Just Thinking
Why An MBA From Pune Isn’t What It Used To Be

Whilst in my last year of graduation, I had a lot of doubt on choosing an appropriate career, such that my dreams could get fulfilled. It’s like a Cricket Match, where, when you sometimes instinctively feel that if the first 15 overs, you don’t lose wickets and are playing at 5 runs per over, you will cross 320 easily in 50 overs. And suddenly it’s the 35th over and your team has already amassed 200 runs. Now you can’t go wrong from here, can you ? Same with career, I feel. One wrong step, you are in a dumper. I was bad at CA / CFA, I didn’t enjoy it, forget my average of 85/100 (in 3 Accountancy papers in graduation). And I can say this pretty loudly, I would have been a DISASTER, had I pursued CA or CFA. I didn’t have money to pursue Pilot training. Engineering / Hotel Management I should have done after 12th ideally. Advertising / Event Management were alien to me. Airlines Cabin Crew / BPOs were downgrade profession for me. I thought of this Cabin Crew / BPO profession being typically for somebody who is not interested in studies or who only wishes to fly (may be to stay away from home, to have full freedom on his / her lifestyle, have nobody, including parents, to question on anything & may be because it then becomes an excuse to escape. (Of course, these were thoughts that occurred & were discussed with friends at that time in 2002-03, not necessarily I support them today). Ultimately, I chose MBA. The reason, I thought I ran out of options !!

I appeared for CAT in November 2003, got a score of 89.78 Percentile. Less for a premium college ! (For the uninitiated, a percentile defines how many students are behind you in terms of scoring out of the total population, which is always 100 by default. So, an 89.78 Percentile means that 89.78 students scored lower than what you did, out of 100 students.) But I also appeared for other MBA Entrance Tests including CET and this CET score helped me get admission in University of Pune.

When I came to Pune for studies in 2004, I came to know that there are “quite a few” PG colleges, most affiliated to University of Pune and some Deemed or Autonomous Institutes & Universities (Deemed Universities have requisite permission from the Union HRD Ministry or UGC but it has full liberty to decide syllabus, course fees, schedules and deadlines). We had about 8-10 subjects per semester. So, in total of 2 years, we had to cover around 36-38 subjects. I could see all across Pune having a lot of student population, as was always the case, a lot of hustle-bustle, a lot of vibrancy in the overall atmosphere. None-the-less, the institutes were fewer in numbers, more stringent admission parameters, a lot of exercises and good student-to-faculty ratio. Hence, till about 2005-06, I feel MBA had some value attached to it. I am not considering premier institutes here.

Pin-pointing 4 major reasons on why MBA from Pune is losing it’s sheen


A) The problem of too many, with no control on reducing the number

1) Almost every 3rd guy you see today is an MBA.

2) Once upon a time, there were hoards of B.Com guys. Today, that B.Com has become synonymous with an MBA. At one point in time, the Personnel Department had B.Com graduates who rose through rank & file. Today, there are all MBA HR qualified individuals in the HR Department. The work, overall, has remained more or less the same.

3) There is no mechanism in place to reduce the number of MBAs being churned out, unlike CA or Pilots. I heard ICAI decides on the number of CA Finalists Pass-outs that it wants to have every year, the % may differ every year, so as to ensure it’s value & importance remains intact. So you have only 2-3 % of CA finalists clearing the exams. Is it that the syllabus per say is tough ? No. Just that the number is being controlled. (Don’t know if anybody will agree here). Otherwise, imagine if you have every 3rd guy in India as a CA, the whole profession loses the glory associated with it. Similarly for Pilots. Although nobody has stopped us from becoming a Pilot, the cost of becoming one is so high (around 40 Lacs INR) and then the job prospects are so so very low (almost everybody tries to bring in some kind of political influence), that a miniscule % of population is willing to risk their future. It’s a very-high-risk, very-high-gain profession. Not MBA !

4) As a result of such situation, there are around 50,000 MBAs being churned out every year, across India, 2006 onwards ! Pune alone is capable of producing 5,000 MBAs every year. And I am not even considering Part-Time & Distance Learning MBA Courses (I think MBA Institutes should be referred to as “MBA Factories” now !)

B) Money Making Business

1) From 1998 to 2002 or so, because MBA got very popular as a career choice, a lot of MBA colleges spruced up, across India. In Pune, I could see and feel a lot of political & business dignitaries starting colleges under the name of trusts, may be for tax rebates & exemptions, may be for social status or for converting black into white, hell with the quality of education. You could see MBA colleges even on the hills 🙂

2) When the founder of an institute is not really interested in education and has some other interests to take care of, it’s going to go nowhere. He can enjoy the money he mints for about 3-4 years and then the bad word-of-mouth recommendations will affect the brand. Whose loss is it ? The poor students, of course ! 🙁

C) Faulty Practices in Granting Admissions in MBA

1) As the institutes rose, more students had to be “procured”, to run the college. Now logically, if the institute is not good, always note that the students from near-by regions do not take admission there. So, what to do now ? Possibly one of the officials of the institute gives an advertisement in UP, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal newspapers “Admission to MBA from Pune is Open, Apply Now”. Interview dates are mentioned in these pamphlets. The interviews are arranged, which is nothing but a farce and virtually everybody gets an admission, first come first serve, packed to capacity. Say, if the student capacity of institute is only 75, they won’t give admission to 300, then some internal selection mechanism may be applied. Next year for sure, they will see to it that current year’s number increases.

