Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How special is your speciality?

Specialised MBAs are now coming up in various sectors. B&E meets up with specialists within these sectors to find out whether such niche mbas are useful in the long term...

The specialised MBA tag is getting significantly wider in scope and appeal. While we had specialisation streams available in areas like agriculture since many years (IIM-A being a leading example) and in computers too since the past two decades, recent MBA specialisation steams have included eclectic areas like production management (for example, Indian Institute of Production Management’s School of Management; not included in our current survey), petroleum management, hospital management and more; in fact, we even have specialisations in the football and wine industry now (not in India though)! But do they work or not?

When MBA institutes, as well as the students who join them, invest their time and money in specialised MBA courses, they have an agenda in mind. The students want to establish a unique positioning, with a specific target audience in mind; i.e. the sector in question. Sometimes, such a unique positioning is actually driven by an illusory impression created through a short term growth in the sector in question (for example, MBA with retail specialisation); a growth that may or may not last over the long term. Sometimes, the MBA specialisation in itself is created by teaching only a mere handful of subjects – in one university-affiliated institute that we went to, the specialisation course in retail management was restricted to simply three elective subjects. To be fair, we did not deeply investigate the depth that each of these courses had – perhaps they did too – but what was clear was that even students aren’t analysing more important factors like contents, academic orientation and industry interface in the specialisation area, before taking up the course.

Moreover, unless a student is crystal-clear about his/her industry preferences, this could be akin to playing a major career gamble, just based on the hype that the sector generates.

But then, there is an other side to all this too – the better side. Retail is a perfect example, where the managerial crunch runs in thousands, with the industry being brilliantly unorganised. Gibson G. Vedamani, former chairperson of Retailers Association of India, goes as far as to claim, “The potential is very high in retail Industry as today 50% of the retailers look for specialised MBAs in their organisations.” Pantaloon started off a novel initiative when it tied up with management institutes for providing retail management courses. The trend has surely kickstarted now.

But while Damodar Mall, Group Customer Director, Future Group, agrees that MBAs in specialised retail courses adjust faster to the practical world than normal MBAs, he cautions, “I think most of the B-schools still don’t provide any education in retail management. Of course, the situation has started changing now. A few B-schools are offering retail specialisation courses but their standard has to be at the international level.”

Even the real estate sector hires specialist MBAs. Ashutosh K. Beri, MD, Property & Asset Management, West Asia, Jones Lang LaSalle tells B&E, “The specialist MBA’s knowledge of the specific subject is advantageous; but again, it depends entirely on the individual aspiration and attitude [whether the specialist MBA qualification works].” Hospitals are another major area where specialised MBAs are making their impact. Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, Chairman & Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia Hospitals Pvt Ltd, shares with B&E, “In the hospitals and medical care industry, during the last three years, the demand for MBAs has increased by 40%. A majority of this demand is for specialised MBAs who know how to manage a hospital.” Areas like construction management, infrastructure, banking, aviation, tourism, pharma, et al, also have MBA courses dedicated to focused learning.

There are interesting applications in the IT industry as well. According to Somnath Baishya, Head, Talent Planning and Campus Recruitment, Infosys Technologies, “We hire MBAs for their strong abilities on client interfacing and people management skills. Over the years, we have brought in MBAs for roles on the business side, such as Associate Consultants, Business Analysts in HR on various tracks such as Recruitment, Organisational Development, Training, Employee Relations etc. We also built a niche hiring program for MBAs with 3 years of prior work experience for our Sales requirements.” IT engineers can improve their prospects in their sector by procuring an MBA, specialising in a niche field within IT. Ravi Shankar B, Senior Vice President and HR-Head, India Operations, HCL, gives his take to B&E, “The IT industry is all about project delivery.

For Complete IIPM Article, Click on IIPM Article

Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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