IT Companies banning LUMS… does LUMS breed instabiltiy?

February 26, 2007 5:22 pm 23 comments

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I keep hearing about more and more that IT companies now starting to outright ban job applicants from LUMS. These companies include many notable firms, and while this is not a well coordinated effort between them (maybe it should be?) they are all independently saying they do this to put some pressure on the university to shape up.

What is the list of grievances these companies hold which results in this ban? Here is the top three.

#3 : LUMS graduates are no better at their work than any other university… but they expect 2 times the salary — (in other words, the LUMS brand is not worth its weight in gold)

#2 : LUMS graduates carry too much baggage with them — their egos prevent them from fitting in and actually being constructive in a firm

#1 : LUMS graduates are highly unstable.

This instability ranks at the top of grievances. They say LUMS grads never stick in any company longer than 4-5 months, and often feel that they are inherently better than the company that they work for.

Now, I haven’t met too many LUMS grads, but I do feel that LUMS as a university talks too much about some things and too little about others.

E.g., I suspect that LUMS and LUMS staff will emphasize too much the importance of being a LUMS graduate, rather than emphasizing the importance of being an engineer / MBA / etc. There is too little clarity on how business or IT careers work.

They emphasize too much that the grads should persue whatever “interests them” rather than emphasizing the importance of realizing one’s place in the global business ecosystem, and that it is a noble thing that the industry doesn’t take risks on “interesting things”.

The resulting instability is because (I think in my humble opinion) the typical LUMS graduate will think it is OK to make an impromptu decision that greatly impacts their company / business, and decide that the world will accept them anyway even if they do. The typical graduate will think mostly of himself, and not enough about growing together with the industry. The typical graduate will not be afraid of changing his career on just a few days or weeks’ worth of thinking, rather than realizing that change is always a phased out process.

I hope LUMS takes a good serious notice of this shift before it becomes an avalanche.

On a side note: I have also had the pleasure of meeting a few IBA graudates recently and I have been most impressed by the level of professional ethics demonstrated by them.

Comments Closed


  • Dio

    So true. Lahore School of Economics graduates are faring far better I hear.


    For the record, i totally agree!

  • Izhar

    Talk about comparing oranges with apples!! The author has provided a lovely comparison of LUMS IT i.e. BSc (Computer Science and Computer Engineerin) with IBA Business graduates. And then Mr. Dio adds to this argument by suggesting that LSE (not London School of Economics as one would’ve loved to believe) graduates are faring better. If you are talking about IT graduates then you might as well compare them with FAST, NUST, etc. Drawing comparisons with Business graduates is rather pathetic on your part.

    More importantly, the author has not quoted any statistic or for that matter named a single company that has banned LUMS IT graduates. From what I gather, all LUMnites from the class of BSc 2006 have amazing jobs in companies that include Microsoft, Siemens, Cisco, IBM, Netsol, Techlogix, etc.

  • You can not compare LSE grads with LUMS grads…and as far as other IT grads are concerned…what does IBA have to do with that???…IBA is famous for its MBA…not the IT thing…and as far as the LUMS MBA is concerned….the ego is justified…the pay demand is justified as well….You have to see the LEVEL you reach once you graduate from the MBA program from there….and I know IT graduates from LUMS who have gone on to work for Microsoft and Cisco…so they ARE competent…

  • I second what Izhar says!

  • nausheen

    This article grossly stereotypes LUMS graduates as mindless egomaniacs who just thrive on individualism without any rational thinking. Now, if we really were like that, do you actually think that we would ever get anywhere in life? These types of allegations are but whines on the part of those who might have observed a few odd incidents of job-hopping and have now attributed it to some generalized characteristic that every single person in a batch of 400-500 odd students is supposed to possess. Wow, that sounds believable.

    On another note, LUMS grads do expect higher pays simply because the standard of education and training that we receive speaks for itself. This is as much a rant against individualism as it is against LUMS graduates and only a LUMS grad can tell you how LUMS encourages you to strike a balance between individualism and seeking career growth and success.

