Emerging Global Trends in Management Education and the Indian Opportunity

27 09 2016

Business schools have at most two years to prepare young college graduates for a career that is likely to last thirty five more years or so. Think for a minute what the world was like thirty five years ago!

Five complex, interacting key features viz.  being networked, flat, flexible, diverse and globalized have been changing the nature of business organizations rapidly across the world. Business management education has little choice but to respond these changes.

The emerging trends in management education are nothing but responses to reduce the chasm between the learning needs of the students and the teaching delivered by MBA programs hitherto.

Five major such trends are:

  1. The emphasis on the whole person development with social and ethical responsibilities becoming central issues. No quality MBA curriculum is complete today without core courses on sustainable development and ethics. Moral humility
  2. Unlike degrees in law, medicines or accountancy, the MBA qualification is transferrable across the borders. Exposing students to diverse cultures and knowledge systems in campuses spread across continents is becoming a norm for top-tier business schools in the world now.
  3. The practice of blended delivery through both classrooms and online platforms too is acquiring momentum in premier b-schools worldwide. For example, HBX, Harvard Business School’s online initiative is now fully integrated in their pedagogy design.
  4. Flexibiity in management education is emerging in the form of both customization of the curriculum and introduction of increasingly more number of interdisciplinary courses. Students in leading b-schools are now offered a wide array of electives to customize their education to reflect their personal goals, ambitions, capabilities, and risk tolerance. Corporations too can get courses designed by b-schools to meet their specific needs with respect to their key employees. Likewise, there is a growing recognition of the fact that in business, opportunities do not appear with neat labels attached to them – we need cross-fertilization of ideas from multiple disciplines to exploit them. Both pedagogy and course content in progressive b-schools have begun to address this reality.
  5. Entrepreneurial orientation in top b-school curriculum and culture is a reflection of the new business reality. To create value at any level of any business today requires risk-taking, innovative mindset. More so if students themselves turn into start-up entrepreneurs.

From the Indian perspective, although the country can boast of the fact that currently it produces more management graduates than any other country in the world, in terms of setting global standards of excellence in management education; we do not have many trendsetters yet.

We, however, have a significant business and societal opportunity in developing a different kind of b-schools which will serve as a springboard for a new generation of business leaders who are sensitive to the socio-economic challenges faced by our country.

Particularly rewarding would be the initiatives which imbue the bright, eager minds with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude and transform them into young entrepreneurs with ‘new-to-the-world’ product or service offerings.

Forward looking b-schools by bringing together intellectual, human and venture capital together under one roof may create a confluence of economic opportunities which in turn can create employment opportunities for multitudes.

– Rajib Sarkar




Should Online CAT 2009 be Scrapped?

7 12 2009

The first online Common Admission test (CAT) for IIMs this year, has been a major source of embarrassment for the IIMs. So much so, that this issue has been raised in the parliament. Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader made a witty remark “CAT Ko Mouse Kha Gaya.” It may be a source of amusement for the politicians, but for the over 2.5 lakh CAT aspirants it has been a source of anxiety.

So what are the problems. Pagalguy .com a popular MBA aspirants’ community site, has compiled this list of complaints based on their users’ mails. A summary is presented below:

  • Screens going blank in between the test
  • Reboots and ’svchost.exe’ errors
  • Noise and commotion caused in the lab due to the above
  • People in some labs getting extra time to solve questions while the above problems were being rectified
  • Some features of the testing software (review button, display of questions) not working as intended on some computers
  • Questions being leaked in various private channels. While moderated channels like PaGaLGuY are leaving no stoned unturned in respecting the non-disclosure clause, several other un-moderated social networks such as Orkut have communities dedicated to question sharing. Given that there are reports of questions being repeated, it obviously puts test-takers on each subsequent day at an advantage in the competition.
  • Inconsistent quality of invigilation

So who is to be blamed for this fiasco. Let us look at the parties involved. IIMs who have been conducting the admission tests in the paper-pencil mode, decided to go online this year because the number of aspirants are increasing year-on-year. The IIMs appointed Prof Satish Deodhar, Professor, IIM-A as the convenor. The award for online CAT for the next 5 years was given to Prometric India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Prometric Inc. Prometric Inc is a subsidiary of ETS (Educational Testing Services), which conducts the GMAT exam worldwide. This was a US 40 Million $ ( Approx Rs 180 crore) contract. The award of this contract is itself being challenged through a Public Interest Litigation. Prometric in-turn outsourced the infrastructure and invigilation services to NIIT in a Rs 50-55 crore contract. NIIT, on its part, engaged  200 +  private engineering colleges with over 100 computers each, across the country to conduct the exams.

