Corporate politics driving MBA growth – Achamba

Achamba - Super MBAAchamba, the Super MBA minus the cape and the bright coloured external underwear, did some research. That’s one of the very few things he’s good at. He wanted to get behind the AAP growth story.

No, it’s not what you are thinking. He wanted to know why the Aam Applicant Pool (AAP) was growing at such an alarming rate.

Traditionally, this category of MBA aspirants was known as the Indian IT Male Pool (or IIM Pool). But the acronym was creating a fair bit of confusion, specially among an audience conditioned into interpreting things in bizarre ways.

Achamba’s intellectual discussions would get derailed every time he mentioned ‘IIM Pool’ and one of his friends would quip, ‘IIMs are our national assets. They should focus on management education, not swimming pools.

So Achamba came up with terms & acronyms that, he felt, had very little chance to be interpreted in any other way – Aam Applicant Pool or AAP.

What drives MBA aspirants from AAP to bschools abroad

For his research, he found many MBA applicants working in software companies lurking on GMAT and MBA forums, reaching out to admission consultants and asking for MBA profile evaluations, getting satisfied with 10-15 completely disconnected responses (oblivious to the guerrilla marketing that was going on rampantly) and then disappearing from the forum.

There was only one way Achamba could gain their interest. Pretending to be an admissions consultant, he created an ‘Ask Achamba’ thread. And soon enough, the typical ‘what are my chances’ queries started pouring in magically.

Achamba cajoled a few of the desi MBA applicants from the AAP category to share their stories of why they were aiming for MBA colleges abroad. Initially, most of them gave standard and predictable answers. ‘Broaden my horizons and deepen my pockets’ was the top response.

But Achamba wasn’t one to give up so easily. He had watched enough episodes of Rendezvous with Simi Garewal to know how to break up hard exterior shells and get the water flowing (this comment was sponsored by the Tourism Department of Kerala, God’s own country!).

It was only then that the tears and the cribbing started flowing freely. The air-conditioned environments of software companies could barely control the heat that was being generated in the office due to the monotonous work, the dwindling supply of overseas assignments, the pathetic canteen food, the improbable promotions, the why-the-fish-do-I-have-to-wear-this-fishing-tie culture.

The aam (common) employee was being taken for a ride. And we aren’t talking about the company’s transportation policy here.

Achamba’s research was bringing out facts that were relevant not only for Admission Officers who’d be reviewing the MBA applications, but for the HR team from the offices that were driving their employees out in droves.

As is always the case with research projects, you get more insights than you bargained for. Achamba realised that AAP wasn’t the only MBA admissions category in the fray. There were a few more categories of bschool aspirants.

His earlier experiences helped him come up with additional terms to describe them. Yet again, he was dead sure that his creative new terminology concoctions and the associated acronyms wouldn’t be misinterpreted by the less talented ones.

Disclaimer on behalf of Achamba: As you read on, we request you to keep in mind that these are categories of MBA applicants from India. Any resemblance to persons/groups living or dead or in comatose state is purely coincidental and a direct result of your hyperactive imagination.

Other Indian MBA applicant groups looking at bschools abroad

Under Paid Applicant

The Under Paid Applicant came from conventional & often bureaucratic industries like power, infrastructure, engineering, manufacturing & the government sector.

The big complaint here was that their employers relied more on tenure & sycophancy than potential to give out the perks. And even when they did, the goodies were hardly comparable to what AAP candidates were getting (like 5BHK homes).

Their top boss was often silent on key corporate decisions and unapproachable to the regular staff. Such applicants hoped that an international MBA would get the recruiters to value their skills and reward them accordingly. The influence of a foreign hand would help their sagging careers.

Business Joinee Pool

Candidates from the Business Joinee Pool did not have the usual complaints of the other categories. Hailing from family businesses, they had a pretty comfortable life and a general tendency to blow their accomplishments out of proportion.

Though they knew their long term plans were in India, they wouldn’t mind a little love from Uncle Sam…and the day when their damn tourist visas would stop getting rejected.

Their friends would often compare them to the exotic flora species Nelumbo Nucifera, as both were able to bloom in wet messy environments.

These MBA applicants had a well-laid out career path too…unfortunately, laid out by their autocratic dads. The choices were limited. For instance, no coffee at home, only chai. Their favourite colour and favourite fruit were the same – orange.

