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Every Manager Should Be An Intrapreneur: Ashish Bhattacharyya, Director, IMT Ghaziabad

Ashish Bhattacharyya, Director, IMT Ghaziabad, shares his views on a range of issues concerning B-school education in the country

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IMT Ghaziabad has established itself as one of the leading business schools in India. After receiving international accreditation in 2016, it is paving the way for Indian business schools at the global level. The curriculum is updated to meet the needs of the digital era with a strong focus on critical and analytical thinking. Today, it is the proud alma mater of more than 300 C–suite executives and thousands of professionals serving in leadership positions in top organisations in India and around the world. Ashish Bhattacharyya, Director, IMT Ghaziabad, in an email interview with BW’s Businessworld’s Priya Saraf, shares his views on a range of issues concerning B-school education in the country.

Why should students choose your school?
IMT Ghaziabad (IMTG) is a 38-year-old business school. It is constantly ranked among the top business schools in India. A school cannot maintain that position unless it continuously updates its programme architecture and courses to keep them contemporary and contextual. IMTG earned AACSB accreditation in 2016 when only a few business schools aspired to earn international accreditation. Even today, there are only seven AACSB-accredited business schools in India. AACSB accreditation bears the testimony that the systems are in place to ensure high academic standards.

Students should join IMTG because IMTG’s approach to management education is to (i) blend theory and practice in classroom learning and to provide opportunities to learn from peers through group activities in academic and extracurricular spheres; (ii) make students sensitive to social issues; (iii) enable students to learn to learn; (iv) and provide skills required for the immediate job and the knowledge required to take higher responsibilities to ensure very good campus placement.

An AIMA vision document says that India should be the second best global hub after the US for B-school education by 2025. Is it doable?
We have only seven years to achieve that goal. In achieving that goal, India needs to be ahead of many other countries. In the FT Global Business School Ranking 2018, only 50 per cent of the schools are located in the US and other 50 per cent are located in other territories. Only four Indian business schools (ISB, IIMA, IIMB and IIMC) find place in the list. Therefore, the vision is ‘audacious’. An audacious vision is established to motivate all stakeholders to work harder and smarter to achieve the goal. It is unusual to achieve the goal, but it helps to achieve a higher target than what could be achieved otherwise. Realistically speaking, India will not become the second best global hub after the US for B-school education by 2025. However, if top 100 business schools aspire to achieve this goal and receive active support from industry and government, they will be able to attract international students by offering quality education at affordable prices. In achieving the same, the two main constraints – shortage of good faculty and excessive regulations -- must be addressed immediately by the government, industry and business schools.

Why do top Indian B-schools not figure in the top global B-school lists?
ISB, IIMA, IIMB and IIMC have made it to the FT Global Business School Ranking 2018. This is a great leap forward. Two key reasons why Indian B-schools do not find a place in top global B-school lists are inadequate research and publications, and internationalisation. Indian B-schools that aspire to be in the list of top global business schools must look at the parametres being used in ranking and must work on those parametres.

How ready are Indian B-schools for Industrial Revolution 4.0?
Indian companies are lagging behind their peers in advanced countries in digital transformation and IR 4.0 primarily due to lack of infrastructure. However, it is expected that in order to be globally competitive, Indian companies will quickly embrace IR 4.0. Top B-schools are preparing students to perform in the digital era. For example, at IMTG, we are providing skills and knowledge to use analytics in every functional area and understanding how digital transformation will change business models. There should not be a shortage of management graduates who will be competent to perform effectively and efficiently in those manufacturing companies which will adopt IR 4.0. Top business schools will be able to meet the demand.

