India's Best Business Schools Beyond IIMs

India's Best Business Schools Beyond IIMs

Interview

Dr. Preeti Shroff
Professor and Dean, MICA – The School of Ideas

"MICA Values And Strives For Adaptability And Unlearning"

MICA is one of the top ranked institutes in India when it comes to business studies. What qualities do you value the most while selecting the candidates?
MICA – The School of Ideas recognises intellectual abilities, emotional intelligence, management creativity, cultural diversity, professional experiences and the uniqueness of each candidate. We also invest in the incoming cohort to nurture a community of unique individuals and build on their strengths. The MICAT test assesses aptitude for analytical, critical and creative thinking to focus on learning at the convergence of the left and right brains. The multiple intelligence approach to management and creativity education at MICA is rooted in knowledge and sensitivity towards different cultures, adaptability and openness.

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MICA emphasises learning and unlearning for creative change management in a digitally enabled world as the most important traits, and we seek these qualities in our students apart from their academic achievements. To ensure that we admit the right cohort of committed students at MICA, the uniquely designed MICAT entrance test emphasises three dimensions – psychometric test, descriptive test and divergent and convergent thinking test. We strive to develop our students into creative managers, global citizens and digital industry leaders.

Diversity and inclusion learning is the key to nurturing transformative leaders. Artificial intelligence, data analytics, digital transformation and communications management learning is combined with awareness in gender dynamics, identity politics, societal issues in organisations and across cultures. Apart from curriculum and workshops, our campus life is designed for deep interactions for students from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds. Campus-based committees, cultural festivals and corporate competitions further facilitate such interactions.

In the current market situation how have the placement opportunities been impacted for deserving candidates?

The pandemic has affected the entire world and hence it has definitely affected placements at top B Schools too. There was an obvious distress among the students as well as the placement committee at MICA too during the initial phase of the pandemic as many companies themselves were in a dilemma due to the unpredictability of the lockdown. However, MICA was able to achieve 100 per cent placement for our PGP batch of 2018-2020. The number of participating companies also increased in this year from 78 to 88. The situation has changed now. We are seeing an increase in hiring in sectors like digital industries, business analytics, banking and insurance, digital media and entertainment management, amongst others.

We have mainstreamed data analytics, story-telling, entrepreneurship and creative problem-solving learning to equip all MICA graduates with knowledge and skills relevant for the post-pandemic and digital transformation era. As mentioned before, MICA values and strives for adaptability and unlearning. This goes for students, faculty, as well as the staff of MICA. I believe the culture of transformational leadership and change management qualities resulted in achieving 100 per cent placement at MICA as also maintain the salary package offers made to MICAns in the previous years, and continue to increase average and highest salary.

What skill-sets are most in demand in the corporate world and how does your institute prepare candidates to acquire such skills?

Digital intelligence, transformational management, business analytics, story-telling, global governance and leadership, strategic thinking, brand management, creative problemsolving, cultural insights and strategic communications are the key skills employers across sectors are looking for in their employees. MICA curriculum keeps evolving with the able guidance of global advisory groups, academic and industry experts, alumni and industry leaders. We have developed innovative digital and online learning modalities to incorporate pre-recorded videos from course instructors, live sessions in small groups and online engagement with global subject experts.

We are also exploring gamification and student-driven pedagogical innovations. MICA has established five centres of excellence for global research, collaborations and learning: CREM: Center for Research Excellence in Marketing, SCRM: Center for Sales and Customer Relationship Management, CLIP: Center for Learning Innovations and Pedagogy, CMEM: Center for sSudies in Media and Entertainment Management and CDMC: Center for Development Management and Communications. As a part of the PGP curriculum, MICA also offers immersion programmes, which provide industry and international exposure to students.

Following are the five immersion programs offered at MICA.

1. MI-IMPACT: This provides real-world self-learning opportunities to young professionals of MICA (YPMs) in the form of student-driven, faculty-mentored, client-focused, problem-solving projects (PSPs). The desired experiential learning of YPMs includes leadership (influencing people), real-world problemsolving (converting ideas into action) and research methods (real-world impact measurement). The MI-IMPACT programme includes classroom courses as well as real-world PSPs.
2. Rural Immersion: This is a two-credit course based on experiential learning pedagogy. Rural immersion is an opportunity for the students to work in groups with an organisation operating in the rural area for a mandatory duration of two weeks. Students are expected to carry out an ethnographic study along with the project assigned by the partner organisation.
3. International Immersion: MICA offers a thoughtfully designed two-week international immersion programme in the second year of PGP at the end of the fourth term in the month of September. The main aim of this optional programme is to provide an opportunity for students to broaden their horizons and develop a holistic global perspective. Students benefit through learning from international faculty and peers that prepare them for a career in the globalised world.
4. Entrepreneurship Immersion: This is designed to provide students hands-on exposure to the world of entrepreneurship and start-ups. The programme spans across all six terms, wherein the students either work on their idea or choose to work with one start-up from various high-quality start-ups that will be introduced by iHub – Gujarat Student Start-Up and Innovation Hub, an initiative of the Government of Gujarat.
5. Industry Internships: Apart from immersion programs, MICA also considers the feedback of students from companies they have worked with for their internships. MICA also has industry connects and have identified industry experts to serve on department-specific advisory boards. MICA governing council members are senior leaders who provide critical insights and guidance.

