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Why hiring executives from one year GMAT MBA programs in India is a good idea

It’s not just the students who are confused about difference between a regular 2 year MBA in India for freshers and a GMAT-based MBA for executives. The lack of awareness extends to HR folks and recruitment managers working in leading companies as well.

Srini (name changed) who worked with us this season, got into a reputed full-time 1 year Indian MBA for executives along with a few international programs as well. Like most folks joining such programs, after graduating he’s keen on exploring new career opportunities in different industries. He chose to attend the Indian MBA program over an overseas MBA.

But his initial interactions with Indian recruiters and the conflicting signals he’s received have left him a little tense.

As an industry leader, how do you consider guys like me with 5 years of IT experience coming into marketing?’ Srini asked the senior operations manager from a well-respected Indian FMCG company.

The manager had an optimistic response. ‘It does not make any difference to me, as long as the candidate is good we cannot afford not to take him,’ he said. ‘I screen the applicant profiles and then shortlist them based on a case study. The remaining aspects are cleared in the interview.

Pretty rational and wise response, we thought. And then Srini shared the curt and contradictory response from the HR team within the same organisation, ‘We only recruit freshers from Indian MBA programs and offer them management trainee roles.

This effectively knocks all the one year full-time MBA programs out of the race as the average experience of graduating students would be 5-6 years or more. If the HR team slams the doors on talented and mature executives, Mr Manager who was keen to hire such guys can’t do much.

Indian B-schools – like the IIMs (IIM-A PGPX, IIM-B EPGP, IIM-C PGPeX, IIM-I EPGP, IIML IPMX), ISB (PGP), XLRI (GMP), SPJIMR (PGPM) and others – offering full-time one year MBA for executives are trying their best to convince companies to come to campus and hire their graduates. Read ISB Placement Success Stories

But within the Indian business world, where fresher MBA hiring from the traditional Indian 2 year MBA programs has been the norm, it’s a challenging task to change the entrenched mindsets.

So, we thought we’d use the MBA Crystal Ball platform to help Indian Bschools and their alumni in their efforts to create awareness among the MBA recruiting community.

In this article, we share reasons why it makes solid business and commercial sense for Indian companies to recruit experienced executives and give them positions of responsibility.

7 Reasons to hire executives from the top full-time one year MBA programs in India


1. Experienced executives can hit the ground running

The one year MBA format is meant for seasoned executives & professionals who’ve already earned their stripes in their respective fields before coming back into the MBA class.

Unlike many 2 year MBA students from Indian MBA colleges who’ve had very little (or no) exposure to the business world and would need a lot of hand-holding in the initial months, 1-year MBA students have been there and done that for several years.

They know how the gears turn in big companies, the challenges that can come up and how to get things done despite hiccups.

If you are hiring them in roles where they haven’t had direct exposure, there’s surely going to be a learning curve. But having gone through steep learning curves in various disciplines over the last 1 year put such professionals in a better situation.

2. They will fit into your company culture

Executives studying at IIM, ISB and other leading bschools have left behind the homogenous corporate culture of their previous employer to embrace diversity.

They’ve spent a whole year in a completely new culture where (by design) no single industry or role dominates. Every student brings in perspectives and attitudes from a myriad mix of industries.

Though every B-school does have its own definitive culture, each incoming batch pretty much re-writes the culture code for their class.

After going through this experience, it’s much easier for such students to accept and adapt to the culture in your organisation.

3. Your RoI will be higher

Human Resource Development (HRD) is among the most critical, expensive and risky investment for people driven organisations. After all the investment you make in your employees, nothing stops them from joining a competitor.

Graduates of one year programs have already invested a huge amount of financial (and emotional) resources. Far more than what you might invest on any single employee in their professional lifetime. And they’ve done this even before stepping into your organisation. Recruiting them from campus gives your company access to all the theoretical and practical business insights they’ve picked up, minus the huge training bill.

