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Impact of COVID on MBA

Let us try to analyse the impact COVID-19 is having on the MBA ecosystem. If you are an MBA aspirant or a current MBA grad, you may find the article of interest.

We will try to segregate the analysis into three parts (you can jump to the section which is relevant for you by clicking on the links)

  1. Impact on MBA Admissions (for aspirants)
  2. Impact on MBA experience (for aspirants & current students)
  3. Impact on post MBA career (for current students)

Impact on MBA Admissions.

Historically applications to MBA programs have increased during times of recession. As people lose jobs due to economic downturns, most of them look to upskill themselves and some end up applying for MBA programs. The GMAC in a survey noted that in 2009 when the world was reeling under a global recession, two-thirds of full-time MBA programs received more applications than in previous years. This will definitely increase competition among candidates. If you are a candidate working in a PSU, you will face relatively lesser competition for admission as the possibility of people losing jobs with a similar background as yours is not much. B-Schools try to maintain a mixed cohort in a batch and include candidates from different backgrounds. Competition among candidates applying with work experience in the private sector might go up compared to competition among candidates who have experience of working in a PSU.

Many colleges have delayed or extended their admission rounds. Many top foreign universities have suspended standardized testing requirements as a part of the admission application altogether. UC Berkeley Haas has launched an undergrad-to-MBA option without the requirement of a GMAT or GRE score. Some universities like Oxford and LBS have said that candidates need to submit the GMAT score at a later date.

The GMAC has modified test-taking options as many scheduled tests have been cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19. GMAC has waived all exam cancellation, rescheduling and score reinstatement fees for GMAT test centre-based appointments. They have also launched the option of taking the GMAT test online from your home. You can follow the GMAC guidelines on the format of the online test here.  

Impact on MBA experience.

One of the key components of an MBA education is the rich experience candidates get when interacting with their peers and instructors in a classroom environment. Class participation is one form of such interaction and it enhances the learnings from an MBA program. Under the current situation, classrooms are being conducted online. Many top B-Schools have adopted virtual learning platforms and are conducting their classes online. This somewhat dilutes the advantages of a full-time MBA program. However, colleges are adapting to the new environment. They are introducing innovative methods of hand-raising during the virtual class for students to share their views with their peers. The amount of cold calling has increased to keep the students engaged and attentive. B-Schools like Stanford will conduct their spring quarter classes virtually.

Many B-Schools are witnessing cancelled internships as the COVID-19 impacts businesses. This is a global phenomenon as both international and Indian schools like IIMs are reporting that many companies have cancelled internship offers to students of the current batch.

Impact on post MBA Career.

It is undeniable that the COVID-19 crisis will leave lasting impacts on the global economy. In the short term, it will impact the operations of businesses across industries. As businesses take up cost-cutting measures, they will eventually lead to job losses for many. The growth prospects will also slow-down in many industries leading to companies reducing or in extreme cases freezing hiring new employees altogether.

We need to keep in mind that every adversity comes with opportunities. There are certain sectors or industries that might be impacted more than others. In the short-term industries like airlines, travel and hospitality may face bigger challenges than most other industries. People in the near future will postpone leisure activities like holidaying. The above-mentioned industries which largely cater to such consumers might find it difficult to generate regular cash flows in the next two years. Current MBA candidates and prospective candidates need to watch out how these trends play out and target industries that are more resilient o the impacts of COVID-19.

On the other hand, trends are emerging where we can see certain industries benefit from the global lockdown due to COVID-19. The enterprise video communication platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams are witnessing an unprecedented growth as people are getting used to working from home and relying on their platforms for support. Zoom’s shares have increased by 12.25% as the company announced that user activity has increased from 200 million to 300 million in a matter of days.

The overall disruption in the IT industry has been relatively less as it has quickly adapted to the current conditions by enabling its employees to work remotely from their homes. IT companies like TCS has announced that it will change its operating model where most of its employees shall work remotely. The company has announced that by 2025, 75% of 4.5 lakh TCS employees shall work from home. Candidates have to keep an eye out for such changes and adapt to them in future. The IT industry is expected to weather the COVID-19 storm better and may even emerge with better growth prospects due to the impacts of the pandemic. Other industries have realized the necessity to adapt to virtual operating environments and may increase technology investments to move operations to cloud platforms and adapt ERP systems. This shall benefit both IT product and IT services companies. Candidates who would are considering roles such as IT Product Managers & Technology Consultants may find offers available in these domains.


One of the sectors that may perform well is the healthcare domain. Government spending for betterment of public health infrastructures is expected after lessons from the pandemic are learnt. Companies in the healthcare may emerge as successful and end up creating a lot of jobs.

Some of the companies that will be able to weather the storm are ones that have strong financials. Asian Paints is one such company and has given salary hikes to boost employee morale. Similarly, HCCB (Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages), a subsidiary of Coca-Cola’s has also given salary hikes. If candidates look out for such employers, they may find it easier to secure a job in a post pandemic scenario. Candidates with PSU background and experience in operations can target similar role in such companies if they wish to.

Consumer behaviour is expected to change in a significant manner due to the impact of the global pandemic. Accenture in one of its study lists the following as the major change that may come in consumer behaviour

  • Consumers attitudes, behaviours and purchasing habits are changing—and many of these new ways will remain post-pandemic.
  • While purchases are currently centred on the most basic needs, people are shopping more consciously, buying local and are embracing digital commerce.
  • To manage isolation, consumers are using digital to connect, learn and play—and they will continue to.
  • Moving forward, we will see an increase in the virtual workforce as more people work from home and enjoy doing so.

Most of the insights shared here resonate with the study. As a candidate you should keep an eye on how the pandemic will impact industry sectors and which would be the sectors that might end up benefiting due to the change in consumer spending habits. Job opportunities would definitely increase in these sectors. You can get more insights from the study by Accenture on how COVID-19 is affecting various sectors.

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