Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MBA : Are the right "skill-sets" being tapped into?

And so I complete my Post graduation. Not that I ever thought it was important, but to have it in my kitty makes me feel, well let’s just say a little more “educated”.

So now that it’s over, I kind of ask myself, was it really needed? This MBA Degree of mine. Now I have to confess, I did very little research before getting into MBA, which can be a good thing because it could be start of a new adventure of finding out things but also an uncomfortable thing if you get to discover things which you may not have foreseen. I for one, wasn’t really prepared for 20 year olds sitting besides me just out of their BBA’s or BSc’s to be my classmates. Not that I thought I was much superior to them but yes it meant me and they were in the same platform learning the same thing. But this blog post isn’t about them, rather it seeks to ask a fundamental question. Question being, what are the expectations from a MBA? And what are the actual skillsets expected from a MBA Graduate?

I will answer that but first let me go through my own experience.

Once I was into my MBA, I always knew after the 1’st odd month that I would be taking up Marketing. Philip Kotler’s “bible” with picturesque products and one liners fascinated me. Financial Numbers, Operational things and Human Resource never really excited me as something like a Maslow’s theory or a Porter’s 5 forces did.
Now 3 months into my MBA, I get a “Connect with me” request on LinkedIn from a girl who had taken up Marketing and whom I knew from college. Curiously I go to her profile and see that she had done her BBA and worked in the industry before that for 2 years. Then I read her one line Summary which basically gives everyone a heads-up as what skill-sets they have and where would they like to see themselves etc. Now that read something like this.

“I am a confident and effective communicator with strong interpersonal skills and am able to build a rapport with people from different backgrounds and interact well.”

Subsequently there were other non-engineering colleagues of mine who wanted to connect with me via LinkedIn. Curiously, I go and check out their profile details and that read, something on these lines.

"Popular for my strong communication skills, I am a true believer of the fact that “The art of communication is the language of leadership”. Always reckoned for the fact that "I can sell ice to an Eskimo & sand to an Arab”, I am constantly looking to hone my skills to better suit any environment I am in."

Now that clearly is copy, pasted from somewhere. Given my experience as a Techie, I could clearly make that out:-D.

Reading those summaries, I actually was mesmerized. There were several things running on my mind. These were some of them.

  1. Is that it? An Effective Communicator. In other words are you saying to me that MBA’s are the ones who can speak Good English? Yeah, sure you got to know about Economics, your financial jargons, the service industry around you. But nobody is talking about that in the Summary. All they are saying is “Effective Communicator”. That actually gave me an unexpected form of confidence.
  2. Now say you are a 10’th/12’th grader. You speak well. You have this great “interpersonal skill” and you can build a great rapport with people and make them instill confidence in you. Yes you may not have been introduced to the world of Economics and Balance Sheets yet but hey, you can “sell” your ideas well. Now I was kind of curious to know. What would then be the difference between you and a suited booted MBA? Only the “experience” and the “knowledge” part right? Knowledge about say, Finance, Economics and the Industry. Now is that really important? Can that be easily learnt and “effective communication” cannot be?
  3. Is this “skill” of being this effective communicator or having an interpersonal skill a rare phenomenon? Are there very few people around who can communicate that well? Is marketing for example only about that? Or is it much deeper and complex than that?
  4. On a lighter note I thought, As a Software Engineer earlier the skills on my resume had to be proficiency in any programming language say a Java or a Dot net. Now I just have to be this “effective communicator” with great interpersonal skills and get a job which pays higher than a coder. Now the latter sounded much more enticing to me rather than the former.


Having completed these 2 years I realized, Marketing is all about convincing the other person. You do that with your communication skills, you do that by putting up facts and figures or you do that by any other way possible, at the end of the day it’s all about how much you sell and help the business grow. A person who doesn’t know how to speak, may have great strategic marketing ideas which have the potential to take the business to the next level. He may not be able to articulate it well but he may understand the market or the sector better, more than the person having this great “interpersonal skill” and give out sensible marketing ideas.

But I realized that this unfortunately is not the reality. Once I had this conversation with an elderly gentlemen, who when told I was doing MBA, retorted back with disgust and said, “So you are the ones who come in suits, speak Good English (his spoken English was bad), make lovely powerpoint presentations and go out of the board room making us all look like assholes.”

The above perspective needs to change. It’s not about the Good English. Yes, Language is important but so is the understanding of Economy, Market, Industry and what goes into making an effective strategy work in this ever changing VUCA world. How you communicate is important, yes, but can you as a MBA come up with ideas, come with solutions to make a change. MBA’s should be looked at as being problem solvers. Unfortunately, the outlook now-a-days is more to do with how they speak and not what they speak which is unfortunate.

1 comment:

Go Onn ..... Do it !!!!!