THE BIG DECISION: To do an MBA or not?

At about the same time last year me along with a few of my friends were prodding over this life changing decision of whether to do an MBA or not. If yes then should we opt for the full time version or the fancy e-MBA? This is the story of 80% of engineers like me who get placed on campus and join the herd of thousands who move to posh localities in Tier-1 cities and feel that we have accomplished the motive of living. A job in a metro city, a pay package which is able to fund the sloshed weekends and we are ready to rule the world. It is only a year or so later that we realize that the corporate jungle is merciless and proving yourself in each step is the only way up the ladder. This is when good sense and ambition prevails or perhaps the increasing fear of eradication that drills into our brains, the MBA worm.

The world around us changes and it changes fast, constantly evolving into a more complex web of technology and human skills woven by master weavers. These master weavers are majorly constituted of business people, people armed with MBA degrees, flashing their guns and wowing the masses with their numbers. We engineers, fully loaded with our technology jargon fall short in front of these gunmen when it comes to their prowess in deciphering and analyzing stuff. The present job profiles in corporate offices demand utopian levels of multitasking, people management and communication skills. Add to this the fact that the only way for engineers to rise through the ranks in any industry is to take on managerial responsibility in the same field. The threat of market saturation and oversupply of similar skills is also never-ending. But a bigger challenge is to deal with painfully slow moving career paths. Despite being ahead of the pack in their academic life, most engineers, especially in India lose their identities in the ocean of faceless people just like them. Slowly we realize that our once promising career has now started slipping into a slump. It is now when reality strikes and we press the panic button and eject ourselves out of this about-to-blast aircraft: an MBA being the career saving parachute. An MBA seems like a good way to break away from the clutter and add a recognizable face back.  So, within a year or two we learn that the only way to compete with these handsomely suited, number crunching weirdoes is to make ourselves capable and give them a dose of their own medicine!

So how does an MBA suddenly transform our dull flat career graphs? As an engineer we are used to working alone, handling a couple of projects individually even when in a team. As an MBA we learn to break this cocoon of solitude and everything that we do will now require other people’s participation.

As an engineer we would have been working with the end perspective of the product. During MBA, we realize that everything is focused on organizational efficiency and effectiveness. These are two important learnings which change our perspectives of working and make us better professionals. MBA after engineering gives us a combined functional and technical perspective, thus creating a valuable asset for any organization.

So all those confused souls who are thinking about an MBA and currently don’t have an opportunity cost which will make you regret like crazy later– go for it, provided you manage a good B-school. For some others who are thinking about doing a full-time after spending six years in the IT industry, think twice about everything that you’ve been doing till date. Rethink your initial goal and get back.  Like it or hate it, but there is a time and value for everything. If you are on track now, your ideal choice should be an executive MBA program, something that doesn’t require you to compromise on everything that you have today. Lastly, this being only a personal line of thought anyone who reads this is welcome to differ. But to sum it all up, I believe there is no harm in learning something new which will help in adding value to your knowledge base and profile!

Avilasha Singha,