Starting this year, we are also focusing on enhancing academic and research rigour, improvement in analytical skills and critical thinking for all MICAns. MICA has added three new initiatives to the PGP curriculum:

1. Passion Theme : Focused Dissertation: Dissertation earlier was a four-month long optional project which is now an ongoing two-year long research project under the guidance of academic supervisors. This will develop deep research, writing and analytical skills for the students.
2. Connect the Dots : MICAns take multiple courses in different areas, subjects and fields across multiple academic terms. Connect the Dots is a new end of term initiative for PGP 1 and PGP 2 students at MICA. This initiative provides an opportunity for the students to analyse, assess and work on real-life industry problems provided by industry mentors, and address these by utilising their classroom learnings from across the subjects. The students are required to submit a 5-7 minute video to address the problem statement shared by external mentors – MICA’s industry and alumni network members.
3. MICA Comprehensive Competency : Assessment: MICA is developing a new annual assessment initiative which will be an annual mapping of the students’ understanding of the various concepts across courses. The initiative to add this assessment test has been taken up to inculcate and integrate deep thinking capacity and concepts’ integration across disciplines by all MICAns.

What options are available for MBA aspirants when it comes to obtain scholarships? How to best fund an MBA programme?

Most top tier business school students take education loans and management institutions also provide selected scholarships for it students. MICA awards scholarships annually based on the students’ overall academic performance and family income background. The scholarships are awarded to students currently pursuing studies at MICA and benefit students of the two-year programmes – the Post Graduate Diploma in Management (Communications) and Post Graduate Diploma in Management. Also, the one-year Post Graduate Certificate Programme in Crafting Creative Communications (CCC) provides selected scholarships.

MICA’s doctoral level programme, FPM, is fully funded by MICA for four years’ study including international immersion. MICA has signed an MOU with RSPL Welfare Foundation (RWF) wherein the RSPL Welfare Foundation provides scholarships to the second-year students of PGDM(C) and PGDM programmes at MICA based on merit and means. The scholarship given by the RWF is known as the Poonam Gyanchandani Memorial Scholarship. This will be over and above the annual MICA scholarships.

What would be your advice to MBA aspirants who wants to get admission into a top-ranking MBA institute?

The very first advice for MBA aspirants would be to research various institutes and the offerings by these institutes to understand industry and management learning positioning and priorities. Students should also spend time in identifying their own key skills and aspirations for the future. This will help them select the specialisations that they should pursue. Every institute has few special offerings, or are specially recognised for excellence in some fields. Students should select the relevant schools while applying for MBAs and prepare for the exams accordingly. Also, look for faculty experiences and exposure to cutting-edge subjects. Almost all business schools organise webinars and publish about their offerings and expectations for their students.

These webinars are free to attend and provide you with details regarding the programmes offered by these institutes. They should also look into the blogs and articles available on and by the B Schools on the process of selection and admission of candidates and how to prepare for these entrance tests. When possible, connect with the alumni who have so much knowledge of these institutes and campus learning experiences. In the end, my advice would be to carefully assess personal passion, aptitude, strengths and relevant schools. They should identify multiple schools which are best suited for them and prepare specifically for the targeted schools.

 

Interview

Karun Tadepalli
CEO and Co-Founder, byteXL

"It Is Very Important To Focus On Upskilling"

What sort of IT skills are in high demand for MBA graduates?

Here are the essential IT skills for MBA graduates:
•  Level 1: Database, understanding the data through analytics.
•  Level 2: Machine learning.
•  Level 3: Artificial intelligence (AI).

Data, analytics and reporting are the key components of any company in the 21st century. Once we have these three we can generate any kind of learning or simulation patterns in artificial intelligence (AI). In order to save this huge chunk of data, cloud came into existence and reduced the costs of the infrastructure. And it is up to the algorithms and applications to try and understand and solve the problems we are facing.

Why are IT skills important in the corporate world?

In the current world every industry needs IT skills and companies rely heavily on deployment of technology. For example, a car manufacturing company like Tesla became a technology company. Similarly, movies, TV shows and other entertainment programmes are created, produced and delivered through technology platforms and by technology companies like Netflix, Amazon, etc. Retail stores today have become digital and need IT skills. Such skills are required to develop a digital platform for something as simple as the website of a company to complex solutions that use Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and blockchain. Primarily, in any consumer interacting businesses (D2C or B2B), it is very important to get customer feedback.

What is the best way to acquire ‘in demand IT skills’?

The current wave of digitisation and automation has been enhanced during the pandemic and ushered in many irreversible changes to stay in sync and continue businesses during these unpredictable times. In addition to the traditional model of acquiring skills and knowledge in colleges and universities, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of education technology companies which provide the opportunity to learn any new skills, get professional certifications and real-time experience through simulated environments created by platforms like byteXL virtually from anywhere in the world. Even the best universities in the world are offering online courses and certifications.

Why is upskilling important in the current work environment?

During a time of continuous evolution of emerging technologies and speed with which these technologies are being adopted it is very important to focus on upskilling. All the big corporates along with start-ups globally have already sensed a huge need for learning and development and have started leveraging technology interfaces to upskill the workforce of the world. This has given an opportunity for the education technology sector to provide upskilling opportunities through platforms like Udemy, Course Era, byteXL, etc.

What is your advice to MBA graduates with reference to acquiring IT skills?

