We spend a lot of time talking to MBA aspirants – whether it is in our role as GMAT coaches, or in our role as admissions consultants. We have seen one interesting trend that has become more and more common over the past few years: an increasing number of people who are looking at a top flight MBA abroad are asking us about long term prospects in India. They know how important a foreign MBA is for a global career; however, they seek reassurance that it will be as impactful on a career back home.
Our answer to them is always the same: a big name global MBA has the same effect on a career in India as it does on a career abroad, and that effect is completely beneficial. Many experts have compared the career impact of such an MBA to strapping a jet pack on one’s back and taking off, and that is exactly what it is like, whether you are working in Delhi or Dallas.
To fully convince our own students of this fact, we look at different career paths and industries in India, and talk about the huge demand for qualified foreign MBAs in those fields, and demonstrate how this demand is growing at a two figure rate, year on year. In this Jamboree special feature, we share some of this data with you. Here are ten ways in which foreign MBAs are more in demand in India today than ever before.
Professional firms are looking for new hires who have spent time abroad to give them a more global reach
Professional services firms – whether in consulting, venture capital, or industry leadership – have a dual challenge – they need new hires with experience in working within a certain geography, who can also make the switch to a global mode of working so that they can seamlessly integrate with their global offices. In case they hire exclusively from India, they often have to organize a global immersion program, something that mandates an investment of both money and time after hiring.
However, a US MBA is the best answer for a firm of this kind; these people are able to use their local knowledge and global focus to become immediate, plug and play resources. In addition, a US MBA is often hired at one level of seniority above his / her peers without such a degree abroad, and the added pay and perks do not hurt at all!
CXOs of large Indian conglomerates hire Executive Assistants, who are often foreign big name MBAs; there is no better way to learn aboutbusiness leadership than this
One big reason to acquire an MBA abroad is the additional exposure to leadership, nearly every top school has multiple modules on business leadership, and calls in senior management personalities to deliver curricula in these areas.
Therefore, it only makes sense to go for such an MBA if this experience is still valid in an Indian context: the good news is that it is. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly common for some of the most senior figures in India Inc to take on Executive Assistants for a couple of years. These are young, fresh graduates from Business School who shadow the leader in day to day meetings, and serve as a sounding board in making decisions that could have impact of thousands of crores, and materially impact the futures of both the company and the people who work for it.
This is a program that has great mutual benefit both for the leaders and the fresh grads – the fresh grads get to learn business leadership at a granular level that would have taken them three decades to learn in the world of the past, and the business leaders get access to logical perspectives and new thinking on problems that have perhaps become routine to them; they become better decision makers as a result of this.
Entrepreneurs find it easier to secure Venture Capital funding with a big name US MBA attached to their profile
The biggest Venture Capital firms active in India today have a global presence – whether you are looking to raise a Series A round from Sequoia, Nexus, Matrix or Accel, all of them know the worth of a foreign MBA, and rank it above anything else when it comes to proven business / marketing experience.
In case you are looking to become an entrepreneur in India post your MBA, it will always be easier for you to convince an investor of quality, or even to obtain a higher valuation, in case you have a good foreign MBA. It might seem like a small thing, but data on funding has shown slightly higher success rates with these kinds of credentials. In a field where only a tiny percentage of everyone who tries actually ends up making it big, you need everything on your side – even in the Indian market. The additional size of network that you gain by having a global MBA means that you will also be able to draw on foreign funding opportunities; having more choices never hurts!
Many disruptions in conventional Indian industries are brought about by returns from a foreign MBA
Conventional industries are being disrupted in Silicon Valley every day, and those would usually take 5-10 years to percolate to the Indian ecosystem. However, some people have an early mover advantage by being closer to the eye of the storm; US MBAs are often able to see ways in which technology and other factors make daily life much easier. A large number of these return to India, and use their knowledge of a business model there to disrupt the market in India, and make a killing financially, well ahead of the time that the technology would have made its way to India.
For example, we have seen this recently, in the smart housing and baby care segments, that many innovations have made their way to the Indian market earlier than in previous years, and that the people who are bringing these innovations in are people who have recently completed MBAs abroad, and are looking to disrupt conventional ways of doing things. Everyone wins here: we the people of India are able to experience innovation earlier than it would otherwise have come to us, and the foreign MBAs are able to both bring employment and make a lot of money.
The public sector is slowly looking to global MBAs to bring change
Similar to the previous point, there are many sectors which are desperately in need of the injection of global best practices, and many public sector organizations in India fall into this category. Whether it be public infrastructure, healthcare or primary education, or any other large sector, we need an infusion of fresh ideas and blueprints from elsewhere.
Many of these are now being offloaded to the private sector, and project leaders are often young people with a passion for on ground impact, and the know how to make it happen. The day is not far when an ambitious urban metro project in India will be realized by someone who has worked on a similar public infrastructure project in Mexico City, for example, and is able to apply the lessons learned there to minimize cost and time overruns, and ensure that the public of India gets the amenities they need and deserve, much faster than they would otherwise have been able to.
