15 Jun 2019 14:42 IST

Why executive MBAs are the flavour of the season

Higher pay packages and the wish to upskill driving young professionals to opt for such courses

For 35-year-old Piyush Jain, pursuing an executive MBA programme has been like a “roller-coaster ride” — managing office on weekdays, attending classes on weekends and spending time with family. But Jain, who has nearly 10-12 years of work experience, feels it is worth the while as it helps not just to scale the career ladder but also create a “network of professionals from diverse backgrounds”. Jain belongs to the 2018 batch of ISB’s PGP PRO (Post-graduate programme in Management for Working Professionals).

While Jain chose to manage work and studies, 32-year-old Siddharth Vashisth decided to quit his job to take up the one-year full time Executive MBA programme at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) last year. Vashisth had more than eight years of experience and was serving as the Assistant Manager in the Engineering and Products division at state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

So what is it that prompts working professionals like Jain and Vashisth to take to studies all over again?

According to Sumit Kumar, Vice-President, TeamLease Skill University, the rising aspiration among people to constantly upskill and become more “employable” is a key contributor to the rising demand for such courses.

“Such courses not only help candidates in strategic thinking and creative thinking but also aids in leadership development,” Kumar told BusinessLine.

And there is ample evidence to the fact that executive MBA programmes, if pursued from good universities and B-schools, equips individuals with the required skill and network.

Take, for instance, Vashisth who bagged the role of Assistant General Manager in-charge of strategy at Shapoorji Pallonji group in just a years’ time and Jain who saw a vertical promotion in his existing job.

“There is a lot of value attached to an MBA these days and there is a rush among employees to get that box ticked off,” said Shantanu Rooj, CEO and Founder, Schoolguru Eduserve.

Depending on their career goals and financial position, candidates choose part-time, full-time or online programme from reputed colleges for career enhancement.

“It is usually seen that such programmes help candidates amplify their experience and transform into leaders,” said RP Yadav, CMD, Genius Consultants.

Better pay package, career growth

A consistent and substantial rise in average pay package, the urge to climb up the career ladder and explore newer avenues and sectors, seems to be prompting an increasingly large number of working professionals to opt for executive MBA programme.

IIM-C’s MBAEx class of 2018-19, for instance, witnessed a 10.3 per cent rise in average salary to ₹26.98 lakh. The highest domestic salary offered climbed to ₹1.25 crore, an increase of 40 per cent over the previous batch. The batch of 60 students witnessed a 104 per cent rise in average salary relative to their pre-MBA compensation.

“The average salary has consistently grown in the last three years from around ₹20.12 lakh in 2017 to ₹24.45 lakh in 2018 and ₹26.98 in 2019,” Amit Dhiman, Chairperson, MBAEx, IIM-C, said.

Cost versus return

Such programmes, which are usually of a shorter duration as compared to a regular two-year or three-year MBA degree, typically comes at a higher cost. But the return on investment is also comparatively higher, say industry experts.

The course fee for 2019-20 batch of MBAEx programme at IIMC for instance is ₹27 lakh, while that for the two year MBA programme is around ₹22 lakh.

However, the average return is atleast 20-30 per cent higher, depending on the profile and experience of candidates.

As per figures available on the IIM Ahmedabad website, the median salary based on the maximum earning potential of a candidate was ₹23 lakh for a student of PGP programme (two-year programme) in 2018, while the same for a PGPX student was close to ₹28.4 lakh.

According to Phil Zerrillo, Deputy Dean, ISB, around 10 years ago, a majority of the candidates enrolling for such executive MBA programmes were funded by corporate who wanted to groom a certain set of employees for leadership roles. However, things have changed in the last few years and a majority of the applicants either look for bank funding or self sponsor out of their savings.

“People now look at part-time MBA not just as a way to accelerate within their own organisation but also for switching or enhancing their career prospects. Nearly 60 per cent of the students enrolling for the programme are self-funded,” he pointed out.

Capacity expansion

The rising aspiration demand for such courses is encouraging B-schools and colleges to enhance capacity either by introducing more seats or by tying up with several online platform to cater the needs of such students.

Enthused by a good demand, IIM Ahmedabad has increased the intake under its one-year PGPX programme from 90 to 140 in the past two years.

“Our programme is doing very well and we are getting a number of applications. There is a very good demand and there are enough job opportunities as employers are looking for mid to senior level leaders. So we decided to scale up the batch strength,” Amit Karna, Chairperson, Placements, IIM-A said.

Amit Dhiman of IIM-C agrees that the scope of such programmes need to be expanded so as to be able to accommodate more candidates.

“There is a demand for different types of programmes for working executives. We will look at the scope for expansion as and when the situation permits,” he said.

Recognising potential

Corporate houses, which were till recently, focusing on recruiting candidates pursuing two-year MBA programme at B-schools are also increasingly realising the potential of one-year executive programmes.

Even a couple of years back, a number of B-schools had a tough time placing candidates pursuing such courses. However, companies who have now come to realise the potential of such programmes, are now thronging to institutes for recruitments.

According to Arindam Banerjee, Chairperson, PGPX Programme, IIM-A, the batches that have graduated have been welcomed by corporate houses in need of management talent at senior levels – from senior managers and consultants to general managers and CXOs.

“This reinforces our original belief that a program was needed to add value to growing organizations all across the world at the middle and senior management levels,” he said.

XLRI has received queries from atleast three corporate houses for sending their employees for getting admission into such course.

“While one company is keen on sending around 25 employees, the other two are looking to send around 5-10 of their employees for such programme. This will be fully funded by the companies,” said Sabyasachi Sengupta, Chairperson Placements (GMP), XLRI.

Talking about the placements this year, he said, XLRI has already placed 95 per cent of the batch comprising around 100 candidates this year, as compared to 92 per cent last year.

“Even two years ago the numbers did not look so good. While the average salary has increased, what is more important is that the dispersion in salary is very low,” he added.