2) Parents don’t even enquire in detail or ask for requisite proof of affiliation to the institute, which in itself is unknown. It’s fine to love your kids but don’t be too blind about the easy-manner in which admission is being granted (Nothing wrong with having expectations from kids though)

3) One major age-old difference between CA and MBA was that in CA, anybody could take admission but very few came out successful. In an MBA, very few could get in and everybody could successfully get out. That difference has gone today. Because admission is being granted through such advertisements and pamphlets, for the rich but unworthy students, it can turn out to be very easy, no efforts required.

4) Always pay attention to how the institute is being referred to by the officials. Do they say “MBA from Pune University” or “MBA from Pune”. Both are different. An MBA from any damn city in the world doesn’t mean anything. The deciding factor is the institute or University. Say, tomorrow I say MBA from Lucknow – it doesn’t mean anything. But if I say MBA from IIM Lucknow ??? It changes the whole game. Are these verbal tricks being used ?

5) Post the academic session has begun, it is even possible for a lot of students to get admission through “Management Quota”, which is nothing but a way to mint money. (A not-so-worthy but rich crowd can get-in only due to their money power and a genuine but poor student stands outside the institute gate, again decides to take the MBA Entrance Tests next year).

6) As the students rose, P&L of the institute became better, not other ratios. For Eg: Student-to-faculty ratio didn’t improve overall. How many institutes in Pune are complying with this data ?

7) I agree that it is not correct to fix entire responsibility on the institute towards students’ placement. It is not necessary that every student clears the campus interviews. May be because his performance wasn’t good, no point blaming institute for that. But on institute’s part – to fake it while giving admissions, printing names of all Fortune 500 Companies (in fact they never came in your campus anytime) on your placement brochure, is bad. It is cheating, it is deceiving. And Placement officials genuinely need to try to invite companies, reach out to them. That effort needs to be seen by the students.

D) Students’ Own Personality Traits & Hard Work

1) Did the students really have what it takes to be an ideal MBA ? If a stringent admission process has not been followed by the institute and admission has been granted just like that, it is likely that the students might never had prepared prior to getting in the campus.

2) No exposure to Group Discussions, Mock Interviews, Problem-Solving ability, Logical Reasoning etc. No presentation skills, bad command over English. HR Managers don’t expect rocket science from an MBA Fresher but basic skills that define “I am different from the rest & I am eager to work hard, learn” need to be there.

3) Genuine effort, in understanding what the industry wants, needs to be analysed & worked upon by the students. For Eg: All MBA HR students may read on PF (from the EPF & MP Act 1952) but how many ask the professors what forms are supposed to be filled and how challans are prepared ?

A Common Example in Current Scenario

If below average / unfit students are admitted in MBA or even good students when admitted through easy means, both take it lightly even during those 2 years and ultimately flunk in the interviews. And then they permanently turn the HR Managers off by quoting some exorbitant salary expectations.

It is also possible for an HR Manager to wonder about the quality of MBAs being churned out, when he meets any of them. It also tells him about the quality of education imparted to these MBA students and that the institute may not have really taken effort in developing his personality, knowledge, attitude etc. Result: the HR Manager permanently blocks the institute in his mind, w/o telling them anything.

If this student (say Mr X) doesn’t land up a job sooner, at the initial salary that he expects (as may be ingrained in his mind by his institute), he reduces his expectations and is ready to join at lesser salary, even 2 grades lower. He starts at Rs. 6,000/- with a popular bank in sales, job is to go to customer’s residence, fill up his credit card application form and enter this info on computer. The same job that a graduate could have done. On the other hand, the bank accepts his candidature because the bank desperately needs people to do such work (these jobs are always available as you would know), it’s a no brainer job and it also improves the educational demography of the bank (the % of employees who have a PG qualification in the bank increases).

1) Is there a problem with the bank that it offered so less salary ? No

2) Is there a problem with the HR Manager of that bank that he / she fancied his / her chances of reducing his / her staff cost ? No

3) Is there a problem with the Indian Economy ? No

The problem was with the kid. May be he got admission to MBA w/o requisite hardwork. Eventually, he will fend for himself and will earn good money, and that is done by everybody sooner or later. But yes, I agree that everybody has a right to better life, right to prosper in their careers, MBA or no MBA.

These are my personal views and there is no intention of hurting anybody. Some examples are just examples, not to be taken literally. These experiences noted above are from some of the MBA Institutes in Pune and this may not be true for all institutes. The featured image is sourced from www.studyingmbainuk.com, only for graphical illustration purpose. 

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