6 areas where Pakistani BBA and MBA degrees fall short

Published December 6, 2014
Many corporations complain that Pakistani universities are not producing quality business graduates, and they are correct. —Reuters
Many corporations complain that Pakistani universities are not producing quality business graduates, and they are correct. —Reuters

The trouble with BBAs and MBAs popping out of Pakistani universities today is that most of them have undergone hardly any interaction with the real world, whereas business is all about the real world.

Cramming textbook information only helps you if you are an engineering, law or a medical student. A business student cannot afford to rely purely on textbook knowledge. He needs to stay updated about not only his own field, but also all other fields, which means everything from magazines, journals and publications of almost all kinds are important reads.

Go through: Transforming business education in Pakistan

Many corporations complain that Pakistani universities are not producing quality business graduates, and they are correct.

Isolated case studies not enough

Business is not something that can be learnt in the classroom. It is primarily learnt by gaining hands-on experience on the field. And so even the case study method, which seeks to transform business education in Pakistan, is not going to work in isolation.

Experts and analysts have for ages talked about why there should be more industry linkages with universities, but fail to mention that these corporations should not open their internships only for graduates but also for first, second and third year Bachelor’s students.

The students should be made to work right from the start so that by the time they have graduated, they already have enough work experience to feel at home in corporations.

Programmes need better integration with technology

With the growing intersection of technology and business, students should be given training on leading software used in the industry. Most universities have courses dedicated to teaching tools like Oracle, SAP, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Retail Pro, MySQL, Google Adwords and Adobe Photoshop. But in most cases, the skill level does not go further than the rudimentary level.

Let me put it differently: Instead of teaching what to do, maybe it's time to teach how it is done.

Networking in the new age

Also, it goes without saying that the biggest asset that any business graduate can have is his network. Only a small chunk of business students currently believe that online social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can yield any good in a substantial way.

That is not true. Recruitment on LinkedIn has shown a significant boost of late. Apart from training candidates on how to write their resumes better, colleges should also help them create professional profiles on LinkedIn.

Explore: Business as usual

Gone are the days when corporations used to solicit thousands of CVs from applicants in MS Word. These days, they are hiring recruitment specialists who use LinkedIn to find the right people, much quickly and much more efficiently.

Brushing up speaking power

If analysts are right and what differentiates business graduates from graduates of other fields is indeed their better communication skills, then business education should seek to transform you into a public speaker.

And, giving presentations is only one part of public speaking. Giving talks and speeches on symposiums is another.

Every business university should have a setup similar to TEDx Events, where students can express whatever new ideas they have got in 4-5 minutes. Such events should be held bi-annually and all business universities must collaborate to let their students compete.

More local case studies and less Warren Buffett exploits

Let me also clear the perception that teaching American case studies in Pakistani classrooms helps solve the disconnect. No, it does not.

Pakistani students could learn much more from local entrepreneurs and business leaders, than by Henry Ford and Warren Buffett. Not only did these men live in a totally different culture, with a totally different set of laws and mindsets, making up for a whole other business environment; but they had access to resources that a common Pakistani cannot even dream of.

Take a look: The sorry state of research at our universities and how to fix it

How about teaching tips and lessons from Hussain Dawood, Chairman of Dawood Hercules Corporation; Asad Umar, Ex-President of Engro Corporation Ltd.; Dr Amjad Saqib, Executive Director of Akhuwat; and Salim Ghauri, Chairman and CEO of Netsol Technologies Ltd. Pakistan?

Why are we afraid to teach local success stories to our students? Are we so xenocentric as to believe that if we don't copy the Americans we'll never be as good as them?

Startup incubators a must

All in all, we are teaching our business students to be corporate slaves rather than training them as entrepreneurs; as job-creators and not as job-seekers. Only then can the supply of quality business grads meet the demand.

Each business school should function as an incubator and allow its students to work in teams to come up with their business ideas, with the leading ideas getting funding from angel investors linked to these universities.

The LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship is a step in the right direction. However, the model needs to be replicated across all private and public business schools in Pakistan, for business education to have a viable future in the country.


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