What is the value of a foreign MBA in India?

International business schools proudly display statistics about high MBA salaries in USA and success stories of career changers who managed to change their role, industry or geography after completing their MBA abroad.

However, as with most statistics driven marketing campaigns, the 3-D pie-charts in the MBA placement report often reveal only half of the story.

If an estimated 30% of the students in a graduating MBA class managed a complete career change (new role + new industry + new country), guess what happened to the remaining 70%. Maybe some managed a partial career change (like a new role in the same industry, but paying in dollars / pounds). What about the rest who were forced to return home? What was the value of a foreign MBA in Indian for them?

For many Indian students studying (MBA, MS) in USA or any other foreign country, the secret desire is to be a lucky enough to fall in the first category. But competing with statistics, probability and the formidable H1B visa application process is never easy.

With a heavy heart, those who haven’t been able to get a good job abroad, start thinking about returning to India after completing an MBA in USA / Canada / UK / Singapore. That’s when a new set of questions start popping up in their mind. Let’s look at some of those, ordered by diminishing levels of optimism.
 

Should I take up an old role/industry job in USA or new role/industry job in India?

Assuming you actually have those choices, you are better than most Indian students abroad (in the U.S. / Canada / UK / Singapore colleges). Just like in the cases of multiple MBA admits, this is a good dilemma to have.

Go back in time when you first decided to apply to the top foreign MBA universities. What was the primary trigger? More money or a career change? If those priorities haven’t changed, the choice is relatively easy.

In contrast to the philosophical advice of following your dream, I’d suggest being more practical and get the money first.

When you are deep in debt, you’d be too stressed to chase your dreams anyway. So you might as well be pragmatic (superficial?) and pay off your MBA education loan as soon as you can. And then chase your dreams.

However, keep in mind that a job abroad might pay you more money, but the fixed and variable expenses (cost of living, education loan repayment, taxes) will also be higher.
 

What is the value of a foreign MBA degree in India?

This question indicates that you’ve tried your best for several months (after completing the MBA course) to get an overseas job in the graduating country by tapping into all the resources at your disposal (networking, MBA career services, alumni), but there hasn’t been much to cheer about.

Fortunately, in terms of growth and opportunities, the Indian economy looks much better than its western counterparts.

Back home, for jobs that require an MBA, you’d be competing with other job applicants who have graduated from the top MBA programs in India. Your foreign MBA can be a differentiator, but only if the brand name of your international university is strong, familiar and well-respected in the industry you are targetting.

As an example, MIT is a juggernaut in the technology industry. Whether you work in America or in India, companies know what it means to have an MIT degree.

The downside is that the number of such global brands with a universal appeal is pretty limited. Indian companies don’t track the Financial Times or any other top MBA ranking for the best business schools in the world. Their perception is influenced more by general knowledge and the one-off media reports (one-off, because Indian journalists find USD-to-INR converted IIT salaries more thrilling than MBA abroad salaries in USD).

In fact, many HR professionals working in the biggest Indian companies wouldn’t even be familiar with all the top 10 B-schools in the world.

Before you react (“What the Tuck!”), understand the simple reason for why that happens.

The bulk of recruiting for them happens at Indian Bschools. Nothing personal. The value of a U.S. / UK MBA is more than what the rankings indicate. Rather than expecting Indian companies to guess the value of your overseas MBA degree, you’ll have to package and present it to make them aware.
 

What salary can I get in India after completing an MBA abroad?

Taking off on the previous point (about the competition you’ll face in India with an MBA degree from U.S.), think about the average salaries that MBA graduates from India get. For the sake of keeping our assumptions simple, let’s keep the IIM grads with zero pre-MBA experience out of the picture.

You are more likely competing with others with 5-6 years experience. At ISB (a more relevant competition pool for you) the average salary is 18 lakhs. That’s a pretty good deal by average Indian compensation package standards. It’s also a good reference point for you consider while benchmarking the range for your salary negotiation in India.

But your classmates who got jobs in the U.S. are getting $100,000. So you are justified in being a little disappointed and not getting more that others who graduated from one year Indian MBA programs.

Think about it from the recruiting company’s perspective. Why should they pay you more? Just because you have an overseas MBA degree and a bigger education loan to pay off?

Or because you have some specific skills and (international) exposure that’ll help you be more impactful in the new job?
 

Will an MBA abroad help me get a job in India?

