Want to do an MBA? A CFA course could def­i­nitely help

GO THE EX­TRA MILE While IIM classes are dom­i­nated by en­gi­neers, those with com­merce cer­ti­fi­ca­tions are likely to be bet­ter for fi­nance roles

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Rozelle Laha

When in his third year in an en­gi­neer­ing col­lege, Swap­nil Gore re­alised chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing was not the ca­reer he wanted to pur­sue. De­spite be­ing an en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, his fas­ci­na­tion for fi­nance led him to pur­sue an MBA in fi­nance at IIM Ro­htak.

Be­fore join­ing the in­sti­tute, he started pre­par­ing for char­tered fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst (CFA) cre­den­tials. “For me, CFA was a risky exam be­cause I had no prior com­merce back­ground. All the sub­jects in the cur­ricu­lum of CFA have very high rel­e­vance in the cor­po­rate world. Sub­jects like ethics and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing and anal­y­sis, which also have weigh­tage in the syl­labus, have paramount im­por­tance in the life of any pro­fes­sional. So, I want to re­it­er­ate that for any­one de­sirous of mak­ing a ca­reer in fi­nance, this exam (CFA) is ex­tremely im­por­tant,” Gore adds.

Another en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate and an IIM Ro­htak stu­dent, Suresh Varma, says, “The post­grad­u­ate pro­gramme does have a ‘per­fect’ syl­labus but the only short­com­ing is that the stu­dents are not al­lot­ted ad­e­quate time to dig deeper and mas­ter all sub­jects. CFA filled this gap for me.”

While a com­merce stu­dent at any IIM is likely to find sub­jects like ac­count­ing and micro­eco­nomics to be some­what eas­ier, stu­dents from dif­fer­ent back­grounds are on the same foot­ing when it comes to other sub­jects, ir­re­spec­tive of their ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“Be­ing a com­merce grad­u­ate would help peo­ple in­ter­ested in fi­nance and they stand a bet­ter chance to be short­listed by fi­nance com­pa­nies; but peo­ple from en­gi­neer­ing back­ground and in­ter­ested in fi­nance, to hone their skills and gain a com­pet­i­tive edge, go for cer­ti­fi­ca­tions like CFA. This, ac­cord­ing to me, might help them as it shows their com­mit­ment to po­ten­tial re­cruiters, thereby in­creas­ing their chances of get­ting short­listed and im­prov­ing their knowl­edge,” says IIM Kozhikode alum­nus Ra­jul Man­gal.

As Aman Son­thalia, a firstyear stu­dent at IIM Udaipur with a back­ground in com­merce says, “It is a per­sonal choice to pur­sue an ad­di­tional de­gree, but there’s no com­pul­sion to ex­cel (in the sub­ject) dur­ing the two years of MBA. It’s al­ways help­ful to have an ad­di­tional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion de­spite one’s back­ground, as it def­i­nitely lever­ages our ca­reer op­tions if we know some­thing more than our set course.”

In­deed so. Re­cruiters show an in­cli­na­tion to hire MBA grad­u­ates for fi­nance roles where they have a strong ori­en­ta­tion. It is rare to have a CFO who is not a char­tered ac­coun­tant, although the in­dus­try has a few CFOs who are not CAs but have a strong MBA back­ground.

“To­day’s MBAs feel that the level of fi­nance in­puts they re­ceive in the in­sti­tutes are not suf­fi­cient to man­age the in­creas­ing de­mands of the world of com­merce. While their man­age­ment skills are honed to a fine level, some of them feel that if they have stronger fi­nance strength, they have an edge that gets them the top jobs and a seat at the top in times to come. Some tra­di­tional roles in fi­nance will al­ways have CAs, and that is never go­ing to be dis­puted. We will pre­fer an MBA with ad­di­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion in com­merce over oth­ers. For this is the edge that turns the wheels of man­age­ment of com­merce,” says SV Nathan, chief tal­ent of­fi­cer, Deloitte In­dia. A typ­i­cal In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment (IIM) class­room com­prises g rad­u­ates f rom di­verse back­grounds – en­gi­neer­ing, com­merce, med­i­cal, arts and hu­man­i­ties and law.

