Interview with Vijay Anand Menon
Vijay Anand Menon graduated from the batch of 2008 at IIM Calcutta. He was chosen in the top 25 candidates from over 2000 applicants in the East Zone for Lead India, a national initiative by the Times of India to identify new leaders for India.
Mentorpolis: Hi Vijay! Thanks for giving us some of your precious time to talk about your experience with IIMs. Let’s start by how IIMs are different than other management institutions? And how they’re different amongst themselves?
Vijay: I will answer this in two terms- how the IIMs are different amongst themselves, and how are they combined different from other management institutes. There are 3 basic factors that affect your experience of the MBA- the education (courses offered and the faculty), The Alumni Network and the perception.
- Courses– As far as the courses are concerned, they are easy to replicate and hence there is not much difference among the IIMs and other management institutes. The only difference that comes into play is if there is a focus on some aspect of management in the institution.
- Faculty– Faculty in the IIMs is undoubtedly very renowned and stands as a differentiator from other institutions. That said, there might be few exceptional professors of particular domains in every IIM. This is indeed the only difference amongst the IIMs that should determine your decision- depending on which stream you want to pursue post graduation.
- The Alumni Network– Probably the biggest plus of IIMs, a big and rich Alumni network can be extremely helpful to anyone- be it finding a job, building up a business, or simply finding the best brains for your company.
- The Perception– There is no smoke without the fire and so there is some truth underlying every perception- and thus perception matters a lot. They are the only source of information for a new recruiter and thus influences it’s decision to select which IIM to choose. Though, overall it averages out and there is not much difference between the brand images of each of the top IIMs.
Thus, I would like to conclude by suggesting that reach out to people who have been to the IIMs you are considering- find out about their culture, map it to your interest and then take an informed decision about your career.
Mentorpolis:That’s a great insight! Just a follow up- What are the different majors inside IIMs and how do they affect one’s placement?
Vijay: Though there are no official majors in most of the IIMs, people tend to specialize in any of the fields- finance, marketing, HR by taking more courses of a chosen stream as their optional courses in their second year. This is mostly guided by motives of gaining more information about their tentative future careers and do not directly affect one’s placement chances. The only slight advantage that might exist is the possibility to showcase your dedication by putting your courses on your resume.
Mentorpolis: What are some of the things people should watch out for while in IIMs?
Vijay: I hear a lot of people complaining about how hectic was their MBA as they put all their time trying to get the perfect grades, not realizing the importance of the subtle experience of life outside the classroom and how it impacts you as a person. I think I did a good job of balancing my academics and my interaction with my batch mates- who helped me broaden my perspective on several facets of life. Moreover, networking as it’s called is extremely resourceful and can make a huge difference to one’s career too.
Mentorpolis: What would your advice be to someone preparing for or thinking about IIMs? What is the right time for an MBA?
Vijay: A very big and unfortunate issue facing Indian education faces is the rat race. We see a lot of fresh college graduates taking a gig at CAT not knowing why they want an MBA. This is really sad as such a mis-informed decision leads to more confusion about one’s career decisions upon graduating from IIMs. Also, insufficient work experience doesn’t let you leverage the most out of your classroom teaching, and most of your learning is restricted to the bookish knowledge, as without work experience you can’t extrapolate the impact of knowledge in real life situations.
Also, I won’t associate any number with the time you need to decide to go for an MBA. You have to see a clear purpose of your MBA, see how it fits in your career vision. For some it could take 3-4 years to see its worth, for others- it might be 6 months after college.
Mentorpolis: That’s something our mentees will really appreciate! Can you also shed light upon how the Indian MBA is different than the foreign MBA?
Vijay: These days, a lot of people get excited to do an MBA from Abroad, not knowing how it is different from the Indian MBA and not realizing that not every foreign university is a good one. People need to see that just as not every Indian MBA is acknowledged in the US, similarly not every foreign MBA is recognized in India as a good MBA. Plus, if you intend to work in India, you should be careful about the application of lessons learnt from a foreign MBA into the Indian context.
Mentorpolis: That is indeed something to keep in mind while choosing your career path. Thanks a lot Vijay for your time, we appreciate it a lot!