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2013 ISB Career Opportunities Post MBA Q&A with Mr. VK Menon

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Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I am the Founder of Accepted.com, and the moderator of today’s chat. First, I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I would like to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about the Indian School of Business, and its post-MBA career opportunities. In my opinion, your goal should be the starting place for your MBA application, and that obviously are the career opportunities that we are here to talk about today. It is critical to your decision-making process and your admissions chances that you know as much as you can about the schools that you are applying to, and being here today allows you to ask the experts from this top business school about career opportunities and the Indian School of Business.

I also want to give a special welcome to Mr. VK Menon, Senior Director of Placements at ISB. Thanks to everyone for joining.

This is your chance to ask questions about the Indian School of Business and its career options. But I’m going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. VK, what’s new at the ISB and specifically in terms of career placements?

VK Menon: Thanks, Linda. Thanks for organizing this, and thanks for joining in, all the participants. So let’s have a rocking one hour. What’s new at Placements? A couple of things stand out and are new. What’s happening as I see it, is that there is a geography change. That is, geographies which were not really looking at top talent from the MBA hiring perspective are now getting very active.

To give you a few examples -- markets like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Africa, all of these markets are showing very strong demand for MBA graduates. We are just in November, and already there are a number of organizations from these countries who have registered for placement, that’s going to happen in December, January, and February. So that’s one visible trend which is seen. The other is it’s across niche areas, areas like pharmaceuticals, healthcare, demand for doctors, demand for lawyers, demand for specialists who have done MBA is another very visible trend that’s being seen this year.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Thank you very much. We have several questions here from people who are asking about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial opportunities for graduates of ISB. Can you address that?

VK Menon: Sure. Over the last 10 years, we have as of now, 300 entrepreneurs who have set up businesses and are running businesses from the ISB. This is facilitated through a structured program at ISB. There is a Centre of Excellence, called the Wadhwani Centre of Entrepreneurship Development, and they foster entrepreneurships.

Now, let’s say a student has an idea for entrepreneurship. This idea is refined. The faculty and the Wadhwani Centre will look at presenting these ideas across case competitions. They will connect you with venture capitalists for getting your funding done; plus that you also have kind of an incubation where you can work within the ISB. The ISB will take care of your loans and so on for two years, and you can develop your venture. So all in all, a complete infrastructure exists for any student who has an idea. Now, let’s say the student has no idea, but wants to become an entrepreneur. Even here, the Centre along with the faculty will propose things to them, or give them ideas, which they can take and run along the one year they are here at the ISB.

Linda Abraham: Wonderful, thank you. Okay, Ufraj is asking, this is a follow-up question, “Are the entrepreneurship opportunities open to all students in the MBA program, whether they are majoring in entrepreneurship or not, or are they limited to those who are focusing on entrepreneurship, majoring in entrepreneurship?”

VK Menon: There is an elective stream on entrepreneurship, so you can major in entrepreneurship, but these opportunities are open to all.

Linda Abraham: Moving to a slightly different direction. Harjak is asking about the prospects in product management post-MBA from ISB, and the specializations and electives for the Centre of Excellence suitable for someone interested in product management. Could you comment on that?

VK Menon: Yes, when he’s talking about product management, I assume he is talking about IT product. When it comes to hiring, in fact, I would have probably mentioned this as a third, that trend, if you want to call it that.

Most of these companies; Google, Microsoft, Facebook, name all the e-commerce companies, the domestic digital companies; all these companies are looking for product management expertise and roles, and students with expertise in the products. Product management roles are basically end-to-end roles, which means that you will look after one product in its entirety from start to finish, and these are very sought-after roles by the technology graduates out here. There is again, a very strong ecosystem, which builds students' expertise along product management lines.

Linda Abraham: Okay, somebody here is asking about brand management, fashion and beauty or consumer goods.

VK Menon: Yes. Again, it’s a new trend. International companies are now coming over to India, especially in the beauty and the high-value fashion sector. Many of these companies will be recruiting, or have recruited at the ISB, companies like Luxottica or LVMH. These are companies which are showing interest in the school.

Now, what really happens in this industry, as I see it, is that mostly the students are taken in, and then are they are put through a rotational program. You work through various parts. You do a bit in the front office. You do finance. You do marketing. You rotate through various functions, and then you choose a function, and get into where you want to go.

