Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Today, we have a very special guest post by Medha Narang, an alumnus of the IIM-A PGP-FABM program, Batch of 2020, who has come forward to share her experience of pursuing the PGP FABM program at IIM-A. Based on the queries that were received on the blog, Medha has shared the details of the program, the electives offered, the placement opportunities available and she has also suggested which students are more suited for this program. Let's hear her out:
In Medha Narang's words:
About the Program
Post graduate program in Food and Agribusiness Management is a two-year residential program offered at IIM Ahmedabad pertaining to developing business acumen in agriculture, food and allied sectors. It has a world ranking of numero uno (Rank 1) among all global agribusiness management programs all global agribusiness management programs. This course aims at producing capable leaders of tomorrow in the fields of agribusiness, rural development and has a host of Alumni leading the way in making this an interesting space to watch out for.
Only 46 students are selected for this course and is one of the few courses with a selection rate of <0.03%. This course started in 1974 as Special Package in Agriculture (SPA) which then changed to Agribusiness Management (ABM) until 2015 after which it got its current name FABM. However, the program has not updated with courses pertaining to the food sector (other than one course).
Suitable Academic Backgrounds
Students with backgrounds pertaining to food and agriculture sector or with work experience in these fields are primarily given preference to join this 2-year program:
B Sc Agriculture
Other Allied Sectors
This is because peer learning is at the core of IIM-A’s pedagogy (case-based learning through classroom discussions) and students from these backgrounds can add value to the classroom learning process at IIM-A.
Electives & Courses
The first year of this program is common with the flagship PGP program. In the second year of this program, you have a list of electives to chose from ranging from value chain management to sales and distribution management in agriculture, from agriculture futures option and risk management to agriculture and food policy; basically supply chain, marketing, finance, policy courses from the lens of agriculture and allied sectors.
The basics for clearing any B-school interview essentially remain the same. Interviews are to assess if you can contribute a different perspective to the classroom discussion. That is why you need to be thoroughly prepared with the technical nuances of every subject taught during your undergrad. You may also be quizzed about a subject you topped in or performed poorly in since the interviewers also have your transcripts with them.
In case you have relevant work experience, they might ask you situation-based questions to check your understanding of the role that you do or the industry that you are in. The interviewers could also ask you your short term and long-term goals to check your fit for the course. One should be prepared for any surprises during the interview - your entire interview could be based on checking your practical understanding of one subject you may not even like (for me, it was Probability and Statistics).
Suggested Reading | Repository of IIM Interview Questions
One question you need to be very well prepared with is “Why FABM?” It is good to have clarity on that since it is not the general MBA program but a specialized one. People pursue their MBA to broaden their perspectives and gain understanding of the different aspects of business to hone their decision-making abilities. The FABM program, however, limits that perspective to agriculture and allied sectors only. Hence, you should join the course if you are keen on working in these sectors since the type of firms that come for placements are mainly from these sectors.
PGP and PGP-FABM placements happen separately, with very few common firms (mainly FMCGs). The firms that come for placements for IIM-A’s FABM program are the agri-startups, agriculture inputs, rural development, agri-commodity trading, food and agribusiness PE-VC. To name a few recruiters:
There is a huge pay disparity between the PGP and PGP-FABM placement offers despite the fees being the same for both programs. More details on the placement packages of the FABM 2019 Batch can be found here: Here's the CTC IIM-A FABM Students get during placements.
There are hardly any food FMCGs that come for placements. Reckitt Benckiser and General Mills are the firms that usually come for common placements. Hence, if you’re very sure of joining a food FMCG or an FMCG for the sales and marketing role, you should consider the general MBA programs of other IIMs. At IIM Lucknow’s ABM (agribusiness management program), the only difference is that placements for both PGP and ABM students are common, albeit with some firms preferring only PGP students. You can find the perspective of an IIM Lucknow ABM student here.
One of the major challenges that students from FABM face in the first year is coping up with academics. Since most students joining this course do not come from a strong math or economics or CA background, they find it difficult to cope up advanced level of math, economics and finance bombarded simultaneously across the 3 terms in the first year. People with work experience have been seen managing HR, marketing, operations courses well depending on their practical learning experience while working in organizations.
Added to this is the differentiation factor you might feel or be made to feel inside and outside classroom due to the high competitive spirit of the institute. Hence, it is advisable that one takes the preparatory course offered at IIM A before the first year begins and also equips oneself with the basics of accounting, economics, statistics to be able to grasp concepts faster in class.
Suggested Reading | 10 Skills to acquire before doing an MBA from the IIMs
For someone who is looking forward to making a mark in agribusiness or in the ag-tech space, banking sector (operating in rural or development sector), rising up the ladder in agri-inputs and allied sectors, this is a good program for you to join. People are the real gems of this two-year program. The people you interact with at IIM Ahmedabad add a lot of value to your own understanding and that helps you build perspective, which is essential in your journey of becoming capable leaders of tomorrow.
So, this was a unique perspective for you brought out by Medha Narang, to whom we are really grateful for sharing her experience. An immense amount of gratitude for her to take out time and pen down these precious thoughts.
On a side note, I also checked with Medha about the percentile required in CAT to get admission in this program. Though, there is no hard and fast rule, 95+ percentile was suggested by her to be a safe target with 30/30 composite score in 10th, 12th and graduation.
Hope you got to learn something new about the PGP-FABM program. If you have any other queries like these, please feel free to write to me on the blog or on any of the social media handles. Would be happy to get you in touch with the right people.
Some useful readings: