Is the bloom off the Private Equity rose for today's MBA students? An interesting phenomenon is emerging among recent B-school grads that suggests Asia, and not Wall Street, is the premier destination for newly minted MBAs. Business Week explored the trend a couple months ago in this article.
As the recent high-profile Asian IPOs would indicate, there is definitely opportunity to be found there. And the place did have a sort of Wild West energy to it the last time I was there (full disclosure: I haven't spent an appreciable amount of time in Asia since the mid-90s, and haven't been back to Hong Kong since before the changeover). But if I were at the beginning of my career, I'd damn sure be giving Asia a hard look.
And right now, Asia is where the career velocity and opportunity are. "This has never really happened before, except in little spurts, where you have a fairly large group of talented, recent MBAs asking for assignments in China, Vietnam, India," says Jeff Joerres, CEO of global staffing firm Manpower. Adds Richard Florida, professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management: "I don't think many of us thought Asia would become the destination for top Western talent-but it is."
Rogue investing guru Jim Rogers has been extolling the virtues of China for many years now, going so far as to move his whole family there and teaching his young daughters to speak Chinese. He laid out a convincing case in A Bull in China and has another book on Chinese investing about to hit the shelves.
India is another interesting opportunity. A tech savvy population, a growing middle class, and a government that has taken a more laissez-faire attitude toward business over the past two decades has built an environment where brave American MBAs can prosper.
The only trouble with being a pioneer is that you sometimes end up with arrows in your back. I'd love to hear from monkeys working in Asia right now. Is it the promised land? How about the monkeys thinking about Asia? What's the major appeal? Are you going to bolt to the East when you get your MBA?