Whom niche MBA specialization will help?

Until recently, specialization was the buzzword for new age MBAs. However, with the metaphoric shrinking of the world, and the agonizingly slow paced recovery of the global economy, many students who may have opted for a super specialized MBA program, probably will have to battle a difficult placement scenario. In the wake of this uncertainty, experts are advising cautious approach, when opting to pursue a specialized management program, even while students continue to remain optimistic about following their ambitious

Super niche MBA specialization actually go against the philosophy of an MBA degree. Take the case of an MBA in finance. The student pursuing it knows much less about quantitative finance, taxation and audits than a CA does. But many corporations would still want to hire the finance MBA. This is because of the breadth, as opposed to the depth, of knowledge.This goes onto prove that employers prefer people with a wider vista of knowledge, rather than a too focused understanding of a particular subject. In the same vein, a super niche MBA program is avoidable, since it focuses a little more on depth, and defies the very essence of management programs.

In some of the top B-Schools worldwide students are encouraged not to specialize at all! This is in recognition of the fact that a manager’s role, at least at the senior levels cannot be categorized. However, if the specific industry is outperforming the overall economy, then a niche MBA might help. But these things even out pretty quickly and a general MBA is usually the best in the medium to long term.

B- schools should start these niche programs only after they have the requisite and infrastructure. Otherwise, the quality of education suffers and that is a tragedy. Most often specialized MBA courses in India suffer from a lack of experienced faculty. The academic models for these specialized programs are quite different from the way traditional B-schools are run. In such specialized programs, the courses has to be oriented towards the sector. There must be active industry participation, both in the drawing out of the curriculum and in conducting the courses. Students should also be encouraged to translate classroom learning into a contextual understanding by regular internships and projects, which should be the hallmark of such programs. Indian business schools are generally local in their approach and use outdated case studies and methodology. Newly established B-schools may have what it takes, but would still take time to gain acceptance in the job market because they have to prove themselves. Faculty and research are not strong in most B-schools in India. However, institutions MBA programs backed by the industry which it directly serves are well accepted in the job market.

A specialized MBA course can offer a decent education, if the student wants to work in that particular industry – wine or sports, for example, after graduating and will not be diverted from that path. MBA programs are a life changing experience for many students. The last thing you would from a qualification like an MBA is to feel pigeon holed into an industry you find no longer fits you. This is why a huge proportion (certainly higher than 95 per cent) of MBA courses worldwide are general management courses.

Specializations are a double edged sword. When competition gets cut throat the slice of your pie gets overcrowded, warns who graduated with an MBA in Supply chain management from S P Jain’s Singapore/ Dubai campus. Then you may regret not being qualified enough to pick up the other slices because with no relevant qualification you may be hired at the entry level.