Generation MBA

Published On: November 11, 2017 12:45 AM NPT By: Gunjan Upadhyay

Some folks have now resorted to putting an MBA after their name à la PhD holders. Really? 

What is the big deal with an MBA? A Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree is now apparently the Holy Grail for our generation of workers. We are priming students, regardless of their interests to aspire to it. There is no shortage of MBA graduates in Nepal—Ram, Shyam, Ghanashyam and everyone in between. Chances are that if you throw a stone from the roof of any building in Kathmandu (please don’t take this as encouragement) it will either land on the head of an unemployed MBA graduate or one slogging through their daily workload thinking what the fuss was all about in the first place. 

Our lives are never going to be complete without ascending this pinnacle of academic achievement—or so we are made to think. I mean what is technical or any sort of education really without an MBA stuck to the end of it. Does it even count?

Just think of it. Everyone is in on the MBA act—from doctors to engineers to lawyers, government officials, journalists, college professors, technicians and even PhD holders (I kid you not). Even the highly entrepreneurial ‘marwaris’, who have generally sported a healthy indifference for higher education that is part admirable and part confusing, haven’t bucked this trend. 

Even your chances of marrying Mr or Mrs Right increase if you have that MBA. 

In Nepal, even your chances of marrying Mr or Mrs Right increase dramatically if you have that all-important MBA. Any Master’s degree is good but an MBA elevates you from ‘also ran’ to desirable because, unbeknown to you and me, hidden in those three letters are cryptic messages of guaranteed success that even Dan Brown might struggle to decode. Gone are the days of our parents when a BA pass would pull in the suitors. These days that BA has to be prefixed by an M. 
I mean who wouldn’t do an MBA when it has been truly democratized for the masses? Well, at least in Nepal. Over here, colleges are only too obliging and our MBA courses usually more flexible than Kamal Thapa’s principles. You can complete your course by opting for full time, part time, executive courses—attending classes after work, on weekends or only on public holidays (just kidding with the last option). Or you can do something barmier still! You can pay upwards of Rs Forty lakhs for an MBA degree in foreign shores and hope that you recoup some of your outlay before you hit your deathbed. 

Not everyone might want an MBA degree but many seem to think they need one irrespective of the fact that the return on investment has long been debatable. The job adverts that you see in the papers—“minimum of MBA degree” or “at least an MBA graduate” certainly give the impression of a ‘one size fits all’ qualification that works for all sectors and is a ready substitute for lack of knowledge or experience. With the exception of politics where you don’t even need basic education, a specialized Master’s degree has become a pre-requisite for being considered for jobs—and an MBA a substitute for those specialized degrees.  

The attraction is manifold—from our perception of it being the only viable option for the mediocre (read non-technical fields) or to it being a veritable first-class ticket to management success. A lot of it is marketing too—fresh graduates are encouraged to harbor illusions of big offices, power lunches, decision making and leadership at the highest levels. Until the bubble bursts. And the daily grind that most of them inevitably find themselves in, does tend to burst it more often than not.

It’s hard to imagine what an MBA ensures to justify our (society, employers and the like) reverence for it. Many adults in Nepal take their first steps into employment only after an MBA (Masters) degree and have zero experience of anything including negotiating our ‘subservient’ working culture. Just placing undue stress on students along with regurgitating previous concepts and militant time management is hardly adequate preparation for the rat race. Despite all the ‘world will be your oyster’ adverts, you are just as likely to succeed without M of the BA than you are with it.  

Well, these days though it simply isn’t enough to be done with the degree—it must be flaunted. Some folks have now resorted to putting an MBA after their name à la PhD holders. Really? I mean sure, it’s a degree but hardly worth all the pomposity. If only it weren’t the most overrated, ‘easy peasy’ degree to walk your way through. Admittedly, this could be said for most non-technical academic degrees now that education has been steadily dumbed down but an MBA must surely be in a league of its own. To be honest, I’ve seen Bijay Gachahdar have a more difficult time walking in and out of most governments. And that is saying a lot. 


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