Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB, other Indian programs: Pros and Cons

Second MBA abroad after IIM, ISB India

You could earn multiple degrees in different ways. You could go for a double-major, as Mollie from MIT (pictured above), did. She got 2 diplomas in brain & cognitive sciences and biology. She went on to get a PhD from Harvard in developmental neurobiology. That’s an impressive set of qualifications.

Another way to get a double degree is by joining a program such as the Wharton Lauder MBA-MA dual degree. It is one integrated program that combines two independent degrees. The least common way is to sign up for the exact same degree twice. Strange as it may sound, there are a lot of folks from India applying to MBA degrees abroad, when they already have an MBA from India.

In the past 2-3 years, we have witnessed a surge in those seeking a second MBA. This used to be a case earlier for people who had done their MBA from obscure colleges but now, every year we have folks from the revered IIMs and ISB coming to us, seeking advice on whether to take the plunge one more time.

Is a second MBA worth it? Before I get into the advisory mode, let me first present the reasons why this trend has been happening.
 

Why second MBA after IIM, ISB from India

 

Too Soon

This applies in the case of IIMs and many other CAT based Indian programs that take students with zero experience. For most of them, the experience turns out to be a turbocharged version of their undergrad. They get the theory but when they enter the real world, there is a huge chasm which takes a time for them to bridge. Ever so often, they come across colleagues who have done it from global schools and this starts putting seeds in their minds about a sort of la la land that they’ve been deprived of. Partly true, partly story but that is one reason for you – we investigate this more later.
 

Too theoretical

Some of the MBA programs mentioned above, not necessarily the top tier ones, can be a bit too theoretical/non-cased based. This means that while you know the ‘formula’, you don’t know the ‘heuristics/thumb-rules’ that invariably have to be applied in an actual setting. As time evolves, these industry practices might evolve too and having missed the bus in learning things the first time around, some candidates want to get the learning right. Side note: those seeking true knowledge are a mere minority.
 

Too same

This is another of a subtle reason, similar to the one above. With no or very less experience, a large majority of the people in many of the MBA programs are fresh engineering grads who are committed but may not necessarily light up the scene in terms of real world insights. This means that all students look to the faculty and books for learning but miss out on the crucial peer-learning aspect. Again, this is rarely the reason why people seek a second MBA but tends to be a good motivator for some once they fathom it.
 

Too Indian

This one perhaps takes the cake when it comes to the motivator, especially for the Tier 1 MBA guys. Indian MBAs can be pretty awesome when it comes to RoI but for most purposes, offer an excellent ‘Indian’ career. Sure, a lot of IIM and ISB grads move out of the country, but as a proportion of the actual class size, it is still miniscule – call it selection bias. Most of those seeking international MBAs come to us with the dream of launching themselves on the global arena – something their Indian degrees take much more effort to; many countries don’t even recognize our prestigious MBA degrees/education as MBA!
 

Pros and Cons of Second MBA

With the reasons ascertained to some extent, let’s now look at the pros and cons and finally try to arrive at a conclusion. Expectedly, some of the pros/cons will be a derivative of the reasons already outlined above.
 

Benefits of a second MBA

 

Professional Maturity

Most good international MBA programs are very hands-on and put a lot of focus on applied learning. Apart from internships, there are a lot of other avenues of applied learning in the form of projects, study groups, clusters, presentations, seminars, student organizations et al. These avenues allow students to bridge the gap between theory and practice to a good extent – the reality is still different mind you, but these help. Employers recognize this as it helps reduce the learning curve they need to provide and everyone is happy.
 

Peer Maturity

Harking back to a point mentioned earlier, the average experience range in an international MBA classroom is 4-5 years (read here for more on this). And not all of them come from one type of professional background. In fact, the diversity is just explosive – race, language, color, ethnicity – you find it all. This can be intimidating and humbling for some but for most parts, it is supremely enriching. The experience truly prepares you to take on the world, in any part of the world literally speaking.
 

Faculty Maturity

This in no way is to comment on the quality of teaching in our country – that’s a different topic. The point is that like peers, the faculty you encounter in a good global school is also very diverse and global. Many of them are very active in the industry and not just academia; some are considered leading thinkers in their respective fields. Tapping into this goldmine can leave you quite satisfied when it comes to the true pursuit of ‘knowledge’.
 

Global Maturity

Just like certain passports mean lesser visas, a good brand can mean more doors – not all MBAs are created equal. A global name means access to a global network which means access to opportunities not just in the country of your MBA, but in quite a few places worldwide. Those motivated with this reason will not find things wanting.
 