They are likely to stay on longer as well. Here’s why. Unlike experienced professionals who might get recruited from the market, one year MBA students are generally looking for a different role and the opportunity to pick up new skills.

They are less likely to go job–hopping purely for money. Give them the right environment and freedom, and your re-hiring costs (HR personnel costs, commissions paid to headhunters) could go down in the long run.

All this can make the RoI highly attractive for your HR department.

4. Your mid-management resource pool will become stronger

This is generally the weak area for even the best companies. While the HR department over-focuses on recruiting employees for fresher and junior levels, the mid-management space is generally ignored.

The company management team expects that some of the employees who joined their company straight out of college will stick around long enough to take on mid-management roles.

The flip-side of this strategy is that the company ends up having to choose people for roles, not because of their fitment for that role, but just because they’ve been there for years and shown loyalty.

Whether it was out of loyalty or a lack of market demand for their stagnating skills is an uncomfortable question most HR recruiters wouldn’t be bothered about.

5. The Bschool screening process has made your HR team’s job easier

The bulk of resumes floating around the internet, including online job search engines, are filled with spammy, low quality CVs.

Outsourcing the search to placement agencies may not have any perceptible advantage either, as many rely on the same online repositories to sources their leads. It’s not unusual for professionals looking for jobs to get calls and emails from numerous head-hunters for the same position in the same company.

Instead of depending on these low-quality sources for filling key managerial positions, you’d have better luck visiting one of the reputed MBA colleges in India for executives (like IIMA, IIMB, IIMC, ISB) that are known to have a highly selective admissions process.

Admitted candidates are tested on various dimensions – education, competitive exams, post-MBA goals, (written and spoken) communication skills and overall professional maturity & potential.

6. One year MBA grads are ambitious and committed

Ambition is what drove them to take the biggest professional decision of their career – to leave a good career behind, in their quest to re-skill themselves and get re-launched in the management space. It’s a tough call that many who are comfortable in their professional life would never take.

Other professionals that you might find via traditional sourcing have been in their roles for too long to retain the enthusiasm.

For 1 year MBA students, the hunger to make a mark in their new role is higher. The pressure to make themselves and their alma mater look good is higher as well.

Rather than just going with the flow, they can bring fresher and innovative perspectives to your business. Their commitment to a brighter career is what will propel your company too.

7. Their skills are wider and deeper

Apart from their specialised technical skills, 1 year MBA executives have functional, managerial and leadership skills as well. That allows them to dig in deep in a few functional areas that they’ve specialised in (technology, operations, finance) and also bring in strategic skills that are relevant for the organization as a whole.

While freshers might be able to excel in 1 or more technical skills, you can depend on experienced executives to deliver more. They are better positioned not just to manage short term goals (like completing a project within a tight deadline and budget constraints), but also take on a bigger role in organisation building initiatives such as business development.

The MBA experience has helped them polish their soft skills and become more presentable. So whether you are planning to pitch a new proposal or negotiate a deal, you can put them in front of clients without the nagging fear of whether they’ll be able to carry the responsibility on their shoulders.

Next step: Breaking the ice

If you have apprehensions about recruiting experienced + newly minted MBA graduates, you could start with smaller engagements with B-schools (competitions, workshops, networking events) that give you an opportunity to interact with the experienced MBA students.

Compare and contrast them with the 2 year MBA students that you’ve been interacting with. Evaluate if there is (or isn’t) a significant difference in the way they think, present and interact with you. See if they have interesting ideas that you can use immediately in your business.

It’s not a question of fresher versus experienced recruitment. Both type of profiles can have their rightful place in the dynamic and ever evolving Indian business world.

Better ‘lateral hiring’ opportunities will give Srini and other experienced professionals like him a strong reason to choose 1 year MBA programs in India over international business schools.

At a time when the Indian economy is at the cusp of a significant upswing, we’d be better off utilising their newly gained management knowledge and skills in India rather than trigger another brain drain.

