MANAGING in the

NEW WORLD

Topic: National Summit on Indian Management Education towards the Next Orbit

Date: 28th April, 2015

Venue: SCOPE Complex

Organizers: Education Promotion Society of India & National Human Resource Development Network

Attendee: Mr. Aritro Dasgupta

This annual event was the first of its kind hosted jointly by the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI) & National Human Resource Development Network (NHRDN). The focus of the event was to discuss on the present status and future course for the concept of industry- academia interface. Thus business leaders were invited to speak at the summit along with leaders from the world of management education. The rest of this write-up will present a topic-wise summary of the major points discussed at the summit. 

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Inaugural Session

This session consisted of 7 panel members. They were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Mr. S.Y. Siddiqui

National President (Immediate Past)

NHRDN

Welcome Address

Chief Mentor

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.

2

Dr. Pritam Singh

CEO

LEAD Centre

Special Address

3

Dr. Jagdish N Sheth

Professor- Marketing & Strategy

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Keynote Address

Founder Chairman

Academy of Indian Marketing (AIM)

4

Mr. Kamal Singh

Director General

NHRDN

Special Address

5

Mr. Subrat Kumar

Founder

Cinque Education

Presentation

6

Mr. R.N. Nayak

Chairman & MD

Power Grid Corporation

Inaugural Address

7

Mr. Dhananjay Singh

Executive Director

NHRDN

Vote of Thanks

Mr. S.Y. Siddiqui

This speaker started the proceedings by setting the day’s agenda. The discussion was going to revolve around the balance between the industry and the world of academics and how to bridge the same. Mr. Siddiqui, with his vast experience with Maruti Suzuki recounted an incident involving his Japanese peers / seniors which can be considered a crucial marker. He says that the Japanese have always been at pains to understand the feeling of being ‘unsettled’ that fresh MBA grauduates seem to bring to the table on joining. Apparently this behavior continues for a period of up to 1.5 years since joining and the attrition rate during this period is very high. The speaker feels that business schools must lay down this norm to their students regarding loyalty at workplace and that a few years at least must be spent at a job to become more valuable to the workplace. The more a feeling of belonging can be inculcated with a particular place of work, the lesser the person will face stress and personal life will improve considerably. 

 

Dr. Pritam Singh

Dr. Singh has vast experience managing business schools across India. He was a key speaker / moderator at other sessions during the day as well. In this session, he spoke about the oft repeated maxim that has today become a cliché- that apparently Indian management graduates are unemployable. He feels that this is more so because of the industry’s impatience and the fact that companies want the student to start performing from day one. He also feels that companies involve the fresh MBA to be a ‘trainee’ for far too long when he / she has already been part of an overall grooming during the management classes. Dr. Singh feels that during the first year of work post campus placement a student feels ‘demoted’ from final semester to 1st as he / she is once again treated as junior and somebody who doesn’t have the requisite skills. He envisages an ideal environment where the training period for the fresh MBA is a maximum of only 3 months and that beyond that time period the new employee must now be in a position to take decisions. 

 

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Dr. Jagdish Sheth

The Professor started by speaking out about his long tenure in USA. He has been there for more than 50 years but feels that it is India that has given him the basic training. His family hails from the Kutch region in Gujarat and were established business people in Burma (Myanmar). They came as refugees from south east Asia and the Indian government provided him with free education.

Away from the personal talk, Dr. Sheth described the management education and its evolution in the USA. He says that initially in the USA, like in India, management education was populated by engineers, most of whom had skills on technology but not in management. Thus the first year of MBA was traditionally just vocabulary training where students were provided with basic training on management terms and fundamentals. But since the 1980s, the non-engineers made a big jump by joining MBA courses in fairly large numbers. It is then that MBA started getting bit more technical in the USA. The speaker however feels that USA is not the ideal ground for Indians to study or try to replicate in terms of a management education system. That breeding ground of bold ideas is continental Europe and in particular the U.K. Some of these innovations that management institutions in the UK or Europe had to implement were due to necessities, the most major one being budget cuts. In Europe the majority of colleges are state funded as opposed to the USA or India where a large body of private business schools do exist. Due to the Recession and the subsequent economic crisis in Europe, the states had to reduce funding for education and thus these educational institutes had to innovate in order to continue to remain relevant.