    So please don’t try to grossly generalize across a population you don’t even know anything about. Will save us a lot of time and effort. Thanks.

  • Maria

    Comparing apples with oranges is indeed a grave mistake (See Izhar). What many other professional schools fail to recognize about LUMS BSc programme is that it is not training you for specific multinational or business careers – it is a liberal arts program which lays strong foundations to take on any challenge and potential future career. This can include teaching, copywriting, advertising, research, consultancy, social responsiblity jobs as well as marketing, management/operations, IT, finance and banking. The REAL ‘problem’ with LUMS graduates is that they have been taught to think out of the multinational and bank ‘box’ i.e. framework. True, initially most of them land with the typical run-of-the-mill kind of jobs, but their job-hopping is reflective of the dissatisfaction LUMS graduates face with these limited career patterns. Another big ‘problem’ is that LUMS liberal arts degree grounds a huge level of multi-tasking and multifarious skills that lead them more towards the jobs that are able to manage the ‘big-picture’ – or in other words bag the more value-added jobs. Who would’nt, if they could whip up financial and research reports with the same skill they can communicate, research and help channelize team energy!
    The ‘bitter’ fact for most employers is that LUMS graduates refuse to limit their career growth for the sake of companies. That is not the same as having no loyalty to the work or to the company. The other ‘bitter’ fact is that most LUMS graduates manage to find jobs even before they leave their old ones – a extremely worrying testimonial that there is a severe dearth of standard equivalent to LUMS education in the job market.

  • Rocky

    The statistical evidence provided to back up the three accusations against LUMS students is staggering!! Brilliant, well-rounded article that is completely free of any bitterness the author may have against LUMS or LUMS grads.

    Bravo, I say!


  • Wow interesting set of reactions.

    Note: I’ve deleted (read: Moderated) some comments above because we just dont want to be unobjective, nor digress from the topic.

    Now… I suppose you want a comment from me.

    OK, first lets notice that I’m not talking about the students’ IT prowess. I was pointing out their professional ethics.

    Professionalism is not a product of business school, yet is an important integral part of your college experience.

    Professionalism teaches people the importance of creating demonstratable value for the people you work with as a means of proving your worth; that there are likely to be much smarter people around you and it is important to respect their world views; that collective success is more valuable than individual success (japanese ethics) etc

    The few IBA graduates I have met demonstrated that — they believed in entering into one company at the bottom and proving their worth all the way to the top. Ofcourse that doesn’t mean all IBA students are like that.

    I also mention above that I haven’t met many LUMS students either. In fact I haven’t seen too much of #2 in the people I’ve met personally. However I just relayed the top 3 complaints I keep hearing.

    I would suggest (politely) that you all read through your comments.. I mean really study them! They demonstrate the precise refusal to fit into the real world that has IT companies shunning the students.

    Has it occured to you guys to consider that I am only a messenger of a trend — that it would be in your best (liberal arts minded) interests to not polarize yourself against me but to sit constructively and find a solution for the gaps so I could communicate them through this channel (blog)?

    I can also share another interesting tip: The people banning LUMS are also the people who say that they never see the same attitude or bad ethics from returning international students — most of the people who study in places like Stanford, Harvard, UTexas do not remind everyone around them of their “level”… they focus more on creating results that show that.

    Now, I dont want to mention any company’s name here for good professional sense, but suffice it to say that there is a shift away hiring LUMS grads to other places.

    You can either believe that, or live in denial. That choice, thankfully, is yours to make.

