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Prabh Arora

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The ROI of an MBA

In the last couple of weeks I've met with students at ISB, Great Lakes, ICFAI Business School Hyderabad and IIM Indore. And the one concern which unites students across one year and two year programs is the burden of the EMI.

The average ISB student will be paying an EMI of 25k over 7 years, an IIM student 25k over 5 years (going for the exchange program could jack that up by another 4-5k per month). So the concern students have is: "What will be my ROI?"

The way in which a bschooler calculates ROI is very direct: compare what I spent on the course, with the placement salary at the time of exit. In case you have significant work experience, also factor in one year of 'lost income'.

OK. By this method of calculation, the ROI - for a majority of students - will be negative. 

The published figure for 
average domestic salary at ISB last year is Rs 16.47 lakhs p.a. (CTC).

The fees for this batch were approximately Rs 19 lakhs, while the average incoming salary was Rs 8 lakhs p.a.

Do the math and you can see that there is much heartburn. Especially for the 50% of the batch which must - necessarily - bag a job lower than the 'average'. 

The same holds true for an ICFAI Business School graduates, where fees + living expenses for the course would
works out to Rs 9-10 lakhs.

The average placement salary would be 
in the range of Rs 5-6 lakhs. A large % of candidates are freshers or with 1-2 years of work ex so we can discount the income loss component.

Now let us examine the case at IIM Indore. The average salary for the class of 2010 was Rs 10.29 lakhs. 

The cost of the 2 year course for this batch was approximately Rs 8 lakhs.

Of course, 50% of the batch would have bagged jobs in the Rs 6-10 lakhs range but prima facie IIM seems to provide maximum chances of a high ROI.

However. As they say with mutual fund investments, past performance may not be indicative of future returns. So students who are considering the MBA today - be warned.

The class of 2010 at IIM Indore consisted of 175 students. That number went up to 235for the batch of 2011. The class of 2012 is a record 
450 students.

No doubt this will affect the average salary figure. (In fact the larger the batch, the more focus the institute puts on 'quantity' over quality). 

Moreover from this year, the cost of attending IIM Indore has also gone up to Rs 10 lakhs. Making the 'equation' far less favourable.

I can bore you with several more examples but you get the drift. 

The origin of this entire mess go back to 2008, when the market was booming. It appeared that the MBA was a Golden Degree which, like the yellow metal, could only go up, up and up.

Record placement salaries, record number of jobs - and a relatively low fee structure - made the MBA a most exciting qualification. The better the bschool brand, the more excitement, of course.

At this stage two things happened:

1) In April 2008, IIM Ahmedabad more than doubled its fees (from Rs 4.3 lakhs to Rs 11.5 lakhs). Other IIMs followed.

2) At the same time, year on year, IIMs began admitting more students (seats increased btw 40-100%)

Let me be honest, when IIMA first hiked its fee, I thought it was a good thing. The course was highly subsidised, there seemed to be no reason for taxpayers to underwrite the careers of bright students bagging excellent jobs. 

What's more, IIMs promised that no one would be denied a seat due to lack of funds. Education loans were made available to all and also merit scholarships, based on family income. 

But. The consequences of these actions were not limited to IIM students.

In the world of finance the Reserve Bank of India signals changes in rates. Similarly, IIMs hiking their fees sent a clear signal to the entire bschool industry. Practically every bschool in India increased its fees by 50-100%.

In a strange and convoluted way, the low fees charged by IIMs kept fees of all bschools low. Because no one - apart from ISB, with its own unique brand - dared to charge more than the market leader.

To compound the problem, the market crashed. Jobs disappeared. The class of 2009 saw the worst of it - higher fees and lower placement salaries. The number of students appearing for CAT in 2009 also declined - for the first time in years. 

So, what does this all boil down to? 
MBA karna chahiye - ya nahin??

Well, I think the 'Gold Rush' era is over. If you are looking for quick and safe returns, you will be disappointed.

I do think an MBA will add a lot of value to your career over the long term. By long term I mean a 10-15 year horizon. But you will begin to see the difference in as little as 3-5 years.

Certain avenues in the corporate world do open up for you, if you have the right 'branding'.

And if you are not from the best known schools you still have the chance to work your way up the ladder through performance and personality.

40 years of working life lie ahead of most of us, a one or two year program is an investment whose returns cannot and 
should not be calculated merely at the end of the course.

