Monthly Archives: March 2015


The future of MBA’s in Sri Lanka

There used to be a time when the preferred qualification to recruit someone, was the all important BSc or BA Degree.  Times have changed now, and the basic requirement everyone looks for now has become the Masters degree, and more notably the MBA.

In countries like the USA and UK, MBA programmes are available in two main tracks.  First, you have the full time MBA which runs for about 2 years and is aimed at the fresh graduate with no work experience.  Then you have the part time MBA programmes, also known as Executive MBA’s which are aimed at working professionals and generally takes between 1.5 and 2 years to complete.

The Sri Lankan mindset is shaped thus – get your degree, get some relevant work experience and get employment, and then advance professionally and academically whilst reading for a MBA.  This sounds like the sensible thing to do, unless you have a family business where a profession is just waiting for you.  You can do your degree and your MBA and go straight into employment in the family business.  Majority of people obviously do not fall into this category

It is therefore sad to note that some have made the Masters education field into more of a business where people are recruited into them irrespective of the qualifications and the experience that they hold.  People without any management experience to speak of are given placement in MBA programmes and become graduates at a very young age.  Would these people have the needed experience and maturity to survive in the corporate world?  Would anyone be willing to give them employment and take a stab at it?  If this keeps happening, the MBA sphere in Sri Lanka will quickly turn into what has happened in places like India.

My organisation offers both the MBA and a postgraduate diploma as well.  Those without the exact background we are looking for are counselled to join our postgraduate diploma and sharpen their skills before joining the MBA.  I recently handled the enquiry of a MBA applicant and concluded that he was not yet ready for our MBA and counselled him to enter the postgraduate diploma and he agreed.  Since I did not hear from him thereafter, I followed up and he said that although I did not accept him, X institute accepted him into the MBA and that he started classes there.  He was actually scoffing at me as if to say I was holding him back.

Who can say whether my organisation would also one day say “to hell with it” and open our doors to anyone that wants to do the MBA?  Hell, that would mean more money and more profit, right?  Thankfully, my University partner would never allow us to do that since they enforce strict criteria to evaluate the acceptability of the applicants.

Ultimately, we should not spoil our future market by thinking about short-term profit.  If you are in the business of education, it is not just a business.  You are creating a work-force that will carry the country into the future.  If you become a “factory” and output “graduates” on a wholesale basis, it will come back and bite you in the rear later.  There are many education providers in Sri Lanka who subscribe to my way of thinking, and I am thankful to them for holding the standards high.  There are a few however who care about numbers and profit more than anything else.

A few years ago some representatives from an Indian University met me and a few others to promote their MBA programme and they were saying that those that complete the MBA can find work as Sales People in showrooms and so on.  Hence what he implied was that the curriculum of their MBA was focusing on sales and marketing.  MBA prospects here in Sri Lanka are much more different.  Do you do a MBA to become a Sales Person or to become a better Manager and a Corporate Leader?