5 reasons NOT to do an MBA - Harris K A, NMIMS (Mumbai)

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    Harris K. A completed his MBA (Capital Markets) from NMIMS Mumbai and is currently working with a premier Private Equity firm. He was the recipient of the prestigious Vice Chancellor’s Gold medal for overall academic excellence at NMIMS University. Harris also led a team of 5 who won the Asia Pacific Championship of CFA Research Challenge held in Malaysia, and became the first team from India advancing to the Global finals in London

    Lot has been said about reasons to do an MBA, the prime 5 reasons among them are higher salaries, better career opportunities, better business networks, new skill sets and holistic perspective about world business. But I would tell you 5 reasons why one shouldn’t do an MBA.

    1. Breeds high headedness - The entire MBA program typically revolves around the concept of meritocracy. The students who make it to elite B schools generally have really high opinion about themselves as they all have gotten there through tough competitive selection systems and have had respectable professional experience. All these coupled with the dope which the college/faculty gives them that “You are the best of the best” and “You matter a lot” makes MBA grads conceive that they are very essential people in whole scheme of things and it breeds high headedness.

    2. It’s not the only course which gives you the best ROI - Many MBA grads try and impress upon you how an MBA is the best return on investment. People generally see getting an MBA as an investment in themselves. Nothing wrong in it though. But please don’t flaunt it. MBA, no doubt, is an enriching 2 years of your life in terms of learning and just leave it at that. And if you are a very good manager, you would definitely get paid well. But don’t do all spreadsheets (MBAs have the habit of analyzing anything and everything and draw really unallied conclusions) and try and prove to the world that it gives you the best ROI. Just to give you my personal experience there are lot of my friends who haven’t done an MBA but are paid top of the world salaries because they are really good at what they do (the list includes, engineers, teachers etc).

    3. Inculcate Arrogance - MBA grads imbibe the thought that “everything is business”. And this makes most MBA students to think that they are “buying” their education. This thought is pretty dangerous and they treat teachers as service providers and they consider themselves and customers and not learners. Even though in the current materialistic world I don’t complete deny the axiom “everything is business”, but it is completely uncool that MBA graduates move away from the fact that they are learners and not customers. To some extent this thought process is propagated by the fact that many B school professors actually have very little business experience themselves. And at times this results in students (who have similar or more professional experience) ending up dictating terms to the teachers rather than other way around. In the process the “Teacher leading the learning experience” is lost and this makes the student behavior to come across as arrogant and aggressive

    4. MBA doesn’t make you a natural team player - B Schools advertise that they don’t make their students mug up books and instead have “case study” oriented learning or “action learning” and all this is done in teams which makes the students great team players. Let me tell you, all this is just a big bogus advertisement. The point is these activities definitely give you some flavor but to be real team player you need to have lot of humility and the quality to sacrifice your achievements for the team. You need to help your team mates look better every time you are being put as a part of the team. And this is inevitably not what someone takes away from the team exercises at B schools. In my experience, what those team activities teach you is to play politics, beat your opponents and get beaten below the belt for some extra points, drive the point that you’re better than your teammates – and wanting to keep it that way. etc.

    5. Builds overconfidence – having an MBA degree doesn’t make you a super star employee and a natural leader. Simply put a person who has lot of confidence in his ability to fly a plane with no actual skill is more dangerous that somebody who doesn’t have the confidence but has minimal amount of skill. The idea is that someone who lacks confidence would either don’t do the task or would constantly check and cross check whether he is doing the right think but someone with lot of confidence would just go about doing the task until the plane comes crashing.

    Are MBAs filled with OVERCONFIDENCE ARROGANCE and or NARCISSISM? Yes, some of them are. So are some engineers and athletes and film stars. It is incredibly difficult to get admitted to a top B school. Those who manage to get into B schools are the ones who are able to crack the entrance exams (bell the CAT), who have had lot of accomplishments under their belt and have achieved quite a lot and are smart (in most cases) as well.

    Now the question is does all these gives them a right to be arrogant/overconfident? No.

    All said and done, a management program today is considered as one of the best bet for someone to maximize his/her future income potential. An MBA definitely broadens your perspective and enlightens you with the ability to think through situations. But at the same time the journey of an MBA graduate gives him/her umpteen situations where he/she can pick up traits like OVERCONFIDENCE ARROGANCE and or NARCISSISM. The idea is to be aware of it and to have humility.

    Don’t ever be under the impression that just because you have an MBA, you are smarter than others. And even if you have that impression don’t show it openly because nobody gives a dime, instead prove it with your work. Understand and appreciate the fact that till the time you kind off prove your mettle at job (which invariably takes minimum 2 years’ time), you are essentially just doing the work of a glorified executive assistant. Just think you’re “a nobody” and keep an open mind, you’ll avoid getting a big head. And don’t carry your attitude and get dejected when people who matters won’t take your opinion seriously. Just keep working your backside off and you would get your chance to matter later.

    Enjoy your MBA program, be humble, never lose your human touch and go out and make the most of it.

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