Tarundeep Singh Anand, Co-Founder of Universal Business School (UBS), Mumbai shares his insights into management education...
Q. How does an MBA degree bridges the gap between where you are and where you want to be in future? How do skills acquired after doing an MBA improve one’s job performance?
A. The MBA essentially exposes students to the business framework, but more importantly it gives students an opportunity to actually practice the science and art of management. A well designed MBA will ensure that students are ready from Day 1 with the essential problem solving, analytical, team management, ability to cope with pressure and taking ownership of issues. These soft skills coupled with the hard skills of Finance, Marketing, Operations and Human Resources bring the right intellect to the fore, which companies are willing to pay for.
Q. Many students succumb to herd mentality when it comes to choosing a career path. On what criteria should a student base his/her decision to pursue business management?
A. Business Management is for those who harbour a dream of either becoming an Entrepreneur to set up their own business or those keen on working for a quality organisation in pursuing their corporate careers. If you have good Communication skills, a keen interest in business and the economy, willingness to work extremely hard in the early years of your career then an MBA is the right choice.
Q. According to common notion, taking up an MBA course is more about getting into a fancy brand and huge pay package rather than actual learning. How true is this? Please elaborate.
A. I have no issue with the end goal of getting a fancy package and a huge pay packet. However, that can only be possible if you focus on learning the core business management skills and acquiring the soft skills essential for you to succeed in the competitive world of business and finance. I like students who want to give value to their organisations, rather than asking ‘what is in it for me’. Those students that give value to their organisations get promoted, get fancy houses, cars and packages. Those that focus on the salary don’t even land a job.
Q. How do you think the MBA market has changed in the last 5 years?
A. The student has becoming more careful in his choice of an institution which is excellent. Good quality Business Schools are also upping the quality of their faculty, and continuously innovating on the curriculum and pedagogy to stay competitive. There has been a severe backlash against schools who are not investing in their student experience. These are all good signs of a maturing of the business schools and the discerning students.
Q. Basis your observation, what are the major challenges in India’s management education that you think need immediate attention?
A. Unfortunately, most of the leaders in the space of management Education have never run a successful large complex Indian or multinational business. As management education evolves, so must the models of delivery. The challenges range from the paucity of practioneers who accept faculty positions. How many b-schools can say that they have the equivalent of Tendulkar’s or Dravid’s teaching their students? Most faculty are below average, with little or no senior corporate experience. How are they going to captivate their students and discuss real-life business case examples?
Q. With increasing demand for MBA education in India, management colleges are mushrooming like anything. So, on what factors must a student base his/her choice of an MBA college?
A. Students must chose a college on the following basis:
- Has the key person leading the faculty (Chairman/Dean) ever run a multi-million / billion dollar multinational organisation successfully?
- Has the majority of the Faculty been in business or Academics? If it is the latter avoid.
- Is the curriculum truly International? Ask for proof, not some cut & paste of international curriculum?
- Are you getting an Indian and Internationally Accredited MBA Degree?
- Is the Infrastructure at world standards? Check to be sure
- Are top Multinationals like Unilever, Amazon, Deloitte etc. visiting the Campus for Placements?
- Does the Institute have a Board of International CEOs / MDs?
Q. What are the attributes every admissions committee wants to see in a prospective MBA student?
A. Prospective students must have the following attributes to get selected in a top management institute.
1. Go-Getter with a Positive Attitude
2. High Achiever in Academics & Extra-curricular Activities
3. Excellent Communication Skills
4. Well rounded Personality
5. Worked with an NGO or Passionate about a Cause
6. Avid Reader and follower of Indian & global markets
Q. How can a student strengthen his/her MBA application?
A. Students can strengthen their Applications in the following ways:
- Write a Statement of Purpose which describes your thinking, your goals and your passion
- Submit Letters of Reference from their Professors or Professional experiences
- Highlight the Extra-curricular activities and achievements in this regard
- Write about a Social Cause that you are passionate about and have contributed towards
Q. What are the factors one should keep in mind when choosing an MBA specialization?
A. If students have had prior exposure to the field they are keen to pursue then that’s great, because there is real life practical exposure and the student has enjoyed the same. If not, I believe that students should not decide, but first experience the specialization in the first 3 months and then decide which Professor / Subjects actually the student enjoys. Do what you enjoy and you will excel in that field. It is akin to going into an Ice cream shop, taste the ones you are considering and then select the one which appeals to you most.
