As private initiatives become more and more important for economic growth, the private sector’s role in providing employment has gained prominence. Be they large multinationals or exciting start-ups, these firms are also the ones providing cutting-edge, high-growth and aspirational job opportunities for today’s new graduates.
The successful functioning of a private enterprise depends, crucially, on the understanding of its business environment, the ability to run internal operations efficiently and, ultimately, to drive ‘top line’ (revenue) or ‘bottom line’ (profit). Economics, Management and Finance (EMF) graduates, respectively, are skilled to do just these. Besides, the highly analytical training that EMF graduates receive also makes them eminently employable, perhaps second to none but engineering graduates, as evidenced by batch after batch of intake at our country’s top business schools.
EMF is a set of interconnected disciplines. That is why, alongside the traditional Bachelor’s degree programmes in Economics, Commerce and Business Administration, hybrid offerings such as Economics and Finance, Economics and Management, Business Economics and Accounting and Finance are becoming popular.
Most good hybrid programmes, especially those based on international curricula, are structured to allow a student to specialise in one area, and choose electives to develop a strong base in at least one other area. Such programmes will include core training in economics, international business, accounting and quantitative (or analytical) skills — mathematics and statistics, but will then allow students to choose from a range of electives, such as econometrics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, corporate finance, asset pricing, valuation, marketing, human resource management, corporate law, e-business and psychology.
This exposure to multiple domains is a significant advantage since it ensures that a student entering the world of private enterprise, through employment or self-employment, is not out of her or his depth in any business function, vertical or role. That is why this interdisciplinary skill set is an invaluable one, as evidenced, again, by the high-paying jobs landed by graduates of the top business schools, which tend to teach all of the above subject areas, and often cover other areas too.
To study EMF, one could look at options both in India and overseas. Outside the country, the leading names in these fields would include Ivy League institutions in the US and Russell Group institutions in the UK.
The renowned institutions offering EMF programmes within India are the University of Delhi, the University of Calcutta and the University of Mumbai.
Some enterprising institutions offer the option of pursuing prestigious international curricula from India. Some Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management also offer competitive programmes in this area.
EMF disciplines provide for high application-oriented study, which is easily relatable with the world outside textbooks and classrooms. While this appeals immensely to students, it is still arguably the plethora of available and growing career options in these disciplines that seals the deal in favour of these disciplines for students and their parents alike.
These careers include strategy or management consulting, entrepreneurship, research (economic, financial or market) and academia, which absorb students from all three disciplines. They also extend to more specialised careers like actuarial science, investment banking, data science, public policy, development work, central banking and financial services, which welcome Economics and Finance graduates. At the same time, Finance and Management graduates go on to successful careers in strategy, corporate finance, audit and accounting, while Economics and Management graduates can successfully pursue careers in marketing, human resource, business analytics and operations, to name a few.
Two important trends are important to note in the context of the future prospects of EMF graduates. The first is the digitisation-led start-up boom, of which India is one of the bright spots on the global map. This has created many new and exciting opportunities, and top EMF institutions have adapted by incorporating areas like entrepreneurship explicitly in their curriculum, along with opportunities for hands-on training, incubation and perhaps even seed funding.
The second key development, also driven by digitisation, is the spawning of careers in data science, business analytics and related areas, driven by the unprecedented amounts of data organisations are capturing and storing today. These careers and roles involve the application of statistical and programming skills to glean insights from data and improve the decision-making and problem-solving ability of large and small organisations around the world. Since all such improvements will also have to pass the muster of the managerial ranks in these organisations, it only takes a little bit of reading between the ‘lines’ to see that EMF knowledge will go a very long way in helping one forge a successful career path.
(The author is with Indian School of
Business & Finance, New Delhi)