The MBA degree opens up worlds of opportunity for its bearers. Many business positions require an MBA for advancement. For example, investment banking and management consulting firms hire large classes of newly minted MBAs each year at six-figure salaries into the "associate" level -- those without MBAs generally don't advance past the "analyst" level. At major consumer products companies like Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Colgate-Palmolive, MBAs are hired as "assistant brand managers" into the brand management department -- those without MBAs are generally not eligible for the department. And it is from this function that these companies' senior executives are generally drawn.
There are two kinds of MBA institutes in India -- a handful from which you leave with a pedigree and the vast majority which offer just degrees. In the first category lie the IIMs, XLRI and, to a lesser extent, FMS and Bajaj -- the institutions which pioneered the concept of management education at a time when the IAS was a far more wanted career path.
In the second lies a vast array of institutes -- the good, the mediocre and the dubious. Evaluating the value proposition in the latter category is the daunting task faced by the majority of MBA aspirants.
Although numerous B school rankings may be published every year, it rarely if ever alters the recruiter's pecking order. For 'class' or the jobs requiring brainwork, it's a select few institutes. For 'mass' or the groundwork jobs, it's down the B school ladder. And how low down this ladder a company will go depends on how many fresher it requires.
With so many new sectors opening up -- retail, insurance, BPO, telecom -- it would seem the job pie has grown exponentially. True, except that B school you graduate from often still determines whether you eat your slice at the chairman's table. Many companies follow differential recruitment policies. Better salary, designation and job profiles are offered to the more premium grads.
But, in an ironic twist, one man's Cat can be another's Dog. Several reputed companies -- especially ndian ones -- prefer to recruit from less elite campuses. These MBAs, they believe, work harder to prove themselves and are far more loyal to the organisation.
It's a different thing that, given half the chance, the same MBAs would jump to join the very MNCs that won't touch them!