Monday, March 24, 2014

Executive MBA : Why this is the biggest decision of my Life ?

Posted by Arun Prasad 3 Comments


In about a week`s time, I`ll be moving to IIM Calcutta to pursue my one year executive MBA . Looking back, it seems its the biggest ever decision that I have ever made in my life. Here is why :
1. Leaving a relatively set job and a stable career.
Ever since I graduated from college and took up a job, I`ve always have had a sense of pride in my job. Being "Employed" means a lot to me. Many of my cousins, look up to me. Many of my aunts show me as a role model for their kids. A job provides a sense of financial security. Its a social status. A sense of pride. I feel more respectable in society when I`m employed. After accumulating nearly 6 years of experience, going back to college is a very big decision.
2. The all-important Marriage during middle of a rigorous program
Well, marriage should have been the biggest ever decision that one ever makes. But, when you have found your ideal partner, it would be the most easiest decision to ever make. Thankfully, I found one with the blessings of my parents. But still, considering marriage is a big once-in-a-lifetime event, there are lot of factors that goes in. From rituals, to shopping, to marriage, to travelling, to even planning honeymoon, there is lot of ground to cover. Getting married in middle of a rigorous course is nearly unheard of. Not that its not done before, but it requires a lot of sacrifice. There were various dates that were considered for the marriage. But, it so happens that Aug 31, 2014 seems to be the most ideal date and if we skip that date, marriage wouldn`t take place for a couple of years. So, they say, Marriage is made in heaven. Probably that is true. Marriage and Marriage date is fixed in heaven without considering the rigorousness of a executive MBA program.
3. Financial security
As I was working and drawing a relatively decent salary, there was a sense of Financial security in me. Even if I come across something that I could not afford, I could always swipe my MasterCard or visa and pay it the next month. But, now that I am a part of India`s unemployment force, every penny seems to important and before I spend money, I need to think twice. On top of unemployment, a large loan of 12 lakhs rupees looms over my head. Adding fuel to the fire is my Insurance policies, Mobile bills and credit card bills.
4. Peer Pressure
Other guys in my office who are of the same age, are taking loans for car or loan to construct a new home. But, I am taking loan for education. Other guys are looking forward to settle, whereas, I`m leaving a stable career and looking to unsettle. Other guys are planning to marry and are drawing up plans on where to fly for honeymoon. I would be probably planning how to give my response on Robotics or Smart Material exam paper that is just a week after my marriage. Another fact is, during any marriage, one definite question asked by almost everyone is "What does that Guy Do?" or "Where does he work ?" In my case, to introduce me as a Student to others during marriage is unbearable. It is nothing short of a glorified insult. I`m hoping at least "Executive MBA from IIM" is the only saving grace.
5. Going back to school after 6 years
I strongly believe that age and cognitive ability is inversely proportional. Its been nearly 6 years after touching books or sitting in a classroom or taking down notes. Going to school after a long break is definitely going to take some time. All the gears of brain have practically corroded and rusted. Sitting is office meetings for one hour itself makes me yawn. I wonder if my brain still has the power to sit in a classroom and focus on the lecture without succumbing to sleep.
That being said, what is Life if there are no challenges ? After all, What is life if you know everything that`s gonna happen ? Uncertainty is what makes life interesting. So, all in all, its a big risky adventure of my life and I do believe people who take risks(may be - calculated risks) in life will be suitably rewarded. I conclude this article by a nice Chinese proverb that I came across recently -
Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it




This article was originally written by me and posted in the PaGaLGuY forum under the category - Why MBA. This article can be accessed by following the below link. 
http://www.pagalguy.com/news/executive-mba-why-biggest-ever-decision-a-19361792/
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

B-School/University Selection Matrix

Posted by Arun Prasad
After I decided that I`d be pursuing Higher Education, I started evaluating options. It kind of struck to me that I want to do something that`s a bit technical and covers the management aspect of it too. It was around this time, I came across "Dual Degree Programs" and I made up my mind that I wanted to pursue a dual degree program. As usual, I resorted to my trusted friend, Google, to seek answers and find some suitable courses. The problem with availability of overdose of information is that it makes it difficult to find exactly what we are looking for. As rightly said by Herbert Simon,

...a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention...