    Cheers, and keep commenting! Rants and counter rants are what makes the world go around (a look at Fox News will prove that)

  • Qazi

    Here are my two cents worth. i am a lead at a multinational and am frequently sitting in interviews. here is my observation.
    LUMS graduates demand a higher salary but the reason for not hiring is not the salary alone the fact is 80% LUMS graduate are coming in the market with a wish of going abroad within a year for Higher studies any company does not want to hire and train a resource at a higher price and see them go away just about time they are becoming productive for company. i agree that most LUMS graduate are in Microsoft Siemens etc. but look around how many LUMS graduate you find around you in IT industry of Pakistan doing an actualy Software Development or IT related operation. (I don’t see many but maybe i am not looking at right places ).
    Compared to hiring trends we see (I am speaking for pure software development and in my company only ) when i graduated there was a FAST trend in market (Lahore Market)which is now turning to PU Graduates and UET CS graduates.
    The reason maybe is that these graduates are more suitable for coding jobs and are ready to work up the ladder in a S/W organization and invest some time. where as a LUMS graduate wants a better pay and a better job with a management flavor and going out of country in couple of year which does not suit most organizations in Pakistan.

    Before you lash out at me :) i am a Masters Candidate At LUMS doing it part time with my Job and i agree that the faculty at LUMS is very well qualified and method of teaching is rigorous and of top quality. And most my comments are for a LUMS graduate not Masters as that is a completely different story.

  • Sumz

    I agree with most of the comments up here; yay ’06 :). Osama could you please name the company that is shifting ‘away’ from hiring LUMS IT grads. Most of us would love to hear about these companies. And some statistics too plzz??? Yes we CS majors are NOT trained for hard core programming work. Considering our diverse academic background we are most suited for analytical work; extracting requirements from clients act as the meeting point for the two sides of the IT industry. And please look at the growing number of international companies recruiting LUMS BSc grads: Microsoft, Cisco, Seimens, Mkinsey & Co. are just a few I can remember now.

    How can you say we are unstable?? That we have too much attitude? Or are Pakistani companies’ recruitment standards off track from these well renowned international companies?? If so maybe there is something wrong in the market!

  • Qazi,

    Those are some good points.

    You know our IT, Telecom, Media, Supply-oriented industries all need higher-end talent to make it more mature.

    We need more Usability Consultants — and I mean the really good ones, not just people promoting breadcrumbs. Without them the IT outsourcing industry is grossly missing out on a large chuck of the new web-software market.

    We need supply chain managers that wil disrupt the supply industry and implement lean methods.

    We severly need more Edge-Centric marketers and product designers who seek to improve the quality of life of our people.

    Finally, IT companies DESPERATELY need effective Business Analysts that can measure long term industrial trends and tranlate those to product requirements.

    The MOST IMPORTANT THING our fresh graudates need to remember is that the world doesn’t owe them a favor.

    Rather, because of their superior education and privileged experiences they owe it to the world to be the leaders and pioneers of improving the quality of life of their fellow man.

    However, how can we ever get those people without a large group of individuals who go through the trenches and shine through them? Whether it is coding, or architecture, or even more boring and useless jobs, 4-5 years of doing them with international clients will be enough to set a base for people to get into higher-value professions.

    This is similar to banks that expect their best to go through rough jobs the first 5 years, or MNCs that have tough management training programs.

    If any person — LUMS or otherwise — grauduates today and expects that the world owes them “an expeirence which is proportional to the superior quality of education” they have received and they “they deserve to leave in the first sign that the company doesn’t provide them that”, they are doing nothing but committing career suicide.

    They will never be able to gain enough insight on the trenches to successful disrupt and innovate businesses enough to make change.

    They will never be able to service the people who need their support.

    I wish everyone understood how important it is for Pakistan to do that at this vertex of time.

  • Sumz, maybe you mentioned the whole point here.

    Even if LUMS people think they are “above” coding type of work and are better suited as Business Analysts, it is foolish to hire a fresh grad as a BA (and I dont know of any companies that do that). No amount of education can make you a BA.

    You need to have hands-on experience with the IT needs of clients from the specific industry you are going to analyze — whether it is Textile, Pharma, Medical, Manufacturing, Telecom, Banking, Publishing, etc.