Cons of a second MBA

 

More Effort

By effort here, I mean the effort required in terms of application. Not all schools out there are open to the concept of a second MBA and even the ones that are, would want to understand your logic for going through the grind again. We’ve put up a list here, but the reality is more complex since not all schools have a standard stance on this subject. Let’s just say that the entire options list is not open for you and you have to research on each option for feasibility at the basic level.
 

More Expensive

International MBA programs are expensive – period. See a basic comparison here. That apart, especially if you are from a Tier 1 MBA already, chances are that you are at one of the most productive (financially speaking) phase of your career. Consequently, the opportunity cost alone can be huge. The point can be argued alternatively too saying you may have more savings and hence the lesser debt obligation, but it usually gets shadowed due to the opportunity cost involved. Suffice it to say that it might take you longer than a first MBA grad to recoup the investment. So those seeking a second MBA should think beyond money alone.
 

More Risk

The risk is more pronounced if you are looking to change your career trajectory/direction through an MBA. It will be tougher to convince a prospective recruiter and in general, you are likely to end up discounting your previous MBA as well as experience. Instead, if it is for career acceleration, the risks can be lower. Even so, the sovereign (read work permit related) risks remain. Generally speaking, the remuneration expectations of a second MBA grad can be higher compared to those who are out in the market for the first time. This can again mean lesser options and consequently, more risk.
 
Though we have talked about IIM and ISB in the same breath here a short note is in order. ISB in many ways has been designed on the global MBA program and it provides many of the things mentioned above. Even so, there are folks from ISB that explore a second MBA from time to time – in our experience, this population is lower; also perhaps because the school is younger. The main motivator for these candidates is to explore the international market more than anything else.
 

In Conclusion

Should you go for it then? The answer, as they say, is it depends. If the pros far outweigh the cons in your case, go for it. This decision however for many prospective candidates is a more personal one and often times, necessitates a larger discussion with the family. Our stance on this is that of cautious optimism – meaning, go for it but be very very careful.

Read these related posts:
USA business schools accepting second MBA applicants
Michigan Ross MBA admit for second MBA applicant
Second MBA degree abroad (USA) with scholarship after 30
Second MBA for Indian couple
Second MBA after distance degree
 
Image credit: mit.edu


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MG (Manish Gupta) //
MG (Manish Gupta)
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

10 Comments

  1. Pallav says:

    Hi MG,

    I have done my MBA ( Marketing) from IIM Indore last year and post that ( 7 months) working as product manager in banking sector. I have 3.3 years of Pre MBA experience with Infosys Limited. Now i want to go for executive MBA from abroad because i am planning to settle abroad. But considering age( 28 y) I am in dilemma that whether i should go for Teaching/ research associate role in abroad universities or executive MBA. Is it justifiable for me ?

  2. Swapnil Jain says:

    Hi Manish,
    I am currently working in an IT software company in Sales and have 8+ yrs of sales experience post my MBA (2yrs). I also have a yr experience prior to MBA in an automobile company as trainee engineer.
    For the past couple of years I am feeling stuck in same kind of profile and it is looking hard for career progression (moving up in hierarchy). I am also interested for International career. I am looking to do 2nd MBA from any top university in Canada or USA. Can you please suggest will doing 2nd MBA a good option? Which should i prefer USA/CANADA from job & residency perspective?
    Regards,

  3. Oracle says:

    @Manish Gupta

    You have missed out on the most important aspect while going for a second MBA: Search for a “TOO easy a path to settle abroad”

    International MBA is a ticket to settle abroad. It’s simple as that.

    India’s GDP is growing at 7+%, Modi-Ji is transforming the nation, corruption is going to be a thing of past, there will be many smart cities to chose from to live a good life …

    …..but hey, but who believes all this? These are just to score points in a political debate. When it comes to deciding on my career and life expectations, settling abroad is the only aspiration of all Indians, with or without MBA !!

  4. BK says:

    Thanks for the excellent article. It was just what I was looking for.
    I am 26 and have about 2 years work ex in an Indian multinational major, earning around 22lpa. I had done my MBA from a top 10 college in India. Now looking for a second masters. I have couple of international supply chain certifications also, like CSCP, CSSBB

    I had a couple of questions
    1. Got 730 in GMAT. Should I write it again?
    2. I’m working in core supply chain. Will my work ex broke valued outside (unlike IT, SCM can be quite country specific) .
    3. What are the best programs available for me? Will INSEAD find my profile attractive? I couldn’t find any other good (top 5) 1 year programs other than INSEAD. So, is investing another 2years a wise decision?
    4. As work permits are getting tougher, will I be able to get jobs in easier regimes like Canada if I did my MBA from a US?

  5. Punit says:

    Manish,

    I am looking for a second MBA . I have total 5 years of experience apart from my MBA from IIM-R. Couple of questions I had was what is the average work experience these top B-schools look for and do they count the 2-years of MBA in the experience

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