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.
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.
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.
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?
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!