My personal experiences on children’s college education

May is that time of the year when all parents of college going children have to figure out ways and means of arranging the fees for the upcoming semester, term or year in college, as the case may be. I have been in this situation for 6 years now and am likely to be in it for a few years more, given that I have two children.

Let me give a brief background for new readers here. My daughter Rinki has graduated from BITS Pilani, Hyderabad campus with BE in ENI. After her graduation in 2016, she had joined XLRI for their BM program and has now completed her course there. My son Ronju is doing a 5 year dual degree course from BITS Pilani, Goa campus in Msc Maths and BE Computer Science. He will graduate in 2019 from there. If you are interested in knowing more about the overall costs and how I arranged for the funds etc, you can read up several posts available in the blog under “Education” category.

In this post I particularly wanted to discuss about the overall costs of a college degree in BITS and the inflationary nature within the course. Unlike some colleges, which give you a total figure for the 4 or 5 year course when you join, BITS only talks of the first year costs and then increases it every year. They have been transparent to say that the fees can increase by up to 15 % a year and, more often than not, it actually increases by that much. Let me take the component of the Tuition fee and see how it increased during the time Rinki was in college :-

  • In her first year 2012-2013, Tuition fee was 70000 per semester or 1.4 lacs in the year.
  • In 2013-2014, it was 78000 per semester or 1.56 lacs for the year.
  • In 2014-2015, it was 89000 per semester or 1.78 lacs for the year.
  • In 2015-2016, it was 101000 per semester or 2.02 lacs for the year.
  • In 2016-2017 it was 113000 per semester or 2.26 lacs for the year.
  • In 2017-2018 it was 130000 per semester or 2.60 lacs for the year.
  • In 2018-2019 the proposed fees are 159000 per semester of 3.18 lacs for the year. This has led to a lot of student protests and BITS may be forced to reduce it somewhat now.

Now apart from these there were Admission fees, hostel fees, mess fees, personal expenses, travel, practice school fees etc. From my notes I can see that the total expenses for her college degree was approximately 12 lacs.

At XLRI the overall costs are in the range of 24 lacs and you can add another 2 lacs or so for travel etc. Therefore her total Education costs in college is about 38 lacs.

For my son Ronju the last 2 years of Rinki will be common. Beyond this the fees for the other 3 years are as follows:-

  • in 2016-2017, it was 1.13 lacs per semester or 2.26 lacs for the year.
  • In 2017-2018, it is 1.30 lacs per semester or 2.60 lacs for the year.
  • in 2018-2019 it will be 1.59 lacs per semester or 3.18 lacs for the year.

Therefore for Ronju’s graduation the overall costs will be in the range of 20 lacs or so. I have not thought about his PG yet, as he is not sure whether he wants to do one. However if it is from a good B school, it will be in the range of 28-30 lacs. Assuming this to be the case, his total costs of college education will be in the range of 50 lacs or so.

From the above data you will be getting a pretty good picture of the educational inflation too. In 5 years the tuition fees has increased from 1.4 lacs to 3 lacs. The other costs have also increased and as you can see, a 4 year course for BITS starting today will easily cost more than 22 lacs or so, all things considered. Just the Tuition fees will be 18 lacs or so.

How will this look if your child is starting college after 15 years? Well, at an inflation of 15 % the tuition fees alone will be 1.8 crores. I know this sounds fantastic, but remember just 10 years back the Tuition fees of BITS was 50000 a year and it has gone up more than 5 times.

I am happy to spend this amount on giving a good education to my children as it is going to be a huge competitive differentiating aspect. However, I was able to do so as I prepared for the same in terms of my planning. Even then the inflation was surprisingly high and I had to rejig some of my plans.

You need to work on your plans right now and put them in place.

Advertisements

My Management Consulting workshops – what and why?

For the last 3 years that I have been engaged in my Consultancy practice, I have often thought of doing this post. After all, it is a reasonably easy way to reach out to a large audience and explain to them as to what my workshops are, how are they different from standard ones and where all I have done them with what kind of success. This time, I am approaching my consultancy practise with more intent, so here I am now.

Even though in this online age people can easily find out about me, let me still start by giving a brief outline of myself.

  • BE in Computer Science & Engg from Jadavpur university, Kolkata in 1986.
  • PGDM from IIM Calcutta in 1988, with major in Marketing and Systems.
  • Overall experience of 29 years plus, 27 years in regular corporate roles and nearly 3 years now in my Consultancy practice.
  • I have worked almost entirely in the software services and BPO space.
  • Have worked as a CXO for 15 years plus, nearly half of this in 2 publicly listed companies.