As it appears, there are problems on all sides. The IIMs who have the responsibility of  providing the questions for the test, have serious issues. The 20 set of questions which have to be given to the examinees over the 10 days should have been different, but questions are repeating very often. Some questions are the same as earlier CAT exams. Worse, the coaching institutes like TIME, Career Launcher are claiming that some questions are borrowed from their database. This gives the advantage to students who have appeared later. Prometric has not developed a fool-proof software to run the tests, there are bugs and viruses galore. NIIT has deployed invigilators who are untrained and often rude. The quality of PCs in many engineering colleges leave much to be desired.

So what are the options before the IIMs. It can somehow muddle through the online CAT this year, with the extension of the test by one day and then hope to have a far stricter GD and personal interview to weed out the unworthy and select the best. The harder option would be to scrap the online test and conduct a paper-pencil test like earlier years and restore the sanctity and the aura of CAT. The second option is being demanded by several IIM Directors as The Telegraph reports.  IIMs had conducted CAT twice in 2003 after it was detected that there was a paper leak.

This blogger believes that if the IIMs have to keep their pre-eminent position in the field of higher education, it should scrap the online CAT this year and go for a paper-pencil test. Next year, with lot more preparation and dry-runs the online CAT can be attempted again. The students, who have already paid Rs 1400 for the test, should be spared of any more financial burden, as if all the anguish over the past few days is not enough.

– G. Mohan

Doing an MBA : An Investment Analysis

16 04 2009


This is that time of the yea when the B-schools send out admission offers to the selected students. The Economic Times (ET) has reported that the leading B-schools have already finalized their lists. Getting selected in a top B-school like an IIM is certainly very difficult and is prestigious too. The extent of competition is so high, that out of 2.40 lakh candidates who took the CAT exam, 0.14% or 315 students made it to IIMA. ET says that 91% of the students selected by IIMA are engineers. 



Until recently, the decision to do an MBA was a virtual no-brainer. In the last one-year, two things have changed, which makes the decision a difficult one, particularly for an engineer who has a good job. The fees have gone up and average salaries of MBAs have gone down. 



Firstly, the fees have been increased considerably. IIMA announced last year a steep hike to Rs 11.5 lakh for the PGP and followed it up with another hike of Rs 1 lakh , making it to Rs 12.5 lakh for the two-year course. IIM-B also has increased the rates by Rs1.5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh. IIM- C which had kept it rates significantly lower has also doubled the fees to Rs 9 lakh per student. The other IIMs, L, I and K have also increased the fees. ISB  which has always been the most expensive B-School in India has also increased the fees to Rs 16.5 lakh. The Tier-II schools also have increased the fees. For the purposes of this post, let us take that on average a student needs to spend to Rs 4 lakh per year on fees alone. To this add, living expenses of  Rs 1.5 lakh per annum.

An engineer with 3 years experience in a leading company, ( the preferred candidates in most B-schools), would surely be already earning Rs 4.5 lakh p.a. If the engineer leaves his job, he/she would forgo Rs 10 lakh of income. Assuming, the engineer would have got hike and bonus in the second year.

To this add the expenditure of preparing for an MBA entrance. This is not insignificant. A minimum of Rs 1 lakh. 



