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BW Businessworld

How To Measure The ROI On Your Global MBA

For every Steve Jobs there is a Donald Trump, a Sheryl Sandberg, a Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and closer to home, an Anand Mahindra. While the list of the former cluster (college dropouts/those without MBA degrees) may dwindle, that of the second lot (influential leaders armed with a global MBA degree) continues to swell.

By Vibha Kagzi

For every steve Jobs (Apple) there is a Donald Trump (The Trump Organization), a Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), a Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and closer to home, an Anand Mahindra (Mahindra & Mahindra). While the list of the former cluster (college dropouts/those without MBA degrees) may dwindle, that of the second lot (influential leaders armed with a global MBA degree) continues to swell.

Child prodigies like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are rare and difficult to cultivate using traditional education methods — ask Harvard, they tried! If you believe you belong to their tribe, I urge you not to read ahead. However, if you are contemplating an MBA from a global school, but are unsure about its benefits, do read on.

I am a Harvard Business School graduate and founder of a boutique study abroad and career advisory, ReachIvy. Two years at business school, made me dismiss any doubts I had about the efficacy of a global MBA, given the high monetary investment, opportunity cost and time involved.

First, at school I had access to some of the finest minds in the world. My classmates came from various parts of the world spanning over 100 countries including Haiti and Latvia. I had an Olympic silver medalist as a teammate on a business plan competition team once who drove us crazy with his zeal to win! The diversity of classmates was baffling; not once did we experience ‘group think’, making each discussion challenging and engaging. Only an international MBA program brings such an eclectic mix of people together.

This diversity makes for an outstanding cultural and learning experience — a necessity in todays ‘flat-world’. A globalised world also mandates an understanding of how business is done globally. Global b-schools organise trips across the world for students to learn firsthand from industry leaders and experts. I joined several such ‘learning trips’, joining my classmates in Japan, Mexico and California building strong cross-cultural expertise.

Top global schools become hubs for top global talent — be it students, academicians or guest lecturers. My professors came from different parts of the world — we had a Chilean professor who taught us about the debt crisis in Latin America and a Russian finance wizard who taught us the nuances of building a robust financial model. The guidance doesn’t end at university. During my five year reunion in Boston this year, my professor helped me address a critical professional problem and connected me to another faculty member who is currently advising me with my business. Professors and even dean have been very accessible; it is quintessentially American to have no barriers between students and faculty.

Moreover, in India, the average age for an MBA is between 21 and 23 years, whereas in the USA it is 27 years and Europe it is 29. Naturally, my classmates came with rich professional experience, adding significant value to classroom discussions. They were also clear about their career goals by this stage and hence very focused on their industries. My classroom had experts on private equity, consulting, energy, retail, media, fashion, etc., exposing us to a wide range of perspectives.

The relationships you cultivate on campus continue to strengthen over time. Post graduating, each time I confront a business dilemma or consider tapping into international markets, I quickly ping a classmate and immediately reach a resolution. I have access to the world’s greatest minds; they are only an email away. The MBA has equipped me with an extremely supportive professional network in almost every corner of the world. Even on a personal level, it is terrific to have friends you can reach out to when traveling abroad for pleasure. I have explored the tiny lanes of Kyoto, sipped the bitterest tequila, visited off-beat historical relics and spent several memorable evenings with classmates across the world. Commensurately, my home aptly has the moniker of an international hostel, as friends often stop by from across the globe. How can one put a value to these experiences?

However, if you are looking to evaluatethe experience, let me provide a numerical justification as well. A US news report dated 4 June 2015 mentioned, “Stanford University is the No. 1 business school where graduates are employed within three months after graduation. Graduates who attended full-time earned an average of $129,618.” This is a sharp contrast to $20,000 that Indian postgraduates are offered as starting salary. Therefore, although the initial investment is higher (top global school average annual cost is approximately $72,500 whereas an MBA from an Indian school costs approximately Rs 20,00,000), I suggest looking at your global education as an investment over a longer time horizon.

It has now been over five years since I graduated; I understand and appreciate the value of my degree even more with each passing day.

The author is a CEO and founder of ReachIvy, a boutique educational advisory

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)



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