    The natural course of things becomes going through the trenches to understand the ins and outs of both the software value chain as well as they services industries. While in the trenches, you can orient yourself more towards BA roles and rise up accordingly.

    Maybe the trouble is what you mentioned – that LUMS students expect preferential treatment based on their education alone, and before they have actually had the time in the industry to prove their worth with results.

  • Temp

    I agree with Osama. A general trend for IT professionals is to go abroad – they are encouraged by the fact that they would get more than Rs. 200k+ per month so they decide that they have absolutely no reason to stay. You can’t compare that kind of pay to the 15k-25k IT jobs they have here (lots of IT jobs on Rozee offer less than 10k) – mind you at least 2-3 companies I have heard about demand at least 10 hours of work everyday 6 days a week. As a result they would want to get more education from abroad and get decent salary in some multinational – believe me, if you’ve spent lakhs studying from LUMS and FAST, getting a salary around 20k is crap (im talking about the IT industry ONLY) – and most end up with that kind of salary. That’s why you would see IT people from LUMS and FAST (im not sure about other universities) working at companies for a year or a bit more and then leaving for their masters…

    Unless Pakistani companies realize the potential of graduates here and offer them at least a comparable level of salary this trend is bound to continue. Even though I am quite optimistic, I don’t see this trend coming up within the next decade. More and more people are going to rant about the fact that good students don’t stay, and they’re gonna offer them lesser salaries…

    (I may have come up with another stereotype…. sorry :(

  • Mustafa Hamdani

    Agreeing with the ‘apples and oranges’ phenomenon, to which the author of this article has fallen prey to, I would like to add my observations as a CE major.

    As evident from the article you are talking from the perspective of a typical ‘Software Coding Job’. You must realise that this is just a single aspect of LUMS, you have taken the liberty of generalizing, labeling and branding the whole lot of students. LUMS produced 20% CS grads in 2006. And it wont be producing more than 2% or maybe 0% from 2007 onwards. so your problem is solved you dont need to ban them.

    Before talking about the boldly generalized statement “LUMS breeds instability”. Lets first talk about the instability in the software industry in Pakistan. Are the salaries competitive enough? Does it offer a good career path? Are the Pakistani based software houses paying enough to retain someone. Since you are a part of this business so you know the answer well enough.

    As far as some good software companies are concerned like Netsol, Techlogix etc. I can name dozens of LUMS grad working there and having no trouble. These companies are repeatedly coming to LUMS for recruitment.

    And when you question the competene/abillity of CS majors, then you need to have a look at the software competionts in FAST/GIK/LUMS, LUMS has been litterary sweeping all of them for the past six years or so.

    You may be partially correct if you say that LUMS people are not good coders. They are not as hardcore coding machines as FAST grads, but around 10 people went to Microsoft last year alone.

    You may have encountered an individual that may have not met your expectations but you have should have thought over before making this sweeping generalization.

  • Mustafa,

    The fact that a number of companies have all independently decided to ban graduates from LUMS shows that they dont feel that LUMS students are worth the salary or expectations they carry with them.

    It is because companies will only hire people for higher-end work once those people learn the ropes of business.

    Again, the people who study from Stanford, UTexas and the link come back to PK to create value here. Most of them (there are always exceptions) dont come back for the “package” or cars or houses etc.

    What companies keep seeing from these returning grads is that they are often humble, and very clearly understand how a company’s valuation is dependant on their personal efforts.

    They clearly understand that as the company’s valuation increases from their ideas or efforts, so will their own personal capital.

    Finally, they are not as afraid of coding — most great Architects and Directors getting 200k+ salaries in PK know that coding is just a necessary baseline activity that they may themselve have to indulge in or manage.

    Anyone, from any university, has a shot at high-value positions, as long as they truly do have value.

