management by matrices

a fresh perspective on management.

Indian b-school rankings

It's that time of the year when thousands of young Indians appear for the CAT, and a whole lot of other management exams aiming to grab that coveted seat in a top b-school. A few friends who have been appearing for these exams have been asking me for advice on which schools to apply to. So, here's my list of top Indian b-schools you would want to apply to, factoring in placements, faculty, research, industry perception, alumni network, and brand value. I am adding a few brief remarks against each b-school.
Presenting, my personal list in no particular order

IIMA- good across all parameters
IIMB - placements
IIMC - known for being the best finance campus
IIML - good placements, not so strong alumni network due to it being a relatively new school
XLRI - strong alumni network, known for its niche HR program in addition to the regular business management course.
FMS, Delhi - strong placements in BFSI, constrained by the Delhi University tag
MDI - up coming, placements seem good going by reports
SPJIMR - same as above. Still not in the big league.

The difference between the top few schools, and the next set of schools is quite huge in terms of industry perception, salaries etc. Thus, if one is a serious contender (by which I mean someone who has been preparing seriously, or has been consistently doing well in all those simulated CAT tests) and doesn't make it to these schools, one may want to consider giving the GMAT and applying abroad. For someone with a lot of work experience, ISB is turning out to be a good option with it's flagship 1 year program.

Work experience versus freshers
Some years back, most b-schools took in a large number of freshers. However, the trend over the last few years has tilted in favour of people with work ex. The primary reason for this could be an increase in the number of work ex applicants, typically those with a few years in an IT company. I do not believe there is any other reason for this trend. So, if you are a fresher who has a call from an IIM, the probability of you getting through depends entirely on your performance in the selection process. I do not think you gain any points or lose any because of your lack of work ex.

Choosing a specialization
Some applicants start comparing b-schools based on specializations that they are interested in. In my view, unless you have had some sort of managerial experience, there is not much value in this exercise. Most people develop an inclination towards a specialization after they join a b-school. In my own case, I started off being very interested in marketing, and then by the end of it all had developed a stronger interest in Strategy and Organizational Behaviour.

With so much hype surrounding placements at the top b-schools, it is easy to get carried away. However, it is important to remember that the few jobs that get talked about in these news reports are just that - few. The majority of the batch does not walk away with a $200,000 salary. So keep your expectations realistic.

Academic Pressure
Initially, there is a certain amount of academic pressure at a b-school. It may appear quite unnatural compared to one's graduation degree. However, with time, one gets used to it, and learns to beat the system, and manage one's time efficiently. By the second year, life is a lot more relaxed, and one actually feels a bit bored when there is not much to do.

GD, PI preparation
In the group discussion, the main thing that one needs to focus on is 'contribution'. Nothing else matters. It does not matter whether you speak first or last. If you contribute positively to the discussion, you have done half the job. How does one contribute? There are two ways of contributing.
1. Contribute with content: This is a simple way of contributing. You bring in facts, personal experience etc. to make the discussion more fruitful. Even better than bringing in facts, is to bring in unique ideas or perspectives. This will make you stand out in the mind of the evaluator.
2. Contribute by managing the discussion: Here, you play the role of a coordinator, who directs the discussion, or atleast nudges it in a logical direction. You demonstrate skills like summarizing, logical reasoning, data consolidation and presentation etc. In addition to this you can also demonstrate critical skills such as interpersonal skills, team player skills (occassionally sacrificing your point of view for the sake of consensus) , and leadership skills.

The personal interview is your play ground to showcase your uniqueness as a candidate. Remember that you are contending with about 10 people for every seat on offer. You need to give solid, tangible reasons for the panel to pick you over the others. The interview, also offers you a fantastic opportunity to control the discussion, by leading it to your comfort areas. For instance, if you want to showcase your extra curricular accomplishments, grab the first opportunity that presents itself during the interview to steer the conversation towards extra curriculars. Remember, the interview is more of a conversation, than a quiz. You are free to speak beyond the scope of the question asked, or even initiate a discussion as and when such an opportunity presents itself. This of course does not mean that you steer every question towards your comfort zones. The key is to pick and choose.
Finally, it seems to a be a bit of a tragedy, that over 2 lakh applicants appear for CAT for just over 1500 seats. With so much demand, I would estimate that we would need atleast 20,000 high quality seats in the top b-schools each year to satisfy the demand of both of the students, as well as the industry which is facing a shortage of quality management talent in the market.

I hope this post helps people make an informed choice. If there are specific areas that you would like to discuss in more detail, do mail me at mohit[dot]kishore[at]gmail or leave a comment.


  1. tpraja


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    9:50 PM
  2. Deepak


    well said.the analysis helps me to find a better mindset over going for cat 2009.

    12:50 PM
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