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BW Businessworld

MBA Students Have ‘Specialization Obsession’

Ultimately, it is the strategy that weighs in the marketplace and not the specialization

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MBA students who aspire to enroll themselves at Top Business Schools are overtly obsessed with the specialization they want to master at. This was dwelt on by a panelist in a plenary session organized by BW Businessworld on ‘Customization of Specialization: Do we need to break the old structure of mono and dual specialization?' chaired by Sameer Dua, Founder, Institute for Generative Leadership.

Speaking at BW Education B-School excellence conclave, Dr. Himadri Das, maintained, “An MBA aspirant is coming to Business Schools with certain visions of glamour. They believe this particular specialization is glamorous without really knowing what it entails. It creates what I call a ‘specialization obsession’ from the time they enter. The way it started today kind of feeds this specialization obsession because students believe that I am going to specialise in marketing, finance or operations and therefore everything else that I study in the first year which is outside of that is just something I have go through the motions because I have to get a grade and have to pass. They start taking it very lightly. Today if you look at careers, that are being built by the people. If you interact with some of them, they have gone through a variety of functional roles in their jobs. You see a very few guys who are (into) pure marketing or finance (role) or operations from day one. They are shuttling from role to role which seems to say that specialization that you vie to in the very beginning might set you up for stagnant growth if you don’t have the ability to shifting gears from one functional role to another."

Prof. Ashish Bhattacharya, Director, IMT, Ghaziabad stated, “In the first year, we give the general idea of the functional areas and the strategy as well. In the second year, we offer a specialization, which is absolutely important for the immediate job as it helps in the general understanding of the business. Ultimately, it is the strategy that weighs in the marketplace and not the specialization. Therefore the structure that we are following is just okay and needs modifications. When we talk about any specialization, we also take into account contemporary changes in technologies and other technological advancements.”

Dr. Jitendra Das, Director of FORE School of Management said, “MBA graduates face a lot of problems in the current times when the industry scenario is changing literally by the day if not by the hour. Therefore, there is a big question mark even on this specialization. If you take a snapshot view of what is done in the international domain on this, a lot of B-Schools in India are trying to do this. We, at Fore School, are pretty agile in terms of restructuring our courses. In overseas B-Schools, there are no more than 15-20% which are core courses and about 80% are elective courses. In India, 50% courses are core courses. This is completely opposite to the requirement of the industry today. So what B-School do is we should have seminar or workshop courses, which are very fluid and dynamic in nature. Depending on the foresight that the students have about the changes that are happening in the industry, and that students want to acquire a new domain knowledge, that kind of a course is actually not being offered. So workshop model is also now being inculcated into the curriculum.”

Dr. Devi Singh, Board Member, FLAME University, “To me, specialization is a myth in an MBA programme because to me it is a general management programme. Indian MBAs are so unique that it brings youngsters from the college into the classroom and you are trying to simulate the kind of world they are going to face the moment they step out. So this overemphasis on the core and to bring everybody at par you end up making a lot of efforts spending too much time. I think that person at best has a little more knowledge than the ones who have done those courses. At best, even the core is not fixed with the management schools. It is like shifting goalposts because this proves at best B-Schools being reacting towards goings on outside.”

Aritra Dasgupta, Motivational Speaker stated, “The recent study claims that 50% of the students who have done majors are not working or have not built their careers in the majors they have studied at. Interestingly, Forbes did another study which goes one step forward and says only 27% (of the students) are actually working in the specialization they have studied at Business Schools. “

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