Is ISB Worth it? 5 Reasons why it is

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ISB graduation - but is ISB worth it?

How Good is ISB?

Is ISB worth it? Is ISB good? Is it value for money and effort? These questions are now not as uncommon as they once were. In this post, we try to address this issue, presenting five reasons for why we believe ISB continues to be a premium school. In our opinion not only is ISB good, but it is a great school and has some excellent factors going for it.

Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad

The Indian School of Business (ISB) program is one of the youngest MBA programs in India (and Asia, and the world) and has quickly created a great reputation for itself. In 2008, ISB became the youngest school ever around the world to feature in the FT top 20 MBA ranking.

It improved on this position further, reaching its top ranking of 12 in 2010. ISB was the place to be, and almost every Indian applicant had it as one of the options in his/her B-school portfolio. People (mostly Indians) would turn down offers from schools ranked within the top 10 to instead attend ISB.

Around this time (actually, beginning a little earlier – but most observers did not really focus on this in the euphoria of the high ranking) ISB faced a number of events that began to dent its image a little bit.

In 2009, ISB Dean Rammohan Rao resigned for being on the Board of the scandal-hit Satyam Computer Services (Satyam Chairman Ramalinga Raju had also been on the ISB Board).

In 2012, ISB Chairman and co-founder Rajat Gupta and co-founder Anil Kumar resigned after being accused of securities fraud in the US. 2012 onwards, ISB expanded its intake from 540 students to 770, opening the doors of its new Mohali campus. To many, this represented ‘brand dilution’ and fall in the ISB brand value. 2011 onwards, ISB started to slide in the FT ranking. It went from 13 (2011) to 20 (2012) to 34 (2013) to 36 (2014). Worried applicants started to view this as a sign of falling quality given the higher batch size.

Many applicants now began to wonder. In spite of theISB placement trends being consistently positive, people began to wonder if ISB was really worth it. With the increasing batch size (which today stands at 770 and will stay at that), many thought they would be ‘one among the herd’ rather than ‘elite MBA alumni’ if they went to ISB.

If this was really true, the smallest MBA programs would be the most elite. Yet, that is not true, either in India or abroad (e.g. Harvard and INSEAD currently enrol more than 1,000 students each for their MBA intakes). We feel that all of the value propositions that ISB brings to its students still hold good.

ISB continues to be every bit as worthy of applicants’ attention as it used to be. No wonder, Poets&Quants just featured ISB as India’s top B-school. [Pl note: This is NOT meant to be a disparaging comment on the quality of the IIMs or their programs. We think they are great schools and offer great education. This post is meant to focus on what ISB offers and why what it offers is good].

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Here, according to us (in no order), are five reasons why ISB continues to be a top-notch school:

1. Outstanding faculty and research: ISB’s faculty is drawn from top schools around the world, including Kellogg, Wharton, London Business School, Texas McCombs, Darden, and Duke.

Further, the professors who teach are not junior faculty members, but area leaders in their domains (quite a few head the departments within areas that they teach at their home schools. E.g. Prof. Jagmohan Raju is Chairperson of the Wharton Marketing Department and teaches Marketing Decision Making in the core terms at ISB).

ISB has official partnerships with some schools, including Kellogg, Wharton, and LBS, but the faculty come from many more schools than just those. This really is the best of global education.

2. Functional as well as industry specializations: The school allows students to major not just in finance, marketing, operations, or IT, but also have an industry-specific focus on Healthcare or Manufacturing. This offers additional options for students looking for industry specializations

3. Great recognition and reputation in Indian industry: Top leaders of India Inc, including Adi Godrej (Godrej), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Biocon), Narayana Murthy (Infosys), Anil Ambani (ADAG), YC Deveshwar (ITC), and Sunil Mittal (Airtel),are all on the ISB Board. The program clearly has the endorsement and interest of the Indian industry.  Put together, the ISB Board represents some of India’s biggest, most successful, and most well-known companies.

4. A center for discussion, debate, and new ideas: ISB regularly hosts conferences and events that span multiple domains including business, policy making, social trends, and academia. Top speakers from around the world, including some of India’s best known faces, regularly speak at the ISB and hold interaction sessions there. The number and variety of events held at ISB is simply outstanding, presenting many opportunities to learn for its students.

5. Great placements, and a rising alumni base: As we have mentioned in an earlier post, ISB’s placements in 2016 have been excellent, continuing a growing trend. The alumni base (currently less than 5,000) is now significant and rising. As for ‘brand dilution’, this is something that is determined by the number of total alumni, and not just the number graduating in one year.

There are many more business schools in India, Asia, and around the world, that have an alumni base many times that. If they have yet to suffer from brand dilution, it is still too early to say that ISB does. Finally, brand dilution is a consequence of a lowering of admissions standards or falling quality of education, not of a bigger class size. On both the counts, ISB continues to do very well.

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One Response to “Is ISB Worth it? 5 Reasons why it is”

  • Suresh / / Reply

    Thank you for this article. As an ISB alumnus, I can tell you that these points are not just arguments, but reality. It is one thing to think that having experienced peers is a great thing, and another to see how much of a difference that makes in the classroom. Also, I will like to add one point to what this article talks about. ISB does not just attract faculty from good schools. It attracts the best faculty from these schools. That is also a big factor. I would definitely say that I learnt a lot during my one year at ISB and would whole-heartedly say that ISB is a good school.

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