I think that is enough of a summary – suffice it to say that I am completely familiar with all aspects of Software services industry and have led companies doing different kinds of businesses both in the product and services space. A question I am asked often is why did I not continue for another 8 years or so in the corporate role itself. My answer is simple – fortunately once my children went to college, I realised that my need for money was no more a driving factor, I wanted to share my expertise on a wider scale and finally, I had several other things to do for which I would not have time being a professional CEO.

Over the last few years I have done several interesting engagements – formulating an IT strategy for a large Kuwati conglomerate, acting as a CSO for a startup services company in the mobile apps area, creating a 5 year plan for a software products company, acting as the marketing leader for another software services company etc. In many of these opportunities, as well as in my regular corporate roles earlier, my consulting methodology has been to run specific workshops to start off the engagement. Change in organisations is a complex process and these workshops are a great starting point.

So what are these workshops that I run? While, I can share greater details only when some company expresses an interest, some generic features are as follows:-

  • Each workshop is specifically tailored for a company, based on their situation and the issues they are facing.
  • The efforts needed from my end are as follows:-
    • 1 day with top management to understand the situational context, expectations from the workshop and logistical details.
    • 2 days of preparations for planning and content creation.
    • 2 days of conducting the actual workshop, with targeted objectives/feedback.
    • 1 day of closing discussions with top management on the way forward.
  • Some of the workshops which I have conducted most frequently are:-
    • Formulating a strategic plan.
    • Formation of a 3 year or 5 year Business plan.
    • Creation of an annual plan.
    • Leadership development
    • Team building
    • Effective Sales management
    • Excellence in Customer service
    • Goal setting and performance management

I am currently looking at expanding the horizons of my Consultancy practice and want to take on more workshops in 2018 as compared to before. While I will reach out to companies directly, one of the thoughts I had was to write this post and reach out to the considerable network I have today.

You can help me by doing the following:-

  • If you are a person who decides on such workshops for your company or department, write to me directly and we will get talking.
  • If you can refer me to anyone either within or outside your company who might have a need for any of my workshops it will be great.

I can be reached at rajshekhar_roy@yahoo.co.uk through mail and also on LinkedIn and Facebook. Look forward to a lot of mutually beneficial interaction with people in my network.

Educational costs & inflation – A personal perspective

May is that time of the year when all parents of college going children have to figure out ways and means of arranging the fees for the upcoming semester, term or year in college, as the case may be. I have been in this situation for 5 years now and am likely to be in it for a few years more, given that I have two children.

Let me give a brief background for new readers here. My daughter Rinki has graduated from BITS Pilani, Hyderabad campus with BE in ENI. After her graduation in 2016, she has joined XLRI for their BM program and has now completed her first year there. My son Ronju is doing a 5 year dual degree course from BITS Pilani, Goa campus in Msc Maths and BE Computer Science. He will graduate in 2019 from there. If you are interested in knowing more about the overall costs and how I arranged for the funds etc, you can read up several posts available in the blog under “Education” category.

In this post I particularly wanted to discuss about the overall costs of a college degree in BITS and the inflationary nature within the course. Unlike some colleges, which give you a total figure for the 4 or 5 year course when you join, BITS only talks of the first year costs and then increases it every year. They have been transparent to say that the fees can increase by up to 15 % a year and, more often than not, it actually increases by that much. Let me take the component of the Tuition fee and see how it increased during the time Rinki was in college :-

  • In her first year 2012-2013, Tuition fee was 70000 per semester or 1.4 lacs in the year.
  • In 2013-2014, it was 78000 per semester or 1.56 lacs for the year.
  • In 2014-2015, it was 89000 per semester or 1.78 lacs for the year.
  • In 2015-2016, it was 101000 per semester or 2.02 lacs for the year.

Now apart from these there were Admission fees, hostel fees, mess fees, personal expenses, travel, practice school fees etc. From my notes I can see that the total expenses for her college degree was approximately 12 lacs.

At XLRI the overall costs are in the range of 24 lacs and you can add another 2 lacs or so for travel etc. Therefore her total Education costs in college is about 38 lacs.

For my son Ronju the last 2 years of Rinki will be common. Beyond this the fees for the other 3 years are as follows:-

  • in 2016-2017, it was 1.13 lacs per semester or 2.26 lacs for the year.
  • In 2017-2018, it is 1.30 lacs per semester or 2.60 lacs for the year.
  • in 2018-2019 it will be 1.5 lacs per semester or 3 lacs for the year.

