Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 12pm

How to Match MBA Students and MBA Jobs

MBA jobs

Over the past couple of decades, top business schools in India have provided a clear path to prestigious MBA jobs for the ambitious. A good proportion of students passing out of school will, therefore, have thought about enrolling for am MBA program. And that in turn has led to the mushrooming of a large number of business schools, and therefore sadly also to a decline of the early standards set by the IIMs.

Top business schools, MBA students, and MBA jobs: the learning triangle

We must not forget that MBA students and institutions form only two sides of the learning triangle. The third side is represented by industry, as the prospective providers of MBA jobs to the students. This is because all learning has to have a purpose, and at top business schools, perhaps more than other types of institution, the connection to industry has to be very strong. Therefore, for business schools to progress, then certain things are critical for growth, if not survival. Let us look at some of these.

Firstly, let us talk about alignment. How often have we heard industry practitioners lament that management schools teach case studies that don’t reflect the reality of MBA jobs!  But, actually, the fault lies a little with both sides.

MBA employers often look for shortcuts and are therefore unable to recognize the power of an intellectual model, while schools often present case studies without looking at their further application. Better schools therefore always ask, before setting the curriculum, “What are the needs of industry?”

These schools will engage with industry regularly to find out. At SOIL for example, we meet annually with industry consortium partners to determine their needs. Alignment with the requirements of MBA jobs is very important, so the course is designed around the needs laid out at these events.

It is worthwhile to note at this point that schools do not just ask, “What should we teach, or how should we teach it?” That is not their area of expertise. But industry is equipped to comment on what the results of education should be, given its great stake in it.

Applying case studies

The second and almost equally important aspect is teaching MBA students the practical applicability of the case studies. It is not always possible to correlate a theoretical model to a practical situation. Most industry situations call for a mix of theories and concepts from case studies to be able to deal with them.

However, MBA students need significant exposure to what is happening in industry, which concerned faculty should then relate back to models, theories and concepts that students have learnt in class. Again at SOIL, we do this in multiple ways, as do most good business schools. There are three components to this.

Firstly, at a broad level, MBA students are exposed to leadership lessons from industry stalwarts, through talks and discussions. Industry leaders narrate their personal story and the leadership lessons he /she learnt – often the hard way – along the way!

The second is through exposure to industry practices such as internships and action learning projects. Good schools take this to the next level, involving students in the consulting projects.

One example at SOIL saw us involved in conducting a largescale interactive process in a planning commission driven exercise that involved over 300 participants from various state and central bodies at different levels (secretaries to the Government of India to anganwadi workers). A student team worked with the consulting team to make the workshop a success!

The third aspect of this industry interface is in the kind of examples the faculty uses to explain their points. A lot of schools use case studies. But using a case study by itself does not really let the student readily understand the interface between the theory they learn and its practical application in real life industry situations. Top schools frequently draw much of their faculty from industry, and this makes a world of difference

To sum up, what industry expects from schools is the right preparation. This is not only learning and understanding theory, but more importantly how to apply it. It expects graduates to act and behave like mature leaders, and so a good school should provide a great learning environment, where it teaches the pillars of mindfulness, diversity, compassion, ethics and sustainability every day…

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