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1 pm, Dec 07 Dec 07, 2012

On his new book 'Beyond the MBA Hype – A guide to understanding and surviving B-schools'

Most Indian MBA applicants are completely at sea when it comes to approaching international education opportunities. This is primarily because the MBA selection process and the parameters considered by the top business schools abroad for admitting candidates into their fold are very different from what we are used to. 'Beyond the MBA Hype' talks about the typical issues, challenges and dilemmas that Indian applicants grapple with when it comes to international MBA programmes – from the typical candidate profile to the selection and admission process, to what to expect in the course itself as well as after completing MBA.
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  • Sameer, What if one would like to do an MBA from a distance university in India, Which one's would you recommend and why ? Asked by: Sayed
  • Sameer Kamat Hi Sayed, I'm afraid that's not my area of expertise. So I wouldn't be able to help out with specifics. However, I can suggest a way forward. Rather than depending only on Google, try to find out friends, colleagues or relatives who've taken up distance MBA programs. Ask them for their experiences. What were their expectations for taking up distance programs? Were they fulfilled? Do keep in mind that the takeaways from a distance programs are very different from full-time MBA programs. Many applicants use the MBA for networking, getting practical exposure to topics covered in the class, working in teams. It's tough to get most of those out of distance programs. So as the central theme of this chat - ensure you go in with the right planning and expectations to avoid disappointment later. I see that this is the last question for this session. It has been an absolute pleasure interacting with you. Thanks to the CNN IBN team for allowing me this opportunity. Good luck. If you want to share your inspiring success stories on our blog, you can connect with me on twitter @mba_cb or send an email to: info at mbacrystalball dot com.
  • Hi Sameer, I have a question regarding the MBA admissions process. Typically do MBA interviewers actually involve in selecting candidates, or do they just recommend candidates to another committee? How does this work? Asked by: Vijay
  • Sameer Kamat Vijay, thanks for the question. I've never heard of any bschool passing on MBA interviews to another committee. Interviews are a crucial part of the bigger application puzzle, so it makes sense for one team to be involved in evaluating candidates and making decisions. There are several ways in which this can work. In many cases, Admissions officers directly interview candidates. This can happen in person (if you can visit the bschool or if they come down to your city during one of the MBA events and fairs) or over Skype / phone. Some schools might get their alumni involved. It's easier for alumni to meet candidates in a specific city rather than have the admissions officer travelling halfway across the globe to meet 1 or 2 candidates.
  • How do I get into a top bschool. Plz help saar. Asked by: PG
  • Sameer Kamat Saar, put in a good MBA application consisting of strong MBA essays/recommendations/interviews that clearly outline your achievements, motivations for pursuing an MBA from a top school, a practical career plan. And if everything goes well...you'd be in.
  • Hey Samir, wish you all the luck for your upcoming book, I am an apparel designer and don’t really intend to do an MBA But from what I’ve read till date, in this genre the crux in any book is about a basic thought of realizing ones dreams may be and for that only the book will answer well which is more of author’s mind on paper so I again wish you all the best for it and will buy your book to find out more!! Asked by: Nitesh Srivastava
  • Sameer Kamat Thanks for your comments, Nitesh. People have been realising their dreams before the MBA made its presence on earth. So I see it as a facilitation tool rather than a necessity. In an MBA program, you'll work hard, sleep less. And without the right expectations, the possibilities of having nightmares (deadlines, jobs, competition, general paranoia) can be higher than motivating dreams. So sleep more, dream more. let me know what you think about the book after you read it.
  • How reliable are rankings of B-schools published by almost every agency in this world? Apart from a few constants, the random permutations in the rankings puzzle every aspirant? What advice would you give to them? Asked by: badpoem
  • Sameer Kamat Badpoem, I partially answered this on another query. But important thing to keep in mind is that MBA Rankings are way to objectively evaluate something that is highly subjective. Which is why each agency has a set of guidelines (which they are transparent about) where they assign certain weights to parameters like GMAT, salary, diversity etc. Which is why you'd see the some schools getting dramatically different positions in the different rankings. So I'd say, use them to form a general perception about the good schools and then dig deeper to form your own perception about the programs you are interested in.