Technology and learning are the two important aspects that graduates need to consider. This is not just limited to fresh graduates’ skilling, reskilling or upskilling but should be a continuous process in every stage of life. It is very important to understand the trends in the market and what the in-demand IT skills are. As mentioned earlier, currently the world is running behind data in order to create, learn and develop analytics, understand the patterns, and automate the process, which can be done through artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, IoT, etc. Compared to the industrial age, a lot of the jobs are automated through robotic processes in the information age and this is going to continue for the next foreseeable future.

Interview

Vishal Khurma
CEO, Woxsen University

"Corporates are specific in terms of their talent needs, institutions must align themselves to industry realms and indeed play the role of shaping talents that fit the bill "
– Vishal Khurma

With over 2 decades in the dynamic corporate world, Vishal Khurma, CEO of Woxsen University shares insights on the evolved talent needs of the industry and what they look for in MBA graduates. His experience spans across leading corporates like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dabur to name a few.

Academic Institutions Must Play a Larger Role.

It’s time really that academics and the industry work in tandem for a greater good. It is a huge responsibility that is entrusted upon academic institutions to build careers, that must be recognised. Careers can be built only if the education students earn acts as the launchpad into the real-world of works. On the other hand, as talent requirements have evolved, we are witness to proactive involvement of the industry with education institutes. How institutions strategically leverage this collaboration to train future business leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, architects is key. Institutions who have not upgraded their thinking towards industry-academia collaboration will definitely be left behind, and unfortunately so will their students.

Industry’s Talent Needs have Evolved.

Advancement in technology is driving careers and it will continue to do so. Today, the value of an MBA degree is entrenched in contemporary skills and applied knowledge. Corporates look for candidates who can demonstrate the ability to deal with real-world challenges. The increased adoption of technology by industries across domains have called for academic institutions to produce professionals who embody resilience and can embrace change in this VUCA world.

At Woxsen University we have always ensured to be aligned to industry expectations from our management students, and hence have been trusted by leading corporates for their talent needs. Students not only learn about business, but also practice within the business environment through applied and immersive learning, and global exposure.

Imbibing Versatility in Students.

Having worked with some of the leading organizations in the country, I must say that versatility is key for management aspirants today. This is precisely what we cultivate in our students at Woxsen University to make them industry-ready, be able to fit it diverse roles, across sectors in the global context.

Corporate needs are specific in terms of their talent needs, hence our vision was very clear of moving away from the archaic pedagogy and putting the student right at the centre of the stage. The aim was to ensure everything is done across all stakeholders for the benefit of the students, particularly… 

1) Make Students Global Professionals
2) Up-to-date domain knowledge with min 40% of the curriculum focused on application based learning.
3) Constant upgrading of curriculum
4) Putting governance in place for strategic collaboration of industry and academics

Garnering Real-World Experience.

Technology & Data has revolutionized businesses and its practices which academic institutions cannot ignore anymore. The bedrock for all MBA programs at Woxsen University is early immersion in the respective specializations or business functions with the use of latest technology, allowing students to put theory into practice.

For Instance, through countless dialogues and interactions with corporates, we identified that rapid advancements in Fintech aren’t captured in the MBA curriculum available today, which has yielded to increased gap in skillset, and hence élite jobs in Finance still remain inaccessible. Therefore, Woxsen’s Bloomberg Finance Lab, amongst the largest in India, was introduced to addresses this lack of infrastructure. Further providing real-time knowledge and practice for MBA aspirants looking at specializing in finance, banking and financial services.

Infact, all the 4 programs offered at Woxsen be it MBA (General), MBA (Financial Services), MBA (Business Analytics) or MBA (XP) are designed exclusively where curriculum is backed by hands-on practice at the Behavioural and Analytics Lab, Artificial Intelligence Lab, Bloomberg Finance Lab to name a few. This integration opens a range of aspects for students to work on and aids to boost practical learning of real-time markets, trends, data, business and more.

Moving with Times along with the Industry.

Woxsen was established while on the cusp of the digital age. For us the challenge was to build a brand taking in stride the rapid digital transformation. Today Woxsen is reckoned as one of the few Universities that is Contemporary, Technologically Agile & Progressive.

The emphasis for Woxsen University has always been about introducing rich avenues towards industry collaboration, be it for students, faculty, or research scholars. From industry endorsed curriculum, curriculum modules delivered by industry experts, apprenticeships, live-projects and Industry interactions, we have ensured close proximity on all fronts.

Woxsen’s Trade Tower, the incubation centre has been strategically designed to acquaint students to the best industry practices. The platform provides direct interaction with leaders of organizations from successful start-ups, Unicorns and the fortune 500s. In the recent engagement in our flagship event called ‘My First Billion’ series, we had invited Mr. Nandan Reddy, co-founder of Swiggy for a fire-side chat.

Interview

Dr. Sanjay Dharmadhikari
Director, Institute of Business Management and Rural Development (IBMRD)

"This Is A Golden Opportunity To Do MBA Now"

What are some of the most important advantages of doing an MBA?

The vital benefits of an MBA are greater awareness of global markets, improved communication skills, widened professional network, increased job opportunities, entrepreneurship development, leadership skill development, better decision-making abilities and growth in critical thinking skills.

Why are soft skills important and why do MBA institutes emphasise on soft skills so much?

