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The Privilege Myth

Elite colleges do not guarantee you better job prospects or salaries
By Shipra Sharma | July 05, 2016

The recent Flipkart versus IIM-Ahmedabad spat over postponement of the joining date of recruits from the premium institute by six months is an eye-opener for those who take the IIM tag to be a sure-shot ticket to employment and fat pay packages. Perhaps it’s time for some of the premier MBA institutes to run the disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

The perception that the fate of an MBA candidate is sealed the moment they join the perceived non premier institutes is very different from reality. There are several other B-schools that are well-equipped and quality oriented, churning out students who are making a mark for themselves in the corporate world.

The name game

Two decades ago, Mumbai-based Sunil Rathi enrolled for an MBA at ITM, Mumbai. Today he is director, sales and marketing, Waaree Energies, a solar panel and solar modules manufacturer.

“Though IIMs are the best Bschools in India but I feel if you have the passion to pursue your dreams then it doesn’t matter from where you do your MBA—the success is inevitable,” says Rathi. The brand value of the institute where you study does play an important role, and somewhat guarantees a good employment when you finish studies. However, once you are out there working, it all boils down to individual drive, passion and performance, besides luck.

 “I was disappointed by not making it to the IIMs. When I took admission at Alliance Business Academy in Bengaluru, I was determined to make the most of what I had,” recounts Damandeep Arora. Today Arora works as the country manager for a leading IT Services company in Malaysia. “It’s not as if everything is lost if you are not in a top B-school. In fact, it helps you to be grounded and not take anything for granted when starting your career,” he adds.

Not that rosy

Yes, having an MBA from a top notch college helps, as several recruiters do not consider too many filters when selecting candidates from there. A strong alumni network helps and that is something that many newer institutes are fostering so that their future students can benefit from it. Efforts by institutes in inviting companies for placements is equally crucial in case of the Tier II colleges. However, the harsh reality is that there are only a few campus placement positions available to students outside the top college list.

Manish Saraswat, who did his MBA in marketing and IT from ABES Engineering & Management College, Ghaziabad, says: “I was from the first batch of MBA graduates and it was not easy.” Today, he works as the area manager—business development, broadcast and media, Rohde & Scwarz.

“Brand name does matter. Even in the same company, employees are getting good packages and designations just because they all are from IIMs,” says 26-year-old Sumit Pandey, who currently works as a senior executive at Flipkart. Pandey completed his MBA in foreign trade from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, and is convinced that it’s all about the institute you come from. One of the saddest realities is that some employers hire students from different B-schools for the same role, but at different pay scales.

Reality check

According to an ASSOCHAM study, only 7 per cent of MBA graduates from Indian business schools, excluding those from the top 20 schools, get a job straight after completing their course. The study also points that mismatch between the aspirations of the students and their level of preparation. Such indicators are being taken seriously by institutions which are then getting into introducing courses that are more in sync with industry needs (Read: What recruiters really want?).

Students from the non-premier institutes are showcasing their skills by starting their own ventures while on campus or after they graduate. The entrepreneurial drive among young Indians is being nurtured by institutes which see it as a way to make a difference for its students. Start-up incubators at most campuses are a norm today, with a significant chunk of successful start-ups being founded by the non IIT-IIM types.

 Take the case of Bharat Khandelwal, who did his MBA in International Business Systems from Amity University, and went on to co-found Now Ride, a hyper local delivery and bike rider services start-up platform. However, he confides that when it comes to funding, the premier tag is important. “IIM graduates get investors very easily, compared to others,” says Khandelwal. For every Flipkart or Craftsvilla, founded by an IIM alumnus, there is a Pinstorm, BookMyShow and CarTrade from the non-IIMs.

 While a plush job and good industry exposure are few reasons for the popularity of top B-schools, there is plentiful scope of career advancement even if you are from the next rung school. Who knows, you may become the one who will be popularising your alma mater, just the way a certain Satya Nadella is doing.


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