Education never ends

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As thousands of fresh graduates take a sigh of relief as they march down to receive their degrees that seal the years of their formative education, reality holds the truth that Graduation is not the end but a beginning of a new chapter in life. A closer analysis of the word would tell us that ‘graduation” simply means the elevation of learning from one level to another. In reality, learning is a never-ending process; education does not end with the graduation ceremony.

  There are lessons we cannot find from the vast collections of books even in the world’s largest libraries that only our lives can teach us. Note that learning from life is very different from the education and training that we get from the academics. Let’s take a look at many of the world’s greatest minds and see that most of these personalities have not finished formal education or were not standouts in school but were able to etch their names in the records of the world’s history:

Robert Fulton, the inventor of the Clermont steam boat, was not a brilliant scholar, but according to his teacher, his head was filled with original ideas formed by his observation around him, he barely even touched his books but he has progressed quite surprisingly. Meanwhile, the Father of modern Physics Albert Einstein was marked a failure in life but whose name at present is synonymous to genius. Light bulb inventor Thomas Alva Edison only managed three months of formal schooling after which he was sent home by his teacher with a note that said “unteachable.” While theories help mould our perceptions, the teachings in life and reality help us mould our own theories.

So to the fresh graduates, kudos to you all and welcome to the real world! The academics has equipped you with a stack of theories, apply it but don’t hold unto it longer than you should. Life has a lot to OFFER, explore and never stagnate, continue learning as you sail through this chapter. The cruise may not go smoothly as you’d like it to be, harsh winds and huge waves may get in your way but with stock knowledge and the will to move on, the compass of life would surely make your journey worthwhile.

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Can we teach “leadership”?

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The word “leadership” seems to be on everyone’s lips these days, and young people have every right to be confused: the more we talk about it, the more frequently glamorous international conferences such as the World Economic Forum are held, the more university courses and seminars and lectures we give on governance, the more opportunities for what Nassim Taleb disparagingly but accurately calls ‘The International Association of Name Droppers’ to meet and not solve the world’s problems, the worse things seem to get.

One of the most universal laments of the early 21st century is about the dearth of men and women who can and will lead us to a shared vision of a future in which the world’s citizens can live in peace and prosperity in a healthy human habitat. It is important to remember at times like this that Abraham Lincoln, one of the most visionary and courageous leaders of the last few centuries, was an autodidact who had no formal education — and that was at a time when Harvard, Yale and Princeton all existed. But he did have character. Related to this, research conducted by Michigan State University shows that children active outdoors for five to 10 hours a week have a stronger sense of self-fulfilment and purpose than their less active peers, as well as better developed imaginations and greater creativity.    

India, a hub of management education?

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Lower costs of education in India, could be credited as a strong influence for most Indian students who chose to study in India. Not just in terms of tuition fees, but the cost of living in one’s own country can prove to be quite economical. “Studying in India is affordable and also facilitates a curriculum that lays emphasis on practical as well as theoretical aspects of management education,” claims a recent graduate. Experts suggest that higher employment opportunities post the course is also a factor that plays an important role while choosing a study destination. “Most Indian management schools have a well structured campus placement programme with almost 100 per cent employment for all students. And jobs are, after all, an important reason for students opting for an MBA,” asserts Pratibha Jain, education counsellor.

Needless to say, of course, that with rising global competition, the quality of education in India has also risen optimally. Jain explains, “Reputed management programmes in India are delivering excellent quality by engaging highly qualified faculty and guest speakers from the industry. The curriculum, teaching material, case-study approach, and overall pedagogy reflect international practices. This, together with low cost of education and living, good placement and familiar environment, makes Indian B-schools very popular in Asia.”

Even amongst Central and South Asian citizens, the report points out, Indians represented the largest citizenship group with the highest number of score reports sent per exam in 2011, accounting for 91 per cent of all exams taken for the year.

However, what is more remarkable to observe is that a multitude of these students are choosing India as their preferred study destination. The report states that, a large drop has been observed in the proportion of scores sent by Central and South Asian citizens to programmes in the United States and much of this shift is explained by increased interest among regional examinees to study in India, the United Kingdom, and Singapore.