We’d also like to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Are there other concerns that you’ve heard from the recruiters? What initiative(s) is your bschool / careers team taking to bridge the expectation gap?

If you are a current student or alum of such programs that accept GMAT scores (instead of CAT), please share this post on social media and blogs. Help us take this message to every Indian employer who’s currently on the fence when it comes to recruiting 1 year MBA grads.

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Sameer Kamat
About Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Follow me on: Instagram | Linkedin | Youtube

25 thoughts on “Why hiring executives from one year GMAT MBA programs in India is a good idea”

  1. The perception is clear. Only the best get in through the CAT and end up at the top IIMs. They are the ones that the companies based on the fact that they are the cream amongs the competion.

    People doing MBA later – are mostly amongst those who realized pretty late that they need a new career and hence go for the GMAT which is much easier to crack a good score compared to the CAT competition. Its similar to the IIT grads who are sought after by the companies all round the world. – the fact is Indian Industry is still not diversified enough to justify so many MBA schools which tend to be doing business today rather than develop true leaders or entrepreuners.

    If i was a HR of a indian company, i probably would wait a year to hire the next bunch of the regular MBA 2 yr program Grad over a experienced mba grad.

    your points are valid though .. but again its about the industry

  2. Thanks for sharing those perspectives, Chandra.

    Keen to see if any one else from the other camp (i.e experienced 1-yr MBA students/alumni) have contrasting views to share.

    The relevance of entrance exams as a barometer of managerial & leadership potential would be a completely different topic though.

  3. hi Sameer,
    I am a Engineering graduate and Exp of around 6 years on power plant ,Is Execituve MBA work for me.I want to shift my carrier.

  4. Sidhant: I assume you are referring to regular GMAT based MBA programs and not ‘Executive MBA’ (which tends to be a part-time degree). Read this post to resolve the terminology issue: Executive MBA vs MBA for Executives.

    Coming to your query, many folks use an MBA to change career tracks. So, in theory and practice, it’s possible. But there are many issues that can pop up depending on what your post MBA goals are.

    Read up more on this and have a clear game plan. Don’t assume that it’ll all magically fall in place.

  5. Dear Sameer,

    I have done my BTech and MBA in India and I am currently earning about 10L/A in an IT company.

    Have 3 years of work ex and great international exposure ( APAC markets).

    I am willing to do a One Year MBA in US and considering HULT BUSINESS SCHOOL.

    Worried about the Job Opps for Indian guys in US post MBA. Any quick insights?


  6. I’m an army officer n after 20 years of service, intend to start my second innings. Still a year n half to go. Age 42. We hv a facility from IIMA to undergo 6 Month certificate course. How relevant n worthwhile is it ??

  7. Hello sameer,
    Right , I am planning for regular gmat ! year MBA program,Thanks for advice,But can u give me the insight,As u a real consultant working in this field.Again sharing BE 6+ year Exp in power plant.Willing to to do MBA .Can it really change the pace of game as iam getting 6.5L per annum.

    • hello sidharth
      i also have same work exp as u have in same feild . and i m also thinking to give it a try. plz let me know that will it b gain full to try for it as the people frm power plant do not have diversified work ex and neither much corporate ex nor intrntln work ex. will it be tough for us to get final call as we dont hv diversified work exp even after good gmat score. plz share wid me watever u have come through.
      my mail id is

  8. The argument made by Chandra in terms of ability to crack the entrance exams holds ground. But that being the sole indicator of managerial capability is flawed and debatable. Companies that hire these grads (2 yr MBA) normally immerse them in 12-18 months training programmes which are costly and requires significant training on the job as well as a general awareness about the nuances of corporate culture which would not be the case with some one who has got good work experience.

    Also GMAT and CAT can’t be compared. The two are totally different exams in the way they are administered and scored. Just because the content is same does not make them equal. The competitive pool is different and so is the exam pattern.

