FMS perspective to the FMS vs IIM conundrum - Vineet Jain, FMS Delhi


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    Vineet Jain is a Chemical Engineer from UDCT Mumbai and an MBA from FMS Delhi, from where he was selected for the Tata Administrative Services (TAS). He is very passionate about music. He has been the lead vocalist of a fusion band and plans on releasing a few self-written and self-composed singles soon. He also enjoy studying mythology, history and politics.

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    Popular knowledge is that IIM L, FMS and XLRI are the next three B schools(in no particular order) after IIM ABC. People talk about brand value, infrastructure, ROI, alumni network, faculty and learning, campus life, and most importantly placements, among other things while drawing up these comparisons. I'l take you through each of these in a comparative sense

    1) Brand Value: The IIM brand is stronger than the FMS brand in the common man's mind. Your relatives and friends may believe you are a world beater and your resume on the matrimonial sites will look a lot better!
    In the industry, however, there is no "one IIM brand". Each IIM has its own brand and FMS, XLRI, JBIMS etc have their own brands as well. Brand IIM ABC is definitely stronger than brand FMS or brand XLRI. Not so much for the other IIMs. Brand IIM L is considered at par, brand other IIMs is significantly weaker. That said, a couple of years in the industry, and the "Top B school" brand and all its hype goes out of the window. What counts is the results you deliver, whether you are from Harvard or IIPM.

    2)
    Infrastructure: FMS is no where compared to the IIMs when it comes to infrastructure. There are no swanky hostels, huge open spaces and state of the art auditoriums. There is just one humble seminar hall, two large lecture halls, 8-10 class rooms, a small canteen and a small lawn. There is, however the Delhi University infrastructure, which includes the Commonwealth games stadium and sports facilities! But the haves or have nots of infrastructure is not what is important, the necessity of infrastructure for quality education is what is important. I think great infrastructure is like an expensive watch, its good to have, but a less expensive one tells the time just as well!

    3) ROI: An MBA from FMS costs 20k! Add to that living expenses, food, alcohol, travel and a lavish lifestyle, it will add up to at the max 3 lakhs, you can manage with as little as 1.5 lakhs as well. Basically you don't need a student loan. The IIMs cost anywhere between 12 and 20 lakhs(plus what you spend on yourself) and you graduate with a monthly EMI of 40k for 5 years or so. So if you get the same placement, the ROI is just not comparable!

    4)
    Alumni Network: Look up the list of famous alumni from all the top schools of India. The FMS  list is comparable to IIM A and IIM C, and much much better than any other school, including IIM B! And the gap is large. Obviously XLRI has the best list in the HR function.

    5)
    Faculty & learning: The faculty at the top 4 IIMs, FMS and XLRI are all top notch. I don't think there's much to choose between them and anyone who says otherwise is only guessing, as he/she hasn't experienced the ones apart from his/her school. Learning philosophy at FMS is very different from that at other schools. FMS is not all about academic rigor like the IIMs and XL. FMS is more about experiential learnings. Apart from a strong focus on academic and theoretical learning, there is a focus is on live projects, industry interactions, corporate competitions and running the institution(FMS students collectively literally run the college, from what equipment needs to be bought for which class to what branding initiatives should be taken to which new courses should be introduced). Plus you are in DU so there is a lot of opportunity for inter-departmental learning. It is a well rounded experience. Bottom line is that the school produces as good(if not better) MBAs as any other school, proof of which is that famous alumni list I spoke about in the previous point.

    6) Campus life: Campus life at the IIMs is probably better than that at FMS, as FMS is not a residential B school. However, almost all students stay within a radius of 1-1.5 kms from campus so its not that bad. Besides you are in a city like Delhi and that to in the DU campus, unlike most IIMs which are at the outskirts of the cities they are stationed in. Oh and the so called "academic rigor" at FMS is lesser than at the IIMs as FMS believes in experiential learning more than mugging from text books(see the learnings section above). At FMS you have the opportunity to be a part of a democratically run and student controlled institution which is an amazing experience. So life at FMS is quite good :)

    7)
    Placements: FMS does not get too many offers from the top 4 strategy consults yet, like IIM ABCL do. We get a few I banking roles, but not as many as IIM ABC. Pure supply chain roles are also slightly lower than at IIM ABC. Apart from this(50-60 jobs at best), everything else is almost identical, and marketing is probably better! Besides, FMS has half the students as compared to the IIMs, and so the competition is literally halved! Do the math for your comparative chances to land a top job.

