MBA after CA? Does it make sense?
Let’s face it. It’s no walk in the park getting a CA qualification in India. While anyone can enroll for the CA program, the graduation percentage is just around 1%. No surprise that CA is one of the coveted qualifications. Does it make sense to do an MBA after putting in all the hard work to get a CA?
For a good lot of chartered accountants who breathe, eat, dream and get a high on accounts and audit, the answer may be No. But for the others who aspire for careers outside accounts and audit, an MBA after CA is probably the only path to reaching there. So, the answer to the second group is a resounding YES.
4 Reasons to do an MBA
Reason 1: Growth is Not Capped
Chartered Accounting is a super specialist profession. You are an authority on accounts, auditing, and taxation. While these are the skills that are required to join and nurture your career in the big 4 audit firms, you will find yourself hitting the ceiling real soon in other industries outside the auditing circle.
To ensure that your career reaches the c-suite in other industries, you will have to don the generalist hat. The super specialist tag has to be shed convincingly. And the only way to do it is by getting an MBA degree from a top business school.
How does an MBA enable you to be a generalist?
The MBA curriculum ensures that you get a good handle on multiple facets of running a business. All good MBA degrees will include core courses in Finance, Marketing, Personnel Management, Operations, and Technology management. It is not just the subjects – but how they are taught makes a substantial difference. Pedagogy in a B school includes case studies, presentations, term papers, projects and faculty led discussions. The system facilitates learning as much from your peers as from the pedagogy adapted by the school. Peer learning provides two important benefits: one, you get wider range of inputs to a problem that is being discussed from peers with diverse experience; two, these discussions go a long way in building lasting relationships with your peers – the key ingredient to grow your professional network.
Reason 2: Career Switch
It is not uncommon and has become a trend – CAs looking to switch out of audit and accounts. An MBA is the ideal platform that helps you make the shift. The shift can be within the realms of finance – treasury management, financial planning, roles in financial intermediaries including investment banks, fund houses, brokerage firms, and insurance companies. Or you may shift completely out of finance. Yes, if you have fewer years of post CA experience, you can shift to marketing or HR or any other function of your choice.
If you are looking to make a switch across industries or across functions or both, you have to board the MBA bus.
Reason 3: A Promising Career outside India
You may not be interested in switching careers. But you may wish to pursue a career outside India. The Indian CA holds great value within India. It has good recognition in certain geographies such as the Middle East and Africa. However, you may not be able to leverage the Indian CA to land a job and nurture your career in most parts of North America or Europe.
You could choose to do the equivalent of a CA in these regions and look to relocate to these geographies. Alternatively, you could use the opportunity of shifting to a new geography and broad base your career options with an MBA from a top business school from the country you plan to relocate to.
Reason 4: Leverage What you Already Know
If one can break what is taught in a business school into four broad domains – those will be Finance & Economics, Marketing, Personnel & HR, and Tech & Quant related subjects.
You have done enough and more of Finance as part of the rigorous CA preparation. So, you have done justice to about 25% of an MBA course curriculum. That is a huge advantage. You can use the spare time this advantage offers you to build your network and further your career prospects.
Without sounding paranoid – it helps to broad base one’s skill sets to improve your chances of having a great career in a world that embraces automation making many one-skill roles redundant.
3 Things to Watch Out For
Point 1: 12 + 3 or 12 + 4 requirement
Some of you may have qualified as a chartered accountant without completing a B.Com or getting an equivalent college degree. Almost all top business schools in the world will require an applicant to have 12 + 3 years of education. What’s worse – a few of them may even stipulate that you have 12 + 4 years of education. Unfortunately, these schools do not consider a CA qualification as a degree.
So, take corrective action right away. Enroll for a B.Com or M.Com program through distance education and get the degree to qualify for the minimum requirements of applying to a business school. Those are the norms – be prepared well in advance to meet them.
Point 2: Post Qualification Professional Experience
Top MBA programs the world over admit students with 3 to 5 years of professional experience. What is usually counted as professional experience is post qualification experience. Many schools do not consider experience accumulated as an article clerk as professional experience. They regard it as curricular requirement to get the CA qualification.
I recommend that you write to schools that you have shortlisted to check how those schools evaluate your article clerk experience before applying to these schools. If you do not have the customary 3 to 5 years experience after CA and a school does not accept article clerk experience, you will be better off not applying to that school.
Point 3: Plan your GMAT Preparation Meticulously
One thing that can be taken for granted from CAs. They are adept at working hard. You could not have become a CA without unending hours of hard work and pouring over volumes of books. So, working hard is an integral part of your DNA.
Nonetheless, I will like to point a key difference between preparing for CA and for the GMAT. You are a different person now. When you were preparing for CA, you could get a month or two off from work from your employer (invariably an audit firm) to study for your exams. You are unlikely to be bestowed such a luxury now.
Budget for 300+ hours of preparation. It is not easy to fit one’s GMAT preparation with an already stretched work – life schedule. Be realistic. If you estimate that you can dedicate only 10 hours a week for GMAT preparation, plan your GMAT accordingly. Alternatively, if you can dedicate 20 hours a week, then you can advance your timelines. Bottom line – please do your math realistically.
Parting Note – Do not settle for anything but the best
When you do your MBA is not of much consequence. What will make a difference is – where you do your MBA. Do not settle for anything but the top business schools. A first step in that direction is to start your GMAT preparation.
Wizako offers online GMAT courses that will help you reach your GMAT goals. If you would like test waters and get a handle on what is tested before you start your serious preparation, get your feet wet with Wizako’s Free GMAT Questionbank.