An MBA degree from the top institutions of our country is regarded as the destination for some of the most glamorous jobs. People write the entrance exams year after year to book the golden ticket to years of cash flow, power and fame, ironically dreading the question of “Why MBA?”!
Some lucky ones like me even escape this question and manage to come here and find out for themselves. MBA is a sea full of options and it is definitely not for those who have no idea of which shore they are aiming for, it is for those few people who have aims and strong determination to tame the sea waves such that it leaves them at their destination. Beware of the storms of placements if you are not sure what you want! Trust me- our age old policy of preparing for everything and leaving the rest to destiny, fails here miserably.
To those souls who are yet to take their steps towards these inhospitable regions, I try to bring out a picture of the various avenues which has the potential to fulfill their desire of cash flow, power and fame!
Starting with what most of the lot comes here to become “the Fin Gods“. Finance is primarily a field of those who follow markets and have a keen interest in postulating theories on the market’s movement.
There is one field in finance though which is quite unlike this, the Corporate Finance role. This requires more knowledge of project financing and understanding sectors rather than markets. Moreover this role is quite different from Investment banking and Asset management in terms of lifestyle. It does not close the doors of social life and brings with itself a proper work and life balance.
On the extreme end is our Investment Bankers and Asset Managers which is devoid of the word called ‘balance’. According to Dhruv Sethi ( XLRI 2013 batch), who interned in NM Rothschild, “the work is hectic, long hours! Though when you join as a full-time employee you do get client facing opportunities and a little bit of travelling may be involved especially to client sites for data/pitches etc. On the whole the work involves lots of numbers and extensive research.”
Another interesting though taxing field of Finance is in the vast area of Equity Research. Goldman Sachs is quite a big name here. Pranay Kumar (XLRI 2013), an intern and a Pre-placement offer holder reveals, “Equity Research is probably the only domain where you enter into the hierarchy right at the bottom, even after doing MBA. There is no one reporting to you and worse you are reporting to more than one person (Associates, VPs and Traders). One can rank days of an Analyst in his/her office from bad to worse. I am not exaggerating when I say that Equity research is the least preferred area in the field of domain. It is taken up by many, suits a few and is liked by almost none. Though on the brighter side you can be a genius here if you love sitting in front of the computers for hours and if you love to work around with mathematical tools finding relation between various variables, then you can bring a revolution in the way stock prices are predicted”.
Moving to the next, we have the glamorous field of Marketing. The hard reality of this field is the Sales stint which every Management Trainee has to undergo. Sales & marketing together is a package of innovation, dynamism and a lot of coordination with agencies and human work force. FMCG is a major attraction of the junta in this field and next are the B2B (Business-to-Business) companies. Having myself interned in an FMCG company, I can tell you that Sales is tough but an insightful experience on the products and consumer habits and Marketing gives you power to build brands that affect so many people!
In the words of Barath Balachandran (XLRI 2013), who interned in Coke, “A sales stint with an FMCG company would enable you to get a well-rounded experience in how the product finally reaches the consumer. Right from the handling of the various lines (production of the product), to the distribution (setting up of various channels like hub and spokes) to the establishment of various other allied services like a tele-calling and a presales facility, you would be expected to coordinate it all.”
Sahir Hasnain who interned with ITC foods and personal care has to say, “As an entrant from a reputed B school, you enter at an assistant sales manager position and have to manage sales (from launch to promotion to sale) of a region and manage stakeholders in the distribution channel. As you go up the ladder, you will start handling individual product categories and strategies for new products and channels. Work life balance is tough to achieve in Sales.”
Also FDI in retail being introduced, a lot of potential roles might come in the retail industry in future which includes role like merchandizing, planogramming etc. for the retail chains.
Operations on the other hand is a sometimes underrated field which is developing with the need of quality, precision and efficiency required in the manufacturing sector. It requires an analytical bend of mind and the indulgence in actual physical work at times. The roles offered can range from Supply Chain Management (procurement) to shop floor production planning and customer logistics (inventory management and sales forecasting) in retail.
Himanshu Pareek (XLRI 2013) who interned in Nokia says “the work life balance is good but a lot depends on the location of work, which can be a plant or an office depending on the profile and company.”
Human Resource (HR) Management is an interesting field which offers different kinds of roles like General HR and Consulting. For HR in FMCG companies, Tanaya Srivastava (XLRI 2013), who interned in Kraft Cadbury, has to say “It offers a lot of growth with varied opportunities, but it is as much work as any other function in an FMCG. Given the focus on emerging markets, most MNCs and even Indian FMCGs are focusing a lot on India. The growth here is phenomenal hence role of HR is critical, obviously this has increased the pressure and work load of HR”.
Abhishek Budhraja (XLRI 2012), working in as HR in P&G for the Supply Chain Department, adds, “Personal Life changes because now you represent your company everywhere. Moreover, as HR you are expected to be the stewards of the company policies and all, irrespective of what role you do.”
With such varied roles to offer MBA is indeed a basket of opportunities – but only for those who are able to map their abilities and expectation to their dream job!
Lastly I thank all who contributed to this article!
2nd year student at XLRI, Jamshedpur