What is it that makes competition so exciting and fierce? Is it
the human obsession to get the best or simply the race that everyone is part
of, by default?
Intriguing questions indeed. But what is more worrisome is that
the competition has somewhat diluted the focus and the reason as to WHY we were
part of this competition in the first place.
We can find ourselves embroiled in this race in different stages
– a good school, a good college, a good B-School, a good career, a good spouse…
The list is endless. However, in all of these stages, we somehow end up only
looking at the end result, with no regard for the process.
Let us take the case in point with the choice of B-Schools (we
are Puys guys!! B-School selection is the obvious choice). With over 2500
B-Schools in India, the management education sector is inundated with choices
for students. However, we seem to be as confused as we were when we did not
have these choices. Everyone is still on the lookout for the elite class of
institutions and the point of having the huge number of B-Schools seems kind of
redundant. However, in our preparation for our dream B-School, what we’ve
seemed to ignore is the changing selection patterns being adopted by these
Look at the trend with the IIMs. From an era of CAT-GD-PI, the
procedure now says CAT-Essay Writing-PI. Have we ever thought of understanding
why this shift has taken place? Why do we now have to write more (as if going
through CAT was not enough)? The answer is quite simple – Assess the
qualitative prowess of a candidate. A Group Discussion (typically 20 mins with
8-10 participants) would not allow the B-School to learn extensively of the
depth of knowledge that every participant commanded wrt the topic given. And
once the student came to the PI round, it was more often than not a
verification process to eliminate anyone who may have the potential of being a
bad bet in management, despite the previous rounds of selection. The PI round
would concentrate more on knowing the candidate’s approach towards management
and to champion the B-School’s decision of having selected the candidate this
far. So the candidate was ready to learn how to work as an outstanding
performer in the corporate.
However, the corporate begged to differ. In strained times,
after the much talked about recession (“Phas gae re Obama!!” is a personal favorite
of mine in depicting the consequences of this period), companies wanted more
than just the knowledge of management gained by the candidate in his B-School
days. Much more than the honed managerial skill-sets acquired. Companies wanted
their highly paid management employees to think more strategically than
concentrate only on the implementation of skills. They wanted employees to smash
the fear of deadlines, think innovatively and hence become entrepreneurs within
An entrepreneurial mindset requires extreme focus and clarity in
career goals. No longer can an aspirant just prepare for a fleetingly short
Group Discussion and get away. She/He has to show clarity in WHY he wants to
pursue management education in the first place. She/He has to show CREATIVITY
and INNOVATION in her/his approach. And an Essay-Writing round provides the
perfect platform for the same. And hence, the shift from GDs to Essays. Other
innovative B-Schools go for a more detailed selection process by inducting
qualitative analysis questions in the application itself, which compel the
candidate to do a bit of soul-searching and figure out the reason why they
chose MBA over others.
Management institutions worldwide are increasingly focusing on
profiles of their candidates in their selection procedure. B-School selection
has shifted from a mere test-score game to the search for qualitatively strong
candidates. The ability to forecast, knowledge of international domains and
most importantly adapting to the changing face of global, financial and trade
architecture are just a few things that make a great profile.
The sooner we realize this, the sooner we come close to making
an informed decision about MBA – the career CHOICE, not the career COMPULSION.
Happy Decision Making!!