From Elite to Evolved

Learn­ing has soared to new heights across top B- schools, em­brac­ing a world view that is holis­tic.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - BY SONAL KHETARPAL

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Learn­ing has soared to new heights across top B-schools, em­brac­ing a world view that is holis­tic

Karan (name changed), a stu­dent of the 2017 batch of the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Ahmed­abad (IIMA), had a pre-place­ment of­fer from an FMCG ma­jor after do­ing sum­mer in­tern­ship with the com­pany. How­ever, he ap­plied to four more com­pa­nies – most of them in the con­sult­ing space – dur­ing the fi­nal place­ments in February. “I wanted to ex­plore op­tions in both FMCG and con­sult­ing ,” he says. He even­tu­ally opted for the ini­tial of­fer, con­vinced that con­sult­ing wasn’t his cup of tea. The free­dom to choose and ex­plore job op­por­tu­ni­ties, says Karan, dif­fer­en­ti­ates IIMA from other B-schools.

Many man­age­ment schools don't al­low stu­dents to ap­pear for job in­ter­views on the cam­pus after ac­cept­ing an of­fer by a re­cruiter. This be­comes quite re­stric­tive for stu­dents if a pre­ferred re­cruiter comes for hir­ing later in the place­ment process, ex­plains Nalin Gupta, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the Stu­dent Coun­cil (2017), IIMA. The con­cept gets a big thumbs up from stu­dents as it gives them the free­dom to get placed in firms of their choice. In 2017, 100 com­pa­nies vis­ited the cam­pus – Ama­zon, McKin­sey & Com­pany, Gold­man Sachs and PwC were top re­cruiters.

Not sur­pris­ingly, IIMA tops our rank­ings for the sixth suc­ces­sive year. The oth­ers in the top five in­clude the In­dian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Cal­cutta (IIMC), XLRI Jamshed­pur, S. P. Jain In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment & Re­search (SPJIMR) and Man­age­ment De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (MDI) Gu­ru­gram.

These in­sti­tutes are con­stantly rais­ing the bar in man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion, blazing a trail for oth­ers.

It is of­ten not just fi­nal place­ments that set apart the top B-schools. Of­ten these in­sti­tutes strate­gise to en­sure their stu­dents get job of­fers even be­fore the ses­sion ends. About 40 per cent of SPJIMR'S 2017 batch had a pre­place­ment of­fer, says its Dean Ran­jan Ban­er­jee. There was a good rea­son for this phe­nom­e­non, ac­cord­ing to Ankur Bansal, Head of Place­ment Com­mit­tee, Class of 2017. In­stead of sum­mer in­tern­ship, SPJIMR of­fers au­tumn in­tern­ship in Septem­ber.

This means that stu­dents start their in­tern­ship a good three-four months after study­ing their spe­cial­i­sa­tion sub­jects in the sec­ond

year. “This way they are bet­ter poised to ap­ply their class­room knowl­edge in a real world set­ting. Due to this the pro­ject de­liv­er­ables im­prove and the chances of com­pa­nies giv­ing a pre-place­ment of­fer are much higher,” he says. The high­est salary on the cam­pus was a record `39.5 lakh per an­num and the av­er­age salary shot up to `20.9 lakh, up from `19.3 lakh last year.

WHAT IT TAKES: To get the best re­cruiters, in­sti­tutes have to hone the skills of their stu­dents. The world is com­pet­i­tive not only for stu­dents but also for in­sti­tu­tions and so there is a lot of fo­cus on qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, says C. P. Shri­mali, Act­ing Direc­tor, MDI Gu­ru­gram. “The qual­ity is im­proved by get­ting in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tions, pub­lish­ing orig­i­nal re­search papers, us­ing state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy in class­rooms and teach­ing in­no­va­tions.”

Dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy and a con­stantly chang­ing world is also trans­form­ing how or­gan­i­sa­tions work. It is push­ing com­pa­nies to look for peo­ple who are able to han­dle un­cer­tain­ties, have a wider per­spec­tive and are lead­ers and not just man­agers. This has led the top flight man­age­ment in­sti­tutes to not only have a relook at their curriculum but also in­no­vate on course de­liv­ery. In line with the re­cent and emerg­ing trends in the in­dus­try, XLRI has in­tro­duced a com­pul­sory course on ‘In­tro­duc­tion to Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and Cor­po­rate Sus­tain­abil­ity’, along with sev­eral

elec­tives in strat­egy such as ‘Busi­ness at the Bot­tom of the Pyra­mid’, ‘Re­source Based Strat­egy’ and ‘Trans­for­ma­tion for Sus­tain­able Su­pe­rior Per­for­mance’. “Our in­tent is to help shape re­spon­si­ble busi­ness lead­ers who would also con­trib­ute in cre­at­ing a more sus­tain­able and eq­ui­table world,” says Sunil Varugh­ese, Chief Brand & Sus­tain­abil­ity Of­fi­cer at XLRI.

