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“Focus Of B-Schools Has Moved To Creating Self-Aware And Responsible Leaders”

The Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune (SIBM) currently has 480 students on its rolls, being guided by 35 full-time faculty members, 165 guest faculty members and 55 visiting faculty members for the 2022-2023 academic year. Ramakrishnan Raman, Director, SIBM talks to Meha Mathur about how the institute sensitises its students to diversity, inclusion, the environment and sustainability

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How has the focus of B-school education changed over the last few years? What new components have been added? 

It is a fact that the social, technological, and geopolitical changes have made B- schools reconceptualise business as a discipline and have brought several changes to the curriculum. With automation being a reality and with several mundane and mid-level jobs having been lost to automation, B-Schools are taking unique approaches to equip students with soft skills, including aspects like oral and written communication, along with emotional intelligence and are also equipping them to handle tech disruption.

 The focus of B-Schools has moved from just creating graduates who are job ready to creating graduates who are self-aware and are responsible leaders, able to take critical decisions in business with their potential impact on people and multiple stakeholders in mind.

The changing business environment is making B-Schools emphasise on life-long learning. Almost all the top B-Schools in this country have courses like blockchain and data analytics, R-Programming, Python etc. in their curriculum. At the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM) Pune, we have courses like Doing Business in India, Indian Ethos and Values for Management, Sectorial Innovations, Design Thinking, Creativity and Problem Solving in the MBA and MBA (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) programmes.

*Is the inclination towards generalist B-schools and MBA programmes or towards specialised B-schools? 

While a general MBA will offer students a broad knowledge base in business and management, a specialised MBA programme allows students to focus on a particular industry or career path. There can be pros and cons to both options. Finding the right fit depends on the personal and professional goals that a student had. At SIBM Pune we offer the general MBA programme with specialisation in Marketing, Finance, Operation, Human Resource and Data Analytics and also offer a specialised MBA focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship.  

*What are B-School expectations from accreditation and ranking initiatives? What parameters need to be added or focused on? 

The ranking of B-Schools, both by Indian and international agencies place a huge emphasis on research. Almost 50 per cent to 60 per cent of the score is allotted to research and publication. This might suit an engineering school or a medical school well, but not for a B-School. The voting of academicians and corporates is also given a huge weightage in ranking. While this looks good on paper, there is always a chance for this to be skewed. 

The stature of a B-School has to be judged by the number of applications that the B-Schools attract and the alumni that it has. Also, the consulting assignments taken by the faculty members and the revenue generated through this channel, the management development programmes offered to the corporate, the case studies that are written, can be considered while B-Schools are ranked. This is one reason why many Indian Institutes of Technologies are ranked above the Indian Institutes of Managements, and also above several private B-Schools like SIBM Pune, which are known for management education in this country. 

*Diversity and inclusion are major planks of the corporate world. How is the institute sensitising students for future corporate roles when they will have to rise above biases while taking important decisions as honchos? 

I have always believed that “Diversity and Inclusion” (D&I) must be promoted as a core value in any organisation and therefore B-Schools need to make them a  part of the curriculum. Indian B-Schools are curating MBA curricula to help sensitise future managers to aspects related to D & I. But this is found only as an elective subject. It is not common to find it as a course title. For example, at SIBM Pune, a course description of ‘Organisational Behaviour’ or ‘Managing & Leading’ in organisations will mention inclusion and diversity. 

Therefore, D & I is an implicit part of the curriculum. Also, there are subjects like Competing Globally, Foreign Market Development, Managing Global Business Environments, International Marketing, Intercultural Management, International Managerial Policies and Strategies etc. that focus on including aspects related to diversity. Students at SIBM Pune are also made to work in diverse groups. This also immensely helps so that they rise above biases while taking important decisions as corporate honchos. 

*How is your B-school sensitising students to the environment and sustainability, and what work is being done in this regard on the campus? 

The Social, Entrepreneurship and Consulting Cell (SECC) is a student-driven body at SIBM Pune and one of the nine teams of the student council. The team functions under three wings – Social, Entrepreneurship and Consulting. The main aim of the SECC is to bring about a change in the minds of students, inspire them to take up entrepreneurial activities, build the startup ecosystem in the campus and sensitise students to the environment and sustainability. 

The SECC conducts various events and works with an intention to promote and sensitise students to the environment and sustainability. This ensures that students learn by knowing, being and doing – be it the clean campus initiative or reducing plastic usage or planting trees and practising sustainable practices – these are all promoted by the council.  

*How can we move towards more quality placement that better meets student aspirations?

“Placements” is one of the most important agenda of MBA students who join any B-School in India. The quality of placements depends on the quality of students who join the B-School. At SIBM Pune, we select 80 students from approximately 100 students who apply and aspire to join the programme. This is true for several premier B-Schools in India. Hence the placements statistics are always “outstanding” for an MBA graduate from SBIM Pune. The students must remember that while they take up their first job offer immediately after MBA, they have their entire career ahead of them. Many do not take this into consideration, which leads to errors in the calculation of the Return on Investment. 

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bschool Magazine 19 Nov 2022