Business Today

The Specialists

MBA programmes are increasingly becoming specialised to cater to an array of new realities.
By Ajita Shashidhar | Print Edition: December 4, 2016
The Specialists
DIFFERENT STROKES: Students of SP Jain's Luxury Management course (Photo: S KUMAR)

Yash Dhamani, 21, has recently shifted his base from Jaipur to Mumbai to pursue a Masters in Luxury Management at the SP Jain Institute of Global Management. He is a third-generation entrepreneur who wants to launch his own luxury jewellery brand and, thus, the course is an obvious choice for him.

Dhamani toyed with the idea of pursuing a regular MBA programme, but soon realised that only a specialised programme would teach him the nuances of running a luxury brand. "A general MBA teaches you to make your brand available for everyone, complete opposite of luxury, which is all about being exclusive," he says.

Like Dhamani, there are thousands of Indian students seeking specialised educational qualifications. Be it an MBA in HR, Pharmaceutical Management, Digital Marketing, Big Data or even Family Business Management, it is an era of specialists. MBA institutes, especially the private ones, are going all out to offer specialised courses. "While the MBA continues to be the code standard for many students, specialised programmes are becoming increasingly popular," says Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management, who claims that the demand for its ??uxury management programme (the first batch took admission in October this year) is so high that it is now planning a second intake of students in April next year.

"We have always responded to the need of the market. We keep experimenting with new courses all time," adds Debashish Sanyal, Dean, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). Some of the most popular specialised MBA programmes at NMIMS are HR,

Pharmaceutical Management and Family Business courses.

So, is the era of the generalists on the decline? Certainly not. An MBA student in NMIMS, for instance, commands a starting salary in the range of Rs 16 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, while the starting salary of a pharma MBA student is in the range of Rs 9 lakh. The course fee of the latter is also much lower.

"Earlier, we used to get 40,000 applications for 50 seats. This year 70,000 students are going to write the exam for the MBA programme. There is a huge demand for our regular MBA programmes, but there are niches that are also happening and there is demand for it," explains Sanyal.

Specialised MBAs get paid less as they are trained to handle certain niches. A general MBA, on the contrary, is equipped to create value for the company at a larger level. "A general MBA can create a strategy that can take the company to the next level of growth, while a Masters in Luxury Management is a person who is more oriented towards creative thinking. These are people with completely different skill sets," explains Jain of SP Jain.

Students opting for specialised courses come with a clear mindset of only having a career in that particular discipline. Kinnar Mehta, a second year Pharma Management student at NMIMS, joined the programme after working for a while in Cydus Cadilla. "I have studied Life Science and I always aspired to work in the pharma sector. This course gives me an insight into all aspects of a pharma company, be it HR, sales or marketing. A regular MBA will not give me such focused knowledge."

Debashish Sanyal, Dean, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (Photo: Milind Shelte)

"We have responded to the need of the market. We experiment with new courses all the time"

But are there enough takers in the job markets for these specialised degrees? Utpal Das, Principal Consultant at EMA Partners, says that the demand for them will surely go up as more trained talent enters the market. "We recently hired senior executives for the family offices of three large conglomerates. Even though the people for these roles came from general backgrounds, going forward, if we have an option of a person who has done an MBA in family business management, we will definitely look at his profile more seriously."

Some new schools, like the Indian School of Management and Entrepreneurship (ISME), have chosen to only offer specialised courses.

"B-schools are passe in todays context," believes Indu Shahani, President and Chairperson, ISME. "Regular MBA schools produce more job seekers, while the need of the hour is to create more job creators," she says.

The private business schools dont have an option but to focus on more such specialised programmes, says HR professional Anurag Kansal. "With new IIMs coming up in virtually every state and the seats in the five leading IIMs being increased substantially, the cream of the students will opt for them. They will hence feel the need to differentiate by offering specialised programmes."


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