Q. How important is networking for MBA students?
A. I believe in the phrase ‘DIG YOUR OWN WELL BEFORE YOU ARE THIRSTY’. Those that build a great network never go thirsty. In today’s world of business you have an opportunity to network like never before on platforms like Linkedin, where you can follow prospective companies, reach out to key persons in target companies, understand the culture, job roles and land a job on campus, even before the Placement process. And eventually in the world of business to be successful, a LARGE NETWORK will mean a LARGE NETWORTH
Q. Considering India’s growing youth population, do you think our courses should be designed to have more job creators than job seekers? Pls. elaborate.
A. I am a firm believer that if India needs to succeed then job creators and Entrepreneurs are going to be key to our success. With the ecommerce boom, and funding available for the right idea, it is critical for students to take the road less travelled. The most important ingredient is the RISK appetite, which I feel is still low though growing which is an encouraging sign.
Q. What are top employers looking for when hiring MBA graduates?
A. Top Employers are focussed on the Attitude, Soft skills and the passion for the company & Industry with a willingness to build their career. Students must be willing to get out of the 9 to 5 mentality and need to be hungry to learn constantly and contribute value to the company.
Q. Job hunting is at its peak in India as thousands of MBA graduates are entering the workforce. But looking for a job can be a daunting experience – how should a person market himself/herself?
A. The essential part is positioning oneself for the specific job and industry. If someone is interested in the Automobile industry, then they need to ensure they have the relevant shills and competencies required to succeed in that industry. They need to know the key developments in the industry and the competitive positioning of the players. Finally they need to do a live project in that specific industry, to be able to talk confidently about that specific industry. This is all that is required to land your dream job.
Q. What according to you are the most promising MBA specializations considering the industry preferences?
A. I believe the specialisation where you have a passion for is what will make you succeed in that area over the long term. Do not take the latest fad as you will not last in it. If you don’t know which area, then join the MBA and taste all the specialisations before deciding. You will be the best person to judge the area where you want to build your career. It is unfair of B-schools to ask for a choice if one is not sure. They do it for economic reasons.
Q. How has been your journey in the education sector so far? Please share your experience.
A. I joined the education sector after 20 years global corporate experience and decided to share my learnings with students on how to compete and rise up the corporate ladder and how to run complex global multi-billion dollar company. This led me to set up Universal Business School as a top tier residential B-school in Mumbai, as India’s financial capital has no B-school which has an international campus. We have not compromised on the quality of our Faculty and students experience CEOs and Leaders who have walked their talk. It is gratifying to see our MBA Graduates in top Indian companies and multinationals across the world.
Q. Basis your interaction with students, what according to you do they look for during MBA admissions? Please elaborate the factors.
A. Students tend to look for Reputation of an Institute, Rankings, Placement track Record, Alumni Network G,lobal fAfiliations and Global Degrees and Faculty backgrounds.
Q. Pursuing higher studies from a foreign university has become a popular culture. How important is global exposure for students at this stage?
A. We believe that foreign exposure is critical and also believe that we need to save our valuable foreign exchange in India. Hence we give an International MBA Degree in India, approved by AICTE from a reputed International University – Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK, being the first B-school in India to achieve this. They can go to the UK for a 2 week program or go to 14 countries for exchange programs. This way they get the exposure but do not have to spend on Tuition Fees, which is a huge advantage.
Q. How does Universal Business School (UBS) prepare MBA students for the world of employment?
A. We focus on Experiential Learning. Students get to work in a Private Ltd. Company on Campus, called Experiential Learning Corporation. They are part of Divisions in the company and get to positions of Manager, Vice President, CFO, Director and CEO. All Performance is monitored on the Business Scorecard Method. They get the experience of working in a real company while on Campus. We also are the first B-School in Asia to have a Global Trading Room. Students trade Stocks, Bonds, Currencies and Commodities in Real Time and understand how global financial markets impact the economy and their Industries. These are 2 revolutionary ideas which ensure our students are well prepared for the Business World
Q. On an average, what could be the pay scale of a fresher and an experienced MBA professional?
A. Freshers at our Institute can aspire for Rs.5 to Rs.10 Lac jobs as per our current track record. Experienced students can aspire from Rs.7 Lacs to Rs.24 Lacs jobs.
Q. Your advice to students who are looking for options in MBA, on choosing the right career and being successful in it…
A. Firstly, choose a B-School which has Business Leaders with Top Global Management Experience. From a career standpoint, I would say that if you want to get to the top of an Indian company or Multinational, then make sure you are willing to be a constant learner and go way beyond your job description in order for you to succeed in your career. Demonstrate your passion and ensure that you are focussed on creating value for the organisation and great organisations will take care of you, if you are constantly creating value.
As told to Nidhi Bahl