Every year I get asked by a whole lot of students as to whether the new IIMs are worth going to or whether they are better options when compared to B-School X or Y; and some rhetorically ask whether they can give as good returns as the older IIMs. In this post, I will attempt to answer this query as objectively as I can.
Let me start off by asking a question – how would you perceive someone if I were to tell you that he is an IIM Indore or IIM Kozhikode Alumnus? Will you ask me which year did he graduate in? I bet – you wouldn’t. In all probability you will have the same perception about this individual irrespective of his year of graduation. So whether the individual graduated in 1998 or 2005 or more recently from the B-School – the value of the tag that he will derive today from Brand IIM would be the same. Of course, it’s a different thing that not all individuals live up to the expectations set by having this tag. I remember an HR Head once telling me, “ IIM se hai, toh ek baar milna toh banta hai” (If he is from an IIM, I would at least like to meet him once to explore if there are any suitable opportunities.) I am sure that 10 years from now the same will be true for an alumnus of any of the newer IIMs. To sum up, you should not undermine the advantage of having an IIM tag.
Are the new IIMs as good as the old IIMs?
To put it straight and simple, it is a very unfair comparison. The older IIMs will always have the advantage of having an established brand that started decades ago (IIM A/C – 1960s, IIM B-1970s, IIM L-1980s, IIM I/K-1990s), a strong alumni network that already exists in the industry, state-of-the-art infrastructure, best-in-the-industry faculty, international student exchange programs and last but not the least – very good placement records. In fact, you will find variations in perceptions even between an IIM A and an IIM L for example – but does that make IIM L a bad choice for management aspirants?
The new IIMs may not match the reputation of older IIMs – but in reality, how many other non-IIM B-Schools can really claim to have matched the same. What we only need to analyze is whether these new IIMs are on their way to being centres of excellence – with processes, faculty, infrastructure, student clubs & committees, events, exchange programs and industry recognition on their way to catching up with the older IIMs (to a large extent if not completely). As the new IIMs have the unique advantage of being mentored by the older IIMs – we should not be surprised if the new IIMs catch up sooner than expected.
Here’s a little bit of information about these institutes:
What are the alternatives?
Reject a B-School only when you have a better option. There are about 4000+ B-Schools in India and the new IIMs will rate better than most of them, simply because of their IIM tag. There are only a handful of non-IIM B-Schools that you may prefer over the new IIMs – ISB, JBIMS, XLRI, FMS, S.P.Jain and MDI, to name a few. A better option could also be continuing with your job or taking up a job– if you strongly believe you can improve your CAT scores or your profile or both by waiting for another year, or if you believe you already have a profile better than what you are likely to get from the new IIMs. In any case – do not reject a new IIM before the selection process is even complete. Go for the WAT-PI, get selected – and then take a decision to join or not based on the alternatives that you have. Believe me – it will be a different feeling to reject an IIM;-)
The baby IIMs
A quick word about the IIMs started last year (IIM Nagpur, IIM Amritsar, IIM Sirmaur, IIM Bodh Gaya, IIM Sambalpur and IIM Vishakhapatnam) : If you join these IIMs, you are sure to face a whole lot of teething problems as you will only be the second batch graduating from this institute. But if you are someone who wants to be a part of the institute building process, and you do not have a better alternative then you must surely consider joining these institutes. These institutes are also being mentored by the older IIMs (IIM Nagpur, for example, is being mentored by IIM Ahmedabad – and this fact by itself should give you a lot of confidence about graduating from here)
Take the decision of joining or not joining a new IIM only after you have carefully evaluated your own profile and the options that you have otherwise. I am sure that a new IIM will be a good option for most MBA aspirants and they would be well-advised to join any of these institutes, if they do get selected.