Finally Dr. Sheth also feels that some of the innovations in today’s management education are apt for the present technology savvy generation. He knows of students who directly gained admission in to the second year of an MBA as they had already covered the basics of the first year course on online platforms like MOOCS or Coursera. Dr. Sheth also feels that beyond AICTE, educational institutions in India must now look global towards international accreditations. The ACBSP & AACSB are the most prestigious and widely recognized accreditation bodies which can be explored by Indian institutions. He also touched upon the topic of teacher training in training in the management education sphere. There is an American organization called SCE which deals with teachers’ training in non- management courses. He feels something similar must be started in India specifically for the management line of education.

Dr. Kamal Singh

Dr. Singh discussed about the term ‘business school’ which he feels is a term used as a result of the dominance of the Harvard style in management education. He feels that the phrase ‘management institute’ is a much more comprehensive term as all MBA graduates do not work solely in business but in a wide gamut of management activities.

Dr. Singh also introduced the delegates to a study on business schools that was carried out by NHRDN in association with knowledge partners- Cinque Education. The study was a 3 year amalgamated study showing progress and trends among all the participating institutes. 3 of the institutes which were ranked among the top 25, were present at the venue and the representatives were then facilitated with small tokens of appreciation. These business schools present were- BIMTECH, FORE School and MDI. 

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Mr. Subrat Kumar

As the founder and head of this research, analytics and training firm called Cinque who partnered NHRDN in their quest, Mr. Subrat Kumar spoke about the various trends which emerged out of the study. He says that the disturbing trend often relates to the relationship between the owner / promoter and the director. He says that long term plans were not put in place. In fact there was one management institute which had not had a board meeting for the last 3 years. He also said that as per a study management / technical education gets obsolete at a period of every 3 years. Thus the need to ‘training the trainers’ has become even more crucial in today’s economy. The challenge for engineering colleges lay in how to make up for the gap in the 4th year of study knowing fully well that the 1st year education had already become obsolete.

Mr. R.N. Nayak

Mr. Nayak being the head of a truly giant Navratna PSU spoke from his experiences regarding how he sees the management education as a link for the industry. He says that the world has changed immeasurably. Earlier, professional careers lasted roughly 30-35 years. Now due to improved healthcare and better work opportunities, professionals work for up to 50-55 years actively. He also feels that earlier the word generation gap defined the gap between a father and his child with the difference being around 25 years. But now the gap has come to signify at just 4-5 years as technology has meant that every few years knowledge becomes obsolete and in need of recycling. Mr. Nayak also spoke about the dangers of yielding to short term gains for the organization. He fears that employees worry about their own tenures at the firm and take decisions to only benefit the firm for those many years. He feels employees and managers must take decisions basing on assumptions that they will be at the place forever. Mr. Nayak also spoke about external risks being less dangerous than internal ones within the organization. This is where a leader’s motivational powers come to the fore. Finally, the speaker spoke on the importance of ethics by giving a personal anecdote. He recounted his initial work days more than 3 decades back while he was at SAIL. He did a slight tweaking of his official travel accounts to generate more cash from the employer. His experience reporting officer detected the mischief and asked him whether he was sure of the bills. To this the young Mr. Nayak felt guilty and could not face the senior. This he says was his last such act. Since then he has striven to only perform such tasks where he can face the others with pride and look them in the eye. Without ethics one can never be truly confident of one’s work.

Mr. Dhananjay Singh

Being the ED of NHRDN, Mr. Singh’s primary task here was to summarize the words spoken till then. He recognized the urgent need for dialogue between industry and academia. Mr. Singh spoke about the blame game which was presently taking place across the spectrum with each part of the human value chain blaming the other. Academia claiming that industry was not interested, while industry claimed that academia was only theoretical and supplying unemployable products. He also thanked all the panelists for their valuable time and inputs. Finally the panelists were all acknowledged with tokens of appreciation respectively by NHRDN.

The inaugural session was followed up by a round of Networking High Tea. 