This is a growing sector, and if you asked me about five years back, the intake in the sector was very low, but this is a growing sector, and I see it growing even further as international companies start offices in India. Having said that, there’s a reverse demand–that means that international companies would like to pick Indian students from ISB, and take them across to their markets, wherever they are operating in.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Miswareb asks, "What are the opportunities in supply chain management post-MBA? Are there global opportunities as well?" If you could comment on that, and there are a lot of other questions about supply chain management, a lot of interest in that.

VK Menon: If you are a supply chain expert you will just be swooped up. I mean that’s the kind of demand that exists today. You can break up this demand into a few specific areas. One is the FMCD sector. The FMCD sector, and let us call it the domestic FMCD sector, that really requires supply chain management. They’re really hungry for talent, and such talent is not easily available.

If you have supply chain experience/expertise, or you do your MBA with a focus on supply chain, that’s extremely strong. Second, would be global companies. As global companies become more, and kind of increased their footprints, they have larger markets. They enter markets with and have larger market shares. They all look for supply chain professionals I think it is kind of seen that India is a strong destination for supply chain experts.

Companies like Apple, international companies, Apple takes guys in supply chain, takes them to Singapore, manages their supply chain, and so on. Both the domestic front, and the international front on the supply chain thing is hungry for talent, and there is not enough supply. There are not enough people who would actually want to get into this domain. So if you are keen on supply chain, it’s really, really good for you.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. We also have a question, and from what I’ve seen it’s a very popular kind of career path. This is from Basal, who asks, "What about hard core management consulting? What is the road map for typical MBA students to enter a firm like McKinsey or Bain?" I guess after coming from IT, and then going to ISB.

VK Menon: Okay, let me take it in two contexts because I think there would be a lot of interest or profiles who are similar. Number one; let’s take the management consulting area. The first data point is that close to 30% of the class (that is the current class size of 760) close to 150 people will join management consulting. Management consulting, if you want to kind of bracket it, you can bracket it into two kinds. One is the management consulting companies which do broad-based management consulting, like you talked about the McKinsey and the BCG and so on. The second is a group of niche consulting companies who specialize in sector or content consulting, but they are also management consultants of very high repute. These are two categories. The interesting part about these categories is that to an extent they are not so concerned about the background you’re coming in with. You can be an IT person or you can be a doctor. You can be from any input stream. They are agnostic to what is your background.

There are certain skills that they are looking at. One is they require strong academic skills. Two is they require you to perform well during the program. That means you must in the higher level of the class. Third is you are required to have good communication ability. Four is you need the ability to manage cases well, and be able to analyze cases, and arrive at good conclusions and results, and present this properly.

So these are three to four things that are absolutely a must-have when you apply to these consulting companies. Otherwise, they are fairly background agnostic. I mean, I don’t think they are too bothered about whether you’re from IT or not, but these are the skill sets that you need. An associated point here would be – there are a lot of big consulting companies. Now that is another group, which is hiring fairly large numbers into technology consulting. Overall, the demand has been steady over the years; close to 30-plus percent of the batch goes into this area.

Linda Abraham: That’s an excellent answer, thank you. Let’s go to some other questions here. Siras asks, "Which sector hires most from ISB on average over the years?"

VK Menon: The largest hiring sector is consulting. It is followed by technology, and then by sales and marketing, and finance. These are the numbers, if you want to see the split. Consulting hires about 30%, technology would do about 20%, and sales and marketing, financial would be at about 15%, and it goes down.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Rajah asks, "I am an IT professional working as a senior technocrat in a blue-chip firm Is it okay for a professional with 10 to 15 years of work experience to go into a full-time MBA?" My follow-up question to Rajah’s is what is the right amount of work experience?

VK Menon: Great. We need to split the question into two actually. If a person has lower work experience, let us say around six years or lower, then it is easier for the person to make a strong career shift. The fact, the detail is here around 70% to 75% of the students coming into ISB change their careers, either their function or their industry.