It took me few hours to recover from the information overload. I wanted to make a matrix of all the available choices and options before nailing my target programs. Selecting or Targeting a B-School is not as simple as it sounds. There are various factors associated with selection of a B-School, let alone just Rankings. I believe that one must come with their own factors in

These are some of the factors(not in order) that I considered for pursuing PGPEX-VLM program, they are

1. I wanted to do a specialized MBA program that focused on my past work experience. ie, Manufacturing, Operations or Supply Chain. I was clear that I dint want to do a General MBA program.

2. Considering the fact that I had about 5 years of Work Experience, I was clear that I wanted to do a One Year MBA program as against a conventional Two Year MBA program. (Also confusingly called as Executive MBA Program)

3. Cost of the program

4. Good Exposure, Good learning from Faculty, Industry-Academic Collaboration, Internship, Strong Skills

5. Good Brand Value, Placements, Recognition, strong alumni network after completion of program.

I came up with a Matrix of Schools that I wanted to apply for. It helped me to get a big picture and evaluate the pros and cons of each of the schools. I have added the screen shot of the Matrix. However, please note that these are my personal views which may not be necessarily true and applicable for everyone. I feel that all B-Schools aspirants must come with such a matrix and see the big picture. This analysis was very enlightening for me and I could make a choice that closely syncs with my ambitions.


                                                                 (Click to Enlarge)



Is there anything that I missed ? What is your opinion on creating this matrix. Do share your thoughts.

Regards
Arun


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Friday, March 14, 2014

Higher Education Options

Posted by Arun Prasad 9 Comments

According to a Business Standard estimate, around 750,000 engineers pass out every year from about 3500-odd engineering colleges in India. There is a famous joke among Bangaloreans on this topic. They say, you come to Bangalore and randomly throw a stone in any direction. 99.9 % of the times, the stone would fall in a engineering college !! :) Bangalore has a staggering 131 Engineering colleges. Clearly, a higher education degree is a must in Today`s world to survive the corporate environment and to climb the hierarchy of a organisation. Or, at least, to be distinguished from your neighbor`s son/daughter.  A survey says that less than 15% of the engineers from India opt for a higher education be it MS/MTech or MBA.

If I look at what options I had after doing Engineering, I would have probably come up with this list.

1. M.Tech from a premier institute (Via GATE)
2. M. Tech from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
3. MS from a abroad university  (US/Canada/Europe)
4. MBA from a premier institute (Via CAT)
5. MBA from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
6. MBA from a abroad university  (GMAT)
7. Part-time education (means I had to stick to Bangalore only )
8. Distance Education
9. Online Education

Adding to all the above options, I had to make a clear distinction between whether I wanted to be in Technical field (doing MTech/MS) or wanted to move into Management side (MBA). Let me briefly touch upon few thoughts on the above 7 options.

M.Tech from a premier institute (Via GATE)
Every engineer who studied from a Non-IIT Engineering college would probably dream of doing MTech from IIT/NIT`s by cracking GATE exam and securing a very good percentile. I too dreamt this way and enrolled myself for GATE coaching classes on weekends and bought lot of books. But, my then job schedule did not permit me to completely focus on GATE preparation. It was a hectic monday-to-friday, 9-9 job. Weekends went in GATE Classes. Life became too hectic and after 2 months, it was impossible to cope up with the pressure when my job demanded me to work on few Saturdays/Sundays. GATE preparation demands serious amount of concentration and time as the whole Engineering syllabus of 4 years is tested. But, continuing on the Job was critical to me as I had few loans to pay off and I decided to quit the GATE Coaching classes and the subsequent dream. My one-cent advice to those considering this option :

  • Write GATE exam in the pre-final year or final year of Engineering. You would be in touch with your subjects and things become much easy
  • Its probably better to quit Job and write GATE exam within 2 years of graduating. Doing MTech from a premier institute is better than doing a mediocre first job. 

