GM vs Finance: You Guide to Making a Rational Choice

Originally published on 20th December, 2014.

It’s that time in your undergraduate studies as an Acer where you have to make a choice regarding your specialization. Whilst one may never understand why something as hot as Human Resource is not an option to specialize in, you are left with two options, either to choose General Management (GM) or Finance.

Although a layman at this point would probably suggest toppers to go with Finance and the rest of the pack to opt for GM, there are certain things you need to analyze before making a rational choice.

Understanding the composition of subjects.

Specialization 7th Semester 8th Semester
General Management Organizational Development Organization Analysis & Design Small Business Management Project Management
Finance Corporate Finance Decision Investment Decision International Finance Financial Markets & Institutions

General Management is like you can guess, more theory driven and is concerned with looking at organization as a system. You are required to look at it from an administrator’s point of view and through subjects like Organization Analysis & Design and Organizational Development; you’ll study concepts like organization structures, coordination and control, theories related to change management and so on. Small Business Management is basically a summary of everything you’ve studied till now, an integration of entrepreneurship and other subjects like Marketing, Human Resource, etc. Project management deals with concepts related to projects and how you can become a better project manager through the application of the concepts studied.

As for Finance, in Corporate Finance Decision (CFD), you’ll learn about investments from a corporation’s point of view like how you can better shareholder value. Investment Decision is just the opposite, where you’ll learn about concepts relating to an individual investor such as investing in stocks. International Finance deals with concepts like international trade and exchange rates whereas Financial Markets & Institutions relates to concepts like banks, stocks and bonds.

Apart from your specialization courses, both groups are required to study Strategic Management and Marketing courses as mandatory courses.

Some commonly held belief

  1.  Only toppers should opt for Finance: This is never the case. Or else, there would only be 4 people opting for finance: 2 from section A and 2 from section B.
  1. Choosing GM just to avoid having to deal with numbers: Yes, it’s true that you don’t have numerical in GM because it is all theory driven but be prepared for exactly the same- theories, theories and more of theories.
  1.   Not choosing Finance because Finance I and II didn’t go well as planned earlier: When asked, Prabigya Tuladhar from 2010 batch with Finance specialization says that this shouldn’t be an issue as the subject teachers will help you start from scratch if you have doubts with whatever you have learnt in the previous Finance classes.
  1. Choosing Finance because GM won’t avail you marks: This is not true at all. If you work hard, you can get an A in any subject. Saying it totally based on experience.
  1. Choosing one specialization because your best friend is doing the same: Big No! Please follow your personal interest. You can still be best friends.

On a personal account

On a personal level, I chose General Management for the following reasons:

  1. I wanted to avoid numbers: However when I look at it now, I feel that manipulation of numbers in business decision making is crucial. After having gone through GM’s content, I feel like I could have easily grasped those concepts through a friend if I really didn’t want to miss out.
  2. I wanted to be a rebel and break the notion that said toppers should study finance: No regrets if you look at it from just this point of view alone!
  3. Because most of us in our batch had a terrible time during Finance II: And so we had lost all interest in Finance. (This tells you how much impact a teacher can have on your life).

Looking back, I’d say the premises based on which I decided to opt for GM instead of Finance were weak. It’s very true when I tell you that the concepts that you’ll learn in GM are very general (well no real surprise given its GENERAL management) and you won’t really miss out on anything new if you don’t choose it as your specialization. On the other hand, based on my interactions with some of the Finance students of my class, you’ll learn new concepts about Finance but you’ll need to be actually present in Finance class to learn (because you know that once you miss the numbers game, it’s all downhill from there). The basic difference is that you can still cover up for topics under GM by going through them on your own but you can’t do the same with Finance.

Some reactions of students from both specializations

Roshan Gurung (Finance): “I knew we’d learn something new in Finance. Also what I thought at that moment was because we had limited experience working in organizations, we wouldn’t be able to grasp a lot relating it to real organizations. Basically whenever we talk about Finance, ‘money’ comes into the picture and that’s always exciting and hence I chose Finance.”

Jenish Manandhar (GM): “It’s not that I hated finance or was weak at it but based on my interest for Marketing, I thought I could relate it better with GM and so was the case when I look back. I went ahead with the notion that I’d hire an accountant to make up for not choosing Finance.”

Sange Sherpa (Finance): “I chose finance because I had interest in Finance. Looking back, there are no regrets because I learnt so many concepts about investment that I wasn’t aware of before.”

Shristi Mishra (GM): “I’d say it is always good to learn new things rather than repeating what you’ve already learnt. Stepping out of our comfort zone is the way to success but we chose the easy way out. Looking back, I believe we would have learnt a lot in Finance rather than in GM.”

My intent through this blog is to make you look at the options from all angles and then arrive at a decision. My personal suggestion is that if you’re willing to actually learn something new and not just study and repeat whatever you have already done before, you should definitely try Finance.

At the end of it, you have the final say and so you should but remember, whatever you choose to do, you are the master of your decision.

Good luck!

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