Now, career shifts happen at the lower experience levels. As you go up the experience chain and as you reach about ten years, then your chances of career shifts are weaker, but in the domain you are coming from you will get a leap, if you get what I mean. I mean you’ll get a position that is much higher than what you came in with, and within a limited bandwidth, you change. For example, you let’s say come in with ten years of program management, and then you can get into tech consulting. You can get into mainstream consulting. You can get into product management; you can get into these kinds of areas. Now, if you say I want to shift into, say, finance that becomes a very difficult shift at a higher level of experience.

So to come back to the answer of the participant, yes, you can. At 10 years, we have our experience range at ISB is between 2 years to 20 years. So there are people across the spectrum. All of them get a very good job, so that’s not the issue. The issue is particularly if you are coming from a technology background, and if you are comfortable going back to technology consulting or allied backgrounds, I think it’s a good choice.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay, we have a lot of questions coming in. I’m going to choose just one from Harmeed, "What has ISB been doing to have more international recognition, especially in North America?"

VK Menon: A good question, there. Three years back we got the AACSB accreditation. Now, that is a fairly accepted accreditation for business schools, globally, especially in the North American industry perspective. The second is that if you look at the governing board of ISB, if you look at the kind of record as who come, we have a very strong international component. Last year there were 343 recruiters who came and participated in the placement process. Of these 343, there were 73, I think, who were international recruiters who came in from abroad, and did not have India operations.

That’s the level of interest, and this year we expect more than hundreds of recruiters to come. But having said that let me also put a small caution out here. American jobs, if you want to get into American jobs, it’s important to have the visa issue sorted out, and sometimes it may not be very easy to get a work visa. So that becomes a constraint. If you can resolve the visa issue, then it’s a very strong market because the demand is there, but we are struggling a bit on the visa side.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Naveen asks, "What are the opportunities at ISB for somebody interested in strategic leadership as opposed to MBA?" I assume that would mean some of the leadership rotation programs, like the GE, for example.

VK Menon: Yes, very correct. Let me again trace back our history. Five years back, we had four or five companies coming in for leadership programs. Last year we had 28 companies coming in for global leadership programs, and this year we expect around 35 companies to come in for their leadership programs.

I think there are two things happening. One is as more global companies want talent from India, they are taking the leadership program route to get the students in, and over the last four or five years, as more and more companies have tried this route, and the performance of the ISB grads has been seen to be good, more companies are joining the bandwagon. These are actually fairly prestigious programs. I mean as you said there is the GE program, or the Siemens program, or the Novartis program, or the Luxottica, or any of these programs. They are fairly prestigious programs, and we would expect around 35 companies to come in this time or 35 programs, independent, separate programs to happen during this placement cycle. And it’s a trend that is set to grow.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay, we have several questions from different people about different types of consulting. You addressed earlier management, strategy management consulting. What about healthcare consulting? What about energy consulting? Actually, let’s deal with healthcare, then we’ll do energy because there are a lot of questions on those two topics.

VK Menon: Very interesting. Healthcare, there’s a complete imbalance between supply and demand. That is on the demand side, on the healthcare industry demand, they come from various sources. One is the pharmaceutical companies. Two is the medical equipment manufacturers. Three is the hospitals and healthcare chains. All of these are hungry for talent. Now, the issue is that the supply side, that is the students. .After this, the many consulting companies, which are doing healthcare consulting; these are all the management consulting, these can be niche consultants, or they can be global consultants. So the areas where the demand can be generated are very high.

Now, comes the supply angle. Actually supply and demand tends to balance out at some point in time. Over the last few years more and more students have started looking at healthcare, and pharma, and allied consulting as a good option. So even today the situation is that there are many more jobs in offer on these platforms than there are students who would want to actually get into these fields. But soon, I think the balance will be struck. Considering this, we actually have started an Institute for Healthcare, in Mohali where we have set up the second campus. There’s an institute where we have been working closely on healthcare management.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay, now let’s get to energy. Again, there have been several questions posted either about energy consulting or working for energy companies. Are there opportunities for ISB graduates in those two fields?

VK Menon: Yes, how we look at it is that the energy and operations sector; energy manufacturing and operations, is a large pool at the ISB. There are many students that are coming in from the energy sector. It could be downstream. It could be upstream, and they will have worked in energy companies. They would have worked even alternative energy companies, like wind power and so on. So there is a large group of students.

