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“CEOs want graduates to demonstrate capability for life-long learning”

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta’s flagship programmes highlight the business and managerial requirements for success in the new normal. ANJU SETH, Director, IIM Calcutta, in an interaction with BW Businessworld, says that her graduating students are known not just for their technical skills and knowledge but also their entrepreneurial orientation. Excerpts:

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How has the Business environment changed in the last few months? What parts have permanently changed and warrant new orientation? 

The elements of speed and agility are particularly crucial in the new business environment. The unprecedented challenge posed by the pandemic has had a profound impact on demand as well as supply of products and services with a lasting impact. Customers are likely to “trade down,” to buy less expensive products and services, brands will reposition themselves to focus on perceived value to the customer, and distribution will shift to digital channels. Such changes in customer preferences and disruptions in supply chains have made an orientation of adaptability crucial 

What are the strategic drivers for business now?

The disruptions in customer preferences, supply chains and offline buying channels have made adaptability and agility crucial not just for survival but to access opportunities quickly. Now more than ever before, adaptability and agility will require new partnerships, collaborations and strategic mergers and acquisitions. The sharply increased imperative is for coopetition wherein firms both collaborate and compete with each other not just for survival but to access opportunities quickly. 

How is your B-school rising to this challenge?

Our flagship programs highlight the business and managerial requirements for success in the new normal. Our graduating students are known for not just their technical skills and knowledge but also their entrepreneurial orientation. 

What is your view on changed expectations of CEOs who recruit from B-schools?

More than ever before, CEOs will expect graduates from business schools to demonstrate the capability for life-long learning — to develop habits that deepen or expand their learning with resilience. The search for talent will be for individuals who are always seeking new opportunities in a spirit of inquiry, with strong problem-solving capabilities and the ability to translate skills into action. The new world will require perseverance and resilience in addition to the knowledge and skills that are imparted by business schools. 

What are you doing to stay ahead and re-visualise your institutions?

Technological developments are driving new opportunities for business education and value changes among customers. Digitalization is a key driver of change in that it enables the development of highly customized content and widens options for delivering learning material to students. IIM Calcutta has a leadership position in that it makes available the country’s most extensive blended learning portfolio of about 35 open enrolment and customided executive education programmes of six months to one year. These programmes provide working professionals a mix of live online classes and face-to-face campus sessions with IIM Calcutta faculty, a mix that we have optimised over the last couple of decades to meet the needs of today’s working professionals.

Will there be an impact on-campus education from the changed scenario?

We believe the demand for our on-campus education programmes will remain very strong. In fact, we have a visionary new infrastructure plan for our campus. 

How do educators need to prepare, reorient themselves for this change?

The is for “the flipped classroom”, where more lecture material is online with more in-class focus on interaction and application. For students to hit the ground running, business schools will focus more on experiential learning outside the classroom, with more balance between learning-by-studying with learning-by-doing.