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others. These skills make it easier to form relationships with people, create trust and dependability, and lead teams. According to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey 2020, the top three skills that will see higher demand in the next five years are managing strategy and innovation, managing tools and technology, and interpersonal skills. It’s not hard to see how MBA graduates completely fit the bill. This is also reflected in the survey with the recruiters selecting the top three reasons for having confidence in a business school’s ability to prepare graduates for success post-pandemic as they are strategic thinkers, they have strong communication skills, and they have a versatile skill-set. These results clearly show recruiters’ penchant for MBA graduates and further justify why an MBA is worth it.

What efforts does your institute undertake when it comes to grooming students for the corporate world, especially if they come from a rural background?

We offer a Basic Ability and Skills Enhancement (BASE) programme which includes training of general communication skills, oral communication skills, written communication skills, general ethics, diversity, teamwork skills, time management and organisation skills, problemsolving and critical thinking skills, customer service skills, leadership skills and business etiquette. We organise expert lectures by reputed managers from industries for students along with entrepreneurship development training which is provided to students from rural background in collaboration with DIC, MCED and the Government of Maharashtra. Faculty members are deputed to various research conferences to acquaint themselves with recent trends in management education. This helps them to enhance the delivery of the teaching-learning process.

What is your message to the MBA aspirants considering the current market environment?

This is a golden opportunity to do MBA now. Application Trends Survey 2020 from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) have found that 67 per cent of more than 1,000 business schools globally saw a relative increase in application volumes in 2020 as compared to 2019 when only 41 per cent saw such growth. In fact, 39 per cent of the schools saw a significant increase of 21 per cent or more in the number of MBA applications. Starting your MBA in the next couple of years will likely mean that by the end of the 24-month programme, you will be graduating into a very healthy economy.

It will also have a strong job market with the majority of the pandemic surely in the rear view mirror. Every economic recession is followed by a boom wherein existing companies scale up while new companies are formed to meet rising consumer demand. This was witnessed in the last major global recession, the 2008 financial crisis, and it should be no different this time around. Especially in a country like India which was already on a strong growth trajectory before the pandemic hit and will bounce back even harder when it ends.

Interview

Koneru Satyanarayana
President, KL Deemed to be University

"It Is Imperative To Read The Demands Of The Industries"

What is the right way to choose the best business school in your view?

The right way is to harbour a long-term vision. The best business school might not tick your current expectations. The vision should be broad and the return on investment should not merely be bracketed into dollars. Instead, one should consider the contemporary offerings and the demand of specialisations, rankings, the faculty, its alumni and the infrastructure of the university. Needless to say, the student must leverage the global exposure extended by the university in terms of its placements. Furthermore, the institute seeker must also meticulously weigh the curriculum, the quality of programmes, the course modules and skill enhancement courses, besides exposure for curricular and extracurricular activities. Due importance should also be given to the institute’s industry connects, industry alignment and its social sensitivity.

Do you see the trend of blended MBA shaping up in India, i.e. pursuing MBA without quitting your job?

Though a change is underway, the blended MBA model still has a long way to go and the conventional full-time programmes are still favoured. However, executive online programmes are now gaining traction owing to the flexibility of weekend classes or virtual classes. It is also due to the brand and quality retention in such courses. Moreover, it is costeffective and offers a plethora of options to the aspirants. The industries too are now interested in hiring a trained and progressive workforce since it unlocks the door for global opportunities.

How has the pandemic impacted the placement scenario in India for MBA graduates?

The pandemic wreaked havoc leading to massive disruptions across all verticals on a global scale. The MBA placements are no exception to these changes as the recruitment processes have fundamentally changed. There was a sudden demand for a new skill-set to meet the current industry needs. However, demand for talent persists thanks to the accelerated technological revolution. The pandemic has also led to the opening of a more collaborative and inclusive work space for students.

What is your advice to MBA aspirants who struggle to fund their MBA studies? What sort of funding options and scholarships are available for MBA aspirants?

There are several scholarships, grants and fellowships that are available for meritorious students. One can opt for student loans to cover the tuition fees and it is always beneficial to combine an MBA with part-time work. Why not choose an online MBA programme and simultaneously take up teaching or a research assistant job? We live in an era of infinite possibilities if backed by the right guidance.

What is your advice to MBA aspirants who struggle to choose a specialisation?

I would cajole them to understand their interest and career aspirations and choose a specialisation accordingly. It is imperative to read the demands of the industries and the placement opportunities in the specialisation the aspirants choose. It is equally important to assess one’s capabilities and have a far-sighted view. Moreover, think in terms of the global developments and the need. Once decided, stick to the decision, and give your 100 per cent to achieve your goals.

Interview

Rakesh Mediratta
Deputy Director, Jagdish Sheth School of Management

"The Corporate Sector Is Back With Recruitment Drives"

How does getting an MBA qualification help?

India boasts of more than 3,300 odd institutions offering MBA with a sanctioned intake of more than 4 lakhs, which is the highest globally. Why has MBA thrived in India? How has been the performance of the MBA programme? MBA has flourished in India because the undergraduate qualifications have largely failed to produce employable graduates, barring a handful of the institutes. As such, MBA became a gateway to the first job. MBA as a programme is considered as a finishing programme which prepares students to get their first job. Within the MBA programmes there are options for specialised MBA modules. At the Jagdish Sheth School of Management (JAGSoM) we offer specialisations in the areas of marketing, finance, analytics and digital business and human resource.

