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BW Businessworld

'Salaries And Offers May Rise'

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One of India's oldest management institutes,Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), enjoys the company of one of India's best business minds. And there's a reason to it. Located in Mumbai, the business capital of the country, the institute has easy access to the corporate world. JBIMS has acquired a legacy over the years for the same, and boasts of a rich alumni base with best of the business brains such as Harish Manwani and Nitin Paranjpe of HUL, film director Mani Ratnam, Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank and Uday Kotak of the Kotak Mahindra Bank. The list would go on with an alumni base of more than 3000 students.
Stephen D'Silva, director at JBIMS has 20 years of industry experience in sales and brand management and a PhD in Customer Relationship Management. D'Silva is hopeful that despite the shift in students job profiles from finance to marketing in last year's placement session, finance will dominate the scene once again this year. He spoke to BW Online's Sanjitha Rao Chaini and Chetna Mehra about the institute, coming placements and more. Excerpts:
What sets JBIMS apart from other institutes?
One of the factors is our faculty. They have a lot of experience and when they (faculty) bring it to the classroom they not only get the bookish ideas but also a glimpse of what is really happening at the corporate front. The students get more engaged this way and try to follow the steps which they should be taking in their career. So, students and faculty are the pillars and backbone of this institute.
JBIMS is known for its excellence in finance but there has been a shift in profiles recently, is it because of the economic downturn?
We have seen what has been happening in the financial world today, there is a downswing. Students took this in consideration, also marketing is something which is always required in all fields.
After the burst of Lehman Brothers, Merill Lynch and number of other banks students have become sceptical, but they are not completely inclined towards marketing. There is a good number of students i.e. atleast 40 per cent -45 per cent of them who opted for finance. It's not a complete swing from finance to marketing.
Where does JBIMS stand among the institute that are located in Mumbai?
In Mumbai, we are clearly number one, others are not even close to us. One is we have the best of the student lot. For example, last year we had around 1,20,000 aspirants taking the CET and out of them the first sixty opted for non-other but Bajaj. So, that's the quality of students we have. So, the cream comes to us.

The faculty strength and alumni base also work as the major driving force.
Can you elaborate more on the faculty strength?
As a full time faculty, we have three doctors. Our institute also runs the Phd. course under which our faculty has to interact with students who are pursuing their PhD. Another thing, our faculty has an immense industrial experience. We have the best of faculty in finance teaching for us. So, once these faculty's names are taken to the companies that come in, automatically the brand leverage goes much higher. We try and get the best faculty for the students, keep them for a particular subject and they impart the best to the students.
How you predict the placements to be this year?
Placements have not really gone up but it has tapered off, it hasn't really gone down either. In our summers this year we have done very well, almost like other years. Our finals will be taking place in the month of February and many companies which were sceptical last year have shown interest in coming back to the campus. Salaries also may rise to a little extent and the placements which took atleast one week last year may take not more than 4-5 days this time.
It is believed that the economic downturn brought a certain correction in the world economy. Do you think the same thing has happened among the B-Schools as well, where you may have to re-structure and redefine the learning and pedagogy of the B-Schools?
Yes, to a certain extent. The students have to take decision keeping in mind what is happening in the outside world, learn from it and see that the same problem doesn't rise again. Because if you will see all these major financial institutions like Lehman Brothers, they were run by 60-70 per cent of the top notches who were MBAs. So, probably they went to reach the sky too fast which became the reason of their downfall. So, they have to be taught that everything has its gradual process and that is being inculcated in students now.
But, do you think MBA as a degree has lost its sheen because of the downturn, as the number of applicants has gone down considerably this year?
I don't think that the sheen of the MBA will be really lost because MBA is the ends to many students who would like to climb the corporate ladder. Yes, there was a drop in the CAT applicants but that may be because of what people hear outside. We being at the ground zero know what is really happening though, and it is not a big jolt that we really see but just the sentiments. The students might be thinking if at all we are going to spend lakh of rupees on our MBA what really would be the return? But with a little counselling, they can come out of the shell and probably start thinking in the right direction.

Don't you think there is an unfair advantage for JBIMS with the fact that it has been constantly ranked among the top 10 institutes of the nation while 80 per cent of its seats (out of the mere 120) are reserved for Maharashtrian students?
We are one of the departments of the Mumbai university, which comes under the government of Maharashtra that will always try to see how we can help our own state first. This is natural. If the students from outside will take the seats where students from Maharashtra would go? Also, every government will always try to take decisions which will favour themselves whenever they have to come back for the elections. So, we have to go by what the government thinks is suitable for the future of Maharashtra unlike the IIMs which comes under the MHRD of central government.
Do you plan to increase the number of seats, as almost all the institute are increasing their intake?
At the moment we don't plan to increase the seats because just by increasing the number of seats and producing MBAs in dozens doesn't really matter. Since, we would like to get the best and nurture those ones, we would like to keep our number of seats the same and give those students the best in the management field.
What are your future plans for the institute?
We have an advisory committee set up by the vice chancellor, which is taking a note of the things which we really need in terms of the infrastructure. In a year or two you may see a different building altogether. Money is being kept aside and things are in pipeline. Being a government organisation it takes a little more time, we have many bottlenecks.
Have you signed any MoUs or major tie-ups with the universities abroad?
Many institutes have been coming to us such as University of Perth and University of Netherlands. But again, as I said if our institute has to go for the tie-ups we need to go via our parents i.e. University of Mumbai. So, we need to take vice chancellor's permission and then the management and academic council's. We require the senate's permission too. Also we have to see that we get the right kind of tie-up.
But don't you think it is a kind of drawback to the institute?
It is not a draw back because whatever they will be bringing into the institute is more of their own culture and environment. First we have to see what our students are deriving out of our own environment because a student who would go and study in the US may lose out after he comes back. If we first get him settled with the environment here properly and then the student says I would like to go and work abroad, he can go ahead and join a 6 or 8 months course there that would help a student even better I think.
How much emphasis you give on the off-beat courses such as entrepreneurship?
Not a course but it is being taught here as a subject as of now, but we do have an e-cell. The job of the e-cell is to call first generation entrepreneurs to share their experience with the youth. Apart from that there are various entrepreneurial assignments that we ask students to carry out.