Global MBA rankings 2015: How Indian MBA programs (for executives) fared

FT recently announced its latest (2015) MBA rankings and without resisting our pre-programmed urge, we started scrolling down to see where and how many Indian bschools figured in the list. In the list of 100 top MBA colleges, there were three Indian names – IIM Ahmedabad (ranked at 26), ISB (33), IIM Bangalore (82). All 3 provide 1 year MBA courses for executives (experienced professionals, not freshers).

All 3 have been featuring in the earlier FT rankings too, however their ranks have fluctuated. Here’s how they’ve fared in the last few FT MBA rankings from 2010 to 2015.

Global Ranking Changes – Indian 1 year MBA

Global MBA rankings Indian BschoolsFor Indian bschools, 2011 was the golden year in terms of having achieved the best international rankings.

IIMA PGPX was ranked 11th and ISB followed on its heels at 13th position. That captured the attention of the MBA world.

Indian MBA programs had arrived with a bang. It also raised the expectations of the applicant community.

Like the brand power that our IITs command internationally in the field of technical education, there was now hope to see new stars emerging from India on the management education horizon.

Over the years however, our star players slipped in the rankings. This has raised concerns among the same aspirant community.

Shouldn’t we get better rankings over time? What is the reason behind such fluctuations? Is there a need to start worrying? When will we crack into the top 10?

For the benefit of aspirants as well as Indian bschools that provide GMAT based 1 year MBA programs, we thought it would be helpful to provide an analytical view i.e. insights that go beyond the high level ranks to find out the underlying levers at play.

First off, whether we are lagging or not is a subjective view. There are thousands of good MBA programs that don’t get ranked at all. Some out of choice and others for technical reasons (they just don’t qualify). Which means it’s a big deal to be counted among the top 100.

Indian MBA versus the Top 10 – How it stacks up in the rankings

The methodology used by Financial Times is based on weights assigned to various factors. Let’s look at some key ones where Indian schools are getting impacted. For a comparative analysis, we also include the average data for the Top 10 programs.

Post-MBA Salary

Under this, there are two factors Weighted Salary and Salary Increase. Each gets a 20% weight, taking up a whopping 40% of the overall pie.

You might say that’s not fair, as India MBA graduates from IIM and ISB will earn in Rupees while American and European grads will earn in dollars, Pounds and Euros. Check out this post on the top paying Indian jobs.

Well, that’s not the real issue as FT makes an adjustment called PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) to ensure that the exchange rate doesn’t favour countries with stronger currencies. That’s why you shouldn’t let your tongue hang out when you see FT pegging the average salary for ISB at $126,570 (USD) and IIM Ahmedabad at almost $170,000. In Indian currency you’d be nowhere close to those numbers.

Top 10 Average IIM A ISB IIM B
Salary today (US$) $163,803 $169,420 $126,570 $134,538
Salary percentage increase 95.8 88 131 75

There’s a bigger challenge here that’s not so obvious. We’ll get to that a little later (maybe in another post). [read this related post – Average Salaries and what they mean] Let’s proceed with the other key factors that influence MBA rankings.

Female Representation

Before Rahul baba was talking about it, Bschool rankings were already chanting the mantra of female empowerment. Whether it’s faculty / board members or students, the FT MBA ranking methodology rewards bschools that have maintained a healthy gender balance. This accounts for 5% in the ranking.

How Indian bschools fared:

Top 10 Average IIM A ISB IIM B
Female faculty (%) 20.7 18 27 20
Female students (%) 36.6 15 30 9
Female board (%) 21.6 10 6 5

International Representation

Just like the previous point, roughly 19% of the weight is assigned to geographic diversity in the class (students, faculty) and on the school board. For bschools that don’t attract truly international students (from other countries), 6% goes to alumni who end up working in other countries.

How Indian bschools fared:

Top 10 Average IIM A ISB IIM B
International faculty (%) 53 3 20 6
International students (%) 56.5 2 1 0
International board (%) 48.9 0 60 10
International mobility rank 35.3 37 61 50

The area of attracting international students is where Indian bschools get hit hard. The international mobility rank looks favourable. This may be attributed to the fact (and we’re just guessing here) that a substantial chunk of graduating students have tech backgrounds and can tap into their existing international networks. But it isn’t enough to compensate for the other areas where we fall behind.