    As long as they truly do want to understand industries, business operations, how companies in their industries grow, how they valuate themselves or their employees, how engineering or marketing or business strategy or finance REALLY works — as long as they are passionate about their choice of career, they will not only succeed but will also find the most satisfying jobs in the market.

    Anyone who seeks Packages is already in the wrong career path.

    So again, you can either live in denial or you can take the time you are still in college to truly understand what your future employers and beneficiaries require from you

  • hira khalid

    I have read all the comments..people talking about ‘strenous curriculum in lums means higher salary’ and ‘experience translates into higher paying jobs eventually’.

    Osama writes, ‘the graduates from Stanford etc. understand that valuation increases from their ideas or efforts, and eventually their personal capital.’ So how can lums graduates get branded for instability? Since when did the world become to simple and black n white. Is it not common sense that any individual would want to earn more??? n are the higher salary job offers frm companies, which the ‘notorious lums graduate’ succumbs to, fake??

    let me remind you, ‘there is nothing like a free lunch’. Gaining work experience, skill and earning a higher salary arent necessarily mutually exclusive.

  • Before i start this post, i am a Lums BSc 2006 Computer Science Major, and at the moment im doing business development in one of the largest arabic sports websites in the world.

    Secondly, On your point:
    They emphasize too much that the grads should persue whatever “interests them” rather than emphasizing the importance of realizing one’s place in the global business ecosystem”
    Personally – i dont know about you – but im living my life to be a well rounded individual with the ability to critically think about anything and everything – to be a HUMAN – im not particularly fond of taking some predesignated place in the “global business ecosystem” in fact as far as my personal experience goes – you are either trained to follow – or trained to make your own path – you my friend honestly talk like your trained to follow.

    Thirdly – and this involves your entire article altogether.
    Im going to roughly quote my numerous philosophy teachers (one of the grandness of lums is that iv studied just about as much philosophy as computer science).

    “Without any concrete justifications to support your opinion my friend – your opinion, is exactly that – YOUR opinion. And in the circle of academic debate my friend – your Opinion, amounts to nothing more then voices carried on the wind”

    If you REALLY want your argument to have any weight at all – try to write something substantial – something beyond your opinion. And THEN my friend, we will go about having a constructive conversation in this regard.

  • Salman,

    The justification is what is already happening. I am a news reporter, not the instigator.

    A number of reputable IT companies have been telling me about their hiring programs and LUMS keeps coming up in their banned list. One of them (one of the top IT firms in Karachi) said they hired 4 LUMS people over the course of 8 months for consulting work and all of them demonstrated the same traits.

    I personally dont know if that firm conducted a thorough analysis of LUMS graduates all together — they made a decision to support their business. They decided to not bother with LUMS candidates. All I’m doing is reporting that.

    The interesting thing is — almost all of these commenters serve to prove the point against their own selves.

  • Sumayya

    I totally agree with you Salman!!!

    For this argument to go on please bring substantial names, facts and figures and RELIABLE unbiased sources before saying ÏT companies are banning LUMS IT grads. PLZ!!! I seriously don’t get why there is such a sweeping generalization.

  • Okay, first of all I totally agree with Salman. Secondly I would like to enlighten all of those out there who disagree with him.

    If you are saying Ego is bad then my friend you lack substance. If you are saying self worth is bad you lack personality. If you are saying aiming for something better is bad then you lack vision. And if you are saying that all of this is bad then you will become a mindless slave of the market. If you are ready to be exploited and are willing to facilitate the process then you belong in the era of the ‘British Raj’. Its not your fault that you think like this, it’s the fault of the education system that stops you from questioning the norms. We are the product of the neo colonial era and we feel proud to put the interest of the oppressor above our own. The IT industry in Pakistan has more serious problems than a few LUMS grads switching jobs. There is an IT boom all over the world and our companies are paying peanuts to their employees. If some one has spent 4 years studying hard for a degree then he should have some choice. After all it is his life and his future.