  9. Agree with Peeyush……high score in entrance exams do not correlate with high managerial ability. As per me, certain experience level surely helps to get the best out of any MBA programme. To say that GMAT is easier to crack than CAT is certainly a very weak argument…

  10. Hi
    I am a 40 year old working executive with ~ 16 years work ex….all of it in the professional lighting space. Started out with a basic B.Com…somewhere along the way did an EMBA with SPJAIN (2007). Was CEO of a leading global lighting company (for their India business) and recently left them to join the lighting division of another very leading global company as sales director.

    I see myself as being in a rut on the professional front….confined industry experience (lighting only) and no great qualifications that I can bank on. My query is – what should I do next? My desire is to grow beyond my current industry which is rapidly commoditising and highly fragmented with small scale players. Should I pursue a full time MBA? Need your guidance please.


  11. @Samir: U forgot to mention MDI Gurgaon NMP or EPGPM programme. It’s going to start its 28th Batch in 2015 and it is the oldest full time 1 year MBA programme in India. As per the information it is also at per in the pedagogy and other factors with the programmes of the colleges u mentioned.

  12. Hi Sameer,

    This is Soujanya. First and foremost wanted to thank you replying every one query with patience . My age is 40 and had 15 years of experience in the IT field working as program manager . I want to apply for IIMs One year residential programs . I am already investing lot of time on the GMAT. As my age and experience being on higher side ,is this negative point for me to get in to admission in IIM’s? Thanks in advance for your reply .

  13. It is a very conventional thinking that only 2 year MBA grads (who graduates fro premier B school) are the cream professionals and those appearing for MBA later in their career are not as effective people as those are. Every competitive exam has their own terms and conditions with it. CAT and GMAT has totally different pattern and premier B Schools in India both accept these scores for a reason.GMAT is for those working professional who has quite number of experience in professional world and they can bear the cost of the GMAT and EX MBA which is pretty high.

    The topic discussed here are very helpful and I hope Indian market will change one day and Industry experts will definitely recognize the 1 year MBA programs and their students.

  14. Hi Sameer,
    I have recently got admit from the XLRI one year GMP program. I have almost 8 years of experience in Steel Industry and now looking for an opportunity to enter other dynamic industry where I can leverage my experience. Do you think that XLRI GMP program will provide that platform to change the Industry. I am confused whether is it worth joining or should I consider other options. How is overall take on XLRI GMP program.?


  15. @RD: Short-term certificate courses generally don’t have much market value.

    @Sidhant: It sure can change the career pace if you can get into a good program. The average salary after MBA at ISB is roughly 3 times what you are getting now.

    @Peeyush / Sudipto / Sruti: Good perspectives. It doesn’t help to compare apples and oranges.

    @Bhaskar: You already completed an Executive MBA from India. No point in going for another one after crossing 40. Your CEO experience should’ve given you an exposure to a whole lot of areas – finance, operations, HR. You could leverage that to get into better leadership roles.

    @Sourav: The list of programs is indicative, not comprehensive. Thanks for mentioning about MDI’s 1 year MBA.

    @Soujanya: You may not get the most mileage from the program at this stage. It’s less about your capability and more about the Indian recruiters’ reluctance to hire from such programs. That’s what triggered this whole post.

    @Abhishek: In theory, all the 1 year programs are designed to do pretty much that i.e. provide a platform for experienced executives to fast-track their careers. But the results differ based on the candidate’s profile and aspirations. Talk to alumni to see if there was anyone else with your background and where s/he is now.

  16. Hi Sameer,

    I am 43 yr old male, working in a small bio-pharmaceutical firm in R&D, looking a change in career. My experience is 11 years after post graduation (MD). I am unsure whether doing one year MBA , be it IIMs, ISB makes good choice or not. Please help

  17. HI Sameer

    I have a Mechanical Engineering degree & 8 year of experience in Aerospace design. PMP certified , consistent Star performer in current organization with most of client facing experience. I am interested in 1 Year program. Please suggest,

  18. Dear Sameer,
    Thanks for the informative post. I am currently working as a Customer Relations Incharge in a Oil and Gas oriented company and have 3 years of experience. I am a BE Mechanical and i am aspiring to do MBA in marketing. However due to some personal reasons i am aiming for a 1 year Full time PGDM course. Although i am aware of the difference between Executive 1 year and Normal 1 year MBA, i would want your help with the list of Normal PGDM 1 year providing B schools.