The total investment incurred on the 2 year MBA comes down to Rs 22 lakh, including  Rs 10 lakh in opportunity cost, due to loss of income. In the  past, the difference in salaries between an engineer and a B-school graduate was very high. With the global financial crisis the top-paying jobs have reduced considerably. The average salaries in campus placements, as reported by the IIMs, have fallen by 25-30%. IIM-A has reported that the average “domestic salary in 2009 placement was Rs 12.17 lakh p.a. The average salary reported by IIPM is Rs 4.2 lakh p.a. For the purposes of our estimates, if we take that the average salary at a Tier-II B-School for an Engineer-MBA is Rs 7.5 lakh p.a.. Please note that this is the average, indicating several MBAs who will be hired below the average. Public Sector Banks for e.g pay no more than Rs 4.5 lakhs p.a. 



Thus, the difference in the salary between an engineer and an average engineer-MBA is just Rs 2 lakh p.a. The engineer if he/she had continued in the good company would have reached Rs 5.5 lakh p.a. By spending two years at the B-school and incurring Rs 22 lakh in costs, the additional income is Rs 2 lakh p.a.



The payback period for recovering the money invested in a B-school is as high as 11 years. Even if one assumes that the rate of increase is higher for an MBA, the payback is not less than 8 years. If an MBA starts at a below average salary levels it is likely that he/she would never recover the investment made on an MBA.




While the case for joining the top IIMs remains strong, the case for Tier-II schools is beginning to get weak particularly for Engineer-MBAs. My advice:


To engineers with experience  -stick to top10 B-schools only.


To fresh engineers with a job offer on hand -do not go beyond top 50. B-schools only.


To others – use  the time spent at a B-school productively while the job market goes into hibernation and hope that by the time you pass out the economy would return to its full speed.


– G. Mohan

The Mystique of Leadership: Sound vs. Light

8 03 2009



It is very difficult to really pinpoint what makes a leader a leader. There is an unexplainable “X” factor. 


Enterprises across the globe have always felt the need to develop leaders among their rank as they believe leadership qualities can make crucial differences in their fortunes.


Jack Welch, the former head of GE probably was a great champion of the “Leadership” dimension. A trip to the GE’s institute for leadership development at Crotonville was considered a pilgrimage by corporatewallahs. Perhaps inspired by GE, companies like Infosys and Satyam built their own Leadership Institutes in Mysore and Hyderabad respectively.  


Many HR managers take the easy way out in developing a ‘leadership pipeline’ by sending their executives to the plethora of Management Development Programmes (MDPs) in B-schools. MDPs with the word – leadership – suffixed or pre-fixed – e.g. Value-based Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Emotionally Intelligent Leadership etc are cash cows in b-schools all over the world. 


A new leadership training institution has sprung up in Gurgaon, founded by Anil Sachdeva which calls itself “School of Inspired Leadership” SOIL in short. Their web-site proclaims:  


“Inspired leaders build sustainable organizations creating value for shareholders, while caring for the environment and improving the lives of those around.” 


Pray, tell me how it is different from the trite catchphrase – the triple bottomline? 


I often find the sermons on leadership by management gurus ineffective and uninspiring. The lack of clarity in their thinking can scarcely be camouflaged by confusing verbiage.  


Contrast this with an illuminating piece on leadership by a Spiritual Guru, Paramahansa Sri Nityananda. In a lucidly written piece in Economic Times, he states “Leadership is a state, not a status.” 



I am reproducing the entire piece for the benefit of those who might have missed out reading that column. 


Leadership is not a quality. It is an experience that an individual who has undergone personal growth and transformation radiates. 



This is the simple truth. There are so many books these days about leadership and how it is an important part of making an organization successful. There are so many leadership gurus who teach and train people in organizations to ‘develop’ leadership. Yet when we look at all organizations, be it businesses, government services or in the area of social services, true leaders are rare. A true leader is a person who is ready to take responsibility consciously. He is ready to handle life consciously and he is not constantly dependent on the past. A true leader is a person who is able to respond spontaneously to situations. He is fresh in his ideas and continuously keeps himself alive.


A small story: There was once a great war between two countries. On a hot afternoon, a man in civilian clothes was riding past a small group of tired soldiers digging a huge pit, doing a seemingly impossible task. The group leader was shouting orders and threatening punishment if the work was not completed within the hour. The man riding the horse stopped and asked, ‘Sir, why can’t you help them yourself?’ The group leader replied, ’I am the leader. The men do as I tell them. If you feel so strongly, go help them!’ The man worked with the soldiers till the job was finished! Before leaving, he congratulated the soldiers for their work, and approaching the group leader said, ‘The next time your status prevents you from supporting your people, inform your higher authorities and I will provide a more permanent solution.’ The group leader was completely surprised. Only now he realized that the man was in fact the army general!