M.Tech from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
I never liked this option. Because, in terms to quality of education, research opportunities or even placements, none of these tier-1, tier-2, tier-n colleges are near to IIT/NIT. I`m not saying that all colleges are bad, but most are. Especially, the ones that are just getting started and yet to have a first batch passing out. Many of these colleges are just for namesake offering a MTech degree and there isn`t much to gain both in terms of research and opportunities.

MS from a abroad university  (US/Canada/Europe)
They say, its easier to get into Harvard/Stanford/MIT than getting into IIT`s. This is indeed true. The thought of doing a MS from a top US university was always lingering around my mind. I did lot of research and literature survey and collected lot of information on applying to universities. With this in mind, I started preparing for GRE. Many students take this route and land up in a decent US university for their Masters program. I was interested to Pursue Masters in Aerospace Engineering. But, I had seen a lot of cases in my current company, where those doing a MS in Aerospace Engineering were heading back to India because they could not get a job in US. There are lot of restrictions on a non-US citizen working for a Aerospace company in US due to ITAR regulations. More info on ITAR here : ITAR.

Even for other branches of Engineering, getting a job in US and H1B Sponsor isn`t that easy as it sounds. There are harsh realities that probably no one talks about. May be for a Computer Science/Electronics MS grad, its easier to find a sponsor. But, for other branches I`m sure it isn`t easy. So, I dropped this option of going to US and doing a masters program of my choice. What`s the point if I spend 30/35 Lakhs an return to India without finding a job in US. In my opinion, one must at least work in the US/Any country for at least 3/4 years if they want to reap the complete return on Investment(ROI).

I had this option open and thought about doing a MS in Mechanical or Manufacturing Technology. Sure, options were open.

MBA from a premier institute (Via CAT)
CAT race is synonymous with RAT race. CAT exam can be really demotivating for some. Most aspirants aim for 99.3% to get into IIM`s. More than 2 Lakh people eyeing for a few hundred seats. On top of this, there are Quota`s to be satisfied. I felt I could never be a part of the CAT race and I easily I made a decision of not giving CAT or even trying for it.

MBA from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
I would not want to write about this and waste time on this.

MBA from a abroad university (GMAT)
Though I did not have this option in mind immediately after I completed Engineering, I was doing some literature survey on this. Most MBA programs from a good university requires substantial work experience. This makes sense. Also, its way to expensive. In fact, US students themselves find it highly expensive to study in IVY league college, then what about middle class Indian students ?? This option was always open and I was looking for a affordable MBA program.

Part-time education (means I had to stick to Bangalore only )
In terms of Continuous Education and part time education, India is Light years backward. The options of doing a Masters Degree part-time while working is very limited. The options open to a practicing engineer to get a advanced degree while working full time is very less. There are some options like ManipalMS RamaiahIISc Proficience, etc etc. But, none of the options offer flexibility in terms of choosing a specialization. This option din`t satisfy me either.

Distance Education
I`m not a big fan of Distance Education. Nothing can match the learning that happens in a classroom. I really question what kind of contribution does a Distance Education program contribute ? Its more like a self learning process and I`m pretty certain that Distance Education Programs doesn`t get recognized in a job or may not even help in fetching a job or a interview call. This option was completely ruled out.

Online Education
Online education is the Next Big thing in Education. Rather, it needs to called as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC`s). But, MOOC`s are still catching up and it has a long way to go before it becomes credible.