IIMA also has cut back on tra­di­tional pro­grammes in fi­nance, op­er­a­tions and mar­ket­ing and is re­vamp­ing curriculum. Its Post Grad­u­ate Pro­gramme (PGP) now has cour­ses on en­trepreneur­ship, en­vi­ron­ment sus­tain­abil­ity and de­sign think­ing. Till last year, cour­ses on en­trepreneur­ship and de­sign­ing were elec­tives.

These curriculum changes are a con­scious ef­fort on the part of these schools to be on top of the emerg­ing in­dus­try trends. “Mod­i­fy­ing curriculum is a con­tin­u­ous process as elec­tive of­fer­ings change ev­ery year. Ma­jor curriculum re­view is also taken up ev­ery few years to up­date the com­pul­sory cour­ses. In fact 20 per cent of the curriculum con­tent is new ev­ery year,” says Ut­tam Ku­mar Sarkar, Dean – New Ini­tia­tives and Ex­ter­nal Re­la­tions, IIM Cal­cutta. To meet the in­creas­ing de­mand for man­agers with ex­po­sure to niche ar­eas, IIM Cal­cutta started a PGP for Busi­ness An­a­lyt­ics with a batch of 51 stu­dents in 2015-17. “We were won­der­ing about the re­cruiters re­sponse but on the sec­ond day of open­ing place­ments all got hired,” says Sarkar. The av­er­age an­nual do­mes­tic com­pen­sa­tion for these stu­dents was `17.14 lakh with the high­est pack­age at a whop­ping `33.67 lakh.

STRESS ON VAL­UES: It is not just skills and knowl­edge that are im­por­tant but com­pa­nies are also look­ing at the right per­son­al­ity fit and emo­tional quo­tient of the in­di­vid­ual. At SPJIMR ev­ery stu­dent has to do a com­pul­sory five-week in­tern­ship in de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes and projects in the non-profit sec­tor as a part of its com­pul­sory De­vel­op­ment of Cor­po­rate Cit­i­zen­ship (DoCC) course. Also, in the first year, the MBA stu­dent has to men­tor bright, un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren from the neigh­bour­ing schools as a part of the course’s Ab­hyu­daya year-long men­tor­ship pro­gramme.

XLRI has also in­tro­duced a core course on ‘Man­age­rial Ethics’. Mil­len­ni­als to­day don’t work just

for a pay­check but also look for mean­ing in their work. To con­nect with the new gen­er­a­tion, XLRI changed its mis­sion state­ment to ‘For the Greater Good’. XLRI also has an Ethics Re­search Cen­tre and a Fa­ther Ar­rupe Cen­tre for Ex­cel­lence to pro­mote hu­man val­ues. “It is ethics and cul­ture that have kept XLRI at the top be­cause then stu­dents bring to ta­ble more than just hard skills. It is this eth­i­cal ap­proach that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rel­e­vant in to­day’s busi­ness world,” says Varugh­ese.

FAC­ULTY FEED­BACK: The holis­tic de­vel­op­ment of the fu­ture lead­ers at man­age­ment schools can­not hap­pen un­less there is a strong fo­cus on ped­a­gogy. For that to hap­pen, it is im­por­tant that there is con­stant feed­back be­tween fac­ulty mem­bers. At MDI Gu­ru­gram, ev­ery year there is a two days re­treat for fac­ulty mem­bers where they par­tic­i­pate in a brain­storm­ing ses­sion on the chang­ing man­age­ment land­scape and sug­gest changes to the curriculum.

“The idea is to make the in­sti­tute fac­ulty cen­tric and not leader cen­tric. It gives the fac­ulty a voice and they do all the chin­tan and man­than of the changes they want to see in the class­rooms,” says Shri­mali. He says that, within a year of re­ceiv­ing feed­back from fac­ulty and in­dus­try part­ners they are plan­ning to lauch two cour­ses: De­ci­sion Mak­ing in Un­cer­tainty and De­sign Think­ing.

