Wednesday, November 02, 2005

MBA US Vs India Part II


I have a lot of regard for students from Indian Institute of Management. My regard is however restricted to students from A, B and C intitutes because I have not met/spoken to folks from other IIMs.

Preparation for IIMs start almost as early as preparation for US Bschools. I joined IMS in May. This time is just about right to start preparing for IIM. I started taking full exams during August. A lot of time is required to prepare for this exam. If you are busy at work, then that becomes an excuse to not do well in CAT. There is no point bitching you were busy. That does not show in the CAT marksheet. A percentile is the only number that comes up. So if that number aint good, nobody but your grandma will be interested in listening to your sob stories as to why you didnt get into IIM.
The way I saw it -- IIM's way of screening prospective students is about as different from US Bschools as apples and oranges are different from each other. The primary differences are as follows

1) The objective tests are (almost) everything as far as IIMs are concerned. It is just a data point for US Bschools. You can do bad in GMAT and still get into Harvard. In fact HBS did not accept GMAT scores until 6-7 years ago.

2) The top 10 US Bschools admit close to 3500 students among 70000 applicants each year. I think around 10 of the admitted students (at maximum) will be freshers (people who join immediately after undergrad). This is NOT 10% but on total just 10 students. Even 10 is like an exagerated number. It may be less than 5 students overall for most years. Even these students would have done something remarkable as starting their own company while at undergrad to get in. IIM (A, B, C) admits close to 600 students out of 150000 applicants. From talking to friends, I believe at least 100 are freshers (again both numbers are just educated guesses at best ... but I think you get the point). If you are a fresher and for some odd reason you think that you "know" that you have to get an MBA (Why you think so? is another question altogether) you are better of applying to IIM than US BSchools.

3) US Bschools extensively test maturity, team work , leadership and career progression. IIMs, could ask pointed questions about this if you get to the personal interview stage, but otherwise I believe they do not focus much on such aspects.

4) If you are someone who looks for diversity in class, in terms of student population from various countries, IIMs may not be the place for you.

5) If you are looking for employment in prestigious institutions in India, IIMs are the best option. If you are looking for global options then both IIM and US Bschools offer equal opportunities.

6) if you are looking for specialized training in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital kind of niches -- IIMs are not the place. Many ex-IIMs and ex-XLRIs do another US MBA if they discover later in life that they want to be an Entrepreneur. Harvard and Stanford are probably 2 schools where you can end up starting a company while at school. I do not think many other schools can claim to consistently have such a reputation. I think this aspect is non-existent in IIMs (barring a few students who started coaching class institutions)

7) IIMS are not expensive and the fees is probably 1/10th of what you would pay in US BSchools.

These aspects should give you a fair idea as to the nature of the two schools and their expectations. Your situation and your ambitions predicts which of the two options are better for you. Except for few aspects it is not wise to to objectively try and determine which of the two options are better. My personal opinion, I have never been comfortable with IIMs taking campus freshers. In fact I am completely against MBAs for people with no industry experience. In my previous work place we had IIM graduates falling in this category who had no clue about the industry or what they wanted to do in life. They were smart enough to pick up stuff along the way but they would have been 'relatively' better off had they known what they want in life before they joined B School. I have also heard ex-students say that it is the students that really make IIM look good. This is something that I agree with wholeheartedly. Some of my younger-year mentors were IIM graduates. A lot of them are simply brilliant analytical-ability-wise. The good thing was - they themselves are sometimes frank in admitting that other soft-skill and maturity aspects aren't strictly evaluated by IIMs. The 3 or 4 people I spoke to did not feel that IIM had a unique culture and did not feel their personality went through a radical transformation during B School life.


This is a new and upcoming institution, which I researched for a quite a bit before deciding not to apply because it did not fit with my personal aspirations. It offers a 1 year course and costs 16 lacs. The value of an MBA course is determined by the quantity and quality of recruitement statistics. ISB is well on the rise as far as recruitment and recognition is concerned. But as far as I am concerned they ain't there yet. Their preference for both GRE and GMAT score concerns me. High cost and millionaire-kids-school was something that concerned me when I thought of applying. The latter may not be true as I know some students coming from middle class background who have actually got in.

The good thing is this intitution has support from leading US Bschools. Follows an application approach similar to US BSchools. This approach is in my opinion much better than the ones that the IIMs follow. I am not suggesting that ISB has better students compared to IIMs. It is just that IIMs will be better off stopping the CAT and coming up with a more mature evaluation process.