Each of these specialisations is focused on different careers as relevant towards specific career goals of MBA aspirants.
•   PGDM (Marketing Major): For those who wish to pursue a career in marketing with option of career tracks in marketing technology or sales and service.
•   PGDM (Finance Major): For those who wish to pursue a career in finance with option of career tracks in financial technology, capital markets or banking.
•   PGDM (Analytics and Digital Business Major): For those who wish to pursue a career in business analytics.
•   PGDM (HRM Major): For those who wish to pursue a career in human resources management with option of career track in human resource technology.

Given the pandemic situation, how has the placement scenario impacted the MBA students?

Even though the pandemic had slowed down the Indian economy earlier, there are significant trends that indicate fast recovery. The corporate sector is back with recruitment drives, especially in the new-age start-up emerging sectors. The traditional process of face-to-face campus recruitment probably has stopped, but the same has gone online. The entire academic process is now effectively carried out online. Business schools have over the time mastered the delivery of the programme online. The campus life evaporated from conventional education and what remained is great faculty teaching through online systems. This change is going to be permanent and sooner or later online education will remain an important mode of delivery.

JAGSoM successfully placed the entire eligible batch of 2020-22 for industry internship programme (IIP) by the end of December 2021. The IIP is an innovative arrangement – a capstone programme – in which a student spends 14 weeks with the industry. Each company, during such a long association, observes and monitors the performance of the intern and reviews his or her performance to understand whether the intern will be the right fit for that company or not. Up to 60 per cent of the graduating class converted the internship into final placement in spite of the pandemic. There also has been a significant increase in the highest as well as average stipend for the students this year as compared to last year.

How does one get admission into a top-ranking business school?

It is an intensely competitive environment for MBA aspirants when it comes to getting admission in a well-ranked business school. Aspirants have to undergo rigorous training, especially with the guidance of test preparation centres to get a good rank in the entrance examinations. While a good entrance test score is essential to secure admission in a top-ranked MBA school, there are a limited number of schools where high entrance test score is a prerequisite. Each individual, based on his or her specific strength, can opt for a business school that has designed its admission selection process based on value fit, work experience, extracurricular activities, innovation potential, emotional readiness, etc. Hence, depending on one’s skills and strengths there are many options available. JAGSoM looks for a holistic personality that includes values, attitude and extracurricular activity beyond academics. JAGSoM’s unique admission process comprises elements like JAGMAT, group exercise and personal interview with the faculty and the shoulder batch.

Why is it important to study in a top-ranking institution?

It is true that one’s career can be shaped by one’s choice of a business school. The choice of a business school also depends upon the right balance between aspirations and fitment. One has to realistically aim to target a particular business school depending on one’s career aspirations, strengths and fitment. Ranking, even though popular, is not always a true indicator of the value added by an institution. Hence, the choice should be made based on factors like accreditations, faculty, curriculum, industry alignment, and more importantly, the desired career objective of the aspirant. Aspirants should look for the career tracks for which an institution prepares its graduates.

What skill-sets are high in demand for MBA graduates and how should an MBA aspirant choose his specialisation?

For the first job after MBA, specialised knowledge and technical skills are more important. Technical skills play a significant role in the initial years of one’s career. Most of the initial employment is based on specialised skills as recruiters look for domain specialists. In this context, specialised MBA programmes are probably more suited for a fresher. The areas in which a specialised MBA programme can be of value are the ones which focus on roles and build competencies in tracks like marketing technology, financial technology, sales and services, capital markets, banking, business analytics and HR digital transformation.

Going forward more and more fresh graduates will opt for specialised management qualification, internationally known as the Specialised Masters programme. At JAGSoM we provide specialised PGDM programme in the areas of marketing, finance and analytics and digital business. Each of these programmes has a career track focus in new-age areas and comprises pedagogy of learning by solving through industry– supported real life business problems.

What steps are being taken at your institute to make the students industry-ready?

India is in dire need of an upgrade in its management curricula to keep up with the rapid transformations across industries globally. JAGSoM’s revamped, internationally recognised curriculum is now aligned with the needs of the industry and to its mission of nurturing holistic, socially responsible and continuously employable professionals. JAGSoM is one of the few, if not the only business school in India, which, true to its spirit as a professional school, partners with the industry to identify the nature of roles and corresponding competencies to be developed for its graduates.

One of the key interventions is the ‘career track’ which is a domain concentration that spans an entire term and is an integral part of the Major selected by the students. Students select a career track aligned to their professional goals and then do a deep dive immersion to acquire the required competencies and critical skills for being industry-ready. They are mentored and guided by the domain specialist faculty, drawn from both industry and academia. The career track immersion comprises specialised course work, application exercises, certifications and a ‘request for problem (RFP)’ industry project. All of these are aligned to the roles and competencies required for the specific domain. The following career tracks are offered to students to enable in-depth learning for the kind of indicated roles:

• Career Track in Marketing Technology: Digital content and campaign marketing, performance marketing, e– commerce growth marketing.
• Career Track in Sales and Service: Managerial positions in customer success, inside sales, growth and territory sales.
• Career Track in Financial Technology: Roles of business analyst, product manager and associate product manager, and business development.
• Career Track in Capital Markets: Roles of equity research analyst, equity research associate, analyst in portfolio management services and mutual funds, derivatives analyst, risk analyst, risk management, quant trader and algorithm trader.
• Career Track in Banking: Roles of relationship managercredit, credit officer, credit analyst, stress assets recovery officer, treasury desk officer, forex dealing room officer, etc.
• Career Track in Business Analytics: Data scientist or data engineer, product manager and business analyst.
• Career Track in HR-Digital Transformation: Managerial positions in digital transformation, talent acquisition, etc.

