Managers for Tomorrow
THE B-SCHOOL UNIVERSE in India is very big – there are well over 300 institutes offering MBA degrees or PGDBM. But there is a strict pecking order among them. The Top 10 institutes tend to attract the best and brightest students in every batch as well as the best recruiters who come with offers to their campus. They also provide the best teachers, the best environment and act as a sort of finishing school for the best students in the country. In fact, I would say that this applies to the top two dozen institutes, though even within these, the first eight or nine institutes are considered the crème-de-la-crème. These institutes and their students are largely immune to the state of the economy in the country – they get multiple high compensation job offers whether the overall job market is doing great or not.
The next 50-odd are the mid-rung institutes – which attract reasonably good applicants, have good teachers and offer good facilities, and while they do not get the best offers from the best companies in the country, they do manage to get their graduates placed in reasonably good companies with respectable compensation packages. But here also, placements depend on the state of the economy and the job market – and a tight job market can mean a number of students in any batch remaining unemployed.
After this, things become a bit of a struggle for both students as well as institutes. While institutes have no problems getting enough students when the economy is booming, intake is often of poor quality. Equally, finding jobs for students passing out is often a struggle, and their degrees rarely help a student get a salary higher than he would have commanded as a simple graduate. They are largely teaching shops. Their problem is that even when they try to move up the rungs of the B-school hierarchy, they are trapped in a vicious cycle. The best students tend to drop a year and try again for a better institute rather than take up a seat in any of these colleges. Poor input only produces poor output – no matter how much effort the college might put in. Poor output makes recruiters wary of even going to the institute for hiring.
The other big problem that B-schools need to tackle – and this applies to the top B-schools as well as those lower down – is that too much of the teaching and orientation is still geared towards producing well-rounded managers for good companies in relatively stable industries. For too long, they have also depended on incremental improvements in their courses, instead of radical changes and experiments. But the advent of digital startups and the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the paradigms of businesses as well as the nature of the workplace. Perhaps it is time B-schools started thinking about producing students who can fit in the workplace and industries of tomorrow – not just the big organisations of today.