How an International MBA Helps Indian Family Businesses

student and dean

Guest blogger and future Fuqua student Eapen Alexander with Dean Bill Boulding.

To state it plainly, there is no greater entrepreneurial environment than India. And whether in country or abroad, Indians have a demonstrated talent for starting and running successful businesses. Yet once Indian businesses reach a certain level of size and complexity, it becomes clear that the organizations can benefit from more formal management expertise. I have been fortunate to work with the Muthoot Group, an India-based business house run by my father and his brothers. As I have witnessed Muthoot’s continued growth and the diversification of the core financial services business into a variety of other sectors, I have been in a fortunate position to see first-hand how Muthoot has risen to this sort of leadership challenge.

One of the management priorities at Muthoot is ensuring that the next generation of leadership has the broad international perspective and the appropriate business skills to continue the successful expansion of the business. Having watched my brother and my cousins attend international MBA programs at a variety of world-class schools, I realized the value of business management education. So, I decided to enroll in an MBA, and began a two-year search of where to apply.

Since my brother was fresh out of business school, his experiences helped me to get more clarity on finding a school that would best fit me, and one that would help build on my strengths. However, looking back, I would say my decision to visit Fuqua convinced me to apply to the school and make it my first choice. During my visit I interacted with several current students and faculty, and experienced first-hand the spirit of “Team Fuqua.” The warm and welcoming attitudes of the students enable an environment for mutual respect, collaboration, and sharing of ideas. I believe that Fuqua’s MBA program and the culture at the school will play on my strengths, both at a personal and a professional level, and will help me discharge my duties toward my family, community, and the world in the best possible manner.

Here are the ways that I believe an international MBA can benefit me, my family’s business, and other Indian organizations:

Greater Professionalism:

The next generation of family members in large organizations will need to take on larger operational positions and shoulder more diverse responsibilities. At my organization, greater levels of professionalism have helped transform Muthoot from a family owned/managed company into a corporate house that attracts the best talent and skills. At the management level, business education has enabled the family members to add clarity and coherence to the strategic outlook and vision of the Muthoot Group. Management education also empowered family members with the credibility to lead, enabling them to gain buy-in from senior management, including non-family senior professionals. This has helped the group move toward its objectives in a unified manner.

Global Opportunities:

Management education helped our family-run business take advantage of the immense opportunities of scale in global gold financing. Muthoot Finance, the financial services vertical of the group, was started in 1939. However, it was the third generation, consisting of my father and his brothers, all of whom are professionally qualified, who took the group to its next orbit of growth. This generation scaled up gold loans, traditionally part of the unorganized credit industry in India, transforming a family-run business into a specialized banking institution. Thanks to the international exposure brought in by professional education, the management of Muthoot had the foresight to leverage the liberalization measures introduced by the government of India since the 1990s, significantly changing the trajectory of growth of the company. Today, Muthoot Finance is listed in all the major Indian stock markets, and has attracted various international investors to enhance its growth. The international exposure to innovative management practices has equipped the management to develop out-of-the-box solutions to some of the business challenges faced by the group in the various industries in which the company operates. With Fuqua’s strength in finance and social entrepreneurship, the Daytime MBA fits very well with my long-term goal of expanding Muthoot Finance onto other emerging markets and to diversify its product portfolio.

Global Alumni Network:

The MBA alumni networks and connections have been leveraged by my brother and cousins to greatly improve the global expansion of the group. Muthoot has operations in the USA, UK, Singapore and UAE. And in every place Muthoot operates, local knowledge and support from alumni connections have gone a long way in helping management make key strategic decisions and add value to the group. I believe that Fuqua’s alumni network will be equally beneficial to me, as a future leader of Muthoot. During my MBA search and application process, I had the privilege and opportunity to interact with accomplished Fuqua alumni including Sanjith Shetty and Malvinder Singh, both of whom in their own right have transformed their respective family businesses into world-class corporations. They shared their experiences from Fuqua, and how the MBA empowered them to take on challenges of scaling up and going global with their businesses, which resonated with me.

Understanding Diversity:

International MBAs are structured around team-based learning among a diverse cohort. Business school education has empowered the next generation of family members to handle the diversity within the management team, diversity both in terms of professional backgrounds as well as cultural differences. Muthoot is present in 24 states in India, each of which has its own language, culture and traditions. As Muthoot continues to expand throughout India and the world, the challenges of managing a diverse workforce will only increase, and having managers with experience working on diverse teams will enable Muthoot to more quickly rise to the challenges of expanded growth.

Sustainability:

The international exposure gained from business schools has also helped the Muthoot Board of Directors realize that our business is not just a numbers game. We have a deep responsibility to the communities in which we operate and to India as a nation. As a direct consequence of the international management education, Muthoot has increased its attention towards sustainable business models, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, and more broadly, adding value to the society and the growth of the nation through its businesses and business practices.

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About Eapen

Eapen Alexander will be a first-year MBA student at The Fuqua School of Business, starting in August 2013.

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Guest bloggers may include Fuqua administrators, staff, and alumni.

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