by Arun Vedhera
Master of Business Administration, known in short as M.B.A is basically a ‘Masters’ (post-graduation) course in Business related disciplines. It first became popular as an academic course in the United States of America where the premium universities like Harvard, Stanford and Yale etc. started this program apparently to prepare students for the Business World. It slowly gained worldwide popularity and has now become a very coveted degree.
Let us understand some broad facts about this program: –
It is a program in which the academic subjects are chosen from various disciplines, keeping in mind their relevance for the Business World.
It is in many ways an inter disciplinary education program.
As against learning some tips about business from their parents (as happens in business families, through the dinner time talks or informal coaching sessions by parents) or from actual on-the-job-experience (swimming pool technique-swim or sink) this program aims at providing structured education, which has relevance in the real world of business.
It is a ‘practical’ program, say in relation to a degree in arts, literature or science, but it draws upon the body of knowledge from these and various other disciplines.
Since it is a post graduation program, i.e. students with any graduate degree scoring consistently good marks are eligible to apply and sit for the mba entrance examination, in which an overall assessment about their analytical and logical abilities is made in addition to command over English language and knowledge about current / world affairs.
Most of the good Universities and Colleges today insist on or prefer a work experience of ‘three’ years before admitting students for this program
Unlike the world of academics, arts, research, law, politics, economic policy etc., any ‘Business’ deals with ‘ products’ and ‘services’, which are ‘produced’ or ‘structured’ for the ‘Customers’ who pay a consideration (normally monetary) for acquiring the same.
What is a Business
Any Business activity comprises of one or more of the following: –
- Manufacturing or Production of Goods.
- Trading or exchange of Goods.
- Services like financial, medical, legal and design services etc.
- Information exchange.
What Does any Business Deal With
- Human Beings or Manpower.
- Machines for production of goods.
- Capital or Finance.
- Market Mechanism comprising of ‘Buying-Selling’ and all the connected activities.
- Systems and Processes for managing the above activities.
- Materials, in the form of raw materials, intermediates and packing materials etc.
It is commonly said that any business deals with Men, Materials, Money and Machines.
Since this all comprises of a complex set of diverse activities which take place in ‘real time’ these need to be ‘Administered’ or ‘Managed’, for which a formal academic program is of great relevance.
The assumption is that the basic graduate degree in any discipline ought to have provided to the students the ‘ basic mental building blocks’, besides of course specialized training in their chosen field. On this foundation the M.B.A program aims at providing fast track knowledge and information to shape /prepare the individuals for the ‘Business World’
The Basic courses are in the areas of Production, Marketing, Finance and Accounting, Personnel Management, Math, Statistics etc.
Few Relevant and Interesting Facts
- Any M.B.A program will have students form different disciplines, who have obviously done very well in their graduate degrees and have also scored a high percentage in the selection tests etc.
- It means a set of good performers, but from different disciplines having different strength areas. For example an engineer will not have any exposure to accounting and an arts student any exposure to math and statistics.
- Being a ‘practical’ program the teaching methods are interactive and bulk of the teaching is done through ‘ actual business case-studies’. For these one has to prepare in advance and discuss in ‘real-time’ in the classrooms.
- This means that one has to regularly study, analyze, communicate effectively and gets one’s point of view across, without offending the other fellow student.
- Besides other skills, it provides great learning in inter-personal behavior, as even the close friends have to defend their own turf. (May be fifty percent marks are based on the case studies and you cannot just be friends only, you have to be ‘fierce, friendly business competitors’). These provide great learning in the human dynamics and also instill a competitive spirit.
- Since all the students join after a rigorous selection, one is competing against ‘good minds’ to say the least and the peer pressure to perform is intense, as is in the real life also.
- The MBA program instills ‘Leadership’ qualities and prizes ‘Decision Making’. Since one cannot get away with procrastination, the program prepares individuals to go-ahead based on a set of assumptions and not perfect facts or information.
- Most of the Business activities deal with ‘Profit’. One has to learn about cost effective production, ability to market the products or services in the competitive environments by creating differentiators for the customer and deal with human beings at different levels.
- Just like good results in an examination, good results in terms of meeting the assigned targets of production, sales and profitability are the ultimate barometer of performance in business and one cannot only get away with ‘putting-in-the effort’. All the efforts have to get converted into ‘Measurable Results’
- Figures or Numbers are therefore important and knowledge of finance and accounts is therefore critical.
- Most of the business dealings require ‘transactions’ which are contractual and hence knowledge of ‘Mercantile Law’ is required.
- Business is a team sport or a team activity. One cannot excel as in chess but has to do so as in soccer. This means that your success is co-dependent on the success of people within and outside the organization. One learns to deal with human beings through courses on Personnel Management, Human Relations and Leadership etc.
- The program aims at building ‘Leaders’ and not ‘Followers’.
- It also aims at continuously challenging the mind to find solutions to various anticipated and unanticipated challenges (use of the word ‘problems’ itself is discouraged).
- The M.B.A program has specialized courses in each of the major functional areas after the basic courses so that the students can opt for their area(s) of specialization based on their interest/ capability, gender and above all passion for certain functions or spheres of business.
- It is a fairly flexible program, which allows you to be individualistic while also helps in developing skills to be team players.
- It aims at ‘Multiskilling’ more than super specialization.
- Emphasis of the M.B.A program is on preparing well-rounded individuals with tools and techniques to go into the real business world well prepared and well armed with relevant knowledge.
- The emphasis on prior work experience is correct as the individuals would have faced job realities after their earlier academics and hence can appreciate the academic knowledge better by relating the same to their own earlier experiences.
M.B.A degree is so relevant and interesting that today it is even being sought by doctors, architects and lawyers who could earlier not relate to its practical significance and utility.
So Go-ahead and join in to take on the Business World. Happy innings!
Arun Vedhera is an Engineer,M.B.A with 34 yrs. of Management Experience in the Industry. As a Top Management Professional,he is well versed with all the functional areas of Business and the Human Dynamics. He is passionate about Management Education and is a Satisfied Customer of Life.