Session 1: Governance in Indian B- Schools

This session consisted of 4 panel members. They were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Major General D.N. Khurana

Honorary Advisor

Asian Association of Management Organizations

Moderator

Director General (Former)

AIMA

2

Dr. H Chaturvedi

President (Alternate)

EPSI

Panelist

Director

BIMTECH

3

Professor Gautam Sinha

Founding Director

IIM, Kashipur

Panelist

4

Mr. Shreevats Jaipuria

Vice Chairman

Jaipuria Institute of Management

Panelist

Major General D.N. Khurana

Being the moderator of the event, the speaker introduced the panelists and was mainly on hand to make sure the discussion flowed smoothly. He also interacted with the audience to ensure healthy flow of ideas.

Professor Gautam Sinha

As director of one of the new IIMs, Dr. Sinha had some very important pointers. He said that because of Kashipur’s remoteness in location- both perceived as well as actual- there cropped up some major challenges. He said that when students came, the student had to go through a few phases of counseling to get over this. Initially came the shock of a town with no multiplexes, malls or quality beauty salons. Thus put off the corporate chasing IIM entrant. So the student had to be calmed. Next came the phase of reworking on the confidence of the once over confident but now dulled down (due to the semi-rural conditions of the town) student. Finally came the phase of anxiety just prior to the placements’ season. The speaker says that when a new student arrived at an IIM (including the new ones like the one at Kashipur), the feeling that he / she possessed was that of over confidence and a sense of – “I’ve arrived”. Getting to an IIM is seen as an end in itself and from there the student is often not prepared to work hard on academics or internships. The student expects that a hefty pay package after the IIM stamp is a given. It is here that the institute faces a lot of challenge in governance and especially student counseling plays a key role.

Dr. H Chaturvedi

Dr. Chaturvedi spoke especially about the promoter- director relationships that exist in present day business schools. He spoke about a unique paradox and how the business school model has become just a business for many promoters. In many ways it is a way to get into the real estate business! Dr. Chaturvedi says that a number of business schools were started with the promoter or owner family purchasing a plot of land to build a business school. Buildings were then constructed and especially successful were the hostels developed. The land prices soared as did that of the buildings and over a period of time, the family would sell off the concern at a massive profit. The hostel would prove particularly a successful business sale as the quarters were already made in residential style so they were easy to be converted to residential blocks in case of the new owners being property developers which was very common a trend. These business groups did not care about the quality of academics and did not give any freedoms to the director. They did not care for admission numbers, their primary concern was land price appreciation. They encouraged other related businesses to develop near their campus as this would further raise prices making it prime property. Faculty then got treated merely as employees and not as intellectuals and quality suffered. This entire model became widespread and a malice ultimately bringing down the business of business schools post the bubble which burst with the onset of recession.  

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Mr. Shreevats Jaipuria

This speaker was in a perfect position to speak about governance as he himself belongs to the Jaipuria family which owns all the centres of the Jaipuria educational group. He gave a first hand insight into promoters’ issues and expectations. He said that very often promoters are labeled as people do not wish to decentralize and delegate genuine power to the director or other members of the governing body. But this was a false assumption as owners felt happiest when they did not have to meddle in operational affairs and only got information to make strategic business decisions. They were apparently the happiest to find competent directors who could run the show on their own without overt interference from the side of the promoters’ family. He said that directors must also not hesitate when discussing matters with the promoters and they had to factor in a long term plan of working together with the owners. Frequent meetings with promoters as well as with the faculty council and members of the governance were essential. Directors possess first hand information about the running of the college which the promoters may not have and this it was all the pertinent for the director to keep intimating the owners regarding the same.

Session 2: Leadership & Institution Building

This session consisted of 4 panel members. They were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee

Director General & CEO

Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs

Moderator

2

Mr. KRamkumar

Executive Director

ICICI Bank

Panelist

President

ICICI Foundation

3

Dr. Jitendra K Das

Director

Fore School of Management

Panelist

4

Dr. Pritam Singh

CEO

LEAD Centre

Panelist

Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee

Being the moderator of this discussion, this speaker laid out the agenda of the same. He spoke about the various challenges which come to the fore when an institution is to be built and developed. Here the challenge was not just physical & infrastructural but indeed much more. This included the human aspects, the legal ones, the politics and most crucially- the intellectual part.

