosebumps every time they cropped up. The main reason for the anxiety was that they directly and majorly contributed to our semester GPAs, which in-turn was the basis for good placements.

10:30 – 11:45 AMGDPI Sessions

Around 4-5 group presentations can be accommodated per session. After every presentation, a brainstorming question-hour ensues. The audience (read adversaries) raise distressing queries on the subject matter to which logical replies are expected with infallible spontaneity. Whether you crack under pressure or not entirely depends on how prepared and CONFIDENT you are. And remember you are being attentively watched and marked by your examiner. It creates a more stressful situation and tests your limits to the core.

11:45 – 1:00 PM

Right after a mentally exhausting and seemingly interminable session, a much dreaded surprise quiz on Financial Accounting suddenly pops up. You’re in a soup and more so in case you belong to a non-commerce background. Somehow, you eventually get used to this recurring feeling of impending doom. India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was once asked in an interview about how he deals with the combined pressure of being a wicket-keeper, captain and finisher of the game. He replied, “It’s like having 100 kgs put over you. After that even if you put a mountain, it will not make a difference.”

During the course, especially during the first two semesters, your predicament will be somewhat similar. But amusingly every time you experience it, it makes you stronger than before. I can say that now with the benefit of hindsight. Every single episode in which I personally endured tremendous pressure subsequently transformed me into a different person.

IBS MBA Students

1:00 – 1:05 PM

Time for a short recess. Have a cup of hot tea and pull your socks for the next joyride. One unique feature about an MBA course is the excitement derived from its inherent unpredictability. You actually don’t know whats in store for you next. As a result, the assortment of quandary mysteriously adds to the already existing thrill-factor and the fear of the unknown. Now, get set for the next escapade.

1:05 – 2:20 PM

Usually, Human Resource and Soft Skills classes are conducted alternately in most B-Schools. Considered extremely productive for the long-term, a Soft Skill session can be equally invigorating and de-stressing depending on how you use it. Moreover, proactive participation and whole-hearted involvement will do a lot of good to your GPA as well. In addition to hard-skills, soft-skills (however underrated they may be), will always be an exceptionally high-yielding asset to you after even 5/10 years down the line.

You’ll have loads of role-plays, inspirational pep-talks, mock-interviews, mock GDs etc. which will help you come out of your comfort zone, open-up and articulate more effectively. After all these years, I still think that if you are able to communicate well with your colleagues, then the chances for a vertical growth of your both your professional and personal pursuits will increase manifold. Very valuable and a scarcely found asset indeed!

2:20 – 3:00 PM

Lunch break. You’ll find the college canteen flooded with bustling students to have a quick bite and then invest the spare time preparing for the next class/test/quiz or whatever.

3:00 – 4:15

Usually the longest and the most agonizing session of the day as its just after lunch but is of the same intensity. Experienced professors are always on the look-out of bone-tired students catnapping under cover. So beware! The only way out is through. Brutal – isn’t it?


An Operations/IT class is generally scheduled during this time of the day. Both of them are considered comparatively undemanding and less harsh on you. Even for people from non-engineering background. So relax as you can take it easy for a while.

5:30 – 7:00 PM – 12:00 AM

The last class ends at 5:30 PM but this is not the end of the day. You have to attend several pre-arranged meetings with your respective groups as a pre-preparation exercise for various presentations/assignments which are due for the following day. By 7:00 PM, you wind up, go back to your PG/Home. Listen to your favorite music. Relax your nerves for a while and re-energize yourself. Do your homework and complete pending assignments. Finally, get ready for the next day’s battle after getting at least a 6-hours sleep!

Contributed by Pranshu Awasthi ( Class of 2007, IBS GURGAON )