AIM Manila in terms of reputation and placements?

This answer is considering you had 5 years IT experience in India prior to joining MBA, It is divided in four parts

a) What were my expectations from a B School before joining it. 

b) What happened at the B-School and how it changed me and my expectations. 
c) After 5 years what do I think happened and should it have happened?
d) My recommendations to you while you are planning to join AIM.

Part A: My expectations from a B-School before joining it.
I was a Software Engineer after a BE degree from a top institute in India and everyone recognized my college the moment they heard the name. In a way this made my life easier when I used to interact with people and apply for jobs. And one thing I realized that the name of your college helps you cross the first hurdle and offers you an (unfair) advantage in interviews, discussions, etc. Value this advantage if you have one.

Based on the above experience, and fed up with the unstructured life of a Software Engineer, I wanted to do MBA. MBA to be was a short-cut to a bigger & easier life. I wanted a high paying career, a slightly more structured life, and a decent life-style. As a Software Engineer I used to share my flat with friends, used to ride a motorcycle, and mostly had just enough money to last for next 30 days. I hated it. The least I wanted from a job was that I could stay in a separate flat, own a car, and have enough money to at least last for a few months. (This is the most fundamental requirement for my MBA). One thing I understood was that a job-change is not an answer to this desire. A job change gives at best 20-30% hike, which sounds good in theory, but terrible in reality because how much does a Software Engineer actually earn in his beginning years? Most people in my time used to start their Software career at around 20k per month (or less). I am not sure about the starting salaries of software engineers these days.

Having seen the advantage of a good institute, my choice for MBA was IIMs, or XLRI. And if these two don't click then I would use my savings from onsite and try at a foreign institute. (However, I knew it really well that most foreign institutes are well beyond my reach because I didn't want to take any loans and get tied to that loan for next 5-7 years).

Of course I couldn't get selected for IIMs and XLRI. And by some stroke of luck I was selected at AIM. I cleared the interview and had the funds to join the institute. So I decided to take the final call and join it.

Before joining the institute this is what I had my on mind...
1. After MBA, I will have a campus placement in some foreign company. Most probably I won't have to return to India for next few years.
2. My classmates will be good enough to help me grow.
3. My Professors will be world-class
4. Everyone recognizes and values my degree (just like everyone recognizes and values my engineering degree)
etc.

Part B: What happened in the B-School (AIM)

A. First thing which (slightly) disappointed me while I reached AIM - The class-diversity was poor. In a batch of 100+ students of an institute which claims to be one of the best institute in the Asian region, you don't expect to see 60 students from India. And have another 30 from Philippines, and rest 10 students from Vietnam, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, etc. This is nothing but a diversity on paper. Its practically a school for Indians & Filipinos. This fact really made me feel a little disappointed. I don't know how things have changed in past 5 years, but this is something which is hampering the institute.
[My only suggestion to the institute would be to place a check on the upper limit on the number of students from a particular nationality. Or else declare it as an institute for Indians & Filipinos.]

B. Professors in the Institute were a pleasant surprise - All of them were practitioners of the fields/subjects which they were teaching. And co-incidentally they were all millioners. Contrast this to what we have seen in India. And hence this was a welcome change for me. What was even more interesting was the a good percentage of professors were directly or indirectly working with government(s) and institutions which frame policies and regulations for societies. This was indeed a certain pleasure, In India I could have almost never met such an elite set of professors under a single roof. And I still believe its the professors at AIM which will impress an Indian student.

C. One of the first learnings I had at AIM, and probably the most important one was that - There are no right or wrong answers (or actions), everything is dependent on the situation and the environment. This might sound like a simple thing to read, but try writing/speaking/acting your heart when it come to your work-place or previous academia experience - I am sure not everyone in India is ready to accept it. Because it needs some sort of wisdom to accept people's difference of opinion, actions, and judgements. AIM teaches you to accept this difference and still keep moving. (This is one thing which most Indian B-Schools will fail to teach you).