Research Orientation

20% of the weight is dependent on whether the faculty has a PhD, how many research papers they published. Interestingly it also takes into account how many graduates completed doctoral degrees from the bschool and ended up in faculty positions in other top 50 colleges.

How Indian bschools fare vs the Top 10 in the world:

Top 10 Average IIM A ISB IIM B
Faculty with doctorates (%) 97.4 99 100 100
FT doctoral rank 18.8 73 89 45
FT research rank 12.4 99 65 97

We are doing pretty good on the faculty qualification benchmark. But our in-house research capabilities need to be strengthened quite a bit. Not easy considering the Top 10 universities have much deeper pockets and budgets for it.

Other Parameters

We’re bunching factors such as Value for money, Career Progress, Aims achieved, Placement success and Alumni recommendations into this final category which has a weight of 13.

Top 10 Average IIM A ISB IIM B
Value for money rank 70 24 35 51
Career progress rank 20.8 2 33 5
Aims achieved (%) 82.9 79 79 73
Placement success rank 28.3 36 62 87
Alumni recommend rank 6.8 15 22 21

What can Indian bschools do to improve their international MBA ranks?

After looking at the tables above pitching the global Top 10 universities against our Indian institutions, it might seem obvious where the tweaking is needed to give a fillip to the ranks.

However, let’s not forget, tweaking each lever comes at a price. This is because each of these parameters is linked directly or indirectly to other important factors. Each one also has time, effort and cost implications.

There’s also a great deal of uncertainty about the efficacy of these supposed improvements. If you see the 2015 MBA rankings, you’ll find a column that says audit year with values ranging from 2012 to 2015. It means that in some cases, the data used for the ranking calculations is 2-3 years old.

This also means that the strategic changes carried out by bschools to improve their rankings will not be visible for 2-3 years, as that’s when their current year data will be audited. Not very different from manoeuvring a ship. Unlike the steering wheel of a car, turning the boat’s wheel doesn’t cause immediate course correction.

The methodology shared by rankings is just one publication’s view of the MBA world. In their enthusiasm to get a better rank, Indian bschools (including the unranked ones hoping to join IIM-A, IIM-B and ISB in future FT rankings) shouldn’t get carried away.

Unlike the international bschools that have had a head-start of several years (decades in some cases) over our Indian programs, we still have a long way to go to make our one year MBA syllabus and structure strong. We also have unique challenges and opportunities that the western programs won’t face.

A high rank doesn’t help in building an institution. It works the other way around.

Rather than bending over backwards to please western publications, Indian management institutes would be better off focusing on getting their fundamentals strong. If the program grows strong organically and gradually, over time the ingredients required to rank higher will take care of themselves.

If you are an aspirant, student or alumnus of a GMAT based Indian MBA program, be a little more patient with your (future) alma mater. Give them room to strengthen their roots.

Help them in whatever capacity you can – whether it’s recruitment, networking, internships / projects, student mentoring.

Help us write another post titled – How alumni helped Indian Bschools dominate the international MBA rankings.

Data source: Financial Times

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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
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  1. Mech says:

    Pl advise- I m around 40 yr old Engr with 15 yr work experience at PSU; Wanna do 1 yr full time MBA from any of old IIMs only(finance is constraint,so can’t think for ISB or abroad study) .Should I plan for CAT or GMAT; Which IIM should be on my focus? What may be approx expenditure of IIM 1 yr MBA presently? Rgds

  2. Radha says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I have 5.8 years of experience as a software Engg. Currently i am not working from past 2 years. I would like to do MBA(preferably in India only ) then start the career.

    Request you to suggest me whether i should go for CAT or GMAT.

    Thank you in advance

  3. Rohan says:

    Dear Sammer,
    I have completed by engineering in computer science.I have 2 years of experience in product based company as a software developer.I am planning for executive MBA from IIM.So to pursue the Executive MBA can you please give me out liners or prerequisites like what is required for such type of courses.