The CAT Exam:

I totally disrespect this exam. I do not think high about anybody purely because they cracked CAT. In a work situation it does mean much. IIM students are good because a big chunk of them who cracked this exam were also good self-starters. That they were also self-starters is a happenstance not a causality of doing well in the CAT.

To me, a MBA graduate needs to have a certain amount of analytical skills. Skills good enough to do his/her job. But it is complete nonsense to think analytical skills are the only aspect of the job. GMAT tests the analytical requirement adequately. There is no need for a "tougher", complicated and absolutely crazy test to evaluate a person's analytical ability. Doing fast math will not help anybody run a company, start a business or even push a team to be successful. Nobody invented a business idea by computing stuff rapidly. There is a correlation of r= 0.6 :-) between analytical ability and how a person would be successful post MBA. Team work, Demostrated Leadership potential, personality, maturity, clearly thought out ambitions are better indicators (r = 0.99) of post-MBA success than a silly math exam.

Does this prevent good candidates from entering IIMs. Most certainly yes! I have seen very good leaders, ambitious smart people who would have made excellent future business leaders not get into IIM because they couldn't do math as fast as a fresh grad from IIT. IIM has missed out on people big time.


Anonymous said...

The CAT is a brilliant test of one's analytical doubt! but this timing thing as u said is totally absurd..150 questions in 2 hrs with negative points .. seems like they want you to flunk the test!!! i think thats the problem with most tests in india..


Teju said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Teju said...

Awesome analysis!!!

It has been a privilege to read some of your blogs.

It will be great to know more about your experiences as the MBA grad in one of the premiere institutions of US.

Also, please spare a few pointers on what else is required than a GMAT score, which could be used in the admission process.

(ps: Thanks a ton for the MBA timeline. That gives us a calender to plan :-) )

monk.and.monkey said...


It is Interesting to see u mention ISB as a millionaires' kids school, because my perception (and also general public opinion) is doing a Foreign MBA (espcially in US) is more costlier than the ISB and it also puts u into more debt which u end up paying for miminum 5 years.
That is what i feel scares many potential appliants.(it scared the hell out of me, atleast).
But, the general opinion along with my personal view can be wrong too.
So it would nice if you could also write a post on "How to finance ur foreign MBA?", the myths and things to consider when u opt for it.

~ V.Murali

Hawkeye said...


i mentioned the 'millionaire kids' in a very different sense. if ISB has millionaie kids then getting jobs is not a problem for them. they wud be getting huge starting salaries once they join their company. so the job and salary statistics is now not relevant for the average joe.

anyway ISB is for everybody and i wish it all the best and dearly hop its grows to become a biggie. i truly believe in it. my initial assumption was wrong. its not just for 'millionaire kids'

i think except IIMs whereever u go u have to take loans. so financing ur MBA is mostly loan based

ancient injun said...

you must ask a question - 'why do i need an MBA?'
An MBA is more of a support function than the core...always
Frankly, the only thing MBAs are good at seems to be 'marketing'.

You don't need to spend 2 years at a B-School to learn that.
Lets see how they do in other areas _
a. Finance : NOt sure, but a CFA with commerce degree OR a chartered accountant in India would always get preference over a 'Finance' MBA. Taking 6 courses in Finance doesn't exactly gear you up to take on commerce grads
b. IT : forget it...MBAs are vermin here! A programmer analyst can always be trained to have some project management skills. He'd be technically faaar superior to an MBA in IT. In an I.T company (say a product oriented one - Oracle), who'd be dumped FIRST in case of a downturn? - not the engineer!!
c. H.R : hmm, really don't know
d. MArketing : yeaa. This is where most MBAs have no competition.

On the second point US vs Desi-
1. Its true that experience helps you become a better MBA ( if u really want to be one)
2. IIM grads will lag their American B-School counterparts on only 1 thing - the ability to fart & exude confidence.
3. When you get an American MBA, be sure that you've around 70-80,000 USD in your pockets. More than that, ensure that YOU get a JOB in the US(they don't really need MBAs...they need engineers - the US industry is clamoring for PhDs & MS students...not MBAs). Else your entire life in India will be one loooong loan repayment schedule!!
cheers for the GMAT

Hawkeye said...


if you wanna check out the most stupidest comment of all time - please check the previous comment.
just about every stupid misconception is presented.

i was trying find if even 1 thing that was not stupid. i couldn't find anything

ancient injun said...