Most of us achieve the status of a leader, but not the state. State is totally different from status. Status comes from society. When I use the word ‘state’ I mean our inner space. Our inner space should be mature enough to handle the responsibility, which we assume. Each one of us is a potential leader. The quality of leadership arises from one’s ability to take responsibility for a particular organization, a situation or a particular group with tremendous awareness and maturity. Leadership is simply a conscious choice made by an individual to act out of deep sensitivity and awareness to one’s situation and surrounding. Then automatically, the inner space will start transforming and send out the right words and actions.” 


As I finished reading the above piece, my need for reading leadership spiel by management gurus died an instant death.


– G. Mohan

Is Infosys Launching a Global B-School ?

15 06 2008

A campus spread over 270 acres, a capacity to train 13000 graduates, 500 faculty rooms and 10,300 residential rooms. Is it Harvard, MIT or Stanford? None of these. This is the Global Education Centre (GEC) of Infosys at Mysore.


When completed, it “will be the largest corporate investment (Rs. 165 billion) in educational infrastructure in India and one of the largest globally,” said N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman and Chief Mentor, Infosys, at the 27th Annual General Meeting last Saturday, reports Business Line.


The company recruited over 25,000 freshers in 2007-08. All these freshers undergo a 14-week rigorous induction program at the GEC. Separate programs were also conducted for Infosys recruits from China, Europe and USA at the GEC. The GEC also houses the Infosys Leadership Institute, the management training facilities for senior Infoscions.


 The Indian IT services industry is probably at the last legs of the manpower-multiplication game which has kept them growing. I believe the number of freshers, that Infosys is going ti recruit year-on-year can now only go down.



Till now, Infosys has maintained that GEC ramp up is entirely for in-house training only. But the scale and the level of investment look disproportionately large. If they are left underutilized, shareholders are likely to punish Infosys


I guess, Infosys is getting ready for policy changes with regard to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in higher education. When the policy changes are announced, Infosys will tie-up with one of the world-class universities like Harvard/MIT/Stanford. For the Ivy League B-Schools, a readymade world class campus will give them a head start in India.


– G.Mohan.  


Faculty Crunch in B-Schools – Part II

29 05 2008

Industry-Academia interface has often been prescribed as a panacea for improving the quality of faculty in B-Schools. In this post, I’ll try to examine this interface from the industry perspective.


The industry views the academia primarily as a supplier of high-quality trained people at the entry level. When jobs were few and the scale of recruitments was small, industry did not feel the need to build any relationship with the academia. Those days, just an advertisement in the newspaper would have sufficed.


As companies started scaling up their recruitment, they realized that campus recruitment is a very effective mode of hiring freshers in large numbers.  When companies started competing for talent, they discovered the need for building relationship with the academia.


When I was with an IT Services company, for a brief period, I was given the additional responsibility of being the Academic Liaison Manager. My brief was limited to interacting with  Placement Coordinators of B – Schools, projecting my employer as a model employer and trying to get Day One slot during the campus placements.


Another level of industry-academia interaction is sponsoring research. In a small way, Indian companies have started setting up excellence centers and giving research projects to academic institutions. This trend is stronger in IITs than in B-Schools.


There a few companies who create chair positions in the various B-Schools, with the objective of using the services of the Chair Professors to do research on problems areas identified by the sponsoring company.


Ideally, research should help the academia gain real world insights by solving real world problems. The industry on the other hand can benefit by receiving knowledge created at the frontiers of academic research.


On the ground, it is a different situation altogether. Industry treats sponsored research with indifference.  The research areas chosen are often far removed from the real problems of the company. The solutions are rarely implemented. The expenditure incurred on research is treated as image-building exercise or at best, philanthropy.  


