HomeWord’s Worth

How to choose your MBA specialisation?

A reading list to learn a bit more about the MBA


While preparing for CAT many students are of the inclusion that they can decide on the specialization once they clear the CAT. Even I was one of them. The problem with the approach is once you have cleared the cutoffs in the CAT, you move on to the interview round and there is a good chance that the panellists might ask you questions related to the specialisation. And the results generally are out in the second week of January and the interviews start in the following week. Learning about specialisations in a week though possible, must take a superhuman effort. Hence the aim should be to find out about each specialisation and analyze which one will you be good at. A respected CAT mentor Tony Xavier, IMS, once said in his yearly webinars, ‘The IIMs are under no obligation to ensure that you get placed. They only provide a platform for the best companies to visit their campuses and recruit their students. The 20-odd lakhs you will pay to an IIM is not a guarantee of a 20-odd lakh job because no one owes you a job! Firms will pay top dollar to top talent. What you need to spend your time on is to find the area where you have the potential to become a top-drawer talent.’

An excellent way to begin is to start learning a bit more about Finance, Marketing, Operations and, Human Resource Management


The Finance List

One needs to understand the basics of Economics before taking up Finance as a specialisation and these basics are covered in an easy to understand way, in these two books — IIMA – Day to Day Economics and IIMA-Why I Am Paying More: Price Theory and Market Structures Made Simple  — by professor Satish Deodhar who teaches Economics at IIM-A.

If you believe that learning the technical aspects of Finance can be left for later, you can pick up a real-world flavour of the workings of Hedge Funds, Investors and Quantitative Finance by reading these two books The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine — and The Quants: The maths geniuses who brought down Wall Street — that narrate real-life events about the financial markets.

Both of the books above are entertaining reads and some of you would know The Big Short is also a movie adaptation.

For people who want to learn trading The Intelligent Investor by Bill Graham is a must-read. For a less entertaining but more historical understanding of Finance, you can go through The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

The Marketing List

Marketing on of lesser bookish discipline and yet posing the toughest challenge for all firms  — how to we sell or what do people like?

There are not many books that directly explain the heart of marketing but these three should do the job —  Selling The Wheel: Choosing The Best Way To Sell For You Your Company Your Customers by Jeff Cox and Howard Stevens, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout and Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy is Wrong by Martin Lindstrom.

The Operations  & Project Management List

The bible for Operations and a part of the syllabus in most of the IIMs, The Goal is a fictional story to help understand the core of operations and systems management. The author Eli Goldratt has used the same concepts to write a few more books to cover the entire domain of operations; the last book in the list below covers Project Management. Reading these books authored by him will make you realise how Operations can be taught in such an engaging and insightful manner — The Goal, The Goal-2 and Critical Chain – A Business Novel

The HR List

Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and lLead by Laszlo Bock, Kingdomality: An Ingenious New Way to Triumph in Management by Sheldon Bowles and Richard & Susan Silvano and Thinking, Fast and Slow  by Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky (if you read this book well, you will understand why you tend to make silly mistakes on most problems and why more often than not you are unable to find unorthodox solutions that seem so obvious to a few others)

Source – The CAT Writer