This might be the most non-intuitive of job trajectories for an MBA from Harvard, Stanford or Wharton, but it is only one of a growing number of sectors in India which are looking for globally trained business leaders to bring change.
Conventional industries see value in hiring foreign MBAs to New Business Development positions
New Business Development is the most important medium / long term function for any conventional industry; it is the only way for them to grow in creative ways. Therefore, the teams leading these functions are usually high powered and entrepreneurial; they are able to think out of the box, and need to be able to bring non-conventional networks and insights to bear, as they seek to expand the businesses in areas which similar business have achieved in similar geographies outside India.
The reason that global MBAs are such a great fit here is because they have easy access to global best practices and knowledge, and can pick up a phone and talk to someone who worked in New Business Development for a Brazilian giant in a similar sector, and get direct, on ground information. This is something that someone with a different background would take days to do, and still end up with worse information than that which could be acquired from someone close to the action.
As long as there are large industries with departments that are agile and moving quickly, there will be a need for the best MBA grads in the world to fill those positions, and keep them ahead of the curve, ahead of the competition. This is especially true in India now, as a wave of family owned industries take the next big step, and try to become global behemoths, run completely professionally. Their partners in the next round of scaling will be high powered young people with MBAs from reputed schools abroad.
The non profit sector needs scalable models; most of these come from abroad
The non profit sector in India is vast, with millions of NGOs making the space very hard to understand as a whole. The grim reality is that more than 99% of these NGOs have no real impact at all, and the reason is often that their models are just not scalable. In order to bring true social impact and equity, there is a crying need for non profits with better models, models that are scalable and sustainable.
Some of the best models in the past few decades have come from abroad: Teach For India and Pratham were both ideas that had worked outside India, and that scaled up because of strong founding teams. Every year, MBAs from the best schools in the world head to India to bring social reform to some of the world’s poorest, and test their models and enthusiasm to change the world. Over time, this is likely to increase – with the Government and the Private Sector becoming increasingly invested in social welfare, there will be a demand for qualified professionals to deliver these programs on ground, and foreign MBAs are definitely great candidates to do this.
Big MBA schools are likely to expand their footprint in India; their alumni will be the pathways for this expansion
The biggest MBA schools in the world are already looking to set up multiple campuses: INSEAD has been the early torchbearer of this trend, with campuses in both France and Singapore. Many others are looking to set up either campuses or chapters in other countries, and India and China are both, obviously, hot on the list for global expansion.
If this is to happen successfully, it will need a community of ever connected individuals with the passion to spread the culture of their alma mater abroad – and who better than the alumni of the top Business Schools in the world, those who retain a slavish level of loyalty? Even if a full expansion does not happen, there is always room for those who would serve as representatives of their school in India, and that is always a viable career choice.
The education and careers sector often looks towards foreign MBAs for leadership
In many ways, getting an admit in a Harvard, a Stanford or a Wharton is the culmination of the Indian education dream – start early, work hard, get into the best schools abroad for the most coveted degrees in the world today. It is only natural that many education companies in India – whether they focus on higher education or on primary school education – look towards foreign MBAs for leadership, whether it comes to founding teams or advisory panels.
With millions more children being educated in India every few years, the number who can aspire to the same level of academic achievement as a top US MBA grad is growing, and the potential number of people who could be part of an audience in the education and careers sector keeps growing. Whether it is test prep, admissions counselling, out of class tuition, or good old fashioned schooling, an MBA from a big name school overseas has much value to add, and this will be valid for the foreseeable future.
In the long run, senior promotions and board seats can often be slightly easier with a foreign MBA
We have talked about a lot of short term benefits of a big ticket MBA from one of the top schools abroad – but there are also significant long term benefits. Yes, you get access to the best jobs in India, but what happens when you become a leader in a large firm?
Of course, there is a very small gap, but empirical data seems to show a small advantage for those who have a top foreign MBA on their resume in the long run, which essentially means becoming a CXO or a company board member. Proportionate to the number of Indian citizens who have a foreign MBA, a slightly larger proportion of these end up as business leaders, showing that there is an advantage, though it may be small. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving!
We hope that this Jamboree in depth feature has clarified any doubts that you might have had on the applicability of a foreign MBA in India: there will always be a very high demand for someone with such a profile, and the growth trend in demand is sharply upwards. Even today, global MBAs are accepted in every career path in India; in most, they are actually preferred to anyone else, given the stamp of quality with which they arrive. This is likely to continue in the medium to long term as well; everyone will want a great MBA from HBS, GSB, Wharton or INSEAD on their roles, so you never have to worry about coming back and finding insufficient career opportunities to keep you excited, motivated and busy.
If you have further questions about anything relating to life after an MBA abroad, or life during an MBA abroad, or how to get your life on track to cracking the MBA abroad, we invite you to get in touch with our experts at Jamboree! If you have already determined that the MBA life is for you, you can avail of our excellent coaching services of multiple types – from completely classroom centric to completely online. In case you want to evaluate your own chances of getting that coveted admit in the next 6-12 months, you should probably call our nearest center and fix up an appointment with one of our expert advisors or career counsellors. All the best!