Using B-School faculty for consulting assignments is also an area where the industry and the academia come together. Often insignificant consulting projects using cheap manpower available with B-Schools are dumped on Indian B-Schools whereas critical assignments go to either multinational management consulting firms or B-School professors from Ivy League US Business Schools. It shows the cavalier attitude of the Indian industry towards Indian B-Schools. 


In recent times, the industry has started viewing the academia as a distributor of certificates.  IT/ITES companies facing high attrition have woken up to the potential of the academia to design tailor-made courses that can both improve the capabilities of their workforce and reduce attrition. Accenture has tied up with ISB for a 3- year course on Software Delivery Management. ICICI Prudential has tied up with 21 B-Schools to conduct a 1-year program on insurance. Wipro BPO is offering part-time MBA to many of its employees by tying up with universities.  


While the engagement is expanding, the quality of the interface between the industry and the academia leaves much to be desired. Instead of blaming B-Schools’ quality of teaching, the industry would do well to come down from its high-pedestal and help B-schools connect with the real world of business.


The industry can take the following  five steps without any more delay to show that they really care about the quality of management education:


1) Sponsor more chairs in B-Schools. This will enable  B-Schools to hire top class talents by paying them handsomely. Sponsors must have a say in deciding the quality and the remuneration of the Chair Professors.


2) Plan research requirements in tandem with B-Schools on a long term basis. Establish mechanisms to monitor progress. Top management’s involvement in budget allocation and periodic stock taking are not to be glossed over.


3) Offer exchange programs to the academia whereby selected faculty members will work in companies for a certain period of time while their counterparts in these companies will take up classes in those B-Schools.


4) Participate in designing new courses and developing course contents to make B-School curriculum more relevant to the real world.


5) Help B-School researchers and teachers develop world class case studies reflecting the Indian business realities.


– G. Mohan.


Faculty Crunch in B-Schools – Part I

20 05 2008


In a recent article published in the Economic Times, Exceutive Director of Tata Sons, R..Gopalakrishnan has bemoaned the poor quality of management teaching and teachers in India.


The boom in management education is there for all to see. The number of B-Schools in India is now over 1500. New B-schools are springing up every year. New campuses of old schools are being constructed. The premier institutes are adding seats partly to meet the demand and partly to comply with the OBC quota requirements. Besides, in addition to the two-year MBA a large number of general and specialized one-year Executive Education Programs are being launched by many institutes.The demand for faculty in B-Schools is going through the roof..


Let us look at the supply side constraints.


As Mr Gopalakrishnan said, B – School faculty in today’s world  should be formed by a  mix of proven talents drawn from both  the indusry and academic institutions. Simply because the B-Schools themselves will have to engage in both research and consultancy apart from teaching to stay relevant to the fast changing demands of their customers – the students and their clients – the industry.


But how do you attract and retain such professionals?


 Less than 50 Fellows and Ph.Ds are awarded per year in India. To add to the scarcity, many of them are attracted by corporate jobs or Post-Doctoral scholarships abroad. 


In the absence of such professionals, B-Schools are adopting a variety of strategies. The Government funded institutes like IIMs, do not wish to compromise on their research objective. They are settling for Ph.Ds in Economics, Sociology, and Psychology with a good research track-record. The institutes in metros have a small core faculty of Ph.Ds and are using a mix of visiting faculty drawn from industry and other institutes to make up for the gap. The private institutes which are run more like placement companies for fresh MBAs, settle for young MBAs with limited  industry experience.


 Teachers with Ph.D.s may be good in research, but there is no guarantee that they would be good in teaching too. Besides, they usually lack industry experience. Visiting faculty with a flair for teaching may provide students real-life examples, but they cannot contribute to either research or consultancy. MBAs with limited or no experience can neither provide perspective on real-life situations nor are they on the cutting edge of research.


The supply of management faculty can be increased by bringing in practicing managers with 10 to 15 years of experience. Even if there are a number of persons interested in making a transition to  an academic career, the gap in salary offered between  the industry and the academies is too big a barrier.


So how does one break this impasse?


As someone, who has had the privilege to be on both sides,  the industry and the academia, I would like to share my views on this daunting issue in my forthcoming posts. 


–  G. Mohan.

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