They’ve formed a club. There’s an EMO Club, Energy and Manufacturing Operations Club. This club manages the company interactions and the student’s aspirations and so on, for this sector. As you have said, the demand comes from two sources. One is consulting companies who would want people who are operating in the energy space. Second is a global demand from energy companies. And here I'm seeing a fair of demand from the Asia-Pacific side, from the energy companies…

Linda Abraham: Australia too?

VK Menon: No, I haven’t seen many companies from Australia, but there is Malaysia, and Singapore, and the PETRONAS, and the Kaltimax, and many of these kinds of these Asia companies want talent in a big way. Of course, India is always a very strong recruiter for energy companies. So that’s how it pans out.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Okay, now we have a question from Arun, "Dear Sir, I’m a military applicant with about eight years of experience. I read in some articles that during placement at ISB the military experience is not taken into account by recruiters. Is this true?"

VK Menon: It is not. It’s very simple. It has nothing to do with the experience or anything. It’s to do with the skill sets. Now, when you say you come from the military, it automatically creates a certain image; an image of integrity, bravery, working under difficult circumstances, working in different terrains, being able to adjust, being flexible to environment, and being able to take snap decisions. So all of these go with the image and many companies want those skill sets.

Okay, now where you will be placed will depend upon what you did in the military. Suppose you were managing large operations, then you will be an ideal fit for administrative operations roles. Many of these large technology firms require people who can administer and manage major manpower. So people will go into those kinds of roles. You could have specialized in certain other areas. Logistics, for that matter, supply chain, logistics, and then you will go into those kinds of roles. So don’t worry too much about which roles to go in, that will depend on the experience you bring, but being from the Army automatically gives you certain advantages, of as I said, the characteristics you bring to the table.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. We’re getting a couple of questions about the fact that ISB is a one-year program, and typically does not have an internship, and internships are generally used to facilitate career change and moves into different career directions. Is that an issue for ISB grads? Could you address that question? Again, several people are asking about it.

VK Menon: Yes, it is an issue. Again, there are two or three ways of looking at it. Number one, you require internships, especially if you do not have experience because if you haven’t worked much in industry, then internships becomes absolutely de rigueur. You need it. Two, is in a one-year program it’s a very tight program. If you want to join the ISB you’ve got to be quite mentally prepared to put in the slog over the one year. It’s a very tight program.

Now, what really happens is that – in two-year program, and I can mention a two-year program – we do close to 720 contact hours; hours that you spend in class. In one year at ISB, you do 680 contact hours, which means that the tradeoff of 40 is all you have between the one-year and the two-year, which makes the course a kind of rigorous course.

In lieu of the internship what we have is called the Experiential Learning Program. It is very similar to the internship, but the only difference is that it’s a paid internship where you work from ISB, and not at the location of the client. The client will give you an ELP, that is an Experiential Leadership Project, and you will work in a team, and deliver the project back to the client under supervision of the faculty. The companies see that you guys are coming with experience, and so you should be able to deliver something which is really useful to the company, and because the faculty is guiding it, that becomes even more rigorous.

So that is against the internship where you go and work with a company. You have an opportunity to do an ELP. Close to about 300, if I’m not mistaken, students end up taking the ELP and doing it, and that facilitates their change. And as I said earlier, 70% to 75%, if not more, change at least one of them, that is their function or their industry.

Linda Abraham: Right. Well, I sometimes like to say that 100% of MBA’s are career changers. Nobody wants to get an MBA to go back and do exactly what they were doing before.

VK Menon: That’s correct, yes.

Linda Abraham: So on some level, you’re all career changers. Okay, let’s go back to the questions. Krishnadash wants to know, "What percentage of students in the last batch were placed outside India?" Do you know?

VK Menon: Yes, outside India. Internationally, there were 73 companies making around 110-odd offers, out of which, about 50% of them, the students took those offers. Actually, when the international companies make the offer, they are to compete with the domestic companies making offers. So a student can get multiple offers. Our system is that a student can get two offers, and needs to select one of them. So that was the scorecard for the international companies.