    I am targeting to give the GMAT exam by October/November. Your valuable advice for me please.

  19. HI,

    Myself vinayak,
    B.E Mech. 13 year exp in automotive industry in Quality function. Form last one year in Program Management function.Done part time PGDBM+MMS of 3 year from D Y PATIL. Interested to go for one year full time MBA. Please guide.

  20. Hi Sameer,

    Myself Sidhant, have 11 years of work-ex in India and Abroad, overall area of working was in International Business Development.
    Was very keen to do Ex-MBA regular and enrolled to IMI Delhi, the program is one of the oldest in India but didn’t picked up the pace after its inception in 1984. Recently, Mr. Dholakia (IIM A Dean for 33 years ) took-over as Head IMI to re-position the college and brand. This I see as a positive side with IMI.

    The 2 Years program is still very known to Corporates, as campus placements are good at IMI.

    Ex-MBA still doesn’t have highly paid job placements to self sponsored candidates, could you guide me that will this step help me in future as I it was shared by some of my senior colleagues that perception towards 1 year Ex-MBA in Corporates is not equally considered as of 2 years program.


  21. Just to add to the debate between 1yr and 2yr MBA, most of the foreign b schools have realised that tools that are taught in MBA class make more sense to people with relevant work exp. For others with no work experience, it is just another academic course with placements as a big prize.
    As an alumni of pgpex at IIM C, I still remember profs confessing their interest in teaching 1 year batch than 2year batch who according to them are only concerned with placements from DAY 1 whereas in 1 yr batch profs really had to come prepared with subject matter as most of their learnings are challenged by the students.
    Regarding GMAT vs CAT, all top reputed MBA schools have consistently reduced weightage to academic scores over the years. I know a person with 97 percentile in CAT with 4yrs exp got admit in IIM A where 99.9 percentile is a norm. Personally for me GMAT or CAT scores are just numbers and not a true representation of person intellectual abilities.

  22. Hi Sameer,

    Good Day!

    Above all thank you for sharing this informative and detailed insights the benefits of hiring an experience MBA graduate from Top Indian B-Schools.

    I believe there are certain Pros & Cons in hiring both the groups – an Experienced MBA grad and a MBA fresher.
    Going by the hiring of freshers, they can be placed into any work, any technologies, any domains by the companies but thats not always happen for an experience MBA grad as a result of which the scope of using an experience over an inexperience diminished by the companies. This is due to the fact that many of the MBA aspirants who have a significant number of experience in a specific field or domain want to enrich themselves in higher roles and designations in the same domain they were in, working for more than 4 years in the IT industry I found many of the aspirants doing a regular software engineer job want to give their career a boost by jumping up the ladder to mid management. Whilst the other side of the coin, the professionals who don’t care about playing it safe and want to lead the way in any industry or any domain are also there.

    Now the diverse experiences one underwent in his professional life before heading for a 1 year MBA indeed provide the companies to hire the best possible match for their management & leadership roles. Going by the mass in India, the MBA aspirant experienced professionals who want to grow bigger in their domains or fields the 1 year MBA program is a great to start with.
    I firmly believe that an experienced professional who underwent a 1 year MBA program is the best suitable for a management or a leadership role in his or her domain over an inexperienced MBA fresher who is unaware of how a industry (in a higher paradigm) or a team (in a granular level) should work.

    Moreover, its really lame to think that an entrance exam be it GMAT or CAT is the only way to judge one’s capability of leading a team or managing an organization.


    Debojit Das


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