Interview

Dr. Ajit Parulekar
Director, Goa Institute of Management

"The Placements At GIM Have Been Extremely Buoyant"

How relevant is an MBA in the post-pandemic world?

Whether it is post-pandemic, pre-pandemic or during a pandemic, what organisations and leaders need is to be agile to the situation, forecast and take decisions in the benefit of organisational goals and keep in mind the impact on society at large. This perspective gets heightened in any moment of crisis like the pandemic. Industry, corporations, businesses, communities and countries are going to need smart, responsible and ethical managers who can not only manage their functions efficiently but also can envisage and anticipate ‘change’ and adapt quickly to be the change.

At the Goa Institute of Management, it’s our constant endeavour to build competence in our students through practice so that they think not just from a business point of view but also from a social impact viewpoint. It is about socially conscious capitalism and how best we can positively impact the business and society. A thousand students study from this campus each year, and if we look at the positive imprint that each one can contribute towards society, I think the multiplier effect is going to do the job for the world.

What are the distinctive advantages of doing an MBA from a reputed institute?

Apart from the pedagogy-led value which comes from state-of-the-art infrastructure, hi-tech labs, global curriculum and world-class knowledge sources and licences, the advantage which comes from the ‘exposure’ is unmatched in an institute like GIM. Exposure to the alumni network across the globe, your peers who come with diverse backgrounds and with distinguished profile and merit, exposure to the environment which is competitive and global, exposure to the partners and corporates which is an integral part of the training and last but definitely not the least is the exposure to outstanding internationally renowned faculty whose expertise and experience rubs off on you are basically the things which bring out the best in you. It’s a change which is subtle but substantial; in hindsight, you will clearly see the difference which doing an MBA from a reputed institute has done to you.

In your view, is it preferred to have work experience prior to doing an MBA course?

It is preferred to have good prior work experience but is not a pre-requisite. Preferred because some work experience gives you a peek into the world you are about to get into and helps you appreciate several aspects of business that a fresher would find difficult to appreciate. By the way, experience need not be from corporates only; any kind of management experience, for example, managing a CSR event for your society or arranging crowd-funding to help someone in need, or experience in running a failed start-up can be some vital experience which teaches you the basics of management. At GIM we have our own mechanisms in place to provide the students with the right knowledge and exposure which is essential for their success in the corporate world.

What are the most sought-after skills among MBA graduates that are in high demand in corporate India?

Across sectors, organisations look for a mix of hard skills relevant to their specific business or function and life skills that span entire careers. Currently, the hard skills that are much in demand are in areas of technology-driven management – skills in areas of data analytics, artificial intelligence (machine learning and deep learning), digital business, virtual and augmented reality, RPA, blockchain, etc. This is across sectors and disciplines ranging from banking to healthcare and from human resource management and marketing to finance and operations. The life skills that are most sought after are strong communication, problem-solving, creativity, lifelong learning i.e. learning to learn autonomously and the ability for empathy i.e. emotional intelligence.

What are the emerging trends when it comes to placements for MBA students? How are the placement opportunities shaping up post-lockdown for MBA students of the current batch?

The placements at GIM have been extremely buoyant. We have had a strong positive trend across all our four PGDM programmes in this placement season. We have achieved 100 per cent placements across all four PGDM programmes in early December 2021 itself and our PGDM in Big Data Analytics saw the highest CTC going up to `30.17 lakhs per annum. The PGDM in Healthcare Management saw a steep 50 per cent rise in highest CTC compared to last year and our newly launched PGDM in Banking Insurance and Financial Services saw an average CTC of `10.61 lakhs per annum for its first ever batch and the flagship PGDM has witnessed a 12 per cent rise in average CTC vis-a-vis last year. The buoyant placement market is an indication of the bounce-back of Indian industry across sectors and the positive trend we see at GIM is a phenomenon in all the leading business schools in the country.

Interview

Dr. Ramakrishnan Raman
Director, Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) Pune

"Our Programmes Are Crafted To Create Resilience, Stress Tolerance And Flexibility In Students"

Do you believe in blended learning? Would you recommend a blended learning approach in current times where normalcy is yet to be seen due to the pandemic?

Blended learning style is one in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching. One group of students are in the class and another group of students join the class online. It is not easy to focus on both the groups. In general, the focus is more towards those who are in the class than those students who join the class online. Blending or grouping the online and offline learners will not fully benefit those students who join the class online. In the present times when the pandemic is continuing to create havoc with its multiple waves, it would be a better idea to split the class into an ‘online division’ and ‘offline division’ and teach them separately. Making an online class interesting is not easy. Bringing interaction in the online mode needs a different set of skills. If the interaction is lost then the participant on the other side is in his or her own world.

How does an MBA aspirant choose the best business school?

