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BW Businessworld

Jack Of All Trades, Master Of All

Management education in India is at crossroads. On one hand, we have more than 4,000 All India Council for Technical Education approved B-schools in India, on the other hand, some 150 B-schools shut shop in 2013-2014 alone. And many more are likely to follow. With all the glamour and fancy glossary attached to the profession and some big names making an entry to the foray, top 10 management institutes have not seen much of churn in the past 20 years, with just very few exceptions.

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Management education in India is at crossroads. On one hand, we have more than 4,000 All India Council for Technical Education approved B-schools in India, on the other hand, some 150 B-schools shut shop in 2013-2014 alone. And many more are likely to follow. With all the glamour and fancy glossary attached to the profession and some big names making an entry to the foray, top 10 management institutes have not seen much of churn in the past 20 years, with just very few exceptions.
We have autonomous management institutions, which are standalone B-schools. Most prestigious among these are the Indian Institutes of Managements, genetically created to excel as single subject institutes with exceptional support from the Central government and directly controlled through the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Also there are autonomous institutes which have been promoted by corporates, societies, and trusts. Every other promoter, who could spare some financial and estate resources, decides to venture into a B-school business. Some of these have been able to create a niche for themselves. Then, there are government institutes – both at the national and state levels. University departments offering management programmes ranged from pure management to commerce/management departments.

Every technical institute such as IIT, NIT, and engineering college has also ventured into creating of management department. Additionally, many PSUs and corporate also started their own captive academies and training set-ups offering management programmes. To top it all, many international universities and institutes started offering international programmes through many Indian universities and institutes with inputs imparted both in India and abroad. Today, every graduate of B-schools is expected to be endowed with a fat-pay package, a brilliant professional career, a natural leadership, decent attire, a significant social standing, and a top of the line ethical and moral behaviour. But does it really happen! Do they really prove to be a net value contributor! There is a need to take a reality check. Most of MBAs suffer from “Perception Performance Paradox”. They have a perception about their capabilities which may not match with their performance.

This gap between “Deserve and Desire” is essential to be understood and bridged. And here B-schools have a role to play. The fact that students of B-schools come from hugely diverse social, cultural, educational, financial and professional backgrounds, it becomes paramount for a B-school to plan its curriculum carefully. Here are some of the essentials of a business graduate which are likely to add value:

Ethical Behaviour: With technology dominating, the professional behaviour of B-school graduates, ethics and morality is taking a back seat. It is imperative that B-schools must focus on development of ethical conduct among the students. Mere mention of the word MBA must pre-define the value set and ethical code of an individual.

Entrepreneurial Behaviour: B-school graduates can no longer afford to be just job seekers; they need to think like job creators. The sense of mini-and micro- entrepreneurship needs to be inculcated among these graduates so that each section of the business must act like a mini-business.

Connected to the Market: Sitting in air-conditioned classrooms and discussing imported case studies do add a value, but soiling their hands in the true market places will enlighten these graduates with the actual play field dynamics. Visits to the local markets, rural areas and production facilities might help.

Willing to take the Risk: The young professionals are hesitating to take the risk. Whereas the risk-taking capacity of fresh graduates is generally higher, they prefer to get into well-paid cushy jobs and subsequently find it difficult to risk these. Nobody can imagine of going to heaven without being willing to die. It is, therefore, imperative to train these students to not to be risk aversive. Interaction with successful and not so successful people will help.

Have another Obsession: Most of the time these graduates report that they are feeling the professional burnout. A second obsession will help them recreate themselves and act as great healers of temporary mood swings, almost inevitable in professional life. Joining art, dance, music, and sports etc. should come early in life rather than when the doctors advise. B-schools can help students by making such activities an integral part of the management education.

Excellence must be in their DNA: There is no sin on earth like doing a job badly. Excellence would define world-class. These students must be trained by B-schools to strive for excellence. Today India is confronting global competition, and in this struggle only excellence is likely to sustain. Lean and excellent work style is likely to create a position of leadership for such B-school graduates.

Patience, Performance and Perception: It is hilarious when a young B-school graduate, who has just started his career, reports back after 3-4 months and says that the current job profile has ruined his career. Difficult to visualise how a 3-4 months period can ruin a 35-40 years professional career! Today’s young graduates need to give themselves adequate time before they decide that they are on the top of the Everest or at the bottom of the Dead Sea. These short-term perceptions of performance cannot be permanent. B-schools, which oversell the concept of professional success, need to reconsider.

Look Up, Look Below: R. M. Lala, publisher, author and editor, stated in his book The Creation of Wealth that businesses and business people, who take so much from the society, must give back to the society. Or else one day society will go bankrupt and will have nothing left to buy their products and services. The graduates must also be socially sensitive. They must have a feeling of compassion and concern for the children of lesser gods. B-schools must emphasise the need to be involved in such activities for their students.

A Larger Perspective: While B-school graduates must focus on excellence and performance back home, they must keep themselves abreast with the changes that are taking place at the international levels. Benchmarked organisations and processes must guide their behaviour in taking their organisation to better levels. An exposure to such organisations, which are world-class would certainly help such B-school graduates. Having internationally trained faculty lead the B-schools will add value.

Work Life Balance: B-school graduates must realise the importance of a good work life balance. No amount of success at work is an adequate compensation for failure in personal life. This can be achieved through dissemination of information on successful professionals with wonderful family lives. A B-school graduate is expected to be complete is all respects. The B-schools that will focus on holistic development of their graduates are likely to carve a niche for themselves and create a churn in the list of the top 10 B-schools of India.

The author, M. L. Singla, is dean, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)


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