What’s Your MBA Specialization?

The aim of giving you this article is not just to make you aware of all the major specializations that you can have your MBA in, but also to make you aware of what you are actually getting into.

It’s important to choose your specialization based on your personality, skills, and career goals. But the most important factor of all is Interest. Only if you get paid for what you love doing, you will be able to best utilize your skills and benefit yourself as well as the organization you are associated with.

That being said, I am sure that during a Personal Interview, the interviewer will definitely ask you what specialization you are interested in and what makes you the best candidate for that specialization. So, I have simply listed the major, most popular MBA specialization fields and a brief description of what it demands and what it has to offer you.

FINANCE: This is the oldest and the most common of all. You enter into finance and you will be forced to have an in depth knowledge of Costing, Budgeting, International Finance, Capital Management, Developing financial strategies and money management.

Being a financial analyst involves strategic planning, managing alliances and making everyday decisions which not only speeds up the success of the business but also brings personal growth.

You can go on to become an investment banker , financial consultant or a merchant banker ,a securities analyst or working with brokerage firms and dealing in buying and selling securities. With increased opening up of the Indian Financial market and increased international money pouring into the Indian Stocks the option available for MBA Finance are endless. After the recent global economic downturn, fresh ideas and innovation in this field are required more than ever.

The specialization requires you to be good with numbers, very fine data interpretation skills and a keen learner. You can’t have a laid back attitude as it’s a highly challenging atmosphere with ever evolving trends. Jobs in the finance sector are more often than not, high pressure jobs leading to significant stress and even, to a so-called ‘burn out’.

 Another popular option and in contrast with finance which is mostly a back end job, this is a dynamic front end job which demands leadership qualities. It requires top-notch communication and mobilization skills. If you have an outgoing and spontaneous personality, can influence people with your words and actions, have a good convincing power, marketing management can be your area of expertise.

You can work as Brand Manager, Project Manager, Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Market Research Analyst, Area/Regional Manager etc. A large chunk of CEO positions in top multinational companies are dominated by people from the Marketing background. The responsibilities can involve market research, product development from scratch to launch, advertising and promotion and developing marketing schemes.

The qualities looked for in this area is the ability to plan and execute marketing ideas, ability to develop ideas which lead to growth in sales, ability to mobilize resources to achieve the set objective, interpersonal skills, high energy levels and enthusiasm to work.

HUMAN RESOURCE: MBA in Human Resource Management is for those wanting to develop a management career in HR and strategy. HR Management is really a recession proof job. A Human Resources Manager is required by all the sectors. Whether a company is hiring more people to fulfill its expansion plans or firing people to cut down on their costs, they will always need HR experts to help them with personnel management.

If you have good communication skills, have a charismatic personality, and are dependable and confident, MBA with HR specialization is for you. HR personnel are the first points of interaction between a company and its employees and an efficient Human Resources department plays a critical role in keeping business operations smooth and efficient.

Basically as an HR person you need to be able to understand and deal with people at all levels, think on your feet to cope with unstructured situations. You need to have a convincing ability with an air of calmness around you, as certain clerical tasks might get confusing and mind-bogging at times.

OPERATIONS: Most candidates with core engineering backgrounds go for MBA Operations, as it gives them an edge over their competition in product development and designing, and process optimization. It basically includes all areas of an organization from background work to actual execution of a job.

It includes inventory management, vendor development, purchasing management, and also a few other areas which demand multi-disciplinary skills viz. supply chain management, enterprise resource planning and also all cost optimization initiatives.

You might start off as Product Manager or a Technical Supervisor but you will have great opportunities to become Chief Technology Officer(CTO) or General Manager of a company, especially in manufacturing, engineering and IT sectors.

The skills required for any of the above jobs are integrity, ability to negotiate, ability to remain calm in the toughest of situations and lastly good coordination skills coupled with technical knowledge. Operations Management requires an eye for minutest details, zero-error efficiency levels, excellent negotiation skills, ability to sale the ship through storms with the calm of an able sea captain, technical know-how of all the processes you are handling, and general ideal about manufacturing, sales, and distribution channels of the company you work in.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: If you are a good programmer, have technical skills, and have some knowledge of the business domain, you can choose MBA in IT. You can then help develop Enterprise Resource Planning solutions for business development, sales and marketing, accounts, project management, HR functions and all other business processes. You can always look after e-commerce and outsourcing aspects of businesses.

For An IT graduate or those with an IT background , MBA IT can open up positions like System Analyst, Technical Systems Manager, Technical Consultant, Business Development Manager, Business Analyst, Pre-Sales or Business Development manager, Sales or ERP manager, Project Manager, QA Manager, Functional or Process Consultant.

MBA in IT is designed to educate & develop managers who can effectively manage the planning, design, selection, implementation, usage & administration of emerging and converging information & communications technologies and typically designing and implementing hardware and software solutions to business problems.

Skills required are Good Analytic Skills, Project Management, Team Work, Quest for knowledge, Good communication and a fine technical base.

Other emerging and equally rewarding specialties are:

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS: An MBA in International Business which provides an in-depth understanding of the organizational capabilities required for international operations, including specialized functions such as international marketing, finance etc. It includes inventory management, warehousing and transportation of various materials as required by a client or a company.

RURAL MANAGEMENT: MBA in rural Management is a unique programme that is being offered to fulfill the huge industry demands for managers skilled in the field of marketing with a focus on rural businesses. There is immense growth potential in rural markets and increasing realization of this importance to Corporate and Development Organizations.

AGRI-BUSINESS MANAGEMENT: Agri Business MBA is a upcoming specialization where you learn to manage companies which process, market, and merchandise agricultural products to consumers. The student must understand the management, marketing, and finance with an emphasis on specialized requirements of the agribusiness sector.

HEALTHCARE MANAGEMENT: An MBA in healthcare covers core business skills and practices. But it focuses on the specific issues managers may encounter in roles such as hospital administrators, medical practice managers, insurance-company executives and a wide variety of other roles.

In all the above paragraphs, I have only given you a snapshot. The dynamics of Indian market, the corporate world and the education sector has changed so much that specialization in a field does not play much role in determining where you land in terms of MBA placement, but every field has its basic requirements and you must be aware of those. You may not be well equipped now, but if you are aware, you may choose to learn them and excel. I hope you are now able to formulate the answer to “Which specialization you want to pursue and Why” question, to some extent. Here is an example of how you should go about it:

I prefer Marketing because by pursuing a management career in Marketing, I would be able to enter into emerging fields like eCommerce, and better satisfy my career aspirations. I would like to be Brand Manager or Advertising Manager in the near future as I personally feel that there is a lot of scope in the field of social media and advertising and a lot of companies are not yet utilizing the potential of internet to full extent.

All the best!!!

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