Therefore for Ronju’s graduation the overall costs will be in the range of 20 lacs or so. I have not thought about his PG yet, as he is not sure whether he wants to do one. However if it is from a good B school, it will be in the range of 28-30 lacs. Assuming this to be the case, his total costs of college education will be in the range of 50 lacs or so.

From the above data you will be getting a pretty good picture of the educational inflation too. In 5 years the tuition fees has increased from 1.4 lacs to 3 lacs. The other costs have also increased and as you can see, a 4 year course for BITS starting today will easily cost more than 22 lacs or so, all things considered. Just the Tuition fees will be 13 lacs or so.

How will this look if your child is starting college after 15 years? Well, at an inflation of 15 % the tuition fees alone will be 1.8 crores. I know this sounds fantastic, but remember just 10 years back the Tuition fees of BITS was 50000 a year and it has gone up more than 5 times.

I am happy to spend this amount on giving a good education to my children as it is going to be a huge competitive differentiating aspect. However, I was able to do so as I prepared for the same in terms of my planning. Even then the inflation was surprisingly high and I had to rejig some of my plans.

You need to work on your plans right now and put them in place.

Investing for your children? Invest in them instead

I often get asked about how I was able to positively influence my children into focusing at the right areas as far as their academic careers go. In reality much of it has been done by themselves, though I have been a constant presence. More importantly, I think many parents try to emphasise on the financial part of the education by investing for their children, so that they can pursue a course of higher learning, when the time comes. While this is definitely very important, a much more important aspect, often neglected, is what are you doing to invest in your children?

Whether we like it or not, parents remain the single most important source of influence for their children, till pretty much the teen years, when their peer groups and friends take over the role. If you are able to guide them properly and instil the right values in them during the pre-teen period then you would have done something really good for them. The mind of a child is akin to a blank canvas in the first 6 years after birth and this is really the right time to influence them in the right manner.

So how does one go about doing it? Well, for starters, even without any effort on your side, you have already played a role by just being their biological parents. The genes you have passed onto them will determine to a degree, how they turn out to be in future. In many ways, they will inherit your good qualities and unfortunately, most of your poor ones too. While this is something, you cannot do much about, how you come across to them is going to play a large part in the creation of their value system.

It is important to understand here that children learn the most from observing things. If there is a contradiction between what a parent is saying and doing, the child will pick up the second. Therefore, it is pointless to pontificate on the virtues of punctuality if you do not go to office on time yourself or are unable to keep some appointment you have fixed with your family. Yet, this is precisely what I have seen many parents do, time and time again. One of the key areas for you to look at as a parent is to achieve consistency between what you say and what you do. This will instil a core value in your child – words are important to honour, and your credibility as a parent will also be on a good footing.

So, in very simple terms, be a living example for your child. Whatever attributes you want him to pick up such as good manners, usage of proper language, honouring your commitments etc, must be things he sees and observes in you with unfailing regularity. Falling short of the standards ourselves and then complaining that our children have not grown up to be like how we wanted them to is really meaningless. 

How can you play a role in personality development of your child? The problem is most parents try to focus on what career they want their children to have, rather than what kind of individual persons they should grow up to be. Focus on the process and the outcome will take care of itself. Give confidence to the child that he/she can attempt all that they want, it is all right to fail at times. Our role as parents is to guide, provide for and facilitate – leave the acting to themselves. Building the self esteem of the child is really the most critical aspect of their growing up and we must never forget this. So, be it in studies, sports, music, reading or any other activities, encourage the child to try out the best possible and do not be worried about the results.

Specific to academics many parents get very agitated if their children are not doing well in school in terms of the marks that they get. It is important to be ambitious for your children but, here again, focus on the process and not the outcome. Try to guide them into being interested in what they are learning, once they are keen on that their efforts will be automatic and the results will follow. For example, if they develop an interest in Maths they will do well in it at whichever level they study it. Unfortunately, way too often we focus on short cuts, not realising that even if this brings in some short term results, the effects of these are not going to be lasting.

At the end though, you also need to steer them in the right direction when they falter. This will inevitably occur in their teens, when they are confused and a little insecure about how fast their world is changing. As a parent, you need to help them focus on the important stuff. I keep reminding my children that while college life must be fun and they need to have their fair share of it, it is also a crucial stepping stone to their future careers – one that needs to be on a firm footing. I think I recognise the potential and capability of my children, it is important for me to point it out to them.