The report also observes that in most cases, prospective students are increasingly interested in domestic and regional opportunities. And with Indian student dominating test numbers, it is obvious that Indian B-schools can expect more takers in the coming years. 

Why study in India?

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South Asia is becoming an increasingly important region to study in the modern, global world thanks to its significance in the world’s economy.South Asia, and specifically India, has become a front-runner in the world economically. Domestic businesses have been partnering with call centers, manufacturers and industries in South Asia to bring in profits. 

Knowledge of the regions cultural practices as well as practical language skills are incredibly useful in today’s world, especially for students. It not only makes students more culturally aware, but allows for career advancement as well. Every school that does not have a South Asian studies department is in the process of creating one out of their existing structures.
In the recent years, career in humanities and social sciences has gained popularity in the US. Engineering, business and medical schools are different from South Asian programmes/ departments. South Asian studies include the study of history, religion, languages, cultures, sociology, politics, etc have become an alternative career option for Indian students. Career options for Indian students include various academic positions in the US universities, analytical experts at defense institute, careers in print and electronic journalism, etc.

Significance of management education nowadays!

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Management education has a vital role to play in today’s business environment, where everything changes so fast that it makes it difficult for organisations to survive the growing competition. This has led to the need for business schools in developing nations to impart relevant education to students, which reflects the changes in society. Also, schools need to be in close contact with industry.

Management Education is the latest academic discipline to arrive in the world of academia, hardly 100 years worldwide, it has been for less than 50 years on Indian scene. It has emerged as a vibrant field for professional education. It is today the most preferred choice for higher education, among young men and women of the country. Its demand will continue to rise and hence its qualitative growth needs serious attention.

The solution is that we need to do away with traditional departments. That will allow us to bring in interdisciplinary research. There is no reason why a finance person cannot do research on entrepreneurship or microcredit. These multidisciplinary centres leverage in our scarce resources.

In today’s world we require more skilled managers since our economy is growing, our country needs to prevent the brain drain and hone the skills of the existing ones by nurturing them via quality education. Oakbrook Business School is one such initiative, an upcoming B-school with impeccable infrastructure, expert faculty and cutting edge curriculum. 

Why an MBA in India?

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In all the rush to prepare, how many of you have honestly stepped back and asked yourselves why you want to do your MBA? Does the world need more MBAs? I often hear students ask about the salaries that have been talked about by the media time and again. But someone once pointed out that the monthly average salary of an MBA graduate in India is 10,000 rupees.

Surprised? Well, think about it. Several thousand MBAs are without a job. Many others are struggling for base level salaries. The ones who get talked about with multi crore annual compensations are not even 1% of the 90,000 who graduate each year. They are the exception not the rule! So if that’s the criteria for you, please think again. Allow me to give you 4 better reasons to do an MBA. (and these could prove useful during your interviews as well!)

More than 30 years ago, when our parents began their working careers, the key to success was in Production – Eli Goldratt’s Goal was a Bible and every manager with an engineering background was focussed on improving quantity as well as quality of factory made products. Today, these processes have been so streamlined and automated that you hardly need an education to man these processes. All you need is on the job training and good experience.

Then began a focus on Finance and Taxation – CAs and Company Secretaries were much in demand…And they worked hard to showcase the company’s financial strengths and performance every quarter as well as annually. Today, we have well built software packages to fill in and the taxation laws are getting simpler by the day.

Then came an era of fighting government regulations and getting the necessary sanctions – of course this was a pre liberalization era that I am referring to. It was an art and science on its own! But today, thanks to Manmohan Singh and Narsimha Rao, you and I have never studied that art and things are mostly smooth sailing without government interventions, in fact thanks to their support.

