It’s a professional’s abilities, skills and relationship with people that help him/her climb the corporate ladder faster
Some of the biggest names in the corporate world didn’t go to business schools. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were college dropouts and yet went on to build two rival empires. Probably, the stories sound illusory but they are true. However, in the world which you and I live, this cannot be generalised. I can’t tell my friend who is stressed about his son’s B-school admission, to let him drop out of college to be successful. A few exceptions cannot be a general rule.
And even for those few high-profile people who have been successful without academic qualifications, there are millions of other people who have formal education and rely only on that to build their careers.
In the corporate world, campus recruitments in B-schools are a regular affair. It has become a ritual. And with the number of private B-schools that have cropped up in the country, the number of job seekers armed with a degree/diploma in management is a free flow all across.
A question that I am often faced with is can experience make up for the lack of a degree, or does a degree provide something that experience cannot provide with? It, however, is a trap question to which the answer is — it depends.
When there is a need for a plan to be approved by an engineer, the degree is required, however, all engineers do not end up in management positions and all management leaders are not engineers. A degree is essential as a stepping stone, but if a person is not learning on the job, he/she faces a roadblock.
I always strongly advocate ‘learning from experience’. The theories are as important but practical and dealing with ‘real-life situations’ is more challenging and tests your ability to stand out.
When I talk of my experience, I have got mixed views about management studies, which I learned during my college and its implementation when I started working.
Emotional intelligence has a huge role to play in a corporate world, whereas management education emphasises about emotions not having a place in business relationships. Again, most marketing people rely on instinct or ‘gut feel’. I feel I am more creative in my thinking and execution when I follow my instinct. But then I apply the theories to act on those instincts. A fine balance of those two decision making intelligence gives birth to an innovation.
Richard Branson of Virgin had once said, “In business schools, brand values are often discussed in terms of marketing, as though they is an end result of a scientific process, rather than embedded in a business’s beginnings. Thankfully, I’ve learned that in the real world of business, it’s better to rely on creativity, intuition and empathy. You can try to build a brand using a hands-off, theoretical approach, but you’ll do far better — and have more fun…”.
Management education gives your security. But the courage to defend and stand by your decisions is your own. You have to be ready to be in the line and face up to your superiors and convince them.
I have also experienced that business schools churn out managers. Whereas beyond a certain level, a corporate needs a leader and a visionary. It is about honing skills of people, motivating them, building leaders out of them. That is not included in the course curriculum of management schools.
Another important issue is professionalism. The corporate world is not college, so one cannot be as crazy or irresponsible as in the campus. In your workplace, you have to be professional. Deadlines are critical and much more important than in college. You might have smooth-talked your professor to give you an extension to submit a paper, but in business it means loss of value money.
All this is not part of the course in a B-school.
Bursting some myths
First, a management education is fine in a competitive market it sets one out and helps them get their first job. But from there on, that degree/diploma is a piece of paper. The factors that will help in a person’s growth are willingness to work hard, intelligence and emotional quotient and the zeal for knowledge. In most B-schools, students go through some rigorous course schedules in which many score high marks. Yet the same people do not make dynamic managers who are not capable of thinking out-of-the-box solutions and create unique solutions.
Management education is about tools and diagrams. They may be helpful when you need to toss around a problem in your mind. But when you are presenting solutions — to colleagues or to clients — what is required is a clear understanding of the problem and not a set of diagrams.
In a survey conducted in 2004, BusinessWeek examined the five highest-paid executives at each of the S&P 100 companies. Their research indicated that only 146 of the 500 executives reported having MBAs and only 71 of them received MBAs from the top 10 B-schools.
The same survey reported that the number of graduates who ended up with the highest salaries is actually quite small. Only about one in every 4,000 alumni of the top 10 MBA programmes was among the highest-paid executives in 2004.
So the claim of MBA schools that their graduates get high paying jobs and go on to build great careers is not always true. The college does not prepare you for real-life career issues. Teamwork, dealing with various types of people, balancing the work-life demand, to name a few, are real-life situations that does not appear in any course curriculum.
In an article in Fortune titled, ‘Why CEO’s Fail’, there were mentions of business school graduates. What I am trying to say is getting an MBA does not guarantee success. Many experts have repeatedly said that the relevance of business school studies is utterly divorced from the challenged of everyday management.
So why go to business schools?
It’s very simple. Business school graduates are from a screened pool of people. So, from the scores of people the HR department has to screen for the job, the number reduces a lot. The main utility of a B-school degree is to provide a pedigree. But that is all that is to it.
Most of the times there is a lot of unlearning to do rather than implementing the learnings. One’s true abilities, skills, relationship with people help one climb the corporate ladder faster.