Monday, May 30, 2005

Of Cats and Underdogs

Of cats and underdogs

Business Today is a magazine fond of making lists. Every issue features at least one 'top 10' something or the other. This time it's India's best mutual fund managers.

The intro states: "Many are Indian Institute of Management (IIM) grads,others are Chartered Accountants (CAs) and a couple sport more esoteric degrees". I skimmed through the survey, more as an exercise in ego-surfing ("let's see how many IIM A grads are on the list") and here are the startling results.

The scorecard
FMS - 1
CAs - 2
unknown - 1
IIM Lucknow - 1

Unless the author of the intro meant "MBAs from premier institutes" -which includes FMS and JBIMS - the IIM reference is actually misleading!

The 'esoteric' degrees the magazine is referring to are basically MBAs from lesser known - actually unknown - institutes. There are 3 on the list, which is a statistically significant 30%. These include:

MBA Allahabad University
(Ashish Kumar, 35 - GM, LIC Mutual Fund)

MBA Bhopal University
( Rahul Goswami, 32 - Sr Fund Manager, Prudential ICICI AMC)

Hindu Institute of Management, Sonepat
( Sujoy Kumar Das, 32 - VP - DSP Merrill Lynch MF)

I called up a senior at DSPML and asked him, a dozen years after graduating from IIM A - how much does your institute label matter? Well, he says, at entry level - a hell of a lot. A company like DSPML does not take MBAs outside the top few institutes through campus placements, so definitely you get a headstart.

But they do take in lateral recruits based on performance - and hence success stories like Sujoy, the Sonepat MBA who started his career with Bank of Pubjab. And of course we all know this at some level - that in the end it's we as individuals who are responsible for our career graphs - regardless of which institute we graduate from.

But I'd just like to highlight this point, because I often meet young people who tried for IIMs, didn't make it and are now studying elsewhere. And feeling terrible about it. I want to say to all of you that 10 years from now it's really not going to matter. Although you may use it as an excuse to explain why you aren't doing as well as X, Y or Z.

Bottomline: It's what I call the cats and dogs theory at work in every field of life - not just MBA. The cats are the ones born with the silver spoons or who manage to enter institutes of a certain reputation. But the underdog can have his day - and often does.

P.S: Remember the story of the Helium Balloon seller. A kid comes and asks "Which color balloon will go up?"
The Balloon seller replies "It's not the color of the balloon but what's inside that makes it go up."

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