Of course, in terms of directly being involved in their academic careers, I have been so from their early school days and continue to do so to the extent possible even today. I have been able to do it as they have chosen streams where I have a great deal of knowledge. However, even if they had studied Medicine or Commerce, the basic principles would have remained the same.

To summarise, help your children to become better human beings and they will be successful in whatever they choose to do. Even if you have not got their college fees covered, they can always get an Education loan. The question really is whether they can secure admission to a good college – that is something you can play a role in.

Top B school salaries – What and Why

In one of my posts recently, I had touched upon the issue of salaries in the top IIMs and there were quite a few responses to it. Most of the responses were unfortunately not correct and some of them went the political way rather than a reasoned discussion. In this post let me try and address this issue in a more structured manner.

To begin with my top B schools will be as follows and this post is about these. There are several other good B schools but I am not talking about them here. In order of merit these are IIM ABC, IIML/XLRI/FMS, IIM KI / SP Jain / Bajaj etc. My focus in this post will be for IIM ABC as they are really what we are talking about.

So what companies come to these institutions and what salaries do they offer? Firstly we need to understand that there are several companies, specifically in the areas of Consulting and Investment banking to name a few, that come only to specific institutes and not to others. So if one is looking at an initial job in Boston Consulting Group ( BCG ) then it is almost impossible to get through unless you are in these institutes. Some companies like Accenture do go to several other Technology and Management institutes but they look for a different profile there and not Strategy roles.

Secondly, the top IIMs and other B schools get most of the top companies in the different areas. These companies come here for they are absolutely clear they will not get such quality of people anywhere else. If you look at the recruiters from these top companies, many of them have been Alumni of these institutes themselves, so it is very natural for them to pick people from their Alma Mater.

Thirdly for the people who debate as to whether a general candidate from a top IIM is actually one of the best that the country has, let me state what it really takes to get into a top IIM today:-

  • 95 % and above in X and XII board exams. These are normalised in case of IIM B, so getting 99 % etc in a weaker board will not help.
  • CGPA of 8 and above from a good Engineering college, 9 plus will be more like it.
  • 99.5 percentile and above in CAT. About 2 lac people take the exam so you will need to be in the top 1000 people.

The above is just to get a call, and rejection rates after that is also 80 % and more. So you can easily understand what we are talking about here.

So, given all this what are the salaries offered there? Let me give some data points rather than go by isolated figures:-

  • At the topmost tier will be jobs outside India where we get to hear of crores of Rs as salaries. These are very few in numbers and can be only secured by the top few people in every year. For all practical purposes these are statistical anomalies.
  • Highest domestic salaries are typically in the range of 50-60 lacs nowadays.
  • Average salaries are in the range of 20 lacs plus.
  • Median salaries are also in the range of 20 lacs plus – this means half the students in any batch ( 240 out of 480 ) get this salary.
  • The minimum salaries are still in the range of 10 lacs plus and this is normally for people in the reserved categories – even for these people the change in them is quite extraordinary once they go through the 2 year program.

Are these salaries justified? Well, ultimately all salaries are based on market demand and supply, so companies pay for the skills and potential of the people they are taking. The debate about others not getting the same salaries even after several years is not logical. An IT developer with 5 years experience will probably get about 10 lacs but the pressure and accountability he has to face in the job is significantly less compared to an MBA in the first 2 years of his career.

So if you are in the first 2-3 years of your working life and looking for doing something different, you can consider this as an option. Of course, you will need to be really good to get through a top B school.

In today’s India I do not think there are any better opportunities than this.

Is a B school education worth it?

March is that time of the year when B school fever is at it’s peak. Most of them have had their placement season’s, leaving some outgoing students ecstatic and others rather forlorn with the job options they have landed. Throughout the country, a lot of activities are going on with the new admissions. Finally, the first year students are looking forward to the summer internships – their first exposure to significant money in corporate world.

To several students and their parents, B school education is like a holy grail that promises a lucrative career like nothing else does. The type of admission seekers we have to the B schools can be roughly divided into the following categories:-

  1. Students just graduating from college who are looking forward to earning more qualifications that will lead to better job options.
  2. Young people in the first 1-2 years of their careers and not liking it much.
  3. People in their careers for 4 plus years who are not able to see much career growth in the future – this is especially true for IT professionals.

