Thursday, November 27, 2008

Which specialization?

The list of specializations offered by management institutes is expanding each year, the broad areas that students can specialize in are:

Human Resources
Systems Management


Marketing in its broadest sense is getting people and products together. This is the most popular specialization among students of management. It comprises four specific function areas :

Sales & Distribution
Product/Brand Management
Market Research

The opportunities in Sales and Product Management are vast. However most organizations prefer their trainees to have sales experience before joining product management.Advertising and Market Research are service sector activities


This function area is concerned with the efficient use of an important component of business - Money.

There are eight career paths in this discipline.

Consumer Banking
Investment Banking
Institutional Banking
Merchant Banking
Development Banking
Non-Banking Finance
Corporate Finance
International Finance

The same institution usually carries out Consumer Banking, Investment Banking, and Institutional Banking. These cover individual accounts, the management of securities (and other investments including foreign exchange dealings) and lending to corporate clients respectively. These functions tend to be highly specialized.

Most banks nowadays also have Merchant Banking subsidiaries or divisions. These largely focus on public issues to raise capital required by organizations. This field has also seen several non-banking firms entering, but their viability currently seems doubtful.

Development banking falls under the purview of specialized institutions set up for this purpose, e.g. NABARD, IDBI, IFCI, etc. The mandate is to help the economy grow by aiding industrial growth. The focus here is very different from traditional banking and is extremely challenging.

Non-banking finance is of two types. One is through small, privately run specialized companies that are involved in leasing, hire purchase, or private banks. The other is through specialized public sector institutions concentrating on shipping finance, housing finance, venture capital, etc.

Finance professionals can also have challenging careers in companies that need in-house expertise and have departments for cost-control, financial planning, and accountancy.

International Finance deals primarily with global investments in the stock markets. Options and Derivatives' pricing is one of the key areas covered under International Finance. Generally top stock-broking firms recruit people with this background.


There are three broad career opportunities in this area.

Human Resources Development (HRD)
Personnel Management
Industrial Relations

HRD managers are involved in activities like performance appraisal, employee counseling, employee training and employee motivation. Their activities are directed towards development of people in their organization.

Personnel managers handle activities like recruitment, job definition, salary management and employee welfare. Nowadays, most organizations differentiate between Personnel and HRD managers.

Industrial Relations managers focus on labour management. With increasing politically backed labour / staff union activities, organizations require specialists in handling them. Students with law background are preferred in this area.


After consolidation and restructuring in the Information Technology (IT) sector, there is again a huge demand for software professionals and systems managers. For MBAs specializing in Systems, there are broadly four career options in this field:

Systems Consultancy
Account Management / Project Management
Systems Depts of Organizations
Business Development / Sales & Marketing

Systems Consultancies recruit MBAs for their teams providing consultancy to their client organizations. They also recruit MBAs for business development functions.

Organizations specializing in hardware / software solutions recruit MBAs for Business Development and Sales & Marketing functions.

Information technology is an integral part of every business today, hence organizations require managers for their Systems Departments.

The advantage is that one does not need prior knowledge or experience in computers or engineering to specialize in Systems.


Manufacturing is one of the most important areas for any product-based business. Management of large as well as small manufacturing companies involves various production and operational techniques and theories. These skills are especially useful for engineering graduates. The career options in this field are:

Quality Control
Material Management
Productivity Improvement
Inventory Control
Production Planning
Supply Chain Management

The focus of Operations Specialists is not engineering problems, but managerial implications of engineering problems. The specific skills required are behavioural, technical, and statistical.These techniques are largely applied to manufacturing organizations.