What does an “MBA” entail in terms of the future career growth? What are the various avenues that a future Manager can look at as his/her possible career options? While the management education opens up a plethora of opportunities, it is finally left to the inclination of the managerial aspirant and the opportunities that are open at the time of starting of the career. However, the managerial aspirant is better off making an informed choice as to what path her / his career should take.
The critical point to note is that in most of the good B Schools like the IIMs, the first couple of terms provide the budding manager exposure to the wider perspective of management. This is so done with the intention that the student is able to appreciate the width of the management field, before s/he gets to choose one area as an area of specialisation. Taking this to the logical end, the aspirant needs to understand that the career options available at the end of the programme are a function of specialisation area and the external environment which may or may not be conducive. This is under the assumption that the Institute is relatively better off in placing its students in the corporate world. What parameters enable an institute to place its students appropriately in the corporate world are a subject for discussion on another day.
The following may be considered as broad areas of career opportunities for the budding manager. Subject to one’s interest and the capability of the Institute in imparting the right education, the future manager may expect to make a career in one of these fields.
1.Investment Banking: With the Indian economy opening up to the Global markets, most Investment banks have set up their back offices that provide the back end support to the client facing roles. Also, India in itself has become a hot bed of Investment banking activities, with lots of Mergers and Acquisitions and other activities that need support from Investment bankers. This opportunity gets him /her into the thick of action at the corporate level.
2.Consulting: This refers to the career in which experts are called to advise firms to improve their business performance. In sum, one uses the tools and techniques that learnt in the Strategy and other areas to help firms cut their losses, boost profitability and importantly survive in a highly competitive market. This career is highly enriching for providing the widest possible exposure due to constant interaction with the top management of clients. Equally important, it gives one the exposure to be a problem solver (and problems of wide variety) and thereby prepares one for leadership roles later on in other corporates.
3.Functional Roles: (Marketing, Finance and Human Resources, among others). Each corporation needs the individual functions to work efficiently for the organisation as a whole to perform well. Budding managers specialising in each of the functional areas can contribute to the corporate’s growth in the required area using their functional specialisation knowledge. While there is nothing called “one function being more important than the others,” the criticality of each function assumes supreme proportions based on the context, thereby giving the opportunity to the managers to showcase their competency in their respective areas. For example, with the corpoate having decided to expand its market share on a war footing, marketing function will receive precedence over other functions like operations. However, this is not to put down the rest, but till such time the immediate objective is achieved, one particular function may get preferential treatment.
4.Sectoral specialisation: The sun rise industries present an opportunity for managers to take special interest in those sectors, thereby enabling rapid career growth. Examples of this could be Retail management, Hotel & Hospitality management, Hospital management and others, which have a specialised need for managers trained in the details of that particular sector. This may take the shape of devoting one’s career to a sector, rather than to the function. For example, one may become a retail specialist, including operations, logistics, HR and marketing in that space, rather than be a HR specialist across industries.
5.General Management Roles: Some of the corporates specifically recruit budding managers who can work for the group for a long time to come. This will give the managers advantage of working in multiple sectors that the conglomerate is in and also in various functions. For example, the much revered TATA group recruits dynamic managers into its prestigious TAS (TATA Administrative Service), which is a launch pad for managers to take up senior manager roles later in their careers.
6.Entrepreneurship: Being a manager is a way of thinking and not just a professional designation! The more enterprising can leapfrog the traditional career progression (Trainee manager > junior manager > middle management > senior management > top management > CEO) by being one’s own boss right from the beginning. In other words, using the tools and techniques gained during the course of B school training, one can put to commercial application an innovative idea; thereby grow the start up to a big organisation later on. Of course, this jump to entrepreneurship calls for out of the box thinking and willingness to take risks.
7.Academia: The joy of teaching fresh young minds is the best reward in itself! More so, if one has the ability to balance academic activities with interest in corporate sector, then one can become a bridge between the two critical sectors of the economy. With the Knowledge commission and other high powered committees arguing for expanding the higher education sector, the need for qualified faculty has been acute. The path towards being a “Thought Leader” is by being an academician!
Wishing the budding manager all the very best in choosing the right career and achieving success in the chosen path!
Prof. Samir Kagalkar is a Faculty at Accend School of Management and Entrepreneurship (ASoME) and holds a doctorate from IIMB in the area of Corporate Strategy and Policy. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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