Mr. K Ramkumar

Very bluntly, the speaker here spoke about how the quality of faculty as well as students at management institutions was not as per standards required by corporate India. He stated that a lot of professionals ventured into academics purely because of their relative lack of success in the corporate world. They were apparently forced to go into academics as a last ditch option. This he felt was an irony as the academicians at management institutions were by profession supposed to train youngsters on best ways to cope with the corporate world and how to do well in it. Mr. Rajkumar spoke about a possible system of sabbatical where after every 3 years, a full time academician would opt for a 6 to 9 months’ internship at some corporate. He feels that many academicians do consult the industry but that is from the outside, whereas this sabbatical will enable the same to work as an insider and thus get attuned to the latest business practices. In this way the teaching imparted will be less theoretical and much more practical oriented. The lightning pace at which the work environment is changing, it is not possible for an academician to build up a competence in a field once and use it for substantial period of time. Constant updating is the need of the hour.

Dr. Pritam Singh

Dr. Singh was highly supportive of the sabbatical system but feels that the industry may not necessarily cooperate. He feels that academics is a full time profession like any and it is not always possible for an outsider to gain administrative competence in this line. He thus feels that it is highly unjust and inappropriate that a lot of management institutions are run from the very top by industry professionals and not academicians while the vice-versa is definitely not happening. He feels that industry is too selective and wants readymade talent to emerge from the business school campus.

Dr. Singh also spoke about the need for ethics and how leadership involves not being afraid of different stakeholders. As a leader of an educational institute, one has to do best to achieve success within ethical norms for that institute rather than worry about different stakeholders. He recounted an incident where he was being interviewed for the post of director of a business school. On finally being asked salary demands, he said that he needed exactly the same as the incumbent. He specified that on asking more than the previous rank holder, he would be classified as money-hungry, else if he demanded less, then the employing institute would value him less for his services. He also spoke about faulty selection procedures at business schools where everyone was simply interested in protecting their own turfs rather than do quality work. He said that once while he was with IIM Lucknow, a road was to be constructed from the middle of the campus which would have opened up the entire block to valuable business. Dr. Singh flatly refused as he felt it compromised on the integrity of the campus. It would disturb the educational nature of the campus life. The whole block went up in arms against his decision. But he stood firm and in the end IIM Lucknow benefited from his strong decision and leadership.

Dr. Jitendra K Das

The speaker acknowledged that he was mentored by the previous speaker i.e. Dr. Pritam Singh and indeed was indebted to him for the management style he inherited. In relation to a remark by a panelist from the previous session, this speaker also acknowledged that management institutions have taken upon responsibility of campus placements far too seriously. This has downgraded them to become proxy placement agencies. He feels that if some students do not get placed, the entire campus gets into a state of stupor. From top management till student body, all try to wriggle through their contacts to find ways of placing the last ‘unplaced’ students in the batch.

This session was followed by the Networking Lunch. 

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Session 3: Skilling &Employers’ Expectations

This session consisted of 4 panel members. They were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Dr. Asha Bhandarkar

Distinguished Professor of Leadership

IMI

Moderator

2

Mr. Anil Sharma

Vice President (HR)

ITC Hotels

Panelist

3

Mr. Rajneesh Bawa

Director (HR India & SE Asia)

Case New Holland

Panelist

4

Mr. Rajeev Bhadauria

Director- Group HR

Jindal Steel & Power

Panelist

 

Dr. Asha Bhandarkar

As the moderator of this session, Dr. Bhandarkar spelt out the major topics to be discussed in this session. She spoke about how there exists a dichotomy between industry expectations and academia supplies. Up to 70% of management graduates supplied every year remain unemployable for a good period of time. They lack soft skills and a certain dedication to work. This session wanted to discuss ways to bridge this existing gap between industry and academia.

