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IIM-K: LSM and Finance Programs

As the number of programs increases, my job seems to get tougher with all X versus Y versus Z scenarios I am called upon to adjudicate increasing geometrically.

IIM-K has been at the forefront of this multiple-program phenomenon launching a slew of programs that, in their nomenclature, range from super clear to PGP-Finance to PGP-Liberal Studies & Management!

So I thought the best way, as usual, is to get current or recent graduates to write about the program and their experience.

You might think that how come everyone who writes a post for this blog is positive while online, there seem to be tons of negative reviews (as I learnt from a recent comment, this is the case with L it seems!)

Well, the thing is, life at a b-school is not a cakewalk that will give every single person their best life on a platter. A lot of how you handle it and what you make of it depends on what you, as a person, bring to the table in terms of skills but, more importantly, in terms of attitude.

What do I mean by attitude? A batchmate of mine was a CA, and back in the day, there were barely any Fin jobs available on campus. For his summers, he got an Ops role, and in our finals, he secured a sales job with a major FMCG. Both are as far as can be from his educational background, MBA specialisation, and skills. Not once during this whole process did he whine or crib. Almost immediately after we graduated he secured a job with a leading Fin firm in a valuations role. We did not have too many forums to go vent about sour grapes but I am sure there were people who would have done that given a chance.

Moral of the story: there will always be whiners. You will encounter them throughout your life. It is up to you to choose whether you let them influence you or not.

Getting back to the main point of this post, I reached out to an ex-colleague who is now doing his PhD. in strategy at K to get students or ex-students from PGP-LSM and PGP-Finance to send their take on the course.

Two of them have taken time out to send me a quick take on their experiences. You can go through them to get an idea about the programs.

IIM -K: Liberal Studies & Management

1. LSM is a unique course that equips a candidate with the necessary business skills, which include not only the quantitative aspect but also the qualitative aspect.

2. Since it’s a newly introduced course, the curriculum is industry-relevant and makes you ready for all the challenges ahead. As we know that the domains HR, Marketing, Operations, and Finance are not separate anymore, but every job entails an overlap of these, so LSM teaches you the relevant skillset, including problem-solving, analytical and people skills required to encounter any challenge ahead.

3. When I planned to join a B-School for my MBA, I was mainly looking for a curriculum that is both comprehensive, and interesting and subjects like Sociology, Psychology, and Leadership piqued my interest and I therefore decided to join this course.

4. The best part about LSM for me, is the fieldwork or the ground work that is a mandatory requirement of the course. The two subjects Rural Immersion and International Immersion changed my perspective of seeing the world. Staying in a village for a week with a tribal community and understanding their culture and getting immersed into it while at the same time helping them to solve their problems, is something which I experienced for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Being there in a remote village in Kerala for a week and being in Italy for another week provided me with two very diverse perspectives and this is something which I believe no other course can provide.

5. According to me, what makes an LSM student different from a PGP student is the interpersonal skills which they learn during the course while understanding the different aspects of our society and ourselves. It’s like while discovering the course, we discover ourselves.

IIM-K: PGP-Finance

My first take is that there is nothing majorly different from the flagship PGP Programme. First-year was pretty much common with the same courses and same faculty: eight sections of PGP, one section of Finance, and one section of LSM.

The second year was different since there were electives. There was a mandatory requirement of a certain minimum number of Finance credits you are mandated to complete.

For me, it was, by and large, the same as doing a PGP program in terms of coursework and placements. There would be some notorious ones who would say why the programs should be different, we are smarter and so on. But those were a very small minority.

How has it shaped me? It was pretty much like a General Management course. For me, apart from the academic inputs, I needed to learn how to network, how to communicate and manage my time.

There is a lot of noise in the market that it is a sub-standard program, but I don’t see it that way. I don’t think the recruiters see it that way. Let me give you context. There are people in my batch who when to the big brand names such as BCG and Amazon. I myself converted most of the big consulting brands, and I have taken up a job with HCL and am based out of Dubai. So, in terms of placements, there are no problems

Problems might arise if you are interested in Marketing. There were a couple of Marketing firms that did not want to shortlist candidates from a niche Fin Program since from the outside it looks as if it is a purely Fin course.

Apart from Marketing, my batchmates got their desired roles in all other domains: Operations, General Management and Consulting.

To be upfront, if your brother has a PGP convert and a PGP-Finance converts, maybe he should go for a PGP since there are people who, after the first year, feel that they are not cut out for Fin: subjects like valuations might really scare the shit out of them. The second year becomes tough, especially if you have struggled in first-year subjects such as accounting, since you cannot not take below a certain minimum number of courses.

To be honest, in my previous work-ex, I was working as a tech consultant (Engineering in Computer Science) with a US-based Banking client, so I thought I had decent visibility into the domain. In the first year, I found that it was different academically from what I expected. So in the second year, I took a lot of Strategy courses and also a few Marketing courses since I knew that I might not take a niche Fin role after my MBA. But there were a couple of subjects I had to take. So, if you are not interested in Finance, doing it only for the tag might not be a good idea.

I was part of the first batch of the Finance program, and there were 39 students in my section. I had friends who had converted IIM-I, MDI, and IIT-B but took up IIM-K PGP-Finance. So in terms of the quality of the batch, it was quite good, and we did well at placements and that carried over into subsequent batches. In the second and third batches, we had better profiles.

Also, there can be fear that there will be many CAs and others cannot compete academically with them. The topper of my batch was an engineer from DTU.

Lastly, as far as student bodies and clubs go, they are open to the whole batch. When we say batch, we mean the eight sections of PGP, Fin and LSM. All you need to do is clear the selection process. I was part of the Student Council. Even the placement committee had 2-3 people from PGP-Finance.

In terms of placements, once again, apart from niche Marketing firms, all firms allow the entire batch to apply.

The PGP-Fin post was a series of audio messages that I more or less transcribed verbatim.

I do not know these two individuals but I have to really thank them for taking the time out to put down their views pretty coherently.

Hope this post helps those with these calls to take an informed decision.

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