    Let me add some perspective through a comparitive analysis of the placement scenarios in FMS and IIM L.

    Again, this will depend on

    1) the specifics of your career aspirations
    2) the kind of profile you have
    3) the congruence between the two at the time of joining the B school

    1) You have a stellar profile ( amazing acads, workex, top college) and badly want the top 4 consults
    You will have a great shot at being among the top 5% of the batch at both schools. But IIM L will give you access to slightly better consulting opportunities. So join IIM L.

    2) You have a great profile but don't necessarily want top 4 consults

    Again, you will be among the top 10-15% (may overlap with the first set as well) of your batch at both schools and will have similar opportunities in all respects. So the choice for you will depend on what you feel is more important: one one hand, two years in Delhi, independent lifestyle, time to do things that you like and focus on experiential learning, and on the other hand, an intense two years with better theoretical learning, great campus life, but 35-40k per month for 4-5 years as EMI.

    3) If you don't have a great profile, but you want to use your 2 years at B school to ramp it up and be among the top 10% of your batch
    You are among 80-85% of the people at your school. The degree may vary, your profile may be good but not great, or it may be really bad(I was closer to the latter :P).
    As many of you may be aware, when companies come on campus, all the CVs are sent to them. The companies then shortlist 40-50 CVs who then go through the rest of their process. Getting this shortlist is critical, because if you don't get the shortlist, you will not have the opportunity to display how good you are. So obviously for people in this 80-85% group, shortlists are an issue.
    The first filter is always acads. Most people realize this only after coming to B school. So firstly, you need to maintain good acads at B school, it is like a hygiene factor. Along with this, if you manage to do other things as well, you will be able to differentiate yourself from the rest and make that leap into the cream at your school. I believe FMS gives you the opportunity to do this a lot more than IIM L does.

    Why is this true?
    FMS, as you may have heard, has less academic rigor than L(And XL as well, as these three are usually compared). You have enough of studies, but its not an overkill like at these schools. So you land up having a lot more time to yourself than at the other schools. What you do with this time is totally up to you. Being in Delhi, you have a lot of access to live projects. In fact every society/club gets a good number of live projects for students every semester. And b school competitions are the forte of FMS. We win a lot more competitions than most schools every year, year after year. This is primarily due to the fact that we can spend a lot more time on these competitions as compared to our counterparts at other top schools. And these competitions are an amazing source of learning too. And ofcourse the PORs and sports opportunities are there like at any B school.

    Besides, FMS has half the batch size that IIM L has, so you one is competing with half the people for the same jobs apart from the initial few "top 4 consults". Its pretty easy to figure out the odds of landing one you want at either school if you are in category 2 or 3(95% of the batch)!

    So basically, for someone with an average profile, making your profile top notch is possible more at FMS than at any other school.
    Let me illustrate this with my example:
    I had a very average profile when I came in, my acads being 90,72,60! Got just 2 shortlists till the end of day 1 in the summers(close to 60% of my batch was placed by the time I got my 2nd shortlist which I converted)!
    And in my 2 years at FMS, I was able to maintain good acads, won many B school corporate competitions, represented India at events abroad, held a top POR and did one good live project. And I got shortlists in day 0 slot 0 companies in the finals and made it to one of them. And there were many people like me who were able to do the same.

    You will obviously be able to do this at other schools too, but at FMS its more likely. Personally if I was at L or XL, I may have struggled to keep up with the academic pressures and may have never had the opportunity to really set myself apart from the others who are also struggling to keep up with acads. At most schools, you have the best opportunities only if you come in with the best profiles. At FMS, you can make your profile among the best.

    So if you are in this 80-85% bracket, but you are ambitious and are willing to fight to be counted among the cream, FMS is the place to be! It will give you more of a shot to express yourself and grow while at B school.

    Different people will lay varying emphasis on different sets of these parameters. So obviously, different perspectives will yield different results. For someone, IIM A may be the best, for someone else IIM B/C may be the best, for someone FMS may be the best. Its all gray! Decide what is most important for you and then compare the schools on those parameters. There is no wrong answer, just like there is no correct one.

    Cheers!


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