    I would be awaiting for your response.


  4. niroop says:

    Hi my name NIROOP and i have experience of 3.5 years .I want to pursue career in Management at higher roles.I have completed B.E in information science . can you guide how can i get myself enrolled for executive programmes for IIM B.What is that i have to do,can you please elaborate me the process for getting in these programs from the above mentioned institute.

  5. purvi Dhamecha says:

    Hi I am Purvi . I hv done BE- I.T. Nd I hv got 4 yrs 7 months of work exp. Currently m on brk since 2 yrs as I ws in oman along with my hubby’s long term onsite project. Nw I wnt to do Distance learning Mba- IT& Systems from either IMT ghaziabad or Symbiosis or Sikkim Manipal or NMIMS or Wellingkar?
    Kindly suggest me which shud I go for and wich vl b more beneficial in career later?

  6. Binit says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I would like to start with warm regards to you and the MBA Crystal Ball team.
    I am a Mech. Engg graduate from NITK, Surathkal (2005) with 72.5% (distinction in all sems) with a 2 year gap in career(due to compelling family reason).
    I started with a reputed IT firm in 2007 but changed my field within 5 months (couldn’t appreciate it)
    I joined a Derivatives Trading (trading in CBOT, CBOE) firm in July 2007
    I had to switch to a Equity Trading (trading in NASDAQ, NYSE, AMEX) in Sep 2008 because of losses in the earlier firm.
    I am working for ~7 years in the current organization as a Equity Trader. My current designation is Senior Equity Analyst.

    My target is: ISB, IIMB/C, or any great 1-year mba in India or a reputed course abroad. I am prepping hard for Gmat now. I know it would be a tough job to convince the AdCom (extracurricular, nothing great). My sincere Question to you is: Do I stand a chance, with this profile?
    I am fully committed to my goal and have to get into the best possible B School by 2016. If you think my profile is worthless, pls suggest what could have been done further.
    I will be highly grateful for ur suggestions.


    • Sameer Kamat says:

      Binit, we can’t talk about chances on the blog. If you’ve made up your mind to apply to these colleges, go ahead and put in your best possible efforts. Allow Adcoms to decide your fate after that.

      And don’t ever think your profile is worthless. If the market and your employers also felt that way, you wouldn’t have had a good job for all these years

  7. Prashant says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I find your comments meaningful. I am an experienced professional with and experience of 8+ years and want togo for 1 year MBA. which according to you would be meaningful options.

  8. kartik says:

    Hi Sameer,

    I’m a Electrical & Electronic Engg graduate from VTU (karnataka) with 65%. I have 7 yrs of exp, first 3 in banking domain and next 4 in healthcare domain as tester in MNCs. Now i want to go for an MBA. How much does bachelors degree % matter.

  9. Prakash says:

    I am 48 years old working as a senior manager in a private company in the sales and marketing with more than 25 years of experience.

    Please suggest the best mba program (weekend) offered at Bangalore.

  10. Devesh Gupta says:

    Hello Sameer,

    I am Devesh,I have an experience of 4 yrs including training period of 1 yr in FMCG giant ITC limited as Area executive. I want to do executive MBA,kindly suggest the best option accordingly.prior i have done full time MBA from IP university.

  11. Shailaja says:

    Hello Sameer

    I am Shailaja. I completed my undergraduation from Symbiosis Media and Communication Institute in 2012. After that I interned with a US based consulting firm. I left that and started doing my MBA, but shortly after that I returned to India and started interning at a market research company. I want to complete my MBA. I have already wasted 3 years pursuing MBA and working simultaneously.

    What would be the best route for me to go about continuing my MBA in India this year of 2016. I am thinking of taking a GMAT or CAT. Please suggest or should I continue working in Market Research for some more time?

  12. bhabani shankar says:

    is it possible to have a mba from isb hyderabad , with not having a good academic career (10th 77,55 intermediate,66 engg,77 mtech iit) ? Currently working with software.1 year gap between intermediate and engg.

  13. Manish says:

    Hi this is manish mishra currently working in construction field
    Want to do Mba but confused in which sector and which exam i should go for

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