As every IIM has the au­ton­omy to frame the cur­ricu­lum for post grad­u­ate pro­grammes in man­age­ment (PGP) – the flag­ship pro­gramme for IIMs – the in­sti­tutes are do­ing their bit to en­sure that the cur­ricu­lum is in­clu­sive. No stu­dent from a par­tic­u­lar back­ground has an ad­van­tage.

IIM Ahmed­abad, when asked by HT Ed­u­ca­tion about diver­sity, re­sponded: “The post­grad­u­ate pro­gramme in man­age­ment covers a wide range of first cour­ses from di­verse func­tional ar­eas such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, HR, eco­nom­ics, fi­nance, op­er­a­tions, and sta­tis­tics. In the sec­ond year, stu­dents take elec­tive cour­ses of their choice. Hence, no stu­dent from any par­tic­u­lar aca­demic back­ground has an ad­van­tage and all are equally en­cour­aged to ap­ply.”

How­ever, de­spite all at­tempts to en­sure that every stu­dent in the class­room finds the cur­ricu­lum easy, “I n t he f i rst year, en­gi­neers will find quan­ti­ta­tive tech­niques eas­ier, nonengi­neers (might) find it dif­fi­cult. Busi­ness pol­icy, strat­egy, busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment cour­ses in the sec­ond year are nei­ther friendly to non-en­gi­neers nor to en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates,” says Pro­fes­sor Pra­fulla Ag­ni­hotri, direc­tor, IIM Trichy.

To en­sure that stu­dents don’t feel left out be­cause of their ed­u­ca­tional back­ground, IIMs are go­ing the ex­tra mile to help them.

IIM Trichy of­fers “tu­to­ri­als in quan­ti­ta­tive meth­ods as well as ac­count­ing and fi­nance cour­ses to as­sist all those who may need ex­tra sup­port,” says Ab­hishek Totawar, chair­per­son, place­ment and ex­ter­nal re­la­tions.

I I M Udaipur, right after ad­mis­sions, ex­pects all stu­dents to take up a short on­line math- emat­ics course on the in­sti­tute’s web­site. Stu­dents are ex­pected to com­plete the hour- based ex­er­cises and quizzes by pay­ing 5,000. “Those who score 70% in the course are el­i­gi­ble to get a re­fund of 75% of the en­roll­ment fee. We en­cour­age ev­ery­body to go through it even if stu­dents have not done ba­sic level for three years. This way, we are try­ing to en­sure that stu­dents get to do some ba­sic re­vi­sion be­fore they come into the class­room. We also recog­nise stu­dents who have dif­fi­culty in fol­low­ing a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject and sched­ule reg­u­lar tu­to­ri­als to help them catch up,” says Pro­fes­sor Janat Shah, direc­tor, IIM Udaipur.

It is also not nec­es­sary for every stu­dent to clear each sub­ject, Shah adds. Even if they score a D grade in up to four pa­pers and still man­age to get the min­i­mum CGPA in the ag­gre­gate, it is fine. “We un­der­stand peo­ple come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. We al­low this flex­i­bil­ity. If they do well in some and badly in some and choose their ca­reer ac­cord­ingly, it is fine.” Pro­fes­sor Anindya Sen, direc­tor, IIM Ranchi adds, “Usu­ally many cour­ses do not need pre­req­ui­sites and if any­thing is needed, it is taught ei­ther in class or with ex­tra hours.”

Sta­tis­tics, ac­count­ing and fi­nan­cial re­port­ing are some cour­ses which non-com­merce grad­u­ates might find dif­fi­cult. How­ever, most ex­perts be­lieve that it is a myth that MBA is com­merce-based, “En­gi­neer­ing stu­dents in gen­eral per­form bet­ter than com­merce stu­dents even in fi­nance-re­lated cour­ses,” says Sen.


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