Students choose the best business school based on their own set of parameters. Identifying and joining a good business school immensely helps a student as it provides a perfect launch pad for his or her career or to the start-up that someone is planning to launch. It also helps them to build the right network for their life which would otherwise be very difficult to create. Some important aspects that one could consider while choosing a business school are the four ‘C’s, namely, connect, corporate competitions, course content and culture. These are elaborated below:

1) The Alumni Connect: Knowing about the alumni is really critical. Knowing about the profile, position of the alumni who have graduated from the business school 5, 10 and 15 years ago gives an idea about the potential that the school has in creating leaders for the corporate world. The number of start-ups that the school has created in the past decade gives good information about the school’s ability to provide an ecosystem to create start-ups.
2) Corporate Competitions: This relates to the number of corporate competitions launched in a business school. Corporates are very clear in selecting a business school to launch their competitions. There are more than 1,000+ business schools in this country but there are only two dozen schools where several competitions are launched by the corporates. These schools are selected based on several parameters and it speaks volumes about the stature of the school. Rather than merely taking into account the ranking or accreditation which focus more on research and publications, students can look at the number of competitions launched by the corporates and the number of competitions won by the students in a business school. This can be an important aspect to understand the ‘corporate view’ of the school. This also impacts the summer placement and the final placement opportunities provided by the school.
3) Course Content: The course content and specialisations offered play an important role. The MBA course structure varies from one MBA programme to another. At a glance, the programme offered by all schools may seem similar, but each one possesses distinctive strength and approach. One must remember that it is not just about whether one is a fit for a programme and the specialisation offered in the programme but it is also whether the programme is a good fit for oneself. Knowing about the subjects offered along with the opportunities to specialise is also an important criterion.
4) Culture: There are some business schools which function in a top-down approach and some others function with a bottom-up approach where almost all aspects are decided by the students. MBA is not just about bookish knowledge that one gains. It is about equipping oneself with knowledge and skills along with aspects like working in a team, empathy, knowing to network and a plethora of softer aspects related to people management. The culture of a business school plays an important aspect in helping students to learn management by knowing, being and doing. Hence, this must be one of the most important aspects that a student must consider while choosing a business school.

If these four Cs are considered and are found positive then the opportunity that the school would provide for learning and growth will be phenomenal. Summer placement and final placement along with the stipend and the final package offered will automatically be the best. The chance to succeed with a start-up, if launched during the MBA programme tenure, will also be high.

How is the placement opportunity shaping up for MBA graduates in the current market situation and how is it impacting the starting package?

There is a common belief that the career graph of any individual soars with an MBA degree. But this is not true. Not all students land their dream job and start earning an impressive salary right after getting their MBA degree. It primarily depends on the business school from which the student completes his or her MBA. It also depends on the hard skills and soft skills that one acquires. Having a well-defined goal can help in identifying and creating a successful career. The market scenario for MBA and MBA (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) students graduating from SIBM Pune in April 2022 is excellent. With increased investments in the IT sector and rapid adoption of technology by enterprises in the country, the IT consulting, business process management and FMCG sectors are on a positive hiring trajectory.

There is an exponential demand for students who have digital skills along with domain knowledge in marketing and sales, operations and finance. There is a good demand for engineering graduates with management skills. Those graduates who have knowledge in data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence with people management skills have got very good offers from the industry. We are in the mode of a V-shaped recovery of the economy owing to increased consumer spending. The Indian government’s sustained effort to accelerate vaccination coverage is helping to break the pandemic chain. In the IT sector, the phase of rampant resignations is impacting the hiring sentiments in a positive way and hiring of fresh graduates with technical and management skills is on the upward spiral.

After the pandemic struck, the churn among employees in IT, ITES, FMCG, FMCD and the consulting and financial sectors has gone up significantly. Digital roles with ability to manage teams and having the tenacity to manage crises along with people management and problem-solving skills are most in demand in IT, consulting, FMCG, FMCD, BFSI, education technology, e-commerce, financial technology and the real estate sectors. At SIBM Pune, the average package offered to the students including the summer internship stipend and the final offer has gone up significantly. In comparison to last year, there is a rise in the number of offers and the compensation offered to students.

At your institute what steps are being taken to ensure that MBA graduates are ready to make their mark in the dynamic corporate world of today?
In other words, how do you ensure your graduates are relevant to the corporate world of today?

Being industry-ready is the ‘default’ quality of a student graduating from SIBM Pune. We are preparing leaders who can solve challenges and problems of tomorrow which are yet to be identified. Our students are industry-ready as our curriculum and pedagogy prepares them by default for the same. At SIBM Pune the students are taught management by ‘knowing’ the concepts, by ‘being’ in the scenarios where they need to take decisions and also by ‘doing’ the tasks which are identified by the teams. This helps them learn in a very effective way. We are one among those business schools in the country which also offer an MBA programme with clear focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

To prepare leaders who can solve challenges and problems of tomorrow which are yet to be identified, we focus on imparting problem-solving skills, people management skills and technology skills. Our curriculum is revised every year and helps students to acquire analytical thinking on account of which they have the ability to solve complex problems. We kindle creative thinking and analysing ability in the students and prepare them as leaders who can have a social influence. The MBA and MBA (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) programmes are crafted to create resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility in the students. This makes them not only industryready but industry-leading management graduates.

Interview

Dr. Yamini Gupt
Professor, Department of Finance & Business Economics, Joint Dean International Relations
(Social Sciences & Humanities), Deputy Director, Centre for India-Canada Studies, University of Delhi

"MBA Is One Of The Most Sought-After Courses In The Country"

As a leading MBA institute in India, how has the current pandemic changed your outlook on management studies?

