When Pranav Tandon decided to take a study break after a three-year stint at Japanese investment bank Nomura, he was clear about one thing. “I wanted to do an MBA abroad in order to better understand international business dynamics and get a feel of how India is perceived from outside,” says Tandon, who, having rubbed shoulders with diverse global employees at the Japanese bank, wanted to understand how an outsider viewed the Indian market. “This would help me see issues which I would have ignored had I done an MBA in India,” adds Tandon.
Tandon, however, did not head to the regular American or British B-schools. Instead, he picked the Graduate School of Business (GSB) in Cape Town, South Africa. Besides, being one of the most developed nations on the African continent has its own plus points. “Africa is projected to see a lot of development. Doing an MBA from here would hold me in good stead,” adds Tandon, who is currently pursuing a one-year MBA programme.
Segran Nair, director of MBA, GSB, University of Cape Town, seconds Tandon. “Africa is touted to be the market of the future. Many Indian firms — including the Tatas, Mahindra and Infosys — are also looking at opening operations here,” he says. He adds that the African economic lure is already pulling global MBA students into the continent. “The class size of our one-year MBA programme is 80-82 students. About 35 per cent are foreign nationals from about 16 to 17 countries,” claims Nair. GSB offers two MBA programmes — a one-year full time one and a modular one that lasts two years.
In keeping with the economic potential of Africa, the MBA programmes at GSB focus on studying emerging markets. “The USP is that it’s an MBA for emerging markets. We invite guest speakers who are steeped in the study of emerging global economic hubs,” explains Nair.
The admission procedure for the one-year MBA programme at GSB is very holistic, says Nair. Step one is, of course, the GMAT score. “We accept an entry score of 550 points,” he says.
Along with their application forms, aspiring students have to send in nine essays on who they are — personally and professionally — what their academic and extra curricular background is and why they want to study at GSB.
Two reference letters are required as well. The admissions team at GSB prefers it if the reference letter does not paint a very pretty picture of the candidate. “If the reference says there is nothing wrong with the student, then a big red flag goes up. We want students with warts and all and prefer references to be open and honest,” explains Nair.
Procuring a study visa for South Africa is usually a simple process. “Study visas are issued around the year. If a student wants to extend this to a work visa, we give him a letter to be submitted to the embassy,” informs Nair.
GSB’s regular one-year MBA programme has two main components — one is the marketing course and the other a sort of company analysis. “Students work in groups of six or seven and select a company, where they look at opportunities and threats and interview the managers and employers. It is like a mini consulting project for the company,” says Nair.
The other draws of the programme, according to Tandon, are courses on leadership and innovation and the Social Innovation Lab (SIL).
The two-year modular MBA at GSB does not require students to be present on campus throughout the duration of the course. “Just a commitment from the students that they have to be in Cape Town for a certain period of time. The idea is to create a dynamic, interactive study environment, where each student brings his own experience to the course,” explains Nair.
GSB has a career services office which brings companies on campus. “We do a profile of each student to decipher their strong points,” says Nair.
Currently GSB does not offer any scholarships and the cost of the one-year MBA programme is 200,000 rands or Rs 1.4 lakh. Accommodation costs can run up to about 12,000 rands per month. “Our campus is situated just outside the central business district so there is a high density of apartments in the vicinity, which offer furnished accommodation,” says Nair, adding that most students walk to college because of the close proximity of residential options.
So if you are applying to GSB, you don’t need that fast car.
● Bharti Airtel’s Zain acquisition is probably the biggest by an Indian company in Africa
● Godrej acquired personal care product manufacturer Tura for $33 million and is eyeing a stake in a hair care company
● Karuturi Global has become one of the largest private land owners in the world thanks to its investments in Africa
● The Tata group and Essar Oil have been investing in Africa for quite some time
● Drug companies Cipla and Ranbaxy are manufacturing cheap generic drugs against HIV/AIDS