When he joins McKinsey & Co, US as strategic consulting associate later this year, Moid Mohammed will be armed with an MBA from Columbia Business School. Nothing unusual about that, except that this is his second MBA, which he opted for five years after completing his first one from IIM Lucknow.
One MBA is good. But two are even better. That’s the feeling among a growing band of professionals like Moid, rooting for their second MBA from topline international institutes, despite having one from a reputed B-school in India.
Moid joined IIM Lucknow immediately after completing his undergraduate programme in engineering. Five years down the line, after stints in management consulting at Pricewaterhouse Coopers and corporate strategy at Dubai Holding, he began his second MBA with the goal of moving into strategy consulting, an opportunity he says he would have found difficult to break into otherwise.
“At IIM, I had no ‘real world’ experience to apply my learnings to. With work experience, I understood that there were many areas I needed to develop further. The second MBA gave me the opportunity to focus on some of these disciplines and make me a stronger business leader,” says Moid.
“At Columbia, I also got to study with a diverse class which advanced my international awareness and understanding.” “You don’t just pursue a second MBA to accelerate your career but also to catch up with education and new trends. It’s especially good for people on track for leadership positions.
However, one needs to be selective about the institute one chooses for the second MBA,” says Yashwant Mahadik, VP, HR, Indian subcontinent at Philips. Networking opportunities are another reason for pursuing a second MBA, as Krishna Kumar, president, Philips Healthcare, testifies.
He has one from IIM Ahmedabad followed by another from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management. “I also got to do some wonderful work on technology and biotech, whereas I was from an investment banking background. That year, I focused only on strategy, technology and biotech with a group of 90 students from diverse international backgrounds,” says Kumar.
Students are also keen on getting a global edge. “They are looking to enhance their experience in a multi-cultural setting and leverage our MBA as a launching pad for a global career. Career change is part of this motivation. Usually, about 80% of our student body achieves career change – whether this is function, industry or geography – after completing their MBA,” says Insead deputy dean, degree programmes and curriculum Peter Zemsky.
There’s also the need to catch up with those who have done their MBAs from Harvard or Stanford. Especially in India, where a majority of students go in for their first MBA practically as freshers, those placed in international assignments realise that after a point, their progress is restricted.
One of the reasons behind the popularity of a second MBA is that India’s best institutes are still not on par with the Harvards and Inseads, says E Balaji, MD and CEO of HR firm Ma Foi Randstad. “They are increasingly choosing this route in order to enhance competitiveness,” adds Prashant Mishra, admissions chairperson at IIM Calcutta.
The pursuit of a second MBA doesn’t come cheap, though. While an MBA from a premier Indian business school costs between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 14.5 lakh, one from a leading B-school abroad can set one back by several times more.
The current tuition fee for the MBA programme at Insead is 58,000 euros (nearly Rs 38.36 lakh) while the fees for the programme at London Business School starting in August 2012 are at £57,500 (approximately Rs 45.8 lakh). The figure covers 15 to 21 months of tuition and course materials.
At Wharton, the fee is at $89,200 (almost Rs 44.5 lakh) including tuition, room and board, health insurance, books and miscellaneous expenses for the first year alone. But Balaji says it’s worth it.
“The popularity of our institutes are at best confined to an Asia-Pacific level. On the other hand, pursuing an MBA from an Ivy League school means you are moving on a global career trajectory. It’s not just the money, it’s also the exposure. You are catapulted into a different league.”