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What do employers expect from MBA graduates?

Anupam Narula |

Indian employers clearly expect three components while hiring students from premier B-Schools — knowledge component (facts, frameworks and theories), practice component (doing and execution) and being human component (values and ethical boundaries, commitment to organisation, attitudes and beliefs towards work, optimism and empathy).

Premier B- Schools in India are strong on preparing students for analytical skills on knowledge component but are poor in other two components, which are heart of practical management in India. Employers clearly expect certain functional roles to be filled by fresh MBA graduates along with hands on approach to work.

This indicates that while designing the curricula, business schools must retain a focus on their current strength in the “knowledge” component, while augmenting their stress on the “practice” and “being human” component.

Practice component means executing the policies effectively by recognising the organisational realities. It is this approach that involves team work, people management and perspective building.

This can be done through action learning labs/track trips focussed on specific subject areas like analytics, sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation, etc. It can be also done through a company or geographic region to facilitate hands on experience away from the campus for two to three weeks to build real world critical thinking skills in order to sense opportunities and define problems in the corporate world. This will also help students to focus on a particular area of interest before choosing elective courses.

“Being human” component means understanding the moral principles to create balance between a career and commitment to organisation, adaptability, developing a positive attitude and belief towards work and integrative thinking approach.

This can be done through additional immersive programme of two to three week experience that specifically focuses on the themes like effective teams, ethics and social responsibility, leadership and corporate accountability, social innovation for improving the society and world, etc.

This is where the challenge for B-schools lies. These components are not easy to develop in a classroom setting and call for more experiential methods of learning. Recruiters in the initial years expect from MBA graduates to handle functional roles like client-customer handling, business development and intelligence, management trainee, market analyst, brand manager, digital marketing executive and manager, social media manager, job rotation and cross functional training, sales manager, operation manager, etc.

This implies a practice component or hands-on approach towards work. Those recruited from IIMs are assigned strategic roles.They are placed as executive assistant manager to senior business leaders and are expected to help them in strategy formulation and work as a resource team for them. Generally MBA’s are expected to play supportive roles to the middle level management who are team leaders to formulate policies and set directions.

Being human aspect gets reflected in the workplace after five to six years of work experience when MBA’s reach to middle level management cadre and work as team leaders and business leaders. They must be sensitive enough to the social impact of business and ethical standards that are expected from them by their employer in strategy development and execution.

The new roles and the skills that the Indian corporate world is now demanding from MBA’s require a different kind of curriculum on the above three components and business schools need to rebalance their curricula, if they are to re-establish the value addition. This indicates that B- Schools in India must balance all the three components in developing a holistic business managers who can have a balanced intellectual and emotional quotient to face the present day challenges of corporate world.