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Grant More Autonomy To Top 20 B-schools: Madhu Veeraraghavan, TAPMI

In an email interview to BW Businessworld’s Priya Saraf, he answers some key questions concerning Indian B-schools

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Since its inception in 1980, TAPMI has adopted the experiential learning approach as one of its features. The highlights of its curriculum are case-study based teaching, simulations, and a two-month industry internship, which take students beyond the four walls of the classroom learning and instil leadership qualities. According to director Madhu Veeraraghavan, TAPMI remains committed to creating industry relevant graduates and tomorrow’s business leaders. In an email interview to BW Businessworld’s Priya Saraf, he answers some key questions concerning Indian B-schools

Why should students choose your school?
We have been doing some amazing things over the last 30-plus years. The one feature of TAPMI that has not changed is the experiential learning approach. Every element in our outcome-centric curriculum is geared towards teaching students through real-life experiences. The case study based teaching, simulations, and two-month industry internship are a few engagements that take students beyond the four walls of the classroom learning and instil leadership qualities that, in turn, enable TAPMIANs to tackle challenges in the real world.

Most importantly, we are committed to creating industry relevant graduates and tomorrow’s business leaders. We are re-accredited by the coveted AACSB International -- a clear endorsement that TAPMI meets the highest standards set by a global accreditation body. TAPMI had earned initial accreditation of its postgraduate programme in April 2012 thereby becoming the first AICTE approved Institute to get the accreditation for five years. In January 2017, after the visit of the Peer Review Team (PRT) that monitors the continuous improvement, AACSB extended the accreditation for another five years. We are part of an elite group of B-schools around the world to have earned this coveted hallmark of excellence in management education. We are in the process of getting the AMBA accreditation. The PRT visit has been completed. We are waiting for their response.

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?
A state-of-the-art curriculum (more specifically the pedagogy) and industry interface are two vital parameters that ought to be considered by ranking agencies. The curriculum of top B-schools in India is generally at par with the best B-schools around the world, and a number of courses at least in the second year are designed in consultation with industry experts. Top B-schools constantly engage with the industry by inviting senior professionals to co-teach courses with core faculty. Top Indian B-schools focus more on academic infrastructure, quality faculty and research.

With these vital parameters in place, I can confidently say that India will emerge as a hub for global management education shortly.

Why do top Indian B-schools not figure in the top global B-school lists?
Top B-schools in India such as IIM Ahmedabad ISB, IIM Banagalore, IIM Calcutta, etc. are well respected around the world. Getting recognised and ranked in the global rankings is easier said than done. Most of the global rankings require AACSB, AMBA or EQUIS accreditation as a pre-requisite for participation in global rankings. In India, hardly 5 per cent of B-schools have these global accreditations. In my view, more Indian B-schools will start figuring in the global rankings. There are a couple of points I wish to make here. First, global ranking agencies clearly look for high-quality research publications by faculty and second, the growth of the alumni, say, at least five to ten years after graduation.

How ready are Indian B-schools for Industrial Revolution 4.0?
In my opinion, Industrial Revolution 4.0 is disrupting every industry. IR 4.0 will create a lot of opportunities for young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. At the same time, employment opportunities must also be increased. That said, opportunities are available only for highly skilled people.

B-schools in India should focus more on industry relevant courses and excellent facilities, which can help create entrepreneurs. B-schools should aim to develop leaders with skillsets such as critical thinking, excellent communication skills, adaptability, and be able to provide out-of-the-box solutions.

With entry-level jobs shrinking due to AI and automation, what plans do Indian B-schools have to place their graduates?
Most of the students from top business schools in India are getting placed in roles such as business development, consulting, risk management, etc. Hence, this is not a major issue for top schools. However, there could be a possibility that technology may replace many jobs.

B-schools should prepare students to choose entrepreneurship as a possible career option. In addition to this, there is a need for change in the existing curriculum to suit current business requirements. This move would certainly help to prepare the management students industry ready.