  • Hello Sameer, I have been going through this dilemma about where to apply to for a long time. I wanted to know what criteria one shoudld take into account when they choose schools. Is the businessweek, financial times rankings the way to go? I have chosen some tier 2 schools like Paul Merage school of business, Smeal and Katz and I am worried if they would be good schools with job opportunities post an MBA. Looking foward to your reply. Asked by: Kalyan
  • Sameer Kamat Kalyan, MBA Rankings can be a good way to start the bschool shortlisting process. But don't let rankings sway your decision after that. Factors that you'd need to look at - the geography (proximity to certain cities can be an advantage for certain goals), cost (can make a lot of difference to the RoI), market credibility (your future employer may not be looking at rankings at all), your 'fit' with the program. The last one is very important, and not many know what or how it works. In your list, Smeal for instance might not be close to harvard or Stanford. But it is strong for folks interested in Supply Chain Management. And with a graduate assistantship, the RoI can be phenomenal. You'll find some stories on the MBA Crystal Ball blog of folks who've managed to get partial/full scholarships from these programs. And I think they might be in a better position after graduation compared to many who are only focussing on top ranked programs.
  • Hi Sameer, is it a necessity these days to be an MBA to survive in the job market? Asked by: Mitali
  • Sameer Kamat For certain industries like management consulting, investment banking, private equity the answer is Yes. without a top MBA it can get really tough to compete and grow. But most others, real world skills would outweigh any academic degree. Of course, a lot also depends on how much the employer values such qualifications.
  • hi, what is the recent book which you read and really enjoyed Asked by: Anitha raman
  • Sameer Kamat I'm not much of a reader. But I do read and enjoy my bank passbook each month (Yeah, some banks haven't graduated to online statements yet). The reason I enjoy it has nothing to do with the amount that's shown (which is lesser than my corporate salary). it's got more to do with the process I've followed to get those numbers in my account by pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams. Profound statement, I know. But do check out mbacrystalball.com when you have the time and let me know if I'm on the right path.
  • international management future Asked by: Ranjay Singh
  • Sameer Kamat Ranjay, with that cryptic posting, I assume you want me to summarise the context of my book using those 3 words. So here's my attempt - Attending an *international* bschool for *management* education may not guarantee a secure *future*.
  • Sameer, tell us a bit about your background and why did you decide to write this book? Asked by: Dhawan
  • Sameer Kamat Dhawan, it was a stormy night when I was born...with bats flying around the house that I was born in, and many years later that fear of bats was actually what prompted me to...umm, not really. Normal delivery, normal education, normal jobs. I did my engineering from a local college in Mumbai, got into software companies. Did some globe-trotting as part of my onsite roles, got tired of it. When I decided to go for my MBA, I realised that a whole lot of data that appears in the popular media sounded too good to be true. Obviously there was a catch in there, I would think to myself. But nobody seemed to openly talk about it. I got into Cambridge University and made a career transition into finance (Mergers & Acquisitions). But many folks from the discussion forums that I used to spend time on during my MBA appplication days, weren't as lucky with their bschool choice, their post MBA jobs etc. That's what prompted me to write the book hoping I could help a few more folks avoid the pitfalls that many intelligent applicants were falling into.
  • Would it be beneficial for a aspirant with a minimum, say 2 year experience to join an elite MBA college, given the costs? The ROI is not justifiable enough, so how else wold you think it will benefit such an aspirant? Asked by: Swaroop Johnson
  • Sameer Kamat Unless those 2 years of work experience have been really rich in terms of exposure, accomplishments, responsibilities you've handled, I'd suggest hanging on to your horses for now, Swaroop. The RoI will be justified only if you are in a position to absorb all that theory that's thrown your way in bschool class and link it to real world experience. Many IIM aspirants who can't crack the CAT start looking at GMAT based international programs immediately. That's not a good idea. A better option is to take a step back and find out what you really want from an overseas degree. Is it knowledge, money, career transition? There might be other ways to get there (several explained in the book). Explore those options first and move to the MBA option only after you have exhausted the easier, cheaper and less risky options.
  • Hi Sameer, I will be joining ISB in april and have these next four months to myself. I was wondering how to utilize these four months to the best of my capabilities. Should I start studying, networking. Anything that can enhance my experience at the school. My profile is : Merchant navy engineer with work ex of 6.5 years. Want to get into the field of logistics post MBA. I have never studied any of the management subjects ever in my life. Should I focus on them right now? Asked by: Arvind Chhikara
  • Sameer Kamat Just answered that, Arvind.