OOh cool dude,
lets check ur logical reasoning skills :
1. give me ur views about MBAs in the financial services companies & the finance function of non finance companies.
2. I read ur views about MBAs in IT companies. What % tage of managers in I.T consulting/telecom /software product companies/networking companies are MBAs. And what % of the managers are home grown lowly 'engineers' ?
1.Do you think finance is all about investment management...for the benefit of others - managing mutual funds, trading, managing derivatives contracts???
Has Your exalted highness come across something called - the finance function in companies, where CAs work to get the best source of funds for their companies, & choose best investment options for the company's funds...who gets preference in the finance function - an MBA or a CA?? get your figures correct before you mislead all the students with your gyaan
2. Engineers Vs MBAs in IT companies. Frankly dude, stay in the US & pray that you don't come back as an MBA to India. Barely 5% of the strength of Indian I.T companies consists of MBAs. Who're mostly involved in getting new business for companies.Its ONLY companies like Infosys that hire MBAs for their Enterprise consulting units.

Well...analysis of your Gyaan is coming on :
statement #1 "You don't need to know shit about the intricate details of a technology, if you can tell me how to package it and where to sell it" - Sir Hawkeye (you're giving MASH a bad name...i have started disliking the character 'Hawkeye')
statement #2 "I began to see marketing(and innovation) as the key sources of profitability of any company and everything else just costs. To put it simply no matter how complex the engineering work you do, if it ain't selling anywhere and ain't got no market, then you are just doing bullshit" - Sir Hawkeye
statement #1 : Do CTOs / CIOs in the US make purchasing decisions based ONLY on the 'slickness' of presentations of the team (MBAs!!) that sell the product ?? I guess only then will your contention about being able to sell without 'knowing shit abt details of the technology', hold. Oracle has specials teams dedicated to giving demonstrations of their apps. These guys have in depth knowledge of the apps..
My contention is that NO CIO/CTO would dare take decisions to purchase tech products without advise & analysis from their A-teams. Which would obviously have liabilities(=engineers) in them.This in turn implies that your gung-ho MBAs wouldn't be able to sell a friggin ball bearing without knowing the 'intricate' reasons why their product works better. The CIOs/CTOs are not dumb enough to be taken by slick talk from MBAs, neither are their teams..

statement #2 : "To put it simply no matter how complex the engineering work you do, if it ain't selling anywhere ", tell me, i thought that you'd generally not make a product without there being a latent demand for it: Do companies on this planet make 'complex engineering works' just to wow the business community? The logic works like this : market research/experience of entrepreneurs tells company - "whoa there's potential here" > company hires engineers to research, make & service product > company hires MBAs to sell the product . You make it sound as though valiant MBAs try their best to sell products that were created without any regard for a market being there for them!!

By the way, how much money does it cost to get thru 2 years of US B-School??
I'll quote fees from the HAAS school of business( UC Berkeley...
& the Ross MBA (
CAN YOU use a calculator( i guess you should be able to make good use your 'quant' skills now) to check if the figures for these 2 schools are below 70k USD for the two years of study...
Answer : THEY ARE NOT! not in your dreams

cheers, & hope to see you working in the Industry soon

Hawkeye said...

you idiot

i have been an engineer before.

most of yopur analysis are lies. you are just lying thro your teeth. there is no point in replying to you. you dont even know the basics of any industry.

u assume that finance MBA have not been CAs VFAs assume IT MBAs have not been engineers before...

any data u quote is irrelevant to your argument. seriously! i cant begin to explain where you are flawed.. ur example of oracle is ridiculous...

just for your info.. they are hiring people with CPG marketing background to do their product management stretgies..

ur opinin of IT managements stops with program management ( i am surprised u did not stop with PLs)..

it is very difficult to explain stuff to a person who is this retarded

Sundar said...


I sincerely suggest not arguing with the ancient injun guy. It is like paying with a pig in the ditch.

To general readers,

as an MBA (though a lowly part-time one according to Hawkeye) I can clearly say that the person's argument is all over the place. If you are prospective student who wants to do MBA, do not listen to the ancient injun.

Clearly he has little idea what an MBA does in a Tech company vs what one does in a Financial firm.

My 2 cents. And I agree with Hawkeye, its like talking to a child. I didn't know where to begin arguing.

Hawkeye said...


ouch! about the paart-time comment :-)

The thing that bugged me was he doesn't know how a tech company does strategy. How they hire consultants (who are MBAs) to help them. His view is so limited to middle-management.

How can I tell him " market research/experience of entrepreneurs " - mmmm... this would be MBA category too?

Somewhere I felt he was saying things in my favor...but as u said... all over the place.

Ya.. i'll stop replying.. better ways to spend saturday evenings :-)

ancient injun said...