This doesn’t take into account the domestic companies who hire for international markets. That’s a very large number, because if you take the technology consulting firms, almost all of the students who are taken in technology consulting, and it’s a large number, are all placed abroad. But, that is an Indian company placing the student abroad. The other 110 offers I talked about, they were the international offers made by companies coming from abroad and hiring from India.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay, we have a question here and I have seen others on the board from Raoul, "I am quite keen in working in the public sector, consulting, or public policy space. What are the relevant career opportunities in those areas at ISB?" And I would also add what kind of courses, or programs does ISBP have to support somebody with those kinds of goals?

VK Menon: We are trying to enter that sector in a big way. We haven’t done much about it until now. We have set up an Institute of Public Policy in Mohali. There is a new campus, and that should get operational in a year or so. Then we’ll be able to really focus on the public policy side.

Now, coming to the public sector, the problem has to do with the remuneration. Public sector jobs are not very remunerative, and so, the students coming over to ISB may not be in a position to take on public sector jobs. So hardly any – even though a lot of public sector companies would like to hire from ISB – hardly any student would want to really compromise on the salary aspects, and so it becomes a lopsided proposition. So not many students go into the public sector.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Harsh asks, "Are employers campus agnostic when it comes to recruitment at ISB?"

VK Menon: Actually, it is just one ISB. It’s an experiment we are trying and we have been very successful with it. What we do is when the admissions happen, the allocation is based on an algorithm. We select students for both campuses keeping in mind that both campuses should have exactly the same flavor. So the diversity question, the male-female ratios, the GMAT scores, everything will be identical across both the campuses. A student gets a starting campus only, which means that if you get Mohali, it is that Mohali is your starting campus. If you get Hyderabad, Hyderabad is your starting campus. The entire one-year is divided into eight terms. After the first two terms, you can shift between campuses because at both the campuses subjects are concurrent. At any point in time, you can be at any campus.

Now coming to placements, number one when you apply, you apply in a campus-agnostic manner, which means that your resume will not state from which campus you are applying. As the recruiter sees it, he sees an application from the entire group of 767, not from 516 Hyderabad, and 210 in Mohali. Now the last step is all placements happen in one campus. This year we are transporting the Hyderabad students over to Mohali for day one and two, and the Mohali students to Hyderabad for day three, four, and five. As far as the recruiter is concerned they just come to one campus.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay, so let’s see. This is related to the earlier question about public sectors. "Do any government organizations come to recruit at ISB?"

VK Menon: Oh, it's the same answer. See, government organizations would love to recruit from the ISB, number one. Number two if a student accepts an offer from a government company, ISB strongly considers supporting, or giving them part of their loan, so that we encourage them to join the public sector and the government, but having said that, because the remuneration, or the pattern of remuneration in the public sector and government is low, there have been very few takers for such options.

Linda Abraham: Okay, makes sense. Nain asks, "How does the Indian job market look for a person graduating in 2014 from ISB?" Probably a question of interest to a lot of people on the call.

VK Menon: Okay. Actually, I have a completely – I mean this is my personal take – but I have a very different take on this whole thing. I don’t think we should confuse the macro with the micro. That is, I’m not so concerned about how the economy is doing, or how certain sectors are doing, or how the global economy is, or whether we are in a recession, or whether we are in a buoyant mood. Yes, those are all factors. But end of the day, when you graduate out of a premium B-school like the ISB, it is what happens to you that’s important.

For a small group of people, (700 is not a very large number in a collective world landscape), so in a small group it all depends on how you prepare for the job you want to join, and given that over the years the reputation that is built by premium schools is strong, and close to 300 to 400 companies would come and recruit. Your chance of getting a job which you want is high, subject to your preparations levels being strong and your commitment levels being strong.

So I really don’t bother too much about the macro-environment, or how the environment might go. Wherever it goes, the war for talent will be there. Good students will get lapped up, so, those are all reality. I mean over the last ten years I have seen various ups and downs of the economy, but always the demand for talent and the demand for the right talent, and good talent has been constant.

Linda Abraham: Yes, it’s kind of like predicting the weather and deciding whether you’re going to take a trip in a year based on the weather today.

VK Menon: Yes.