And yes, demand and supply is the inexorable law of Nature. Bschools may well have to go back to smaller batches and lower fees - to make themselves more attractive.

The other - and tougher way - is to provide such value addition that recruiters are 
happy to shell out more to snap up students. A scenario so implausible... the more practical method would be to hire Leonardo di Caprio. 

And let the 'Inception' team loose at one of those CXO Summits where delegates struggle to stay awake :)

Finance Management


J A beggar to another beggar: I had a grand dinner at Taj yesterday.

How? The other beggar asked.

First begger: Some one gave me a Rs 100/- note yesterday.
I went to Taj and ordered dinner worth Rs 1,000/-,
and enjoyed the dinner.  When the bill came, I said, I had no money.
The Taj manager called the policeman, and handed me over to him.
I gave the Rs 100/- note to the police fellow, and he set me free.

A wonderful example of financial management indeed

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Social Media Marketing for Free Brand Recognition

Social Media Marketing offers the best tools for free Brand Recognition. Having a social media presence has two major advantages: Firstly, social media profiles can increase traffic to a main website and improve conversions and lead generation. Secondly, utilizing social media allows any business, or marketer, the ability to run free promotions in some of the biggest marketplaces available online today.
What many people often fail to recognize is that social media marketing can help to secure brand recognition, and provides one of the best resources for running free market research and gaining a valuable insight into what the average consumer needs and wants right now.

Social media is all about real-time information, and used wisely, this content can be a lucrative addition to any business strategy and can influence future project development. There are three main criteria that make a social media marketing campaign invaluable to any aspiring business.

Increasing Brand Recognition/Popularity

If a business, or marketer, wants their latest product to be successful, they need to place it in front of as many targeted customers as possible – this is fairly obvious. This could normally involve running a costly advertising campaign – or maybe a lengthy SEO project, hoping to get their product website ranked by a search engine.
Social media provides a free platform for finding targeted customers and placing the brand or product right before their eyes. Using the free search tools to locate topic-relevant persons, or simply submitting product-related content to social bookmarking platforms, a business can easily place their products in front of a huge audience and even supply direct links to the main product website.

Free Real-Time Market Research

Social media provides the platform for a business or marketer to gain valuable research on two levels. Social media users love to talk about forthcoming products or services and often discuss the latest hot topics and what is good or bad about the current products available. This valuable insight allows a business to predict potential trends and stay ahead of the competition. It also offers the opportunity to piggyback on current products and supply ‘new and improved’ versions – minus the commonly discussed flaws.
The other market research potential is for businesses that are currently promoting a product, or service. Often, companies will provide feedback forms for current customers to have their say about the pros and cons of a product. Social media provides this form of customer feedback in real time and without the need for unnecessary paperwork.
Users will discuss the promoted products and will give impartial opinions that can be used to improve or adapt the product. A business, or marketer, can ask their customers questions via their social media accounts and discover what they think can be done to improve a product, what they are looking to buy next or if they would consider buying a particular product if it were made available to them.

Promote Expertise and Increase Visibility

Having a social media profile allows a business the chance to provide valuable information to a large audience. These could be potential customers that would have never heard this information otherwise. Social media offers the opportunity for a business to establish itself as an expert in its particular market and become the preferred source of information for many social media users.
These users could pass this information on to friends, or even better, direct their friends to the businesses social media profile. These readers could have blogs or post on topic-relevant forums and may provide free promotion for the business on these. By being seen as an expert, any quality posts have the potential of going viral and if the post contains links to the main product website, this will lead to increased traffic to that site.
Social media is so established that most people now expect a respectable business to have a social media profile. Having a profile shows that the business is in touch and likely to provide products and services that are up-to-date and relevant.
Social media profiles and posts are indexed and ranked by search engines – this can lead to increased visibility and numerous other search engine placements, in addition to the main product website. Running a successful social media project will place a business and its products or services in front of a massive audience who may never have discovered they existed if it were not for their social media profile.
Social media marketing can provide valuable insights and information that can successfully be used to predict trends and influence future business decisions. These platforms are increasing in popularity every day and offer a valuable business resource. Many businesses and marketers are now seeing the potential of social media marketing but not all are utilizing them to their full business potential. By adopting the above strategies, any business or marketer can stay one step ahead of their uninformed rivals.
Guest blogger Roko Nastic is contributing author /editor at, a place where webmasters can quickly and easily gather all the necessary info to develop and maintain successful websites. You can also guestblog here and share your social media marketing experiences.