Just as in the case of a reputed Indian MBA stamp, an international MBA can ‘help’ you, but it won’t be an easy ride.

The answer to the questions listed earlier will play a role in whether you’ll get a job, what INR salary you can get and whether you can extract the real value of a foreign MBA in India.

Here’s a list of Don’ts to keep in mind.

– Don’t think that an MBA admit from a top school absolves you of your job hunting responsibilities. The risks remain till you get job, whether in India or abroad.

– Don’t exhaust your personal funds, especially when you cannot afford the worst case scenario of not having a job for an extended duration after graduating.

– Don’t blindly aim for the top programs. Read these counter-intuitive facts about the RoI from the top MBA colleges in the world. Try to balance the brand name, course fee, MBA scholarships and job opportunities.

Play hard, but play safe!


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

10 Comments

  1. Prashant Bhagchandani says:

    Sameer makes an excellent case here. I went through the same situation last year. Foreign MBA’s have it tough in India!

  2. Mansi says:

    Hi Sameer Sir,
    I m just done with my graduation this year I m 20 years old and thinking to do MBA in India or abroad
    I scored 80% in 10th and 62% in 12th and did graduation in accounting and finance I m interested in Accounts as I love to do accounts a lot would you help me out by giving suggestion that i should do MBA or not what should i do further as I m just interested to do accounts as I don’t want to waste my years

  3. Jaswitha says:

    I am doing my mba 1st year right now…I came to know that we can go abroad for 2nd year so i wanted to go abroad there I would like to know the oppurtunities there and future oppurtunities I may get if i gothere

  4. Sameer Kamat says:

    @Prashant: Thanks for pitching in. It would be helpful to get some more insights from your experience.

    @Mansi: If your primary love is accounting, you’d be better off going for a specialised degree like CA, rather than a broadbased one like MBA where accounting is just one of the many MBA subjects you’ll cover.

    @Jaswitha: The best source to get that information is your MBA admissions/careers team. Check if they have tie-ups (international exchange programs) with other universities. Without that it’ll be impractical to do something independently.

  5. Indraneil says:

    Hey Sameer! Preety much confused after reading your article. If it is so, then can you suggest me a country with affordable MBA program and also which has its value in India. I’ve done B.E from EC and I am looking for MBA (not interested in Tech). Being honest, I am not from a “deep-pocket” family as I got some limits. However, I am planning to move abroad for higher studies. Help me out!!

  6. Hey Sameer, thank you for the article. Can you advise me which field should I go for in MBA, given that I have a flair for content writing and I want to travel. Do you have an idea in which field can I make the best use of my abilities and wishes.! Thanks in advance.

  7. Lalit says:

    Hi Sameer,
    I have done B.tech from ECE branch. I’m a Quality assurance engineer with 2 year of working experience in Indian telecommunication company.I want to continue in studies with MBA dagree.
    Please advise which MBA program should I prefer most regarding my past education & experience

  8. Sreeparna Mukherjee says:

    I am about to start 1 year Full-time MBA course in Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. I plan to come back to India and search for a job. I have over 6 years experience working in the IT industry (CTS) and had worked in Singapore and Malaysia. What do you think my prospects are of landing with a job that will pay at least 10 lakh per annum? Is the MBA degree from Strathclyde Business School recognized by most companies in India?

    • Kamal says:

      You must be joking with that profile! You, being an MBA grad from Strathclyde should know better. You have a 6-year work ex which in itself will land you in a job that pays above 10 lakhs an annum. I have half your work ex and I draw that kinda money. There can’t be any guarantees but it depends on which roles you target here. If you wish to continue in the same industry(IT), you may look for a project manager, development manager role or even a PO role if you have substantial subject knowledge. Any of those roles should pay a salary upward of 2 million INR, easy. If you’d like a change of industry then your salary prospects drop a bit because of lack of experience in the relevant field. You need to utilize your MBA brand to score a job and compromise a bit on your salary. But I still think a 2 million INR salary is easily manageable in India with Strathclyde MBA. I am quite baffled that you talk about “10 lakh per year” salaries!

  9. AKSHAY SAI SHANKAR says:

    @sreeparna You have two options 1) you can touch your nose directly with your index finger (Indian MBA’S Easily offer you 10 lac+) versus 2)put your hand behind your head and then try to touch your nose with index finger (Foreign MBA’S in India are paired with local MBA’s while hiring
    ) ..Also remember heavy student loan after returning to India

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