At SPJIMR, there is a weekly fac­ulty meet to dis­cuss new in­no­va­tions in curriculum and course de­liv­ery. This also al­lows them to in­tro­duce cour­ses faster in the class­room. For in­stance, the in­sti­tute was able to con­cep­tu­alise a course in Liberal Arts in Septem­ber 2016 and are of­fer­ing it to their cur­rent batch. They also have a teach­ing panel of nine fac­ulty mem­bers. Here, each mem­ber gets an op­por­tu­nity to teach the other eight. “The ra­tio­nale is to get teach­ing feed­back and share best prac­tices on course de­liv­ery,” says Ban­er­jee.

As out of the class­room and ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing be­comes an in­te­gral part of the curriculum, schools are ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent ped­a­gogic styles. At XLRI, the course Strat­egy Im­ple­men­ta­tion is taught par­tially through games. Also, the "In­te­grated Course" in the Gen­eral Man­age­ment

Pro­gramme was taught with five fac­ulty mem­bers to­gether to bring mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives to the class­room. Then, a lot of cour­ses are taken by in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als to bring in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence to the class­room. At MDI, at least 10 per cent of each mo­d­ule is taken up by in­dus­try prac­ti­tion­ers to help bridge the gap be­tween the­ory and prac­tice.

GO­ING GLOBAL : In an in­ter­con­nected world, in­sti­tutes have to bring global ex­per­tise to their school. “In the last five-six years we have been ag­gres­sively im­prov­ing our brand pres­ence in the in­ter­na­tional arena,” says Sarkar of IIMC.

One way has been through ac­cred­i­ta­tions. IIMC is the only man­age­ment in­sti­tute of the coun­try with triple ac­cred­i­ta­tions – by As­so­ci­a­tion to Ad­vance Col­le­giate Schools of Busi­ness, As­so­ci­a­tion of MBAs and EQUIS, the three ma­jor in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion bod­ies for busi­ness schools and has en­tered the Triple Crowned Club. “There are only 78 in­sti­tutes in the world who have all three ac­cred­i­ta­tions and we are one of them,” he says. An­other mile­stone is their part­ner­ship with CEMS, a global al­liance of 30 premier busi­ness schools from across the world.

IIMC is the only In­dian mem­ber of this al­liance of lead­ing global busi­ness schools and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions.

It also has tied up with 80 foreign man­age­ment in­sti­tutes from which they get 100 foreign stu­dents in a year and around the same num­ber go to foreign schools where they stay for one term. “This also helps to be recog­nised in global land­scape where the de­gree gets recog­nised in those coun­tries and also helps stu­dents get place­ments there,” says Sarkar.

IIMA also part­ners with 82 foreign B-schools for stu­dent ex­change pro­grammes. 153 stu­dents went to foreign uni­ver­si­ties and 90 stu­dents came to IIMA through such pro­grammes.

This is in line with the at­tempt of the B-school to bring greater di­ver­sity to class­rooms.

Mean­while, these top schools are also try­ing to bring in stu­dents with non-en­gi­neer­ing back­ground and more women in classes.

At IIMA, in­take of sci­ence stu­dents in­creased from 12 in 2014/15 to 23 in 2016/17 while num­ber of com­merce stu­dents rose from 23 to 48.

IIMC has 30 per cent women in class­rooms, up from about 15 per cent five years back, says Sarkar. “It is still not 50-50 but is a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from be­fore.”

The top B-schools in In­dia are mak­ing their pres­ence felt in the lo­cal and global man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion land­scape.

And this may just be the be­gin­ning. ~

B- schools are bring­ing di­ver­sity to their class­rooms. They are part­ner­ing with foreign in­sti­tutes for ex­change pro­grammes and se­lect­ing more non- engi­neers and women

C . P. S H R I M A L I Act­ing Direc­tor, MDI Gu­ru­gram “Qual­ity is im­proved by get­ting in­ter­na­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tions, pub­lish­ing re­search papers, us­ing state- of- the- art tech­nol­ogy in class­rooms and teach­ing in­no­va­tions.”

UT­TAM KU­MAR SARKAR Dean, New Ini­tia­tives and Ex­ter­nal Re­la­tions, IIM Cal­cutta “Ma­jor curriculum re­view is taken up ev­ery few years ... in fact, 20 per cent curriculum con­tent is new ev­ery year at our school"

DRRANJAN BAN­ER­JEE Dean, SPJIMR “We get feed­back from fac­ulty mem­bers. The ra­tio­nale is to get teach­ers to share the best prac­tices on course de­liv­ery."

In an in­ter­con­nected world, in­sti­tutes have to bring global ex­per­tise to their school

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