An MBA after CA – How to proceed?
After the phenomenal response to my previous post "Top 10 things an MBA aspiring Chartered Accountant MUST know", I have received some more queries from you all and have tried to address them below.
PS – If you have not checked out the article above, do not proceed further!
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Disclaimer: The answers which read "Opinion" are precisely that. My personal opinion!
So, please take that with a pinch of salt & feel free to connect with as many more people as you can to form
your own view about it! In fact, I highly recommend it!
1. How much does past academic performance matter when you are already a CA?
This question is especially relevant for those CAs whose 10th/12th or Undergrad scores are not great, and their CA percentages are also <60%.
Important note – The CA percentage used by the IIMs is the average of your IPCC and Final score. However, this is a variable criterion with sometimes only the Final score being considered.
As much as being a CA helps get calls at lower percentiles, it does NOT offset poor past scores. In-fact, most CAs that get calls at lower percentiles usually have stellar prior academics.
This is even more relevant because the CAT and the entire ensuing process is rather relative.
As many CAs do have good past academic scores, the CA qualification per se ceases to be a great differentiator.
Each IIM releases the criteria and weightage to each of these dimensions, and they vary from year to year.
Is there a workaround to this?
A CA with poor past academics will suffer from the same limitation as any other candidate with poor academics. It can be partially bridged by a superb CAT percentile and targeting those colleges who place lesser importance on past scores and more so on the CAT. (Traditionally, IIM-C, FMS, and MDI among others)
2. Is "Finance" the only MBA domain a CA can hope to enter into?
First off, the MBA degree granted by the IIMs is not domain-specific attached to it.
That being said, your course electives in the second year, your pre MBA work experience and first-year summer internships do shape your CV to lean towards a particular domain.
Does that domain necessarily have to be finance? No.
A personal experience may help here.
I had applied to SPJIMR (A top 10 B-School) PDGM program in the marketing specialization.
Important note – SPJIMR is one of the only colleges that require you to pick your domain BEFORE entering B-School. The choices are – Finance, Marketing, Supply Chain & Ops, and Information Management.
As a CA, convincing the panel that I would make a good Marketing candidate was tough.
But I went on to convert that call!
So, you do not necessarily need to limit yourself to Finance roles if those are not what you want. But keep in mind that switching is not going to a cakewalk either.
Suggested reads –
CAs in Marketing - MICA ft Shrikant Damani
How my finance brain craves for marketing creativity! - MICAT & more with CA Sugandha Bhatia!
3. Like the MBA programmes abroad, Do the IIMs require recommendations letters from your seniors/teachers?
No. The application to the IIMs is simply the CAT form. The shortlists are released basis the information in said form along with your CAT score.
Post your first shortlist, most colleges require you to fill out another form asking for additional data.
Among old IIMs, only Bangalore requires two recommendation letters (that too in the form of a short questionnaire).
However, once you do enter B-school, a lot of information from your work-ex and education is required to be vetted, so please be mindful of that!
4. Should preparation for CA final and CAT be done simultaneously?
There is no synergy between CA final and CAT preparation.
Hence, in my opinion, if you are a CA final student who is yet to give Finals, please focus on clearing that first. It can be quite stressful so the last thing you’ll want is to add more to your plate.
After writing the exam, you can start CAT prep, without even waiting for the results! That would make more sense than trying to clear vastly different exams simultaneously.
5. Can CAT prep be done along with a full-time job? What impact does quitting my job have on my interview?
Now, this wholly depends on you. Your dedication level, your work hours, financial commitments, among other things.
You can read my article on the matrix I used for deciding for myself -
What "a gap year on your CV" means for your MBA dreams
Let me contrast my case with that of my fellow CA and batchmate at IIM-A - Sreepadh Guruprasad.
We were both qualified CAs and we both entered the FMCG industry after that. Me at Nestlé and Him at ITC. We both had similar workloads (On the higher side)
I quit and then prepared, whereas he gave the CAT alongside his job.
We both made it to IIM-A!
So is quitting a deal breaker to the interview panelists?
No. A lot of people do so.
Is that the way you should go?
It entirely depends on your risk appetite. The bigger worry is not whether the interview panel will react negatively (You can prepare for this) but whether you will get a chance to come face to face with them in the first place!
So, weigh out all your options, plan A and plan B and take this decision only after careful consideration!
PS - You can read about his entire journey here.
Corporate Career vs College Campus - How IIM-A chose me & I chose it right back!
In case you want to check out my IIM-A interview experience or learn about how to up your QA game, click on the links below!
A Chartered Accountant's IIM-A Interview experience
How a 99.76 percentiler's brain works at the QA section
From “Hopeless at quant” to IIM-Ahmedabad - My CAT 2019 journey
Write to me here.