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The appeal of an international MBA

Where does a management degree from Wharton, or Harvard Business School or Insead take you?

education Updated: May 23, 2012 16:57 IST
Ayesha Banerjee
Ayesha Banerjee
Hindustan Times

Who does not want a business school education? It equips you most wonderfully to navigate easily through the risk-ridden world of business, your interactions with people who count in your line of work improve, you learn to plan in advance and execute critical projects without as much as a flicker of your eyebrow, and get a new lease of life and learn to live and enjoy it better…

Brighter sparks, of course, like to push the envelope a little further. Not content, with ‘just a degree,’ Mohit Jain chose Harvard Business School (HBS) after graduating from IIT-Delhi because it was a top global brand, highly respected and recognised for the latest in management thinking and innovation and known for its strong network. “The MBA experience at HBS helped me develop an informed perspective on important issues — which are of relevance to business and society and pushed me to actually transform thoughts into actions,” says Jain, who left a job at McKinsey to open and head Northwest College for Advanced Learning (NWC), a finance sector-focused higher education institution based in New Delhi.

Sailesh Tiwari, an MBA from Insead and currently associate principal in Mckinsey and Co, says he found the one-year MBA programme at the French business school far more attractive than the two-year course in other schools. “The diversity of the student base in Insead is unrivalled and hence, for someone looking to build a true global network of friends, and future business partners/contacts, Insead offers a very convincing proposition,” he says.

Jaganath Swami, an MBA from Wharton, now working in India, wanted to selectively focus on finance as an MBA topic and picked Wharton as “it is arguably the best finance school in the world. Wharton was a first-class learning experience, primarily driven by interactions with a diverse group of fellow students,” he says.

Diversity does add colour to the entire global MBA experience. “Learning from and learning with people from different backgrounds helps you develop a multifaceted point of view,” says Jain. Developing a unique appreciation of the global diversity and cultural sensitivities at Insead has become an asset for Tiwari, especially while operating in a truly international environment.

Interestingly enough, Jain, Swami and Tiwari opted for management education after getting degrees from IITs (Jain and Swami from Delhi and Tiwari from Roorkee). How did the Indian technological experience gel with management? “IIT is a major global brand in its own right and showcases the best India has in terms of engineering education,” says Jain. He found IIT “fabulous” as it helped him develop as a person and a professional. In fact, the excellent exposure and training at IIT made the decision to do an MBA from Harvard easier. “I can’t compare the two institutions directly since one is engineering-focused and the other one is about business, but the major differences are in the pedagogy and in teaching people to look for the many possible solutions in business versus the endless quest for the one right answer in engineering,” Jain adds.

Tiwari finds the Insead proposition “pretty compelling for anyone seeking to be a true global corporate citizen. The decision between the two institutes (Insead-IIT) is potentially less obvious in the quality of education but quite stark in terms of the mix of students,” he adds. Schools like Insead are very selective in terms of maintaining a healthy mix of students from different cultural, functional and business backgrounds.

Wharton’s pedigree and global exposure got him there, says Swami. While it is not appropriate to compare an IIT with a Wharton, a global b-school like Wharton provides invaluable global exposure, he adds.

The takeaways have been fantastic. Jain says he has had a great career with McKinsey post HBS and the lessons learnt were very helpful in launching his career and managing it well in the initial years. “I built significant technical and professional skills, including honing my soft skills for interacting with and managing people and developing a logical thought process for approaching problems and finding the required answers. The degrees have also helped with broad recognition, as most people know about the institutions and understand that a lot of hard work has gone into getting admission and graduation from these institutions,” he adds.

Tiwari feels his stint abroad has — mainly — helped him develop a very practical and approachable network of friends and advisors. Advice and insights are usually couple of phone calls away for alumni of leading business schools like Insead. “This is a very handy asset to have in the global corporate environment or in the sphere of entrepreneurship,” he says.

Fear of the unknown too dissipates for those armed with top b-school degrees. Jain feels he is definitely “more entrepreneurial” now, has an increased appetite for risk as well as an ability to better assess and plan for a venture, based on his training at IIT and HBS. He and a few partners have recently launched NWC (, a higher education initiative where they are teaching students for University of London/ London School of Economics (LSE) undergraduate degrees and postgraduate diplomas based on a curriculum designed by LSE.

As far as being able to better manage a top corporate job, Jain thinks that it makes a difference initially, especially if one has the required skills to get started. Much of the actual learning then happens on the job itself and a lot depends on one’s mentors. “A good institution would teach you to have respect for others, manage your time, soft skills and some other required skills like making presentations etc — beyond the coursework itself. These are definitely helpful in getting your foot in at the door and in the first few years of your corporate career. Post that, it depends more on you and less on where you went to school/college”, he says.

Mohit Jain
The MBA experience at HBS helped me develop an informed perspective on issues, which are of relevance to business and society

Jaganath Swami
Wharton was a first-class learning experience, primarily driven by interactions with a diverse group of fellow students

Sailesh Tiwari
The Insead proposition is pretty compelling for anyone seeking to be a true global corporate citizen

First Published: May 22, 2012 20:05 IST