    If you occasionally run into a nut and he happens to be from LUMS then don’t be like the “BIG” (yet to be named) IT companies and label us all. There will be more jobs for us, and better ones too, but we cant choose our neighbors, so respect us and honor us as we respect and honor every one else.

    When and if a LUMS graduate leaves a job for a better job that means that some one has realized that he is worth some thing. That only goes to show that LUMS graduates deserve better. Can you see the link, because if you did, then it wouldn’t matter if some companies are banning LUMS graduates, then the title of this article would be “ ’BIG’ IT companies in Pakistan are exploiting fresh graduates, LUMS students are braving the challenge to fight for their right and the rights of others.”

    One last thing, if the guy who said that LUMS grads have plans of going for masters actually thought that masters is BAD then I would find it insulting to work for him. I work and I get paid, if don’t work I wont get paid, no one is doing any one any favors here. It’s not a fairy tale, it’s a ruthless world out there and it’s very man for him self, or every woman for her self for that matter. Don’t feed this poison to people that they start hating yet another thing. LUMS people don’t have big egos because they have MONEY to study in LUMS. You will be surprised to know how many people study there on student loans.

    Man you need to meet more people from LUMS and need to spend some time there to know what it is all about.
    Be safe

  • Foiuad

    I just read all the comments and i would just like to say tht being in the IEEE-LUMS student chapter, MOST of the leading IT related companies here in lahore and some from ISB have asked us to arrange for an exhibition for all of them to set up a stall to showcase wht they have done and are doing. They wanted the exhibition to be held before the registration for the next quarter began. The reasoning they gave us was tht the CS trend is goin down in the market and has ALMOST died in LUMS. and that they valued LUMS CS Graduates and wanted to somehow attract students from other majors, to CS. Now.. i wonder why did they approach LUMS if they were planning to actually BAN Luminites!!

  • Moe ASCIIker

    I agree with Cheema and everyone else that is offended by the swift generalization, reported by the author of the article. As a reporter, it is your duty to investigate and verify…if you fail this duty, you are merely spreading a rumor and that implies you are NOT a reporter.

    There is a lot more to this whole issue than is evident from a first glance. The whole way Pakistani companies go about with their business is appalling. IT is NOT just about coding or databases or outsourcing (I cringe every time I hear that word). If you really want to guide a company towards LONG TERM IT success, the focus has to be shifted to research and technology development. Maybe even mass market products and solutions. For crying out loud, IT is also about HARDWARE! Our companies have their heads buried so deep in software that they’ve almost completely ignored the research and development aspects of hardware.

    Some LUMS graduates seem to realize this (I hope!). And this realization aligns perfectly with their need for personal career growth. So they job hop…and keep hopping until they hit a job that pays according to the effort they put in. Microsoft has a strong R&D department and it would be an interesting mental exercise if you asked yourself why they hire LUMS graduates more than graduates from other Pakistani universities. For the record, they do not “ban” graduates from particular institutions; they interview EVERYONE from EVERYWHERE. No company could be so daft as to limit its options for hiring based solely on a stereotype…except maybe Pakistani companies, as suggested by the reporter.

    I can make an unsubstantiated generalization too. It will, however, be more believable. Here goes: workers from the subcontinent have a problem…they are willing to work a deadend job for long hours for peanuts and subcontinent employers have gotten used to it to the extent that they expect this level of “dedication” from everyone. Think about it. Its understandable and easy to demand professionalism…but your definition of professionalism is utopian. If a rational person is placed in a situation where professionalism is demanded for a job that pays peanuts, he/she would job hop like theres no tomorrow! Its a dog eat dog world and all those who have said “no one is doing anyone else a favor” are absolutely correct! Too bad other graduates don’t realize this and are willing to do CODING jobs for salaries that are meant for CODERS when they (the SOFTWARE ENGINEERING graduates AND the employers) should very well know that IT should be about R&D…but thats a whole other discussion.

    -Moe- (a disgruntled Bsc2005 LUMS graduate)

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