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'CEOs are made, not born'

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July 20, 2005 18:38 IST

Finance or marketing -- which MBA specialisation is the best?

Or is a general MBA the best bet?

Get Ahead readers, comprising students and working professionals, have posted their views on this hot topic.

Here are some diverse reader responses:

I would prefer marketing to finance. Marketing is one field that is really lively; the satisfaction one derives after getting a deal is really great.
But a marketing person must know how to convince a customer, for which he should be first convinced about the product. Even to sell a financial product, you would require marketing skills. This is one field where all aspects of management have to be put into action.
The pay scale is more or less the same for both marketing and finance. Ultimately, though, one has to decide where he/ she will fit in.
The last word -- your future depends on many things, but mostly on you.
- Vidhya, executive -- client relations. Advanced Diploma in Business Management, The Ashram School of Careers (TASC)

When I was in B-school, my close friends would argue that choosing finance as a profession depends on how good you are with numbers or, rather, on your aptitude, while marketing is to be pursued by someone who has a natural flair for it.

I remember one of my classmates arguing that not all successful marketing professionals have an MBA and not all MBA marketing professionals are successful marketing people. I'm sure everyone would agree with the latter. Nonetheless, it is imperative to understand that, no matter what major you pursue, do it with all your heart. In the end, that's all it matters.

For all you know, you might start out your post-MBA career in the subject you majored in, veer off from it completely, end up doing something else and yet become very successful. Trust me when I say this, the dots have connected very well for me. Nothing will go awry if you pursue anything with passion.

To conclude, though these kinds of debates are very helpful providing a positive reinforcement to your decisions, it should not alter your true desire or aspirations.

-- Suresh Chellappa, lead architect, Data Warehousing, HP, USA. Institute for Technology & Management, Chennai

It's like asking if Coke is better then Pepsi.

Finance and marketing should not be viewed in isolation. While both represent the functional units of the organisation, it is a matter of individual taste, preference and opportunities present that determine what one takes up as a matter of choice.

Ultimately, it is all a state of mind. I know people from finance who are paid well and people from marketing who are paid well. What matters is not how much you are paid, but what are you paid for.

Think and act; debates will never dispute the facts.

-- Vineet Tandon, marketing manager, entertainment division, FICCI.

I think an MBA in finance is more appropriate. Why? Finance offers the technical aspects one should learn; it involves rigid rules. Either you know it or you don't.

However, marketing is a learning process that takes a lifetime to master. One should get well-versed with the technical aspects after which one can always learn the theoretical (marketing) part of the job.

-- Ashwin Chetan, BBA graduate, American University, Dubai

It's quite extraordinary that people try comparing marketing and finance. Any organisation will be driven by a vision and strategy. The virtues of marketing and finance are a requirement, irrespective of the industry. Yet, the extent of the synergy depends on the strategy adopted by the firm; whether they are marketing driven or not, whether they are cash rich, etc.

For example, a company such as ICICI Bank stresses the relevance of marketing; maybe they find it hard to differentiate between the functional aspects of sales and marketing and blend the two. Microsoft is neither finance nor marketing driven. Since they are cash rich and the frontrunner in the market, they could maybe start a bank and begin financing corporates!

Hence, it would be quite irrational to compare the two since the degree of importance depends on the organisation. However, a word of caution for those who want to pursue marketing as a career: you guys need to remember that, in India, the differentiation between marketing and sales is sparse, so the likelihood that many of you will end with sales jobs is exaggerated.

-- Sheen Paul, MBA student, University of Nottingham, UK

The corporate world has a requirement for professional MBAs from both domains and is not biased towards any particular stream. The student's attitude and aptitude play a crucial role in the selection of the specialisation.

Any company has to give equal importance to marketing as well as finance to emerge as the market leader. The ideal combination for them would be a graduate who has the knowledge of both the marketing and finance concepts.

Some premier B-schools are offering a general degree in which the student can select the optional subjects he wants to pursue in each module. My college, NITIE, also awards a general degree.

Depending on the student's liking, he can either go for in-depth knowledge in a particular discipline or study the basics of various disciplines. The pay packages as well as job profiles for both these categories are very attractive so money does not play an important role in the student's mind. He will decide based on his flair for the concerned specialisation.

Ultimately, CEOs are made, not born, so -- irrespective of whatever stream one takes -- if you have got the talent you will definitely become a CEO

-- Srinath KV, management class Of 2007, National Institute Of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai