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Over the past week, I have received queries from both CCI members and IIM call getters(CA-Final candidates and others) about GD/PI tips for their MBA selection. Answering those queries brought me back to those days when I was looking(in vain) for simillar guidance. Hopefully this post should bring in some clarity on that issue.

So what makes CA(Final) candidates different from the general pool of MBA aspirants? They are sandwiched between BComs and CAs(completed). There are 3 differences to my mind (all in interview stage since GD stage is identical)

1) Colleges do not recognize articleship as equivalent to full time experience, for MBA selection purposes. So, the candidate needs to put that extra effort to bring that out without the help of recommendation letters etc which an employee could use.

2) Having to explain..why not CA. This is applicable for those whose articleship is pending, interviewers may helpfully  suggest that 'why not try next year after completing CA'/'if you want to do finance then CA is sufficient etc'. If the hapless candidate puts forth the view that 'CA is all about audit/tax/law/costing and does not equip oneself for Finance', then save him!. Even a well informed layperson will start citing examples of Rashesh Shah, Nilesh Shah, Deepak Parekh etc as examples. So this question should not be answered by stating 'better prospects' or badmouting CA. Instead, focus on the fact that MBA gives a more holistic picture, and that you can anyways complete CA after MBA

3) Expectations run high for corporate finance topics. Those not well acquainted with the CA education system often assume that a CA student should have A-Z knowledge of the markets/investments on his finger tips. This, as we know, is difficult. But, reading NCFM modules and a good business daily(Mint) can bring that general awareness which a layperson expects. Even Bschool professors may not realize that a student having exposure only to certain areas(say audit/tax) may be totally ignorant about other fields). By covering up the knowledge deficiencies, there will be no need to explain the basics of the CA education/training system to the interviewer.

4) Opportunity to highlight diverse strengths:- A MBA is seen to be more 'strategic' while CA has the image of being more operational focussed. By highlighting the articleship exposure, the CA Final candidate can highlight the understanding of business models, soft skills (getting work done from client staff!!), work ethics (18hr days during peak season). This could be the prelude to counter (2), that the MBA will actually complement CA(instead of being substitute)

Best of luck to the call getters. Some of the above could also apply to CA cleared candidates but not having first hand exposure to those interviews, I do not generalize.

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