What happened to democratic freedom of choice, etc etc?

For this pool, an MBA was a diplomatic way of rebelling. No egos hurt & no relationships strained in the process.

Non-Commital Pool

MBA candidates from the Non-Committal Pool were applying to MBA, MS, MPhil and MiM programs…simultaneously.

They wanted a foreign degree for the credibility, but their short-term & long-term goals weren’t very apparent to anyone reading their MBA essays and SoPs.

As long as it got them the opportunities they wanted, they were willing to be flexible with the degree.

Differentiation among the applicant pools was an ongoing issue. Like their Business Joinee Pool competitors, their profiles didn’t seem to have much variety. Their favourite insect and their favourite sport were the same – cricket.

Corporate Phobic Indians

The Corporate Phobic Indians were mostly left-handed and considered companies to be a necessary evil within society. They felt, if the government could provide food, clothing and shelter directly, we’d never need companies or salaries or promotions or FDI.

Rather than continue to be part of the mainstream evils, venturing out independently and launching their own start-ups would be so much better. That’s where the MBA came in.

Their general philosophy – MBA admissions, and business in general, does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Temperamental Candidates

Temperamental Candidates, though very simple and down-to-earth in appearance, were a little difficult to understand.

During the alumni interview, when Achamba asked a question about what poribortan (change) they were aiming for in their career, they called him an undercover agent of the Admissions Committee and threatened him with dire consequences.

Not keen on spending a night in jail, Achamba stopped further research on this pool…and his overall survey as well.

However, based on whatever work he had done, the common wisdom that came forth from all these interviews (and after watching a lot of Bollywood movies) was that there’s was one main villain in the story. In this case, it was the corporate politics that was driving good employees away and into the open arms of business schools.

At some point in time, it may be interesting to carry out a similar survey on folks who’ve completed their MBAs to see if their expectations were met or are they more confused now.

While Achamba is busy tabulating these findings and creating colourful pie-charts, let me ask you.

Which of these applicant pools do you fall in? Are you aware of any other categories that Achamba’s research hasn’t brought up?

If you found this interesting, read more about the Adventures of Achamba – The Super MBA.

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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: Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube


  1. Somen says:

    Inplace of ‘Nelumbo Nucifera’ scientifically it should be nucifera & all in italics. Jokes apart, very nice article and I must say very scientific classification. Do notify if Achmba’s research lead to newer species or class.

  2. Anujan says:

    Fantastic article as always Sameer! Kudos for the timing and the creativity though out! Was gripping from alpha to omega. Whilst reading the article I could not stop grinning the whole time while people around with the political outlook were wondering whats wrong with the Normally Dissecting Applicant.

    Statutory Precursory Warning & Disclaimer : Following is just a personal thought and any resemblance to persons/groups living or dead or in comatose state is purely coincidental and a direct result of the readers hyperactive imagination.

    A few other applicant pools that sum up the other remaining quota is :

    1. All India Artists Doctors Mariners Kommerce

    These MBA candidates are a highly indigenous tribe and may either be process maniacs or extremely creative. Their main motivation is to get rid of the existing boredom which stems from years of the same work. Unfortunately nobody from the Aam Applicant Pool (AAP) or Under Paid Applicant (UPA) can fathom this boredom since the other side is always green. These people can dole out freebies for greater good of the people whenever they feel like and at other times they would blend in so much that they cannot be distinguished as a separate entity.

    2. Jovial Distinguished Undergrads

    These are the people who have been sold the dreams that post graduation life is going to be heaven. Since their school time where their next promised elixir was post SSC then post HSC and finally post graduation kept on moving ahead. The under promise and over deliver with huge margins. Some tend to lose their way and end up in negative growth cycles. However these are quick learners and easily from 20 to 60 marks which is an unbelievable 200% increase given the circumstances. They tend to be strong headed and its either way or the highway.

    Cheers. Hope more creativity flows in from the other avid readers who have always had your help to gaze into the future!

  3. Sameer Kamat says:

    Excellent additions to the list, Anujan!

    Also, pleasantly surprised to see your creative side. You should write more. Maybe a full-fledged Achamba guest post?

  4. Anujan says:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I would love to do so. Let me know if there is a theme that I can contribute to and I would be glad to write and contribute!


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