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If God went to business school

  • Published at 06:40 pm November 27th, 2013
If God went to business school

The title is derived from an interesting book written by two Indian professionals: Anand and Mani Ganesh. Anand, now working for Citibank, is a 2010 batch MBA from FMS, Delhi. Mani is an engineer currently employed by Siemens. They met at the Delhi College of Engineering while Anand obtained his business degree afterwards. They had their interesting stories narrated in the book.

I won’t get into the details highlighted in the book. I was rather thinking: What would have happened if God went to a business school in Bangladesh? He would possibly have spoken more about profit, bottom lines, strategic direction, vision and mission statements, shared vision, principle-centred business, people centric organisation, client-driven companies, a winning combination between employees and clients, or even the “employees first clients second” principle.

He would have talked more on giving back to the community, or corporate social responsibility, leverage buyouts or mezzanine finance, current assets or quick ratios. He would have talked about internal cash generation or cash flow statements, tier-II capital or subordinated loans. And about best management practices or success transfers, shifting consumer choices, market dynamics, opportunity space, distribution channel management, and innovation.

These are different from classes in economics or statistics. In an economics class we get to hear more about growth, development, distributive justice, and inclusive development.

Recently, we have seen a surge in the number of approved private universities. Most of these are nothing beyond business schools. Business school enrolment occupies more than 70% of the total student body in these universities, if not more. Looking at private sector-led growth these days, it is obvious that young kids would want to obtain a business degree.

They need cushy jobs, fast promotions, and lots of money. Most of them believe in the survival of the fittest, or the performance driven culture. Jobs run after them. I am told that each year the market needs 60,000 young graduates to join the league, whereas the actual supply is much less than the required number. Universities produce around 35,000 business graduates each year.

What does the market want to see in them? That they are well-dressed, articulate, hard-working, computer literate, and aware of what’s happening around them. While we may have some reservations regarding what is being taught in our business schools, we at least know that these boys and girls are above-average English speaking, and have respectable IT literacy.

If paid well, they can work long hours and deliver at the end of day. With increasing globalisation, many of these boys and girls are becoming multilingual too. Gradually they are driving the economy forward. One would be amazed at the number of young mothers, professionals, and executives with non-business backgrounds enrolling for their MBA and EMBA degrees. 

More and more young Bangladeshi executives with business degrees are finding themselves transferred to overseas markets in the Far East, Middle East and Europe. Global employers are finding them extremely hard-working and honest, with respectable work ethics.

Yes, they could be a little better. Their English could be globally compatible, they could be more appropriately dressed, and they could be well-read. They are not to be blamed solely for these deficiencies. They don’t have many role models in front of them.

With the fast growth of business schools, many of them have to compromise with their intake quality. Our college education is to be blamed much for producing non-thinking young men and women. In the universities, we get to see mostly the typical teachers not focusing much on critical thinking, presentation skills, and team building.

Most of the leadership in Bangladeshi business schools comes from non-business backgrounds, without a clear understanding of how business graduates should talk, behave, or carry themselves. Most of the teachers, though academically fit, were not trained in pleasant classroom experience techniques. Many private universities don’t have reasonably resourced libraries.

Even if a few of them do, these are rarely visited by faculties and students. Many of these business schools are failing to attract good faculty, hence are being run by the part-time faculty members without much commitment to the success of the students.

Yet, the graduates of many business schools of Bangladesh are making their mark in the business world. Most of their employers are happy with them. They are able to bring in visible changes in the way business is run in Bangladesh.

With a bit more thoughtful and hands-on university management, I am sure that Bangladeshi business graduates will make their presence felt in the global arena.