The 80s ushered in an era of MIS – Management Information Systems. And all of senior management were putting their heads together to figure out how to present information and use it to the best of their abilities. Today, MIS technology is enabling management to get maximum results with least time inputs. The 80s also saw an era of foreign collaborations. Every manager would spend his time finding out possible partnerships and then using his creativity to plan it. But today, with the FII inflow raising the stock market back to 20K, foreign collaborators are knocking on Indian doors rather than the other way around. So then managers started spending their time on Planning – a very important function, but one that is now supported by robust SAP like technologies that allow this complex job to be completed with ease.

So you must be wondering by now, that with all this automation, what people really do in 12 hour days! Well, the manager today really has to focus on 2 major functions – Marketing and HR. These have not been automated yet! When I talk of Marketing, it needs to go beyond Sales. It’s about creating a value proposition for the clients. And HR is no longer about giving Diwali bonuses or tracking attendance. India as a young country sees people as its biggest resource. Managing people, high performance virtual teams, cross cultural expectations and growth is one of the most important tasks of any good manager. So these are some of the functions that you need to learn the basic conceptual frameworks for as you move ahead. That is reason 1.

Coming to the second reason When the board of directors is looking for a CEO for their company, do you think they look for just financial abilities, or just a good sales person, or just a good people’s manager? No. What they really need is someone who has a 360 degree view of all the functions – and that is what your MBA should provide you with. A full buffet is served and it remains with you for life. You can always refer back to it depending on the situation’s requirement. In fact, have you wondered why people spend 12-14 hours in office when work should ideally not be more than 8-10 hours? Well, research shows that 30% of time is wasted in arguing! Arguing about decisions, analysis, requirements and so much more. Why? Because people do not know enough about each other’s functions! And that’s why it’s important for those who want to rise to have an all round understanding.

The third reason to pursue this education is Whole Systems thinking: Understanding the impact of one variable on others. And a non MBA can miss this aspect throughout his 40 year career span. Of course it is true that Ambani didn’t have an MBA and neither did various other successful businessmen world over. But, those are the exceptions, not the rule. The rest of them with potential are probably still selling petrol somewhere!

And finally, the world is all about Networking – or peer learning. The one gift your post graduation gives you is an alumni base: networks that you can be in touch with electronically, meet at common gatherings and reach out to as you all grow professionally.

300 of the Fortune 500 companies are already in India, and by the time some of you complete your post graduation, another 200 could be here as well. It’s time to gear up to prepare and be ready to receive them. An MBA gives you perspective of Core functions like Marketing and HR; an overall functional view that is necessary to rise; the gift of systems thinking and peer learning and a fabulous network. Do you need any other reason?

The Chronicles of an MBA

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Some people view an MBA degree the same way that Charlie thought about his Golden Ticket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”: They believe a piece of paper can magically transport you to a place you only imagined. But can this addition to your résumé really be your dream ticket? Yes. No. Maybe. There are no simple answers, but here are ways that an MBA might help you. Let’s face it: If you had your pick between two candidates — one with a BBA and one with an MBA — who were both qualified for a job, wouldn’t you take the one with the higher degree?

Because of the recession’s affect on employment, many companies have a wealth of talent to pick from at the moment and some can afford to be choosy in their hiring. Candidates need to score every point possible, and a graduate degree may give that extra edge.

Having an MBA — as opposed to just a bachelor’s degree in business — is sort of like travelling someplace by plane instead of taking the train. With either business degree, you may eventually wind up at your final ‘destination’ — but the MBA will get you there faster.

Some of the opportunities an MBA degree may jump-start include:

  •    Managing larger teams
  •    Running meetings
  •    Greater interaction with clients
  •    More decision-making power
  •    Representing the company at events
  •    “Choicer” projects
  •    Responsibility for your own set of clients/projects

Some workers hold undergraduate degrees in fields other than business. By seeking an MBA, these employees can fill in possible gaps in their education as well as show their commitment to their field. Likewise, a person who already holds an undergraduate business degree but perhaps has been working in a different area can update his skills by seeking a graduate degree. The decision whether or not to pursue an MBA is a tough one. It involves serious thought about money, time and career goals. But for those who decide that getting an MBA is the path they wish to take, the degree might open up a whole new world of possibilities.