Things do not get better by chance; they get better by change. MBA has played an integral role pre-pandemic in the corporate world and will continue to be a deciding factor. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has changed. We must accept and work with this new normal. A business school grooms and nurtures future corporate leaders. Consulting, finance, operations and strategies are changing and will continue to evolve in the future. This has made it imperative to examine the current scenario closely in order to keep pace with the changing world. All B-schools are trying to capitalise on this new momentum. We are also trying to accelerate innovation and optimise for new global realities.

We believe that a global leader must recognise the need for the following:

•  We have to see the change before it happens – too much focus on the past for insights can take you in the wrong direction. Leading institutes should train their students in analytics to make better-informed decisions and strategies.
•  Organisations are increasingly adopting sustainable practices into their operations and this needs to be kept in mind while creating the curriculum. n Work from home is a new reality, and we don’t know for how long. Online MBA needs to equip the students with tools and skills for the same.
•  Leading companies are applying science to tackle the world’s fundamental challenges. Training the students about this is imperative to survive and thrive in the corporate world.
•  There are behaviour changes that have been observed all over the world. Customers are deciding differently, and employees are operating differently. Students need to be educated about the shift in paradigms that we are observing.

What are the most sought-after skills among MBA graduates that are in high demand in corporate India?

The value of an MBA is based on the skills students learn and how they apply them. As a result, businesses seek employees who can demonstrate prowess in areas like accounting, finance, marketing and operations, among others. In my opinion the most sought-after skills in today’s corporate India are:

•   Adaptability : The ability and willingness to adapt is essential in all spheres, including a commercial one. It is critical to be able to adapt to an ever-changing and evolving environment. An MBA graduate must understand how to adapt to a rapid shift in job organisation The current pandemic is an excellent representation of the times.

•   Communication : Companies are eager to hire people with strong communication skills who can effectively deliver the proper message. In a corporate setting, effective communication is critical. n Leadership Qualities : It is not unusual to expect good leadership qualities from an MBA graduate. An individual in this field must be able to lead, work effectively as part of a team and reflect on the work that is being done.

•  Conflict Resolution : Conflicts may arise in business organisations and must be resolved constructively with a clear-cut instinct to keep the company running smoothly. An MBA graduate’s capacity to settle conflicts is critical for resolving potential job challenges.

•   Critical Thinking and Problem Solving : In addition to strong instincts, the ability to think critically and solve problems is crucial in today’s uncertain and dynamic corporate scenario.

•   Innovation and Decision : Making Skills: Making timely and effective decisions and innovating when required are very valuable skills, especially for management professionals.

What are the opportunities that await candidates post-MBA? How is the placement scenario shaping up for MBA graduates?

An MBA degree offers professional and personal benefits to an aspirant. Whether an individual works in technology, finance, management, marketing or manufacturing, an MBA degree opens up opportunities for greater responsibility, career advancement and increased financial reward. From a personal aspect, an MBA grooms an individual in communication, confidence, analytical ability and leadership skills, which are pivotal to professional success. Post-MBA, the opportunities available to an individual are immense. Some of the domains available to an aspirant post-MBA are:

•   Portfolio management, security and investment analysis in the segment of banking and finance.
•   Connecting investors to fund-needing organisations as an investment banker.
•   Management consulting. n Private equity management.
•   Data analytics.
•   Entrepreneurship.

An MBA graduate commands respect from colleagues and others in a professional community. The qualification itself carries much weight, but the expanded skill set of an MBA graduate ultimately differentiates him or her from the others. The right MBA programme can teach the skills an individual must possess to succeed in his or her chosen career.

Funding business school education via merit scholarships is gaining traction. Please provide us with your insights regarding the diverse MBA scholarships. MBA is one of the most sought-after courses in the country. Students from almost all undergraduate programmes compete for admission to MBA programmes. The fee structure of these programs offered by most institutions prevents many from fulfilling their dreams of studying in top business schools. Nowadays, there are various types of scholarships available to students for taking admission in top MBA institutes of the country. Specific scholarship schemes are also available for female MBA aspirants in India to improve gender diversity in these institutes.

The different types of scholarships available to MBA aspirants in India include:

• Corporate Sponsored MBA Scholarships : Two of the popular scholarships in this category are the Aditya Birla Scholarship for MBA and the O P Jindal Scholarship. Companies offer these scholarships to students of top business schools in India. Often the leadership of such companies includes the alumni of these top institutes and they institute these scholarships in their alma mater.

• Government : Sponsored MBA Scholarships: These MBA scholarships are offered in IIMs, IITs, and other government management colleges, especially to SC, ST, and PWD candidates.

• Banks’ Sponsored MBA Scholarships : Many banks like PNB Housing Finance, IDFC, Yes Bank, among others, offer these scholarships.

• Institute : Based MBA Scholarships: These vary from one institute to the other.

In your view, is it preferred to have work experience prior to doing an MBA course?

Many students in India choose their field of study and subsequently make career choices based on what their family or friends (peers) feel is right for them. As a result, we see and hear about a lot of unhappy students dropping out of higher education courses or looking for a change right after completing the course. Students face intense competition to enter a good business school. In addition, many need to take loans to fund their MBA education. After completing the programme and securing placement, several realise that they don’t fit into the corporate world. Many a times, even a short experience in the workforce can help young people to realise and assess their aptitude and skills and make correct decisions about their future career path. Making a well-informed decision regarding pursuing management education should hold students in good stead. Having some work experience does help to maximise the value to be gained from an MBA.

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