  • Hi Sameer, I am an ex merchant navy engineer with 6.5 years of experience. I will be joining ISB in april and have about 4 months of free time. What do you suggest to use this time constructively. Should i start studying some subjects since i have never done any management subject in the past. Should i start networking? How should I go about it? I plan to join the logistics field post MBA. Thanks a lot Sameer Asked by: Arvind Chhikara
  • Sameer Kamat Congrats on the ISB offer. Fasten your seat belt for an exciting ride. When you say 'ex merchant navy engineer' I'm assuming you are currently working in another (corporate?) setup. If not, the culture shock might be a little more severe for you. So start the acclimatization (warning: pls don't penalise me for spellings here. I do a much better job in the book) process early. Start with the basic concepts they'd cover in the class - specifically the quant heavy subjects. Not sure if I'm allowed to promote other books here, but what the hell. Go ahead and pick up a copy of 'The 10 Day MBA' by Silbiger. It covers most of the basic MBA theory in a capsule format. Also start exploring logistics related opportunities that you'd like to explore later. Start early so you can building the right contacts & more importantly, the right relationships early on. Bottomline - You don't need to wait for 4 more months for your education to begin.
  • Don't you think that our education System is outdated with an approach of rote learning?what is your opinion on including Community & Service and Thinking skills in Secondary and College education? Asked by: Nasir
  • Sameer Kamat If you were applying to bschools, you'd be advised by MBA admission consultants (like me) to stop using terms like 'outdated' and start oozing positivity by saying 'needs to evolve' :-P But yes, in the general context, I'd agree that our education systems needs a re-haul. Linking this back to the more focussed topic of management education, the good part is that there's a relatively more holistic approach to evaluating candidates and imparting education. Admission officers look at non-professional aspects as well - extra curriculars, social contribution etc. But these are things that need to be taken up proactively by students, rather than being forced fed as part of the secondary and college education.
  • Hi,I cuurently have a 2 yesr exp in IT industry,and planing to do a management degree from an abroad univ..which country in your opinion is the most suitable for MBA fresh graduates wrt current international scenario? Asked by: james jude
  • Sameer Kamat Typically, the average work experience at the start of the program is between 4-5 years. For now, a better option would be to try and focus on building the breadth and depth of your business exposure. Bschools look for a combination of factors - work experience, GMAT score, MBA essays, recommendations, interview and several others. Become familiar with the process and take the plunge only when you are ready. Read the experiences of the fictional character ('Mitu') in Beyond The MBA Hype. There might be some lessons in there.
  • when you spend min 25+lacs on a degree,the question that disturbs the student is the employablity of a fresh graduate,abroad..tell us more about this Asked by: james alapatt
  • Sameer Kamat You've hit the nail on the head, James. Leaving a well-paying job is tough. But getting a job back after completing an international MBA is even tougher. A quick detour first. 25lakhs is on the lower side for most international MBA programs. 20-22 lakhs is for bschools in India. In the US, you are looking at 50+ Lakhs. Alright, coming to the main point. The way placements work in international MBA programs is very different from what we are used to in India. There's no concept of 'campus placement'. Of course, you can 'leverage' (buzzword alert!) the careers team and the various resources available on campus. But ultimately, getting a job is your headache. This comes as a shock to most applicants, when they realise that a $100,000-$150,000 MBA will not guarantee a job. Having said that if you've done your homework well and you go in with the right expectations, the career prospects can be quite bright. Don't look at the MBA as a magic pill that'll deliver impractical results. Go with the right mindset, the right preparation and the right expectation...and you will not be disappointed. In fact, that's the primary message in the book.
  • Who all would you suggest to read the book? Asked by: Ajay Bhan
  • Sameer Kamat Thanks for setting the ball rolling, Ajay. I'll share with you what I shared with my publishers when I went with my book proposal. Target audience for the book: - MBA aspirants struggling with questions about the program and the process - Executives, students and professionals interested in a sneak peek into the much-hyped and often glamorized world of MBAs - Parents who want to be better informed about academic practices in the management area - Non-MBAs who just want the reassurance that their careers will not implode if they do not pursue the degree like the rest of their peers I guess that covers roughly 60% of the human population :-) But HarperCollins saw potential in the idea and decided to take the risk of publishing a book that most other leading publishers wouldn't touch. Once you read the book, you'll know why I say that.

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