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BW Businessworld

“One-year MBA programme is possible in India”

Ram Kumar Mishra, Director of the Hyderabad-based Institute of Public Enterprise talks to BW Businessworld's Navneel Maji about the changed business environment as a result of the pandemic and how B-schools, and more specifically IPE are rising to this challenge in terms of reorienting their curriculum to meet the needs of changed circumstances. 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?

Business environment is composed of socio-economic and political factors. All these have undergone a total transformation. Social factors have been largely dominated by the Covid phenomenon resulting in far less interaction among different groups and concerned parts of society, movement of people and communication of their opinion and thoughts. It has become a one-way street where people at large get the information from media, especially electronic, digital and the print media. The economy has been impacted by Unlock 1, 2, 3 and 4. Industrial production, various sectors of the economy rendering services, the institutional set-ups and their dynamics have all been impacted adversely. The migrant labour has added to the woe even of the agricultural sector. In macro terms, the outlook on health sector spending coupled with the plans to spend more on education have undergone a rapid change. To resuscitate the economy a Rs 20 lakh crore package was announced and there is a possibility of another package. However, these packages have not been able to bolster employment, production and economic revival. There is a need to manage the economy in an altogether new way. 

What are the strategic drivers for business now?

Business has to have a local strategy as globalisation, which characterised the period between 1991 and 2018 including China’s entry into the WTO, is not the driving force anymore. Startups and entrepreneurship should rule the new style of business. Innovation, R&D and branding would have to be cared for far more than practiced so far. Customer service orientation, e-commerce, e-retailing would drive the business forward; technology orientation would be a must with a new approach to supply chain management. 

How is your B-school rising to this challenge? How is it poised to thrive in this new abnormal which may actually become the new normal?

The management education at IPE is constantly reviewing the relevance of its courses, their delivery, pedagogical methods and their suitability to management students. It has brought focus on technology oriented courses such as digital management, block chain, Internet of Things, fintech, new platforms for selling and distribution, 3D printing, people management and study of buying behavior of different sections of society in various age groups. The students are technology enabled with a wi-fi campus and online resources for learning. During the pandemic the institute didn’t lose any time in shifting to online teaching, proctored examinations, declaration of results, and commencement of new sessions. Teachers have undergone requisite training. The LMS is being used for administrative purposes.  

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

The recruitment process will become more rigorous and highly competitive. The CEOs would prefer to have management students who could work both from office and have good technology orientation. They should have proficiency in subjects consistent with the changing economic scenario. The CEOs would like new recruits to come out with new ideas which should lead to registering patents and sustainable production in line with the SDGs. IPE has taken full care of this in driving its management education forward. 

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

IPE has been always reviewing the suitability of the courses with reference to the needs of time. It has been reorienting its physical infrastructure, faculty, connection  with industry, relevance of contents taught, interaction with industry and pedagogy. The Institute has created advisory groups for each of its course, placement, publication, training and admission activities. IPE’s strategy to lead the change is to provide research-based management education. It measures the academic credentials of its faculty through publication of papers in indexed journals and books by top-notch publishers. 

What are the major changes in the curriculum?

We have made the curriculum technology oriented, included courses on people management and diversity, laid greater stress on a wide variety of electives, involvement in projects and liberal management education. 

Will there be an impact on campus education as a result of the changed scenario?

Undoubtedly, especially as campuses are yet to open — normally campuses open mostly in June / July. Management education is based on the 70:20:10 approach wherein 10 per cent comes from within, 20 per cent comes from the curriculum and teaching and 70 per cent comes from interaction with the peer group and others. 

What are the changed expectations of each stakeholders?

The expectations will veer around as to how to come back to the track and focus on the central purpose with readiness to meet disorders and volatility. 

In five years where will your school be?

In the next five years, we expect the NEP to be fully operational. Keeping in view the recommendations of the NEP, IPE would have a strength of about 1,000 students, MBA / PGDM duration would reduce to one year, it would be fully residential, have a 100-member faculty and see its financial resources double. IPE would be known as a business school with an ecosystem in place to develop business leaders engaged in creating new thoughts and making a huge impact on local surroundings. 

What do B-school alumni need to do to contribute?

In fact, B-school alumni should own up the schools in the tradition of good schools in the US, Canada, the UK, France and the Philippines. They should get involved in shaping the students for an all-round growth, participate in curriculum development, involve themselves in teaching, work on brand building, bridge the gap between industry and B-schools and make the institutions work for the development of society.  

Will the learning cycle shorten?

Most of the good schools have one-year MBA programmes. This is one of the recommendations of the NEP. In India too, one-year MBA programme is possible as during the two-year programme, we have holidays of about a year. In one-year programmes abroad there are three terms of three months each with an intervening gap of just one / two days. In India, holidays are galore. Sometimes I think we could reduce the pages on our yearly calendar by printing only working days. 

What are your three predictions for the future of management education and B-schools?

Three predictions are: first, only those institutions will survive which can manage the programmes through their own resources, second, industry-business schools can come closer for mutual benefits and sustenance, and three, management education would focus more on environment, sustainability and governance as compared to profit.