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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why management can never be a profession-no PHOSITA or public duty

Under patent law, PHOSITA(person having ordinary skill and training in the art) is a fictional person, considered to have the normal skills and knowledge in a particular technical field, without being a genius. For a patent to be considered non obvious, having an inventive step and application having full disclosure, the standard is applied whether it was obvious to and comprehendible by a PHOSITA. By defining this mythical concept/construct of John Doe(the exact details are only filled in on case-case basis), courts make it easier to award of reject patents.

Professions like accountancy, law, medicine all have CBOK(Common body of knowledge), Code of Conduct, professional standards and continuing professional education(CPE).In contrast, management has the following gaps in this idea of profession
  1. Absence of requisite skill-for example not being aware of relevant amendments, statutory laws, latest research in management field etc. I agree that not even CPE is enough for ensuring updation, but atleast it is something. Management does not even have that. 
  2. No ethical standards:-Though I personally feel that professional ethics standards are more of locking the stable after the horse has bolted, or limiting competition, atleast it does make the public aware of what minimum to expect from their professionals, and gives them liberty to sue for malpractice/breach of trust if not met. Again, this need to adhere to a code of ethics is not imposed by the organization but is usually employer specific. 
  3. No prescribed training:-Though some may debate the relative merits of apprenticeship versus on the full tome job training(say ICAEW vs CIMA models), some structured guild like training is helpful to learn a profession. Validity of this is not yet proven for management, so while it may be superior to any profession, it cannot be classed as one.
  4. No explicit fiduciary relationship:-Code of ethics etc exists in part due to the fiduiciary relationship between professional and client, which is nebulous when it comes to the relationship between a manager, business entity and its owners! 
So the next time people liken management to a professional, excuse me for differing! 

Why so few chartered accountants(CAs) in IIM Ahmedabad?

Having followed this year's admissions of both IIM Ahmedabad and Bangalore closely this year(thanks to friends in both colleges), I was struck by the virtual absence of chartered accountants in IIM Ahmedabad, but with their number nearly touching double digits in IIM Bangalore. Both trends are not new, with the last chartered accountant receiving his PGDM degree from the 2009-2011 batch, but even till 2011-13 batch, nobody else has secured admission. While there are B.Com/B.A(Hons) and other non engineers in the batch, it is quite surprising that chartered accountants fail to get admission in that mecca of Indian management education IIM Ahmedabad(as a proud alumnus I still say that despite what some random rankings say it is still #1, but then I digress). After some thinking/brainstorming, this is what I came up with

  1.  No special dispensation for CAs:-Unlike in IIM Bangalore where the top 10 Chartered Accountants(among those giving CAT and applying to IIM-B) are called for interview irrespective of their CAT score, the same is not followed in IIM-A or IIM-C. 
  2. CAs neglecting their graduation/post graduation and thus losing out:-This year, a friend scored 80%+ in his TYBCom Exams of Mumbai University and(having secured 80%+ in 10th/12th also) was even called for interview, but his final admission was not processed because after recalculating his marks to include non university college level marks of FY/SY BCom, his aggregate in graduation fell below 80% thus making him ineligible for interview call as per IIM-A criteria! As most CAs pursue their articleship along with graduation, excelling in both becomes very difficult, more so securing the high marks IIM-A expects...
  3. Different aptitudes/interests/not exposed to objective type exams:-A reason why engineers score over their non engineer peers in MCQ exams like CAT, is their exposure to these exams since Std10 itself(take it from me, acing these exams is a skill honed through intensive practice), and CAs who work or undergo genuine articleship, rarely have time for attending coaching. Even those engineers who have not undergone CAT specific coaching still know how to give MCQ exams. CAs may not know that. 
How to solve these issues? Normalization of degree scores is one way to solve #2, but to solve #1 and #3, CAs need to buck up and ace the CAT instead of expecting special treatment IMO

Monday, June 25, 2012

Practical ways to rank an IIM by yourself

For Bschool aspirants especially with multiple calls, it is quite difficult to narrow down to one school. The usual sources of information are either outdated(magazine rankings have a lag time), biased(forum boards, alumni, bschool ads) or irrelevant(using weird criteria of no interest to the aspirant). Instead, I suggest the following framework which I developed virtually on the back of a napkin, while speaking with some juniors at IIM Bangalore
  1. Recruiters perception:-Here, the placement reports(audited or otherwise reliable) released by a college is important(though it comes with 1yr lag generally). See the roles, pay and profile not just the recruiter name as the same company may offer different roles at difference campuses. For example, Goldman Sachs offers front office roles at IIM A, B, C and XLRI, but for colleges like MDI Gurgaon, only back office/middle office roles are offered. 
  2. Students perception:-On whatever basis formed, the student perception is something good to know especially if you believe in the wisdom of crowds(that many independent people usually converge to the correct result). For this, check at what number the waitlist cleared, and also which college those with multiple admits decided to accept. Of course, like in this year, colleges like IIM-A gave buffer admits to ensure seats getting full to avoid losses due to students paying the Rs 1500 admission fee(measly na?) but not turning up on final day due to job offers, admissions for MS or other reasons. So that makes such comparisons difficult.
  3. Coaching classes perception/Academics perception:-Both of these are hopefully based on more rigorous criteria like teaching,research, infrastructure and so on. So these would add the scientific element in the entire mix.
  4. The fit for YOU:-For those with special requirements(like focus on niche areas like supply chain, private equity, non-finance international roles etc), they should probe deeper into the above aspects. For instance, IIM-Indore gets offers for supply chain/logistics roles owing to the experienced students and the star faculty like Prof Ravichandram. IIM_Bangalore gets VC/PE offers due to location and alumni mix, while IIM Ahmedabad gets great consulting offers due to alumni mix and other factors. In addition, some campuses are more friendly towards different learning styles(c.f weightage on mid term/end term exams) and students from different backgrounds(as the non engineer/gender diversity ratios show). So even see those factors.
The above 4 data  points can help you differentiate the top 3-4 IIMs among which otherwise there is very little to choose.