Linda Abraham: You can’t. You’re not going to know what it is in a year, and you still have to decide whether you’re going to buy that plane ticket or make those plans. Okay, Prakash asks, "Are there a lot of global manufacturing companies that recruit from ISB, especially the companies based in the USA and Europe?" This is more about global manufacturing, and again, there are several questions along in this direction.

VK Menon: The global firms which recruit at the ISB are not necessarily into manufacturing; most of them who come to recruit, they come from strategy, planning, leadership, sales and marketing, and young leader programs. So the closest I can think of in terms of manufacturing would be the young leader programs. And when I say young leader, the youngest may not be the right word out there, because they look at ten years of experience as young, and eight years as young, and so on. So it depends on what you think you are in terms of youth.

So young leader programs are the closest you get into the manufacturing sector. They are rotated through manufacturing and finance, and marketing, and so on. Specifically from the U.S., I go back to my earlier answer, it is a visa question. If you have an international passport and a visa to work in the U.S., then there is no problem whatsoever. If you do not, then it’s a tough ask, because a manufacturing company in the U.S. is not going to easily sponsor a visa for an Indian passport holder.

Linda Abraham: All right, let me go look at the questions again. A couple of questions, this one is from Ankur, "What are the prospects for people interested in going into low-cost healthcare, either in semi-urban or rural areas? Is it economically feasible to do that, or would that kind of go under the public sector issues that you addressed a minute ago. Does ISB healthcare elective focus on rural and lower income?" And I also have a question from somebody who wrote in. "Again, does ISB prepare people to go to rural enterprise?"

VK Menon: I would take the first question about healthcare in rural areas. Now, I don’t know about rural, but today there is a lot of demand in Tier 2/Tier 3 cities. There are a lot of these hospital chains who want to foray into Tier 2/Tier 3 kind of cities, so that demand is strong. They pay well. That’s a very feasible option, but we haven’t had any company – I think except one or two, maybe – yes, very few companies who are looking at completely placing students in the rural market.

Having said that, I also feel there are not many students who really want to work in the rural market. I would say if the question is about Tier 2/ Tier 3 cities, the answer is yes. If the question is about religious and rural, I don’t think that is happening.

Linda Abraham: Okay, another question from Iswarep, "Do companies take into consideration prior academic or their GMAT score in placement?"

VK Menon: At ISB, we have a grade non-disclosure policy, which means that when an application or a resume is made, there is no mandatory space for you to put your CGPA or so on. But having said that a student is free to put what the student wants, so obviously, if I have a high GMAT score, I will put my GMAT score. If I have a high CGPA, I can put it, but the client, that recruiting company cannot ask our department about what is the CGPA of a particular student, because we don’t know. It’s a grade non-disclosure. The grade is known only to the administrative group that runs the academic program.

Number one there is grade non-disclosure policy. Number two grades are important for a small set of companies. Okay, so around let’s say 5% of the companies would strongly go by grades, but the remaining go by skill sets and talent. So that’s how it kind of pans out.

Linda Abraham: Do some of the management consulting firms or investment banks use the GMAT as a screening tool?

VK Menon: No, I don’t think anybody uses a GMAT as a screening tool. They could look at the CGPA quite closely. The top management consultants and all that could look at the CGP. That is the grade you attained in the MBA program, or the BDP program. They could look at that, but I don’t think that they go back and short-list based on GMAT.

Linda Abraham: Actually, I had heard that here, but maybe not in India.

VK Menon: Yes, here I haven’t come across any instance where GMAT became a yardstick.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Denise asks, "Does a background at three different companies before the MBA work against you in placement post-MBA?"

VK Menon: It depends on how quickly you have made the shift, but if you’ve worked across three companies, and applying to ISB, you have more than two years of experience, that is absolutely acceptable. These days I do not think that is seen as a negative at all. It just means that you’ve tried finding out what is the best fit role, and you have done what you had to do. It’s more important as to what other things you learned out of these three companies, and what you bring to the table as far as the skill set match, and the knowledge match is concerned, from the client side.

Linda Abraham: Okay, we’ve discussed a lot of different industries and career options. We’ve discussed entrepreneurship. We’ve discussed management consulting, product management, public sector, all kinds of things. The one thing that hasn’t come up is finance, investment banking. What percentage of ISB graduates go into let’s say, investment banking, private equity, venture capital, and how does ISB prepare them?