Mr. Rajneesh Bawa

This speaker feels that the task of any management institute or for that matter any form of education is to provide a broad understanding of the subject matter. As an HR professional he feels he would is doing something in his present job and would have been doing very different things at other profiles at other firms. For a corporate house to expect that a fresh management graduate to be a perfect fit at any or every firm is impossible. Corporates need to be patient and groom the trainee to fit in to their patterns and requirements of work.

Mr. Anil Sharma

This speaker provided quite a contrarian view to the generally felt pulse. He says that the industry itself is flawed and academia cannot provide all the solutions. There is a misconception about industry being professional but that is not the case in India. He feels that education has a long term perspective of training the student to cope up with life related problems over a period of around 15 years or more. Skills imparted during education stay forever and a few mistakes during the first job does not make those skills redundant or the learning outdated. Mr. Sharma also says that if today’s youth becomes ‘employable’ from day 1, that will be a sign that times are really bad and the future of India cannot be averted from disaster! 

Mr. Rajeev Bhadauria

Echoing the words of the other speakers, Mr. Bhadauria claimed that this industry academia gap is indeed a by-product of the lack of cooperation between the two twains. But he also feels that academia has to bear its share of responsibility for this situation. He feels that the practical exposure during internships is not taken seriously by colleges and students alike and more should be done in this regard.

This session was followed by another round of Networking High Tea.

Session 4: Industry Academia Connect- Way Forward

This session consisted of 5 panel members. They were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Dr. Pritam Singh

CEO

LEAD Centre

Moderator

2

Mr. P Dwarkanath

Advisor (Group Human Capital)

Max India Ltd.

Panelist

3

Mr. Nischae Suri

Partner and Head- People & Change Management

KPMG

Panelist

4

Dr. YV Verma

Member of Executive Board

Dena Bank & Fore School of Management

Panelist

5

Dr. Janat Shah

Director

IIM, Udaipur

Panelist

Dr. Pritam Singh

Continuing from where he left off at the previous session, Dr. Singh set the pattern for this discussion. He introduced the members and stated his own roadmap to improving the industry- academia connect. One of his ideas was that corporates must recruit students continuously and not just at specific times of internship or final placements. This will help improve relationships across the board. On weekends or other stipulated days of the week, students can work at offices or sites of certain organizations. 

Dr. Singh also spoke about B School rankings and how IIM Lucknow during his tenure secured the 2nd best rank among IIMs and this created massive unrest among the older established IIMs. Those older institutions then stopped participating in surveys as they felt their prestige was at stake if they lost further ground to an ‘upstart’ like Lucknow on a more regular basis. 

Mr. Nischae Suri

This speaker feels that the current system of summer or winter internships is not enough. Instead there must be a period of 3-6 months post final MBA examinations that students must spend at a firm and this will impart the rigour that is necessary for the long haul. He feels this will also help in training for life skills and not just the particular job.

Dr. Y V Verma

This speaker addressed a very important issue. He spoke about the concept of treating students as customers and how a balance has to be met. On the one hand he feels that teaching is not a business and thus the faculty has complete freedom on the creative side. The faculty’s main task is to make sure that students learn, irrespective of the fact about who is paying. On the other hand, the faculty also needs to be professional and cannot take the student or the paying body for granted. The faculty also needs to be regular and consistent in approach.

Mr. P Dwarkanath

This speaker discussed about the concept of an extended learning period beyond the end of the studies. He spoke about the finishing school being a good concept but the model was fraught with difficulties. One of those obvious challenges being the fact that business schools not only made sure that students would get placed after end of their papers, instead these colleges tried to facilitate campus placements well before end of final examinations. This was done in such a way that in the final semester, students were being exempted from a lot of academic compulsions to focus primarily on placements. The majority of colleges begin campus placements as early as the October of the previous year with the fear that any delay will cause the other business school next in rank to procure those elite corporate placement offers. Thus it is business schools and not corporates who are in greater rush to complete campus placements well before time. 

Dr. Janat Shah

This speaker brought to an end the day’s proceedings by wrapping up what this session spoke about. He urged all members present to pledge an end to hostilities and greater cooperation between industry and academia. This will exponentially benefit all academic institutions as well as corporate houses. 

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