Interview with Sameer Kamat: Author of ‘Beyond The MBA Hype’

About the Author
Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball, an admissions consulting venture. After completing his MBA from the University of Cambridge on a double scholarship, he worked in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions for 5 years before leaving the corporate world to become an entrepreneur. He is also the author of Beyond The MBA Hype published by HarperCollins. This article draws upon the insights covered in the book.

About the Book
Many employees looking for a change in their job profile or fresh graduates looking for a secure financial future often view an MBA degree as the magic wand that will change their lives. Beyond the MBA Hype argues that the reality is that the MBA system isn’t all shiny and perfect. Most MBA aspirants are confused when it comes to choosing a school and unsure about what to expect once they get in. The book hopes to add more clarity, save time & money, and, direct candidates to their career goals.

Vineet: Congrats on getting your first book published. For first-time authors, getting a break in the super-competitive publishing industry can be very difficult. But you have managed to get your book published by one of the top publishing houses – HarperCollins. How did you manage that?

Sameer: Thanks for the kind words, Vineet. You are right. Globally, and in specifically in India, the publishing industry has become very competitive. For the publisher, every book involves a substantial investment of time, effort and money. So I consider myself very lucky to have got this opportunity.

Having said that, publishers are also looking for good topics and new perspectives that need to be shared with a bigger audience. So for all the budding writers who are reading this, I’d recommend reading up a little more about how the publishing industry works. I’ve started sharing whatever I’ve learnt about this field, on my personal website (http://www.sameerkamat.com/).

Vineet: When you say publishers are looking for ‘new perspectives’, how does that apply to Beyond The MBA Hype? Aren’t there too many MBA books already in the market that talk about getting into MBA programs?

Sameer: Very true, Vineet. There are too many books that talk about how candidates can crack the MBA entrance tests, get into a business school, graduate with an MBA degree and live happily after. If I had written another book that repeats the same mantra, I don’t think I’d have got any of the reputed publishers interested in it.

‘Beyond The MBA Hype’ does not tell the reader how to get an MBA. On the contrary, it argues that an MBA may NOT be the best pill to cure all maladies in life. Many capable students follow the herd mentality and get swayed by the marketing hype without really knowing what an MBA degree can and cannot do for them. A big reason for is lack of awareness. When there’s so much information on the internet and the media that paints a rosy picture, it is very important for prospective students to know the pros and cons of taking up the MBA route. ‘Beyond The MBA Hype’ tries to do precisely what its name suggests – break the hype by looking at both sides of the story.

Vineet: You left a lucrative post-MBA finance career to become a writer?

Sameer: Well, not really, Vineet. After completing my MBA, I worked in the area of Mergers & Acquisitions for 5 years. In parallel, I was also informally helping friends and friends-of-friends to get into the top MBA programs. I had fought against odds to get into a strong MBA program and I felt I could help others do the same. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the success rate of my protégés getting into good schools was high. Due to the word-of-mouth publicity, the demand shot up. I felt I had to take a call to continue in finance or move out to focus full-time on my MBA consulting interest. Call it a crazy move, but I decided to follow my gut feel and take a full-time plunge into entrepreneurship. I have a lot to learn and I take inspiration from other crazy folks (like you) who could’ve done very well on the corporate side, but followed their heart and pursued their primary interest. Hats off to you, buddy!

Vineet: Thanks, Sameer. I was reading a review of the book on The Hindu – Business Line. The writing style is informal, humorous and witty. It seems quite different from the regular business and MBA books. Was that intentional?

Sameer: I’m active on many domestic and international MBA forums where I offer free advice to prospective MBA candidates. I also manage an MBA and GMAT blog. Over time these ‘discussion threads’ and the blog posts have become very popular and I think a lot has to do with the fact that my responses are informative and entertaining. One without the other would have made it either too boring or too frivolous, and the interest in those discussion threads and the blog would have gone down rapidly. For a serious topic like management education, I think it’s important to have a balance. I’ve used the same approach in the book as well.

Check out this tongue-in-cheek book trailer on YouTube. People who have never considered an MBA will also find it interesting. But it’s not all fun and frolic in there. There’s a whole lot of hardcore data and hard-hitting information as well.

Vineet: Sounds interesting. Good luck with the book Sameer and all the best for your MBA consulting venture as well.

Sameer: Thanks for the opportunity, Vineet. Good luck to you too.

The book is available in bookstores now. You can also order it from Flipkart at a discount (cash on delivery & free home delivery). You can connect with the author on the Facebook page for Beyond the MBA Hype or send a mail to: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

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