VK Menon: Yes. If you look at finance, you look at that entire spectrum of finance. On the one hand, you have wealth management. You have commercial banking. Then you have corporate banking. Then you have treasury. You have I-banking. You have private equity. There is an entire spectrum of roles which happen.

The demand right now is more on the light side; that is the demand is strong on wealth management, on corporate banking, and so on. I-banking and private equity are lesser in demand. Private equity companies are not hiring directly from B-schools, at least they are not hiring in large numbers. They hire very, very limited because the overall size of the organization will be very, very small. I mean a large private equity company in India might just have ten people. So the number of hiring that happens – and also very few people seem to be leaving these companies – so all of these major private equity companies have very low turnover in manpower. They are very keen to take people for their industry companies, but for their own companies, because of the relative size of the people working in those are very small.

So private equity hiring is very low. Investment banking is slightly higher, but given the glut in the market today, that is that you must be reading about the number of I-bankers who are trying to relocate themselves, get new jobs, and so on. It’s a very congested marketplace for I-banking.

In terms of specialized skill sets, trading, treasury those are all quite strong, and how we prepare for it, that’s a good question. When a student joins ISB, in the Careers Department there is a department called Learning and Development. If you look at finance, the lady who heads finance is an I-banker with about 20 years of experience, and so on. It is that team’s role to ensure that you do the right things during the one-year, which gets a good fit for you into these kinds of roles. That’s how the preparation is done, and this applies to all the branches.

Linda Abraham: Great. I have a question for our audience: Where are you at in the application process, and when are you applying? Have you already applied to ISB? You applied cycle one. Are you planning to apply cycle two, or are you deciding whether to apply at all? The results are that 29% have already applied, 38% are applying to cycle two, 24% are deciding whether to apply, or not. I hope this information is helping you all. Now, let’s go back to questions. The next question is from Aditi, "What are the opportunities post-MBA, if I want to be in the education space,"?

VK Menon: Interesting question. Yes, because you see I don’t think three – four years back anybody would have asked this question. Today, education is really growing big and profession-lacking, if you want to use the term, and a number of new colleges and universities are being set up across the country, in India. There is a demand from global markets for people who are in the education field, and interestingly in India, not many people have gone into the education sector.

This is a sunrise sector, and if new bills pass, the demand will be very high, and there are just not enough people with the strong skill sets and backgrounds to take on education roles. To answer your question, it’s a very sunrise and very good sector if you are keen to – for a good career.

Linda Abraham: Great. We have an interesting question here from Harsh. He asks "A specialist who does an MBA, typically an engineer, becomes a generalist. Given the current status of the market would the Indian employers go more for expensive MBA’s, i.e. generalists; to do jobs that they can get less expensive engineers to do?"

VK Menon: Right, okay. I think we should look at this question inside out. What is it that you would like to do? Let us take a typical case of a technical person, say an IT person, who gets into the MBA program. The person clearly – see you have to draw a kind of decision tree – here is this technical person, IT guy, let us say, and he has got about two, three years of experience. Where else can he go? He can go across a whole series of things. He can do consulting. He can do young leader programs; both of these are completely background agnostic to a large extent. He can take up, as we discussed earlier, product management. He can take on product management, which is a tech domain. He can take on e-commerce. He can do digital marketing. He can do technology consulting.

There is a whole set of options that open up. It’s like a buffet. You need to choose where your skill sets are. If your skill sets are very strong into a specialist domain, you stay with the specialist domain and the company is most happy to hire such a profile.

If your skill sets are, "Yes, I will use a part of my engineering background, but I would like to get more exposure to the client side," and so on, the companies are happy to take you and put you onto such domains. For example, you could be a technology person working in a B2B space; business to business space, doing marketing. So that’s a perfectly valid track. You could be a technology person doing digital commerce. That’s a perfectly valid track. So at the end of the day, it’s like a buffet. You will choose where you want to go and then focus on it and deliver.

Linda Abraham: Right. Yes, if there were no demand for generalists, businesses wouldn’t pay big salaries for generalist managers.

VK Menon: That’s right.

