Sunday, March 12, 2006

George Bush’s visit to ISB was a welcome surprise. I wish I was a current student this year – would have got an opportunity to be there. From the transcript, it appears he was his usual self – more so as he himself is a b-school product. He started off like “So whoever would like to begin, we can start. And if not, I'm just going to call on somebody -- like you.”. This is so like a professor cold calling! I hope the Indian President also visits the institute in the near future to share some of his immense scientific and academic knowledge.

Last week I was busy traveling. First I went to XLRI Jamshedpur for campus recruitment. I liked the campus, it is very compact and cozy. The newly built badminton court was very inviting, but alas I was there for a different purpose!

Then I had to go to our office in Chennai on business. Chennai seemed to have made good progress since my last visit there. The roads were quite clean and there was a new mall, City Center, that had come up. Didn’t have time to explore much beyond that.

Now that a fresh batch of b-school grads will be joining the work force, I have been receiving enquiries from them about what to expect when they join IT services firms. Well, I keep telling people that it is what you make of it. It is common knowledge that the main engine of such companies is quality of execution. You provide good deliveries and you get repeat business. That’s the business driver. What role do MBAs have to play in this scenario? Most MBAs don’t want to be in delivery role. They went for an MBA to get away from delivery. Most would like to be in tech consulting or business development roles.

Now pure business development is a sales function, and is typically the territory of people with strong sales background. A person with only IT project management experience is more suited for pre-sales, account mining and consulting roles. A typical MBA might start off as a business analyst – the critical link between the business side of the client firm and the technical side of the IT firm. He would understand the functional requirements and ensure that the final delivery meets those requirements. Afterwards, the MBA would likely move up to become an account/engagement/client relationship manager. One would have profit and loss responsibilities and would be judged based on the amount of revenue growth in the relationship.

This is my understanding of the typical role of MBAs in IT services companies. There would be many other career paths as well. Most MBAs have the freedom to choose which path they would like to take. Also, salary differentials of one or two lakhs don’t matter much at this stage – it is the role and quality of work that matter more. So I would advise students to choose companies based on the role offered.


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