D. You learn on your own. None of the lectures will have any teachings to be done. Instead, there will be discussions (over a business case), there will be debates, there will be verbal fights, and the professors will mostly watch you do what you think is right. AIM's Case Study method is what always appealed to me for two reasons - i) In real world, we will have cases to handle and we are going to meet similar people who will argue, disagree, fight, and in all this we still need to arrive at a best possible solution in the given circumstances; ii) However hard you attempt, you will be always unprepared for life (and case discussions), which will keep you humble and your feet grounded forever in your life.

E. AIM has some emphasis on certain unique things (which most other B-Schools in India miss, even today) - i) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ii) Ethics in Business and Management, iii) Equality in Society, iv) Entrepreneurship, v) Social Service, vi) Leadership, etc. On a weekly basis you will hear on these topics from very reputed people across the world. And because AIM is very closely attached to Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Ramon Magsaysay Award panel, you will have regular invitations to hear some of the global leaders live. Trust me all this makes a long-term impact on your thinking and your behavior.

During all this, something was changing in me.....
a) I did my MBA right after Sub-Prime crisis, and this means a lot of good lessons came to us by default. And a lot of our myths were broken in those classroom discussions. I was finally losing my desire to join corporate because of its clear failure to bring satisfaction to the lives of its employees, and also the kind of corrupt practices they were involved into. One thing was getting clearer to me all the while during my MBA journey - I am not joining a regular job at corporate.

b) Money is a certain by-product of all the good work done, don't run after it, let it run after you. My professors were live examples to me. All of them were doing fabulously good in life by virtue of their passion for good work done throughout their life.

c) Role of a Manager is not to keep himself constrained into some specific role, instead he is the one who has to think 360 degrees and take actions after estimating its impacts on all possible domains. (In most B-Schools I have seen that people define themselves as finance guy or a marketing guy, and hence they behave in a way allergic to other divisions/practices.)

d) Live life to make an impact, instead of joining the herd. It takes courage to think and execute alike. AIM did that to me.

Part C: After 5 years of my MBA...

5 years is not a massive time-span, but its like the first Tea - Break of the Test Match. You get a sense of the strength of your fundamentals, you get a sense of what all you can score during the day, you get a sense how you will entertain the audience in the crowd, and you know where do you stand in the game.

So, here is what I experienced after 5 years...

A. In India, most of the people in Corporates do not know anything about AIM. Only those aged people 50+ years in age might have a chance to know about this institute. In essence, CXOs know about AIM, rest all think AIM as some Tom Dick & Harry college of some Tier-II city.
(Lesson for AIM pass-outs....you need to reach out to the right audience while you want your resumes to work for you. A typical HR is never going to understand what is AIM).

B. AIM pass-outs need to aim for right opportunities. They are neither meant for all the roles, nor most companies can ever utilize AIM students in their typical job roles. AIM pass-outs need a bigger canvas to work and always need to operate above a certain level.

C. AIM converts you into a different breed of junta who won't be too obsessed with money. AIMers would always be looking for bigger challenges, bigger roles and responsibilities. Money for an AIMer would be just a by-product.

D. AIMer, at some point in their life start on their own. Because at some point the canvas offered to an AIMer will get small for his vision. And he will need a canvas big enough to fit his sight. He will start on his own.

Part D: My DOs & DONTs while you are planning to join AIM...

DOs...
1. Go there to transform yourself into a Leader
2. Go there to meet exceptional professors & teaching standards
3. Go there to experience some unheard & theoretical concepts being executed
4. Go there to see how people Walk the Talk
5. Go there to get a feel of what a Cosmopolitan Life looks like

DONTs...
1. Don't go there for a Campus Placement

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Vocab Power Updated Daily

  • COBBLED - Repair or mend
  • ABHORRENCE - Hate coupled with disgust
  • INCUMBENCY - The term during which some position is held
  • MITIGATE -Lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
  • dubious - Open to doubt or suspicion
  • FOSTERING - Encouragement; aiding the development of something
  • ELICIT- Call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses)
  • PLAUSIBLE - Apparently reasonable and valid, and truthful
  • FORGE - Move ahead steadily
  • BOLSTER (V)-Support and strengthen
  • ECCENTRIC- A person with an unusual or odd personality
  • PATRONAGE - The act of providing approval and support
  • IMPERVIOUS - Not admitting of passage or capable of being affected

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