B-school Specializations & Career Opportunities

 | September 06,2013 06:27 pm IST

In order to be competitive in the race for global business opportunities in the 21st century, the Indian economy is being transformed through the twin engines of economic reforms and globalization. With Indian companies gearing up to meet the challenge posed by the entry of powerful multinational corporations, new technologies, new product lines, a spate of alliances and mergers and several infrastructure-related mega projects are now a part of the changing scenario.


In such a dynamic market situation, and with the opening up of the economy, the need for sophisticated global managers has become almost an axiom. Wherever there is change, there is opportunity. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the Indian business context.

In this challenging environment the demand for an MBA from a good business school is greater than ever. Opportunities exist in several fields such as General Management, Marketing, Investment Management, International Business, Information Technology, Operations and Control, Financial Services, Banking, Consultancy... The list goes, on with each function broken up into specializations and further refinements and there are often overlaps between disciplines and functions. Without splitting hair let us look at the broad opportunities for the business school graduate and what specializations he needs to pursue during his MBA program in order to qualify for the desired openings in the career of his choice.

A specialization should be chosen depending on the student's interests and capabilities, and also after taking into account the institutes' resources and reputation. Students at most institutes can specialize in any or more of the following streams: -
•Human Resources
•Production & Operations

This is the most popular area among students of Management. The opportunities in Sales and Product Management are vast. Most organizations prefer their trainees to get at least some sales experience before joining Product Management. Advertising and Market research are service sector activities.

If interacting with people excites you, if you like extensive traveling and have good communication skills, this specialization would suit you to a T. If you opt for this specialization, you would typically start your career in sales and move into marketing after one to two years. The job of a marketer is to identify consumer needs, figure out how that need could be satisfied, and then package the offering to the consumer.

The different sub-specializations of sales and marketing are: -
•Market Research
•Product Management
•Brand Management
•Sales and Distribution
•Advertising, Media and Public Relations
•International Business

Background required - Any background would do provided, of course, you are cut out for this kind of work.

A Finance specialization provides students with knowledge and skills needed for entry and continuing career development in this complex industry. If numbers do not scare you; if you are analytical and a very quick decision maker, Finance would be the ideal specialization for you.

You will primarily be dealing with money in this function - you could be raising money for a project; you could be managing surplus money; you could be managing working capital; you could be budgeting; you could be working on cost control mechanisms; you could be taking care of public money. The permutations and combinations are infinite.

Career opportunities include: -
•Banking - retail, corporate, treasury, foreign exchange, lending
•Financial Analysis
•Financial Planning
•Financial Management including Mutual Funds
•Corporate Finance
•International Finance
•Regulatory Bodies
•Non-Banking Finance

Background required - Any background works. Some people presuppose that Commerce graduates have an edge. It would be pertinent to note that engineers and people from the sciences do just as well as anyone else in this area.

Human Resources
There are three broad career opportunities in this area: -
•Human Resources Development
•Personnel Management and IR
•HR Consulting

An HRD executive is involved with activities like performance appraisal, employee counseling, employee training and employee motivation. Here you would be managing the most important resource of any organization, i.e., its people. If you are a people's person, a good listener and a good motivator, Human Resource Development could be a good option for you.

A Personnel Manager is involved in activities like recruitment, job definition, salary management and employee welfare. Most organizations, in recent times, differentiate between Personnel and HRD managers.

Industrial Relations focus on labor management. With the increasing activity of labor / staff unions, often with the backing of political parties, organizations have developed a need for specialists in handling union-related activities. Often students with a law background are preferred for this area.

HR is typically related to a corporate setting and IR to a factory or a manufacturing unit set-up.

Background required - Any discipline. A Law degree or a degree in the Social Sciences could be an advantage.

Manufacturing is one of the most important areas for any product-based business. Management of large as well as small manufacturing companies involves various production and operations techniques and theories. These skills are especially useful to engineering graduates.

If you have an eye for detail and a sound technical background, this is the specialization, which would suit you. If you chose to specialize in Production and Operations Management, you would typically be dealing with different flows, which could be manufacturing processes, vendor development, and anything else, that will help improve the efficiency of the organization.

The career options in this field lie in the areas of: -
•Productivity Improvement
•Materials Management
•Quality Control
•Supply Chain Management / Logistics
•Inventory Control
•Production Planning

There are also some consultancies, which offer attractive career opportunities in this area to MBAs.