So, here is a recap
1. M.Tech from a premier institute (Via GATE)
2. M. Tech from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
3. MS from a abroad university  (US/Canada/Europe)
4. MBA from a premier institute (Via CAT)
5. MBA from a tier-1/tier-2/tier-n institute (Via State Level CET or without it)
6. MBA from a abroad university  (GMAT)
7. Part-time education (means I had to stick to Bangalore only )
8. Distance Education
9. Online Education

Also, as my experience grew, I kind of decided that I want to do something course that has the right balance of Technical and Management stuff. Something like a dual degree program or a Techno-Managerial program. I did lot of research on Dual Degree program and collected lot of information about the same which I would like to share in a future post. This was the time I came across the IIM Calcutta`s PGPEX- Visionary Leadership in Manufacturing program, abbreviated as VLM or VLMP.

In my next post, I`ll write more about VLM program and why I decided to choose that.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Interview with Magoosh

Posted by Arun Prasad

I was recently interviewed by Rachel from Magoosh. I was a Magoosh customer and I had been using Magoosh premium account. More than interview, it was a experience sharing session. Reading experiences of students who have given GRE has been particularly useful and motivating. Some of the tips shared by the students has helped me immensely. It keeps me going during difficult times and at times when I`m out running out of confidence. I also shared some of my Tips for prospective GRE students. Here is a sneak preview. Full interview can be read by clicking the link below.

Tip #1 : Avoid procrastination
There are 2 kinds of GRE aspirants.

1. Those who book the GRE date (say 3 months in advance) and then prepare for GRE exam

2. Those who first decide to prepare for the GRE (3-6 months) and then book a date for GRE exam

The students who fall in the second category (including me), probably suffer from “Procrastination Syndrome”. I had this “Procrastination Syndrome” for nearly 2 years. My number one tip/suggestion to GRE aspirants is to stop procrastinating and book a GRE slot immediately. Procrastination does not only apply to booking the GRE slot. When you get a question wrong, many of us tend to oversee why the question went wrong. Whenever you get a question wrong, immediately try to figure out why it went wrong, rather than postponing to do so.

Tip #2: Live and breath the GRE

GRE prep is not a destination, it’s a journey. Every day is a day for GRE preparation. To improve in the verbal section, try using the vocab words with your friends and family. They’ll be shocked to hear you, some may even make fun, but never mind. Remember that preparing for GRE verbal is more or less preparing for grad school or even your professional career. Even after I was done with GRE, I could still spot these words in newspapers, articles and every day usage.


Full review can be read from the below link

http://magoosh.com/gre/2014/gre-student-post-avoid-procrastination/

About Magoosh :
They are the World`s leading GRE/GMAT/SAT prep company. More about them here. I usually do not advertise or promote a product unless its really good. Magoosh is a exception. Magoosh was founded by few students at the UC Berkeley business school. They are very different from any other GRE prep company that you might have come across. Those preparing or thinking about taking GRE, I highly recommend you to take a free trial class for 7 days. You could order it from here - Magoosh
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How much is a Stanford degree worth?

Posted by Arun Prasad 5 Comments

Stanford University is one of the world`s leading research university and one of the finest Institutions across the world. I don`t qualify enough to give a introduction about how great of a institution Stanford is.

I was recently taking a course from a Stanford Professor and he shared a great piece of data that kept me mesmerized for days. This course was related to Entrepreneurship and being a Stanford professor, he gave a insight into the Entrepreneurs that Stanford University alone has created and what kind of a impact it has on the present world. I`m replicating that information here -


The above is the list of companies that Stanford Graduates have either founded. There is also information on the year of their graduation from Stanford and year of founding the company. Some of the most prominent companies like Google, Cisco, HP, eBay, Yahoo, Netflix, Nvdia has been founded by a Stanford Grad.

If you closely observe the "Net Valuation" of all the companies founded by Stanford grads, its a mind boggling $548 Billion. To put that on a perceptive, lets compare this valuation with the GDP of countries. Seriously !!