If we simply go by available data then there is no doubt that an MBA degree from a B school of pedigree will definitely help in terms of getting the kind of initial breaks like no other alternative. People in all 3 categories listed above will see significant benefits to their careers and exceptions are rarely there. However, there are a few caveats which these people will need to keep in mind:-

  1. Selection of the right set of B schools and your ability to get into one of these are important considerations. Remember, the top 20-30 B schools will give wings to your career, the rest may not be so hot.
  2. Irrespective of which B school you get admitted to, you have to evolve as a professional manager and present yourself well in corporate life, both at the time of interviews as well as thereafter.
  3. Learning is a lifelong activity, a good B school will set you on the path but you have to traverse it through your career.

So if we broadly agree on the efficacy of doing an MBA from a leading B school, the question is where do you do it from? Let me try to answer it by a ranking hierarchy I have for the B schools when I advise students and others who seek my counsel.

  • IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta.
  • IIM Lucknow, XLRI, FMS
  • IIM Kozhikode, IIM Indore, SP Jain, MDI, IIFT
  • IIT B schools, IIM Shillong, Other IIM’s
  • Newest IIM’s, Good private B schools

If you are able to get your MBA done from any of these you should be fine. Any other places can also be OK but then you are depending more on your ability as an individual to do well and not so much on the institution’s brand power to get you started.

How much will all this cost? Well, the figures can range from 10 lacs to 25 lacs for a 2 year education. FMS is the cheapest among the lot and XLRI is currently the most expensive. Fortunately, this is not too much of a problem as there are many banks which will give you loans covering the entire cost of education. The pay back will really not be a problem even if you are able to get a reasonable paying job and, for most people, the loan can be squared off in the first 3 years of their careers or so.

How much does one earn? The range can be quite wide and is obviously depend on which B school are you from. For the top B schools an average or median salary can be around 20 lacs per year in India. The highest domestic salaries can go upto 50 lacs or so and the salaries outside India can be 1 crore and above. More importantly, even the lowest salaries in a good B school will rarely be less than 10 lacs a year.

So, if you have the aptitude and the ability to get into one of the top notch B schools of the country, it is always a good idea to try for it. Remember, it is hugely competitive and ,unless you are blessed with the benefit of reservation, the elimination process is rather brutal. I was just in an IIMC panel the other day and we could recommend only 3 out of the 20 general category candidates we interviewed. This was after all of them had scored more than 99.5 percentile in CAT.

But that is life for you – to get the best you have to be the best too, more often than not.

Education loan – A personal case study

In the previous post I had outlined a plan that can be used for paying the Graduation expenses of a child through Education loan. Now, whether you are paying these expenses through invested money, current active income or through an Education loan, I am of the opinion that parents are responsible for the graduation expenses for the child. In effect this means, even if you take a loan, you should be paying it back and not the child. Of course, this will differ if the parent is economically weak, in which case it makes sense for the child to take care of the loan repayment once he/she gets a job.

When it comes to post graduation, my thoughts are quite different. I feel that children need to be responsible for their post graduation expenses and fund it through Education loans to be paid back when they start their working life. A second professional degree needs to be funded by the children as the purpose of it is to get a better career, after the first degree has been sponsored by their parents. Note that I am talking of expensive degrees such as an MS or an MBA here, not PG degrees from government universities that are relatively inexpensive even today.

When my daughter Rinki was looking at admissions to a good B school, she and I discussed extensively on these issues in order to figure out an optimal way in which we could do this. I will not go into details, if you are interested look up the posts in the “Education” category of my blog.She had been groomed in a way that she was quite prepared to take the loan on her own and pay it back in a reasonably short time. Her admission in the BM program in XLRI meant the costs would be 21 lacs for the 2 year course. Assuming another 1 lac for travel and personal expenses it meant an outlay of 22 lacs. While I wanted her to be responsible for this amount, I did not see much point in paying a huge amount of interest to the bank. Based on this, the plan we worked out was as follows:-

  • I will loan her the first year expenses and the second year will be funded by the bank. She will first pay off the bank loan to minimize the outgo of interest.
  • Repayment to me could be done later and would depend on factors like whether she wanted to do something on her own ( instead of a job) etc.
  • Based on this we got a 12 lacs loan sanctioned from the SBI branch at XLRI. The plan is to pay the loan in 5 years with the EMI being 25,173.
  • The loan is in her name, with her mother being the co-borrower. There is no collateral needed for the SBI scholar loan.

This plan is in motion now and I have arranged to pay the fees for the first two terms till now. I have also kept money aside for the third term fees that need to be paid in November. Though we have sanction for 12 lacs loan, we may not take the full amount – in case some surplus money is available next year, I may pay off part of the year 2 fees also.

If readers have any queries about the plan or anything about the loan, I will be happy to answer these.