Need To Improve Ability To Attract The Best Faculty: Ranjan Banerjee, Dean, SPJIMR
In an email interview with BW’s PRIYA SARAF, RANJAN BANERJEE, Dean, SPJIMR discusses issues surrounding B-school education
Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami
SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) boasts of a unique pedagogy, with a strong element of non-classroom based experiential learning, and a faculty body with a mix of researchers and practitioners-turned-academics, which ensures that what is taught in the classrooms is current and relevant. In an email interview with BW’s PRIYA SARAF, RANJAN BANERJEE, Dean, SPJIMR discusses issues surrounding B-school education.
Why should students choose your school?
SPJIMR is one of India’s premier business schools. What sets us apart: Our unique pedagogy, with a strong element of non-classroom-based experiential learning. Placements which are comparable with the top three IIMs. An admission process which lays stress on values and versatility, and ensures that the quality of the peer group is among the very best in India. A faculty body which has a mix of researchers-and-practitioners-turned-academics, which ensures that what is taught in our classrooms is current and relevant. An emphasis on teaching excellence which has been recognised nationally, which ensures that teaching quality is as good or better than any other institute in the country. A high degree of industry integration, location in India’s commercial capital.
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?
I would say that it is a stretch aspiration. It is a good target to shoot for. It will require nonlinear thinking and the willingness to go beyond models which merely follow the West.
Why do top Indian B-schools not figure in the top global B-school lists?
If you look at the QS global top 230, five Indian schools, IIMA, IIMB, IIMC, ISB and SPJIMR feature. We need to improve in research and the ability to attract the best faculty to academia.
How ready are Indian B-schools for Industrial Revolution 4.0?
Differs from school to school. We are doing a lot to keep our curriculum industry relevant, and are ahead of the B-school curve. However, scenario analysis is required to anticipate and plan for discontinuous futures.
With entry-level jobs shrinking due to AI and automation, what plans do Indian B-schools have to place their graduates?
For the top B-schools, students are still in high demand and we do not have an issue. However, embedding analytics in every programme, a high degree of business and technology integration, and building learnability in students is critical. Also, creating students who can combine analytics with skills like design thinking and systems thinking will ensure that students are valued in the job market. Learnability is critical as students may have multiple distinct careers in their lifetime.
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 the outset, this figure is of the order of 2-3 per cent. However, many students start their own ventures in 5-10 years. We offer a deferred placement option where students who opt for entrepreneurship get a stipend for two years to pursue entrepreneurship, and can still get corporate placement after two years. We are also incubating alumni ventures through our incubation cell and not restricting our efforts to fresh MBAs. We are creating an ecosystem which supports entrepreneurship.
Why do top Indian B-schools restrict the class size to 60 or 120 when the global average is much larger?
I do not know whether we are referring to class sizes or batch sizes. Our batch size is 240. I believe class sizes should not be too large if we want to create quality learning. I also believe we must learn to think for ourselves and not do things just because schools outside India are doing them. Many Western B-schools are seeing declining admissions and placement issues, our top schools are not. There is evidence that teaching quality at top Indian schools is comparable with top Western schools.
Who do Indian B-school faculty members not publish as frequently as their international peers?
We have not built a strong research culture and quality research training. Having said that, global publication has a bias towards western issues and contexts. We must combine local relevance with rigorous and interesting research. Essentially, we must become world class by being original and not by being imitative.
Why do Indian B-schools not tailor their curriculum to meet local needs? Why is there always a ‘one size fits all’ approach?
This is not true of our school. Many of our curriculum innovations are being globally recognized. We meet with industry leaders every year to review and update our curriculum. I think the question itself is flawed and paints too broad a brush.
What more should Indian B-schools do to create leaders, and not just followers?
Recruit for values, create students who understand both India and Bharat, embed industry relevance and currency into curriculum, create strong learning by doing component, create curated experiences and reflection which will enable students to think critically about leadership and values.
The IIM Bill, deemed university status and so on — what additional institutional support do B-schools need to create a robust framework?
I think we need far better collaboration between our top B-schools. I also think we need to allow for alternative, locally relevant models. As of now, excellence is being equated to becoming more like Western schools. The criterion of local relevance —being responsive to the unique management challenges — must be emphasized and supported. Management is required everywhere, not just in large corporates. We must take management education to traditionally underserved segments — family businesses, the social sector etc.— and policy frameworks must encourage this.
How different are women B-school graduates from their male counterparts, as their numbers remain abysmally low?
Forty per cent of our students in the flagship two-year programme are women. Performance in the programme does not differ by gender. I think this aspect is getting significantly better in many premier schools in India.