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MBA education in Pakistan – ‘Good for nothing’

Candidates should find out whether they have the logical inclination to fare well in an MBA program. Human Resource Managers at multinational companies believe there are far more MBAs in the market right now than can be accommodated. An oil marketing company that runs 250 retail outlets across Pakistan, most business school is churning out unemployable graduates.

There are three tiers of business schools in Pakistan. LUMS, IBA and CBM are in the top tier, Hamdard, Szabist and Iqra are in the second tier, and PIMSAT, Biztek, Greenwich and others are in the third tier.

Fresh graduates of even the best business schools had only a ‘superficial knowledge’ of the corporate world. Complaining about the high expectation of business graduates vis-a-vis remuneration and performance evaluation, MBAs in Pakistan are actually ‘good for nothing’.

Business schools should stop handing out MBA degrees to anyone who comes to them. Work experience of a few years should be mandatory in order to get into an MBA program.

The going rate for a fresh MBA from an average business school was Rs13, 000 a month – an amount less than what he paid to driver. IBA recently made two years work experience mandatory for admission into an MBA program, however, there is not set policy across the board.

MBAs tend to have better analytical skills. But the problem is that it’s the only skill they have. That’s why you’ll rarely find an MBA working as chief financial officer or head of the finance department.

Recent MBA graduate job market for MBAs was overcrowded. Business schools introduced a range of MBA programs on the pretext of ‘specialization’ in response to the obvious market saturation. All these apparently different MBA programs are actually the same, except the final few courses.

According to the schools that educate them and employers that hire them, MBAs are sought after for their ability to think critically, deal with ambiguity and solve complex problems.

MBAs from the outside can bring a fresh perspective, like figuring out how to improve key business processes, such as filling catalog orders. Case studies typically reflect current issues — that’s another advantage of MBA training.

One question that many MBA aspirants may have is why so much importance is given to analytical and quantitative skills in MBA entrance tests.

It is an area of discomfiture for a large number of students, especially the ones with a non-engineering background.

The trouble with MBAs popping out of Pakistani universities today is that most of them have undergone hardly any interaction with the real world, whereas business is all about the real world.

Cramming textbook information only helps you if one is engineering, law or a medical student. A business student cannot afford to rely purely on textbook knowledge. A student needs to stay updated about not only of its own field, but also all other fields, which means everything from magazines, journals and publications of almost all kinds are important reads.

Many corporations complain that Pakistani universities are not producing quality business graduates, and they are correct. Business is not something that can be learnt in the classroom. It is primarily learnt by gaining hands-on experience on the field.

Even the case study method, which seeks to transform business education in Pakistan, is not going to work in isolation.

Experts and analysts have for ages talked about why there should be more industry linkages with universities, but fail to mention that these corporations should not open their internships only for graduates but also for first, second and third year Bachelor’s students.

The students should be made to work right from the start so that by the time they have graduated, they already have enough work experience to feel at home in corporations.

With the growing intersection of technology and business, students should be given training on leading software used in the industry. Most universities have courses dedicated to teaching tools like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Retail Pro, MySQL, Google Adwords and Adobe Photoshop. But in most cases, the skill level does not go further than the rudimentary level.

Instead of teaching what to do, maybe it’s time to teach how it is done. The perception that teaching American case studies in Pakistani classrooms helps to solve the problem may not be correct.

Pakistani students could learn much more from local entrepreneurs and business leaders, than by Henry Ford and Warren Buffett. We live in a totally different culture, with a totally different set of laws and mindsets.

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