The Hindu Career Guidance: ‘Market demand versus Passion’

P.D. Jose, Professor, IIM-Bengaluru  


Dr. P. D. Jose, Professor of Strategy and Chairperson, Strategy, IIM Bengaluru delivered a talk on the ‘Scope for Business Management’ on the second day of The Hindu EducationPlus Career Counselling Digital conclave on September 18. Over 10,000 students participated in the session.

The lecture was direct, effective and of great value to students of all levels. The question and answer session that followed addressed some of the most frequently asked questions and resolved doubts of the youth and their parents.

Career advise by the professor was brief and simple: ‘Be flexible in choosing education and career. Be ready to discover and be surprised. Don’t get locked in management or in any one thing. Follow your passion. Whatever you choose, aim to be the best in the world. Mediocrity has no place in today’s world. This will lead to a a fulfilling life and be financially rewarding’.

He introduced the subject of management education by speaking about the various subjects taught and skills imparted at under-graduate, post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral levels. The under-graduate course can be a BBA or BA or BSc in business and management. But BBA is more popular.

The veteran professor, who has taught at top B-schools in India and abroad, seemed to have guessed the questions in the mind of the students. He touched upon choice of college and course, need for business education, emerging trends, and the question of passion versus market demand.

Nowadays, you can do a MBA in pretty much anything – from forestry, rural management to hospitals, tourism or data analytics. However, the basic premise – of studying about production, finance, marketing, sales, HR, operations – remains unchanged.

“If you are not in the top school, getting a good job is difficult. The way out is not to follow the crowd. Figure out which areas are emerging and which school is best for you. There are good and bad courses and colleges, and the way to choose them is to talk to alumni, faculty and read about the subjects taught. Ratings of institutions can also be considered,” he said.

“We should understand that business is not management and management is not business. Not all organisations are business. They can be hospitals, NGOs, colleges, and other agencies. Business is only one of the types of organisations. There is a scarcity of good managers at most of these places that are not traditional businesses. They may be exciting places for young people to work,” he said.


A student wanted to know if one needs an MBA to launch a business.


“There is really no need to do that. But it helps if you do. If you want to set up a tea shop, you dont need management education. But if you want to set up a tea company, you need an MBA,” he explained.

Similarly, there is no need for a BBA before an MBA. Most MBA students are not BBA graduates. While BBA introduces you to the subject, MBA lets you dive deep. He would recommend joining MBA after a few years of working in an organisation.

Understanding of 10th standard mathematics was enough for MBA, along with a general level of awareness about current affairs. You should regularly read a finance newspaper. “You don’t need to understand all of it. Even I don’t understand all of it. But you need to be aware of what is happening,” he said.

“Some IIMs offer five-year programmes in liberal arts. IIT Madras has it, and IIT Mumbai is starting one. Nowadays, the most exciting careers don’t seem to be in STEM, but in humanities. Some students may be clear about what they want, and some may not. If you are not clear, it does not matter. Things evolve and you will figure out in a few years,” he said.

Professor Jose felt that an engineering degree before MBA was not really helpful. “Some people go to IIT before coming to IIM as per the wish of their parents. But all education helps our ability to think logically and clearly, and nothing is really wasted,” he said.

He gave the example of a bright MBA student who deliberately failed in interviews as he wanted to pursue a career in music.

“Apart from educating yourself, you should try to educate your parents about your passion,” he said. “However, all passions have to be tested for accompanying talent. We all need a reality check and see if there is any real talent to go with passion. If not, it is not a good idea to make it a career,” he said.

The marks of earlier examinations like 10th and 12th were important as selectors look for consistency in academic performance.

“It shows orientation and work ethic from school days. But if your past scores are not good, you can always turn them around,” he said.

BSc (agriculture) followed by an MBA is a good combination as farm-based industries require managers. But the agriculture degree did not put anyone at a disadvantage, he said. Luck and position matter in life, but hard work matters most, he felt. “Passing out of a good school gives you initial advantage, in the form of better placements and network. But what matters is performance,” he said.

He acknowledged the disconnect among business leaders about concern for the environment, and the continued destruction of the environment led by consumerism. “Good business comes from caring for environment. Now there are a lot of companies based on green energy and sustainable development,” he said.

He pointed that there were great schools in India and terrible ones abroad, and students should not fly out just for the sake of it. “Our top IIMs are tougher to get into than Harvard,” he said.

Indian MBA is cost effective as it can be done at 1/20th the cost of a foreign MBA, he said.

“Abroad, students have greater exposure, and faculty have better connect with business and laboratories. But our situation is improving,” he said.

IIMs do not figure frequently in international ratings of education institutions as ‘rating is a game, and some people do everything to stay on top. But IIMs don’t pay much attention to it’.


“We should probably play it better, but not be driven by it,” he said.

He made it clear that his views on some issues in management education and IIMs are his own, and do not reflect the official view of IIM-B.

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