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How to pick the right business school

Last updated on: December 11, 2013 11:41 IST

Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

In an online chat with readers, Naveenan Ramachandran, head, 2IIM Mumbai answered questions on how to pick the right MBA institute and offered advice on bschool admissions in India.

Now that the Common Admission Test is over, most of you must be busy preparing for the upcoming Group Discussion and Personal Interview rounds.

Despite a high CAT score, if you fail to make it through the GD and PI rounds, you may be denied admission. Which explains why performance in both is equally important.

Besides performing well in all in the above, one must be equally careful about picking the right management institute and course for you because the decision will influence both your life and career.

To offer strategies on how to prepare for the GD and PI rounds and to seek clarity on MBA admissions in India, had organised a chat with Naveenan Ramachandran, head, 2IIM, a management training institute in Mumbai.

For those who missed the live chat, here's the unedited transcript:

delta: Hi Naveenan, I'm having 7 years exp with IT as right now as TL Role and B.E (Comp Sc.) from NIT. I prefer to stay in IT itself. How much Executive MBA would help me? Kindly suggest good institutes too that offers specialised in IT.

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Delta, If you are keen on staying in IT - then an executive MBA at an IIM (A, B, C, L, I) or ISB could take you up several notches (The 1 year in school could take you to a position which you could have got 5 years later on). Delivery Management, CIO / CTO positions in mid size MNCs, CEO positions in start up IT firms are some of the options that open up. All the best!
Most of these do not offer any specialisation. It will just mean that you take a lot of courses / electives which are IT related.

guddy: hello, can you please suggest some good institutes for executive mba in india? also pls advise how to apply for it

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Guddy, Institutes like IIMs (A, B, C, L, I), ISB, Great Lakes, SP Jain offer 1 year executive MBA for people with several years of work experience. Posting a very good GMAT score is very important for these colleges. Application essays come in after getting the GMAT score.

chinmay sheth: Is ISB good for career in Hedge Fund Industry?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Chinmay, Very, very specific goal - I must admit! HF industry will look for somebody very good in quantitative skills. Having an alum base in that industry is also important. Keeping these in mind, in my humble opinion, ISB may not be the best of choices. You could look at colleges like Stern, Booth which have specialized math finance courses in order to get into HF. All the best!

vaishali: hi sir i have five years of work experience and have scored above 85 per cent in class 10 and 12 but my engineering results are very low, only 71 percent. will that affect my mba plans?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Vaishali ... As you have 5 years of work experience, the engineering results should not pull you down a lot. It is also a function of the university you go to -- some universities are very stringent and some are not. Talk about your achievements at work in the application essays and let your more recent work talk for you. All the best!

salim: what is your opinion about distance learning mbas?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Salim - Not very valuable in its ability to get a sector shift or move up several notches within your organization. The industry knows that there is no entry barrier into distance learning MBA programmes. So, it does not value that degree as much as the ones with a high entry barrier. Thanks.

kapadia: M working in an IT company since eight years in a technical field. But I would like to move into investment banking/consulting. need your advice on the correct mba programme for me

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Kapadia ... After putting in 8 years of exp., to be able to move to a different sector (where competition is HUGE), you will have to go either an IIM-A, B or C or an ISB in India. If you are looking at colleges outside India - the ones in the top 50 of an economist or an FT ranking should get what you want. However, you will have to start as an associate / analyst and slowly climb the ranks.
You should be ready to start from the base of the organization structure.

bhanu: I am an MBA from TN with four years of work ex and am employed as team leader in a BPO. Will the 1 yr mba programme help my career? What are the programmes i can look for

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Bhanu ... A lot of people do go in for their 2nd MBA from top tier institutes. It makes sense if you have around 5 years experience post your 1st MBA -- which you will have in case you apply for the session starting in 2014. The alumni support, the international faculty, the knowledge of faculty working in the top tier colleges - definitely make a difference and make it a worthwhile investment.

john: What is the ideal score to apply to ISB Bangalore and IIM-Bangalore?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi John ... ISB ka range of scores is 610 to 750 or so ... The lower side is higher for an IIM-B. They take into consideration a lot of factors about your profile apart from the GMAT score. Having said that - if you post a 720 , then you can put a tick in the checkbox called GMAT and think only about the essays!. All the best!!

ulfat: hi, what books should i refer to prepare for Group discussion and PI? also what are the topics i can expect this year

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi ... GD Prep is best done by practice ... There are tonnes and tonnes of web links that will give you inputs on GD and PI. But, get somebody / group of people to do a mock. Nothing helps like going through a mock GD / PI that mirrors the final circumstances as much as possible

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'How much should I score in cat to get into IIM?'

Photographs: Illustration by Dominic Xavier/

neetu chaubey: Which are the good two tier MBA colleges for executive MBA?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Neetu ... Check out the ones offered by Somaiya, Welingkar, IMI, TAPMI, Nirma, GIM etc.

Hiya: What are the career prospects after doing executive MBA? is it good or bad?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Hiya .. Yes - over the last 10 years the awareness in the industry about the value added by 1 year programmes has increased. They are viewed on par with the best 2 year programmes. The fact that only people with a lots of years of experience makes up for the 1 less year spent on campus. You could either move higher up in the same sector / industry or move laterally in terms of a sector shift.

Vinayak Tavade: Can you pls suggest some good fiction and non-fiction books to read to prepare for GD/PI?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Vinayak ... I would prefer to redirect you to magazines like Economist, TIME, India Today and business news papers like ET, FT, Mint. Current affairs / news should get covered by the likes of rediff. Not much time left to take the novels route to GD / PI!

Nitin Deshmukh: Hi Naveenan, how much should I score in cat to get into IIM?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Nitin ... There are a little less than 2,500 seats in all the 13 IIMs put together. That is a little more than 1 per cent of the 2,00,000 test taking population. That translates to a little less than 98 percentile in terms of marks that puts you in the top 2,500 candidates. An overall percentile above 98 should help you get the GD / PI calls.

vijay: I'm interested in executive 1 yr MBA...I have completed my masters in computer engineering from USA and have three years of work experience abroad. What are institutes that i should be looking at?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Vijay ... You could be looking at ISB, Great Lakes Institute of Management, SP Jain etc. I am assuming that you are looking for colleges in India. If you are willing to go to Europe, lot of options open up. Get a GMAT score of 720 and that should get you through most of these colleges. All the best!

Eknath Gangulee: How is SIES and Welingkar in Mumbai for one year diploma in finance?

Naveenan Ramachandran: They ARE indeed good programs. They may not take you into investment banking profiles at a JP Morgan or a Goldman. However, they serve as good launch pads to get your toehold into the finance industry.

Dinkar Dosanjh: I am expecting 90 per cent in CAT. what colleges i can expect at least calls from?

Naveenan Ramachandran: Hi Dinkar .. At 90 percentile, you are hovering around 20,000th position out of the 2,00,000 odd people who gave the test ... You should be able to get calls from in the tail end of the top 100 colleges (published by any of the MBA ranking agencies).