With entry-level jobs shrinking due to AI and automation, what plans do Indian B schools have to place their graduates?
Entry-level jobs for engineering graduates might be shrinking, although I am not sure as experts believe that digital transformation will create more jobs, albeit, the job profiles will change. Digitisation might eliminate lower level jobs. In the era of digital transformation, competitive advantage cannot be created by being at the frontiers of technology, although survival of firms depends on the ability to remain on the frontiers of the technology or just below it. Competitive advantage is created by effectively managing knowledge and relationships and integrating the two. Therefore, the demand for good management graduates even at the entry level will continue. However, business schools that produce unemployable managers will close down, as they will find it increasingly difficult to place their students. The trend is visible.

What measures are Indian B-schools taking to create entrepreneurs instead of just job-seekers? What percentage of B-school graduates turn to entrepreneurship at the outset?
Entrepreneurs are those who develop innovative ideas that can be translated into business ventures and take business risks. Those who are ready to take business risks and start their own commercial ventures in traditional areas are not entrepreneurs. Innovation is the key. Innovation is also the mantra for a firm’s success. Therefore, every manager should be an intrapreneur. Business schools should introduce courses like Design Thinking to foster creativity among students. Business schools have established incubation centres and accelerators to support students and others in their entrepreneurial endeavour.

Why do top Indian B-schools restrict the class size to 60 or 120 when the global average is much larger? Also, why should India allow sub-par B-schools to exist?
I think Indian business schools are scaling up the batch size. For example, IMT has a batch size of 660 students. IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore and IIM Calcutta have a batch size of around 470 students. My guess is that many business schools restrict the batch size to 60 or 120 because AICTE prescribes requirements of physical infrastructure, in addition to faculty strength and they cannot invest in the kind of infrastructure required to scale up the batch size.
I think with the requirement of accreditation by NBA, in due course, sub-par business schools will close down.

Who do Indian B-school faculty members not publish as frequently as their international peers?
The focus on research is a recent phenomenon in India. Internationally, business schools for long have adopted the ‘publish or perish’ approach. Therefore, international faculty members have no option but to publish. I am sure that in the next five years research will pick up in India. We have to keep in mind that in the US and elsewhere, access to data is much easier than in India. Moreover, publishing in international journals require research on topics/issues that have global interest. Those problems and issues might not be relevant for Indian business. These are the challenges that Indian B-school faculty face and that reduces the number of articles that they can publish in international peer-reviewed journals.

Why do Indian B-schools not tailor their curriculum to meet local needs? Why is there always a ‘one size fits all’ approach?
I do not think that Indian B-schools do not tailor their curriculum to local needs. Of course, industry-academia relationship is weak and, as a result, we do not see significant field research jointly by industry practitioners and faculty members. However, many faculty members of Indian business schools are developing and using Indian case studies. This is quite encouraging.

What more should Indian B-schools do to create leaders, and not just followers?
A business firm that strives for excellence is not a regimented organisation. Therefore, in such a firm there are no followers, except at lower levels. It need leaders at every level of the organisational hierarchy. Business schools should provide opportunities to students to see the big picture and should not focus on skill building alone to prepare them for the first job. Top business schools endeavour to create leaders by opening the mind of students. The difficult part is to instil moral values in them, because by the time they join a business school, the social environment corrupts their mind. Business schools should create a work culture where every individual demonstrate his/her commitment to moral values. It is more powerful than teaching business ethics as part of the curriculum.  

The IIM Bill, deemed university status and so on -- what additional institutional support do B-schools need to create a robust framework?

The IIM Act, 2017, which has become effective from January 31, 2018 provides autonomy to IIMs. Expectedly, government interference will be minimum. The IIMs will now be able to establish overseas centres and will offer an MBA degree instead of PGDM. We need to wait and watch the outcome of this autonomy. The effectiveness of the Coordination Forum will be important for building the IIM brand, which is necessary for accelerated growth in terms of research, etc. of baby IIMs. The government should continue to provide financial support to baby IIMs.

How different are women B-school graduates from their male counterparts, as their numbers remain abysmally low?
Women B-school graduates are no different from their male counterparts. They demonstrate the same level of intelligence, wisdom and confidence as their male counterparts. As students, they participate in all the campus activities with the same enthusiasm.


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