(Note : All the data is taken from The world Factbook from the Official CIA website and Wikipedia. Data varies per different reports and only Nomial GDP with exchange rates are considered)

Here are the world`s Top countries in terms of GDP (as of 2013)



(By the way, the whole world is evaluated at $72.87 Trillion Dollars)

Next, here are the list of countries that have GDP less than $548 Billion.


As you could see, There are 200 countries whose GDP is less than the net worth of Stanford Graduates founded companies. So, to me this is astonishing. The kind of impact Stanford Graduates have created across the world is truly remarkable. Not just in terms of Creating value to mankind through services and products, they also employ about 5,00,000 people. 

So, to me, a Stanford degree is worth more than the gross GDP of many countries. The same could be said about Harvard(Eg. Facebook-Mark Zuckerberg). But, it does not mean that only a Stanford grad could form such companies and create such a impact on the world. In a later post, I`ll try to come with a similar comparison that talks about what kind of Impact have college/school drop-outs created(Apple, Microsoft).

BTW, You could learn from Stanford professors for free by taking a online course from Venture Lab.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section ?

Regards
Arun

(GDP is defined as a sum value of all goods and services produced in the country. )


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Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review - Beyond the MBA Hype

Posted by Arun Prasad 2 Comments


I was very skeptical about this book when I first saw it. I was hesitant to buy a book on MBA Prep. I thought as long as Google is there, why to worry about any book that speaks about MBA Prep. There are tons of websites and forums from where we could get information from. Still, since this book just costed me about 250/-, I decided to take a risk and buy this book. 

I still remember the impressive campaign that this book carried during its launch. The comparison was with a movie ticket. There are so many instances when we might have paid 250 bucks for a overly hyped movie and we walk out of the theater completely disappointed. An example to quote would be Race2 or Dabbang2 or any other movie that is a bad sequel to its original with "2" as a suffix. So, the money that you would be investing on this book would a mere 250 bucks that you would be otherwise spending on a bakwass sequels. Its worth a Bet.

This book is written in Plain English. What I mean is that the contents of this book, language and the style of narration is more like a one-on-one conversation with the author, Sameer Kamat (Founder of MBA Crystal Ball and Booksoarus). There is absolutely no facts hidden in this book. It gives you a clear picture of what, how and why`s of the MBA Industry (I like that term). MBA is more like a industry and you need to be aware of all the rules of the game. This book is more like a Rule Book. After reading this book, I started following MBA Crystal ball and its Blog and let me tell you, This is some really valuable stuff. It has helped me immensely.

If you either a new person trying to apply for a international MBA or even a Masters, or a person in mid-way of a MBA Application or even a person who is doing his MBA, This book would be a valuable resource. In fact, when a candidate is applying or preparing to apply for a MBA Process, there would be lot of stumbling blocks along the way. We could get easily distracted, and easily give up or easily divert from our goal. In those times, this book has helped me come back to my track and proceed with my MBA Application Preparation.

The book is very organised and covers all aspects of International MBA Application Process. In the End, Sameer has given few thought Provoking Questions. I feel those questions are the most valuable takeaway from this book. I almost commute for 3 hours a day and I always carry this book in my backpack. Long commute time means a soul searching exercise for me. I would just take out this book, flip to last few pages and begin to ponder over these questions again and again. This type of a soul searching exercise has instilled a lot of clarity in my thinking and decision whether to do an MBA or not. I would read these questions again and again till I find a proper answer. 

So, all in all, this book would be a valuable investment for your MBA Prep and the returns of this investment would be in terms of Clarity in Understanding of International MBA Application process, Do`s and Don`ts of MBA Application, How does a MBA Program feel like, Teaching Methods of a MBA Class, Thought Provoking questions at the end, etc etc. Your opinion about a international MBA Program would have a Paradigm Shift after you read this book. This book would help you along the journey of your International MBA Prep
You could buy this book from the following links below - Amazon India or Flipkart

Amazon India


Flipkart








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