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?
It is an important question and let me answer this with the initiatives taken at TAPMI. Since inception, 188 TAPMIans have started their own ventures and a large number of ventures are running successfully. The TAPMI Centre for Inclusive Growth and Competitiveness, the nodal unit coordinating the larger innovation and entrepreneurship agenda at TAPMI, seeks to grow, improve and deploy. TAPMI is setting up a business support desk at the new innovation/entrepreneurship tower as well as a government of Karnataka (Deptt. of IT) funded business models/social innovation lab. Leipzig-based SPINLAB, Germany’s largest accelerator has agreed to mentor TAPMI’s entrepreneurship initiatives.

TAPMI, in its curriculum, introduced 11 credits exclusively for entrepreneurship related concepts. We have introduced courses like Design Thinking & Customer Centrism, which includes ethnography led user research, customer journey mapping, low fidelity prototype development, etc. It is a three-credit course. Similarly, Strategic Innovation Management is a three-credit course, where students learn about managing the idea pipeline, platform strategies, Harvard simulation on hi-tech innovation. The other course we introduced is New Venture Challenge. In this course, students learn about business model canvas & core value preposition design, financial forecasting and advanced prototyping. We also introduced a course titled SHARKTANK, which is a very interesting course for enthusiastic entrepreneurs. In this, the students learn about elevator pitching, investor meeting (speed dating), Hackathon, and demo day.

Answering your second part of the question, I would say that most of the students in Indian B-schools are looking for jobs, rather than starting their own ventures. There is a need for change in this mind-set.

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?
In a smaller class, the quality of interaction is very high. Faculty can pay personal attention. In my view, it is important to restrict the batch size rather than class size. If you observe the global scenario, the batch size of the Harvard Business School, The Wharton School and Columbia Business School in 2018 was 934, 851 and 558, respectively. I am certainly not for it and am sure the regulators are already working on it.

Who do Indian B-school faculty members not publish as frequently as their international peers?
Indian B-school faculty have been publishing in top journals. TAPMI has an active programme encouraging faculty to contribute research papers in international journals of repute.

Last year, we commissioned a benchmarking study. It took around ten months for the methodology to evolve and develop. In this study, we found that the authors of top 35 business schools have published 634 high quality (A* and A) with 586 unique issues in 267 unique 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 disagree with this statement. Most of the top B-schools encourage students to solve business problems related to local businesses. A good B-school curriculum obviously must meet the local needs as well as global needs. TAPMI curriculum and courses support local as well as global needs.

At TAPMI, students visit SMEs and try to solve their problems related to operations, financing, marketing, human resources, etc. In addition to this, our students work with several NGOs. TAPMI has an arrangement with SELCO Foundation, for instance, to assist them with business support for their renewables based incubates.

Students also support ASARE, an NGO that supports individuals with special needs / differently abled, by doing a clothes drive each year. Students also support Academy Primary and Rajeev Nagar Schools, Manipal, which are trust-run schools for lower income students. Students deliver English language, life skills and innovation / tinkering to the primary school learners.

Our students are involved in projects handed over by the district commissioner. One project was to design a monitoring format for the women and child nutrition system that was being implemented at the anganwadis. Another project was to recommend to the district commissioner a solution to manage plastic waste.

What more should Indian B-schools do to create leaders, and not just followers?
There is a definite need for proper initiatives from B-schools to create leaders. At TAPMI, Leadership Assessment & Development Centre (LADC) is a centre of excellence that gives a competitive advantage in leadership competencies to TAPMI students and the industry at large.

The centre nurtures students to be transformational leaders rather than merely transactional leaders, who can navigate and lead organisations through the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment. Recently, this initiative received the Gold Award at IMC Awards for Excellence in Management Education 2018 at IIM Bangalore under the “Pedagogy for developing job competencies in MBAs” category. The centre delivers the “be, know and do” of leadership through a three-phase process: transformational leadership self-awareness; strategising leadership self-development plan; and developing core leadership competencies.

The IIM Bill, deemed university status and so on — what additional institutional support do B-schools need to create a robust framework?
In my opinion, more autonomy should be provided to the top 20 B-schools and those that have excellent global accreditation such as AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS.

How different are women B-school graduates from their male counterparts, as their numbers remain abysmally low?

At TAPMI female candidates account for approximately 30 per cent of students. This is largely because of the excellent safety climate at TAPMI. As far as performance is concerned, both male and female students are equally competent. TAPMI alumni data clearly shows that some of the female graduates hold senior management positions in leading companies around the world.


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