Seek A Career, Not A Job
Business education has proliferated in the country with over a thousand independent management schools, apart from more than 900 state universities, that offer similar courses. Similarly, education in the field of commerce is now available in over 20,000 colleges and universities.
Sectors like retail (online and offline), pharma and healthcare, energy (conventional and non-conventional), food and beverages and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) hold employment promises.
These sectors are drivers of revival for the global economy that saw a 5 per cent contraction last year from a total size of $80 trillion. The Indian economy, too, suffered a 23 per cent contraction during the year.
A quick survey with the placement offices of a few universities shows the following trends. The top six sectors employing freshers from B-Schools are edutech, logistics and supply chain, banking and insurance, telecommunications, e-commerce or retail, and analytics and consulting.
Among tech enterprises, BYJU’s, Jaro, Toppers and Extramarks are hiring heavily, while DTDC and SafeExpress are the top logistics recruiters. Bank of America, ICICI, Aditya Birla and JR Laddha have been big recruiters in the banking and finance space, along with microfinance organisations.
Reliance Jio takes the cake among telecoms and Amazon, e-kart and Flipkart are leading in the e-commerce segment. AC Nielson and Mphasis are major data and consulting recruiters. We saw 94 per cent of the final placements with a package in the range of `3.5 to `10 lakh per annum. Edutech is seen offering the highest package followed by data analytics and consultancy companies.
On the jobs front, the first lesson to be learnt is that one should seek a career and not just a job. It should be the manifestation of the chosen career at a point in time. Traditionally, business education has been plagued with the following challenges:
1. It is often delivered through face-to-face concepts and theories of management or usual taxation, accounting laws and principles.
2. Business education is delivered by people, who have rarely practised what they are teaching from management books, largely written in the West.
3. It is evaluated through a semester-end or an annual written examination, which is the base of scoring, awarding degrees, and consideration for jobs.
4. It is heavily biased towards jobs in large corporations, indigenous or multi-national corporations, while in reality, the actual engagement is required in MSMEs, small start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures.
The pre-pandemic era has necessitated many changes, which several universities have started adopting. The pandemic has only redefined education. Trends that will match the expectations in the next decade are:
1. Business education will begin with a flipped-classroom model, where students would be provided with multiple resources, including open-source and proprietary resources of the mentors. These could be videos, podcasts, PDFs, book chapters, case studies, info-graphics, interviews, or slideshows.
2. Students are expected to develop asynchronous self-learning muscles and take up doubts and challenges in synchronous sessions, which could be digital or physical, or both — PhyGital - in class and online.
3. The third level in business learning could be solving problems, critical thinking exercises with simulated situations to examine comprehension of the subject concerned, and application of the insights.
4. Students could be asked to develop their own case studies based on their areas of interest.
5. After an initiation to overall subject and its practice, the student of management could take up a broad specialisation area which, in the first level, could be marketing, human resources, finance and systems. For commerce students, it could be advanced accounts, taxation, actuarial sciences, or business economics.
6. At masters’ level, the specialisation could be in niche areas. In management, it could be in retail, services, leadership, budget, project, banking and insurance, learning and development, brand, rural or agri-business, data analytics, energy, logistics and supply chain, IT and technology, telecom, entertainment and media, social business, development, pharmaceuticals, strategic management, export-import or sales.
Similarly in commerce, students could go deep into one domain within taxation or accounting.
7. It is also important to know quantitative aspects often neglected in traditional management education, like, econometrics, statistics, quantitative analyses software, big data analytics and IT applications. A couple of courses covering these would be significant.
8. It is important to develop a few case studies of success or failure in the areas of niche specialisation. For a hands-on experience, a couple of life projects and one major full-time internship in the chosen niche area is necessary. Students could have a low-engagement, online internship running along with the academic programme, while managing time, and using the weekends well.
9. Higher emotional intelligence along with the ability to be a team-worker and lead from a remote location, when required, are the basic professional skills and work ethics that are required.
10. Having a minor specialisation in ITeS, brand communication, corporate or cyber law would be an advantage and differentiator in a market full of generalists with plain vanilla BBA or MBA degrees.
Reinvent yourself. Redefine your career goals, restrategise your journey, refocus on specifics, re-learn after much unlearning, and reinvigorate the economy, post-pandemic for taking the right lessons. That’s the mantra in the B-schools of India.Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury
Kolkata-based Adamas University