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‘B-schools must prepare managers for the digital world’
In an exclusive interaction with BW Businessworld, IIM Udaipur Director Janat Shah discusses the ways in which universities can use technology to make education richer, what he thinks is a balanced curriculum and how IIM Udaipur is moving towards it by bringing two sets of faculty — one focused on research and the other with a lot of experience. Excerpts
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What are your thoughts on the Bschools of the future, and where do you envision IIM Udaipur going forward?
Business school education is already a mature field and as such individual institutions know fairly well what to do. It is very important for the schools to respond to the changing industry. We have to inevitably accept that B-schools are good at several aspects -- they make sure that there are graduates who understand business well and are able to look at business from multiple perspectives; they’re able to work under time pressures, and also build strong analytic skills. However, things do not end there, as there is an additional piece -- the industry is evolving and moving towards a direction where technology is becoming a dominant theme. I firmly believe that it is important to respond to the nature of the changing industry and prepare managers for the digital world.
What are your insights on the changing education industry in the post-Covid scenario?
There’s a concern the world over that B-school graduates are graduating at a higher level of debt. So, as an industry, probably we have not improved productivity as the educational institutions have continued to teach in a similar way, and the basic structure of teaching has not changed. We also cannot overlook the trend wherein globally the number of applications for MBA programmes has been coming down. Many business schools in Europe and other nations are planning on closing down. Nevertheless, that is not true in Asia as the number of applications here has been going up which is why I don’t see a problem in Asia for at least a decade. Several things are likely to happen wherein the Covid-19 pandemic may be a trigger. The premiere schools will retain their character, but Tier-2 and Tier-3 schools might end up using technology in a significant way.
A lot of students feel lost when preparing for MBA entrance examinations. What would be your advice to MBA aspirants?
Apart from the financial investment, if you are investing two years of your life, make sure that you are getting the best out of it. Many students pursue the course just for a job. The whole idea of getting education should not be from a job perspective. A lot of students get obsessed about their first placement, and ironically, according to data, a lot of them even leave the job quickly. The whole idea of investing two important years of a student’s life is to look at the learning, and recognising that they would be working in a job that probably does not even exist at the moment. The learning perspective will help the student to grow, as developing critical skills like problem solving, team building, design building, among others, are going to stay relevant in whatever industry the student ends up working in. The key part is to develop the capacity to learn all along as that is what will stay with us all our lives.