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Industrial Revolution 4.0 needs well-trained faculty: Monica Khanna, Director, SIMSR

‘The class size in Europe is normally 30-35 students. This helps in personal coaching and interaction with the students’

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Established in 1981 in Mumbai, K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research (SIMSR) is committed to exemplary standards in management education. It claims to thrive on nurturing the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and physical persona of the students to evolve as well-rounded human beings. The institute also claims to provide a platform for students with entrepreneurial orientation, and encourage innovation through state-of-the-art education along with a congenial environment for faculty and students. Monica Khanna, Director of SIMSR discusses with BW Businessworld’s Priya Saraf a range of topics on B-school education in an email interview.

Why should students choose your school?

The pace of change in the business environment due to digitization represents major challenges. At the same time it is imperative that businesses exist not only to make profits but also to ensure inclusive growth that encompasses all sections of society.  Management education should become a platform where students who aspire to join the professional workplace should experience personal and professional transformation along with ample opportunities to take part in the digital and social transformation that are sweeping across India and the world.

SIMSR’s “dream is to build a world-class research and teaching institution that is global in the reach of its ideas and universal in its service.” SIMSR is committed to achieving exemplary standards in management education that will not only help realise its vision but also the redefined parameters of management education.

SIMSR acknowledges that the student community continues to grow in the virtual space and wants to develop itself into global managers while inculcating the timeless principles of ethics and good governance.

SIMSR continues relentlessly to raise the bar and set new benchmarks for the course curricula across all its PGDM Programmes that go beyond the classroom to include learning through case studies, on-the-field experiential learning, developing entrepreneurial spirit and being part of socially relevant projects. In addition, industry interface in the form of guest lectures from industry experts, student clubs and committees, holistic self-management classes, sports facilities adds to the pedagogy. SIMSR thrives in nurturing the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and physical persona of the students to evolve as well-rounded human beings.

The students are spoilt for choice as they get an opportunity to learn foreign languages like Mandarin and Spanish and opportunities for international immersions. We strive to embolden the spirit of victory in our students as they participate in competitions across the country and in various co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The institute also endeavours to provide a platform for students with entrepreneurial orientation.

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?

It is doable, but all the stakeholders need to create a visionary policy document for providing excellent education at all levels of the educational journey from KG to Ph.D.

There is a huge requirement for good quality education that not only provides insights into local contextual issues but also has a global orientation.

India has been the cradle for knowledge and all ancient scriptures are proof of it. The country needs to find its roots of experience once again.

Why do top Indian B-schools not figure in the top global B-school lists?
It is possible with active and positive support from the regulators by setting a quality benchmark that is globally accepted.

How ready are Indian B-schools for Industrial Revolution 4.0?
Industrial Revolution 4.0 needs well-trained faculty that can provide the necessary knowledge and skills to the students. The reskilling is required at the faculty level along with intense industry-academia interface. Only then can the business schools produce management graduates who are ready for Industrial Revolution 4.0.

With entry-level jobs shrinking due to AI and automation, what plans do Indian B-schools have to place their graduates?

The entire focus of the management education at our institute is to provide very strong academic inputs not only in the traditional subjects but also in subjects like Analytics, E- commerce etc. The three pillars of the education here leadership, strategy and digitization along with exposure to entrepreneurial ventures and socially relevant projects. All these decisions and efforts will prepare our graduates for placements in higher order jobs in the industry.

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?
At our institute we have created special platforms like the E-cell, Social Cell and RIIDL where students can explore their entrepreneurial spirits. These platforms are supported by our faculty and our illustrious alumni.

At the outset, there are not many entrepreneurs. However, we have very successful alumni who have turned into successful entrepreneurs. Some of the leading entrepreneurs that our institute has produced are Vikram Malhotra (CEO & Founder, Abundantia Entertainment), Vikram Bhatt (Founder, Enrich Salons), Rupali Mehta (Co-founder, Green Light Entertainment), JD Majethia (Founder, Hats Off Production) etc.

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?

The class size in Europe is normally 30-35 students. This helps in personal coaching and interaction with the students. In India too, we should ideally have a class size of not more than 40.  
Anything that is sub-par will lose out eventually due to the market forces. At the end of the day, the students will take the decision to join a particular institute or not.

Who do Indian B-school faculty members not publish as frequently as their international peers?
The basic culture in the academic field is different as compared to the international business schools. The amount and quality of time and resources invested in conducting research work at the industry level is far higher than what is available in the Indian B-schools.  

The rigour of the Ph.D programmes, the structured manner in which research methodology is taught is quite different in international universities as compared to India. Also, in an international research or doctoral programme it is mandatory to publish in high-quality journals. I am sure if such rigour and focus is created in India, then our B-school faculty will not only publish frequently but also in good quality journals.

Why do Indian B-schools not tailor their curriculum to meet local needs? Why is there always a ‘one size fits all’ approach?
Indian B-schools operate within multiple regulatory frameworks. However, many institutions have got the autonomy status and they are making efforts to introduce subjects and field projects that involve application of knowledge to solving local problems.

What more should Indian B-schools do to create leaders, and not just followers?
The curriculum should be such that involves the management students in local community and socially relevant issues that require out-of-the-box thinking for providing solutions. Only if we give freedom and flexibility to our youngsters and involve them in local governance projects can we create leaders and not followers.

The IIM Bill, deemed university status and so on -- what additional institutional support do B-schools need to create a robust framework?
A robust B-school framework can be created only if there is encouragement from the government, industry and local communities.

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 as they come through the same rigorous competitive process. Almost 40 per cent of students in our institute are women, which is not a low number. As far as career in the industry is confirmed, women may require very proactive HR policies to retain them.


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