Yes, birds of a feather flock together...
it seems this Thanksgiving,hawkeye & all his Turkey friends are flocking together. NIce to see Sundar the 'part time' MBA joining the discussion. Keep the discussions limited to finance & IT. Strategy consulting is a prerogative limited to the MBAs working in the big 5 companies. How many of your classmates will end up in strategy jobs - 50%, 70%?? - a wiser guess will be something less than 20%. I haven't talked abt strategy consulting(marktng strategy & IT strategy as you people put it) at all..
As far as market research goes. DO you honestly think only MBAs are doing market research? statistics grads, economics grads & a bunch of other people are carrying out MR in big companies like AC Nielsen. Entrepreneurship...God, please don't let this guy equate the true 'entrepreneurial' spirit with an MBA. Theres a whole lot of difference between writing your SOP for B-Schools ( saying that 'i'm truly entrepreneurial, and had started an online GMAT coaching class when i was 21'), and actually doing the real thing.

Hawkeye, what makes you think i'm not an MBA, studd man. And i too have been an Engineer. Doesn't this take away your 'moral' high ground - keep your advise limited to somthing u know about -preparing for the GRE(what was your score smart boy was it close to 1500?) & GMAT...give gyaan abt the glory of being an MBA after you become one?
& sure, i can see that you'll be whizzing around with Tom Siebel when he starts searching for MBAs to shoulder the burden of starting off his new venture. Or maybe all the 400 odd MBAs graduating from your class will get recruited by kleiner perkins caufield & byers..

Really sorry that i pissed you off dude. But the truth will hit you. Please don't waste your time reading this...rather enjoy the OB projects, reading case studies about Dell, Amazon ...& calculating NPVs

Biggie said...

Finally, which is the truth? hawkeye or ancient injun?

Wannabe MBA said...

I think mr.ancient is a loser in life. paid his tuition but still got a sucky job. so he is being a cry baby.

so mr.ancient....why do you think an engineer with MBA cant do better than homegrown engineers. homegrown enggs will be 40 something before they do anything important..and wouldve forgotten anything technical while rotting in middle management.

i take the positive route anytime. mr.ancient seems to be a failure and so is pessimistic

Hawkeye said...

if only he looked at the disclaimer on the top right hand corner of the main page.

i feel like shoving points 3,4,5 and 7 down his throat.

ancient injun said...

appreciate your disclaimer...
& am amazed by the open show of hostility by your friends & far you've called me :
1. an idiot
2. a pig
3. threatened to shove points 3,4,5 down my throat
Now, how about the kuppan & suppan incident being applicable to you??
will the disclaimer help you , if i bring a case against you in the US, for defamation?(i know who u r dude)

just kidding.I appreciate the fact that on the web you can say whatever shit you want to say.

dearest wannabe MBA,
I'd be wrong if i said t jobs ain't sucky, let me know which blissful company u work for & i'll think of joining you !!people who cannot think straight or who refuse to look at the whole picture, realism is the same as pessimism.

i just wanted to give a counterpoint to Hawkeye's vitriolic arguments against engineers. Whether u wanna do an MBA or not depends entirely on your goals. There is no standard formula. In India, sadly, its de-rigeur to do an MBA for good salaries & upward mobility.
i'll not go into specifics here...chk my blog & post a comment if you need specific facts, if you want more details

Dave Hunter said...

Did you ever consider doing an online MBA? I'm thinking about doing an MBA through an online program like here: Online MBA so I can keep working at the same time. Do you think these programs are a good idea?

Sharad said...

Well, what do you think of the IIM proccedures for overseas candidates?
- In such a state ur exempt from the CAT, and have to give ur GMAT instead.

I personally feel the CAT brings in analytically superior students- and the curriculum offered at IIM itself is more analytical than "evolving leadership".. so it isnt that CAT is not a fit with IIM policies. ALSO Indians are inherently better with numbers, so it just enhances our forte

Anonymous said...

Does it even matter really! IIM versus HBS versus ISB and all that. Whats the point of comparing all these schools. Its like comparing apples and oranges.

Anyways, I work for a major corporation in silicon valley and am surrounded with peers, superiors and subordinates from top business schools (H/S/W etc). Some impress, some depress. Some are leaders, others you just sit and wonder how on earth did these folks get into these schools. BTW, I myself went to a very ordinary B-school and today at 30, make as much as my top school counterparts. No complaints what so ever!

Also the other day visited a relative who is 43 and lives in a 9000 sq mansion on top of a hill. Owns and runs and a finance company. He does not have an MBA! But came across as one of the smartest, well rounded individuals i have ever met in my life.

We can sit and analyze the differences between b-schools, but in the end if you dont have the motivation to succeed, be a leader, an influencer and a risk taker, you will at best reach the best side of mediocarity! The B-school will help you land your first job and then its all up to you.

