What is the role of Management schools in improving employability?

The key to improving employability is to bridge the gap between theory and practice and essentially prepare the graduates to hit the ground running right from day one. In this article, we demonstrate how Management schools or popularly known as B-Schools have a large role to play.

The knowledge gained and the skills imparted in an MBA program are potable skills. Students gain a good level of exposure during their first year coursework. More often than not, those are generally sufficient in the initial phases of most careers. The specialization courses further add to their arsenal. At the end of the MBA program, a student develops a balanced personality. A large part of the courses contain experiential learning component. Across top schools, it is commonplace to find a healthy mix of pedagogy being employed to teach various business concepts. Business cases from Harvard, Darden, Ivey and IIM-A, offer a rich perspective to students both in terms of contextualisation of the problems as well as some kind of ‘Implementation guideline’ i.e. a feel for how concepts can be practically applied. In addition to that there are a variety of simulations adopted by professors. These simulations are suited for dealing with dynamic contexts. Examples include managing working capital, supply chain dynamics, marketing strategies and even Capstone simulations to replicate the dynamic challenges of businesses as a whole. These are further topped up with Role-plays and Management Games. Indian B-Schools such as TAPMI or international schools such as NUS go one step further – run courses such as Student Managed Investment Course where the students are given real money (Rupees ten lakhs in case of TAPMI) to manage over the period of two terms. The student teams are mentored by fund managers as well as faculty members. Courses such as these are perfect examples of School-Industry partnerships, very similar to Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the world of business. Only when the Industry actively starts engaging with B-Schools in various formats can we have truly industry relevant graduates. In addition to participating in the structuring and delivery of courses, there can be various other modes of partnerships – allowing students to participate in live projects, offering consulting projects to a team of faculty members and students, longer internships, etc.

According to surveys by both AMBA and GMAC, the likelihood of employability across the board (whether fresher or experienced) increases substantially with an MBA from a good school. Courtesy international accreditations such as AACSB, many B-Schools have very well-articulated program learning outcomes (PLOs). A glance at these PLOs across various accredited institutions indicate the emphasis on communication skills, leadership skills, integrated thinking i.e. ability to view the organization as a whole and ethical outlook. These skills and traits truly make a B-school graduate ready for varied and challenging roles. A graduate can expect a myriad of roles and equally diverse set of recruiters – Investment Banks and other financial services firms, Consulting firms, Retail, IT/ITES, Manufacturing firms, Hospitality, E-Commerce firms, Healthcare and even the start-ups. The roles offered are also varied and depends upon the prior work experience of the graduates.

In addition to a solid curriculum, a good B-School gives an opportunity to do internship with best of companies. These days, it is not unusual for many students to bag a Pre Placement Offer (PPO) or at least a Pre Placement Interview (PPI). In a PPO, the student gets an offer right at the end of the internship while in a PPI, the student gets a crack at the final interview without having to go through multiple stages of elimination.

The next best thing is the networking opportunities provided in the B-schools. Over the two-year period, students get to interact with various professionals. These are either as visiting faculty, through special guest lectures or even during the times of management fests and access to a large pool of alumni.

Hence, although a B-School degree enhances the chances of employability, the caveat is that one needs to be very careful while choosing the right kind of school. It is better to rely upon rankings which have a reputation of being unbiased as well as certain internationally known accreditations.

Madhu Veeraraghavan
Professor Veeraraghavan has published over 50 papers in international journals and has presented his work in top conferences in finance and accounting. His work has appeared in The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Journal of Corporate Finance, Journal of Empirical Finance, Journal of Banking and Finance and AUDITING: A Journal of Practice and Theory. His research interests are in the areas of Corporate Finance, Behavioural Finance and the interplay between Auditing and Finance.