Linda Abraham: The marketplace kind of dictates what people get paid for different things. Okay, Jadeep asks, "What is the demand for sales and marketing professionals with seven-plus years of experience in financial services?" I think that the question is really, what is the demand for sales and marketing professionals.

VK Menon: Correct. Again, when you ask us this question, look at the opportunities. You can be in the FMCD sector doing B2C. You can be in the B2B space. When you are in the B2B space you can be in any of these sectors or spaces. You can be in the financial sector. You can be in the technology space. You can operate in any of the B2B spaces. If you choose a space, you choose the financial, because you are coming from seven years in the financial services sector. So you want to be in sales. You want to be in the financial sector. Then you have options. You can work in India. You can work abroad. Then you decide you want to be in India. If you want to be in India, then again, options open up. You can work in wealth management. You can work in corporate banking. You can work in investment banking. You can work in equity. Then you choose. I want to work in wealth management. Then you’ve got to decide. Do you want to work in a large bank? Do you want to work in a small bank? So the flow goes like that.

In end of the day, there is strong demand on practically all the sectors. I mean obviously sales and marketing is a generic requirement that cross sectors. It is more to do with how you analyze where you want to go, and specialize on those areas.

Linda Abraham: Right. First figure out where you want to go, and then figure out the way to get there.

VK Menon: Correct, absolutely.

Linda Abraham: First figure out, I’ve got this, I want to do that, and then what will that lead me to. It’s somewhat backwards, and I see this in a lot of the questions. I have this background. If I go to ISB what opportunities do I have? You have tons of opportunities.

VK Menon: That is correct.

Linda Abraham: What you do first is figure out what you want to do, and then figure out, first of all, if ISB is the right place to do it, and then how at ISB you can get there, right?

VK Menon: Absolutely, yes.

Linda Abraham: Manish asks, "The international student mix is still fledgling at ISB. How do you plan to address that to simulate a truly global environment of learning and interaction in the near future?

VK Menon: It’s a good question. In the current batch, around 25% to 30% of the students would have worked in international markets, but they are of Indian origin. Only around 5% of the students, or even less than that, about 4% of the students, would be truly international. So that is a challenge, as he has been asking.

What we do is a couple of things. One is that we have an exchange program with 40 business schools across the world. You have an option of going and studying in one of the 40 schools, and those students from across 40 schools come over and sit in the classroom at ISB. If you actually come down to an ISB classroom, it will be a very international mix of students coming from various business schools outside. Close to about 100 and odd students come over and go on an exchange basis. That is the kind of a mix.

And what are we doing? We take the regular MBA career tracks, and MBA sessions and we do all that. As the questioner has asking, we are fledgling, yes.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I think we’re going to make this the last question. "Is 4 years of code development experience in the IT industry, relevant when looking to purse MBA & placement after the course?" I think this goes to our exchange a minute ago, but Kishu was asking this question. "Is four years of coding relevant if one is looking to pursue an MBA and subsequent placement?"

VK Menon: Yes, this also is kind of similar to the previous questions, but let us look at it very closely. If I’ve got four years in coding, if we are going for those companies, like management consultants, young leader programs, etc. They are not bothered about kind of background you come from. So you can code for four years, it doesn’t matter as long as you bring in the skill sets, like your academic performance, your performance at the MBA program, communication, etc. They will you in. Most companies are willing to give you credit for the experience you have worked in, irrespective of what work you’ve done, but may not be the full credit, especially in specialized areas like FMCD sales, or finance. Otherwise you get some credit for the work you’ve put in.

Linda Abraham: Right. And again, I think part of your job, both as an applicant to ISB or any other business school, as well as that of a job applicant, is to show how your experience is going to help you perform on the job.

VK Menon: Correct.

Linda Abraham: That’s both your job experience, educational experience, all kinds of different experiences. That’s part of the challenge of any job applicant at any point in time.

At this point, I would like to thank you all for participating today. I’m very sorry if we didn’t get to your specific question. I tried to cover a broad range.

I do want to thank Mr. Menon again, for joining us. I think you’ve done an excellent job of really covering an enormous amount of ground in a very short period of time. If you have additional questions, e-mail pgpadmissions@isb.edu.

We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A's and admission events. Coming up next, we have:

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Best of luck with your MBA applications. VK, thank you so much again.

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