MBA Essays Experts (India) said...

US B-schools I feel have lot to offer. It has been very well summarised in the article above. 2 years ago I had the option of choosing between a top Indian MBA institute and a top 10 US School. I decided to choose the latter and for one simple reason - I wanted to change the way I think. It was no so much about the US economy, but the skills and the way the Americans or the international population, that is widely represented in US B-schools, approaches business. I feel I have benefited a lot from my education.
Progressive Essay (

I am the best said...

YOu need to research a lot before you decide on your university and aid.

actually, there are places on the net where you get lots of info about an US MBA and Aid and everything else.

Amey Purandare said...

Point 7 - IIMs cost a fraction of what US MBA would, is no longer valid today. Many non-ivy-league schools offer decent aid / fee waivers which bring down the cost of the course. Experienced folks can look at shorter courses (12-16 months) , which allow them to return to work faster. This, in a way, reduces the cost, as post-MBA one year's salary can be substantial.

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Jinesh said...

hey ppl i ve got an u.s mba admits with full scholarships and indian admit from decent b-school in mumbai. if my ultimate aim is to settle in india and the time frame to return to india will be 2 years after my mba then will u.s mba exposure help me or is it better if i do my mba in india?

marry said...

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Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon above. It doesn't really matter where you get it from. These are just tools. How you manage to use them is important. The top ten forbes first gen entreprenuers in India probably didn't know the M in the MBA :)....
So there are plenty of other qualities that determine where you go with your life. We need to study those more closely than to fight to figure out which school gives best ROI :).
One must remember that B-Schools are biz. in themselves, not charitable orgs. A tuf entrance by the IIMs makes it ez for their filtration system, thats all. Did you think they did not know this ? Of course they do. The comment about the students maketh the institution is also true. It is never the other way around. The probability that students succeed is higher if they had great analytical minds. Sure it is no guarantee. It is better to err on the side of omission than on comission. Simple !

Anonymous said...

Having said what I said in my earlier note. I believe its best to pick up things along the way. Its probably good to do an MBA for a holistic view too. You may then use the portions of the tools and carve a niche for yourself, keeping in mind always that the tools by themselves do not guarantee you anything. How effective you are is clearly determined by how effectively you use the correct ones, given the time, circumstances and place...

Anonymous said...

although lakshmi mittal did go on to make a statement that he should have done his MBA. Or something similar. I forget the exact quote ...

ashley said...

so in india a degree from iim would be considered better than a degree from harvard? how much differnce would be there?

Sankaran said...

Schools like the ISB, Great Lakes, and the National Management School in India offer American style MBA programs where professors visit from the US and teach in India. While ISB is expensive at about $45,000 for a one-year program, the National Management School charges only about $20000 for a regular 2 year program. Doing an MBA at these places not only gets you an American Education but also helps you immerse in India. So, an American student would not only save considerably, but also would get to experience India.

Prasad said...

what is the reason for so less no. of freshers in US buisness schools. Do they demand for more Work Experience or anything else?

Anonymous said...

(Full Disclosure: I graduated from a Top 10 MBA program in the US)

What you fail to understand, Sankaran, is that an MBA isn't just about the education. In fact, if you just want the core "knowledge" of an MBA, buy some books or take online classes.

IMHO, the key takeaways from an MBA are:

1) Your classmate experience - Interacting with bright classmates from various industries across the globe gives you a breadth of experience knowledge you can't replicate in books (or any Indian business school, for that matter).

2) Your network - US MBA programs have global alumni networks that often exceed 40,000. This network can be invaluable in global business, and is priceless. Opening a factory in Peru? Call your local alumni rep and ask for help. Trust me, alumni from top MBA programs are more than happy to help out and go to bat for you.

I've noticed that students from India who come to business schools in the US transform from rough-cut, brash "enginerds" you can easily despise, into potential global business leaders you WANT to work with.

Sadly, I have not seen a similar transformation from their Indian B-School counterparts.

Just my $0.02 cents.

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Anonymous said...

MS or MBA.... bigg question !!
I have never seen MBA guys weeping against MS. But MS guys keep crying "MBA's good for nothing". Though they cant really explain why companies are still hiring them. Maybe some hidden CSR agenda.
Someone going for MBA is going for MBA because he wants to do MBA but almost all going for MS go for it because they do not want to do MBA. Funny thing is, everyone is obsessed about MBA.

CG said...

Hey Hawkeye,

I would like to say that it is an amazing article.

There is no point arguing with others, you should be confident about your insights.