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“Students Must Be Empowered To Face Ambiguities”

K J Somaiya Institute of Management, Somaiya Vidyavihar University, Director Monica Khanna says B-School education must reflect the “rapidly changing macro environmental factors, socio-economic-political factors and climate changes”. In a conversation with Meha Mathur she talks of how the institute is orienting its students towards these changing dynamics and the New Education Policy

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

The focus of B-School education has to change to take cognizance of the rapidly changing macroenvironmental factors, socio-economic-political factors and climate changes. The students of business management must be empowered to face ambiguities and adversities through coaching on subjects such as transformational leadership, ability to contextualise strategies as per local or global consumers/market demands, design thinking to plan for industry to move towards circular economy initiatives and so on. This is possible through new components such as experiential learning opportunities, giving ‘freedom of possibilities’ to students to select subjects of their choice for study and work integrated learning plans. 

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

The tectonic shifts in business environment and technological advances is ensuring that the shelf life of an educational degree is   substantially reduced. Students of an MBA programme would necessarily have to continuously upgrade themselves. So this requires the existence of both the generalist MBA and specialised programmes in Business Management, along with multi-disciplinary MBA programmes such as Healthcare Management, Sports Management, Business Analytics etc.  

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

Accreditations and rankings help an institute identify its current competitive position vis-à-vis other institutes, but they should also be mentoring in nature to help institutes develop and grow to their full potential, based on their local contexts. The accreditation and ranking agencies are privy to the functioning and challenges of several B-Schools – and sharing of best practices within permissible limits of knowledge sharing would be helpful – the end objective being to develop the education sector to its full potential and serve the student community in an optimal manner.

*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?

The best way to expose students to diversity and inclusion initiatives is to expose them to community service for the under privileged, physically and mentally challenged persons, elderly people with no support systems and so on. This should be part of their curriculum and will help them appreciate that empathy and the ability to carry all types of people along is an important component of handling leadership positions. These can also be opportunities for creating corporate social responsibility platforms. At K J Somaiya Institute of Management, the institute has created several such voluntary platforms like Ankur ELI, but going forward there are plans to make these initiatives, including rural immersions, a compulsory part of the curriculum.

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

Some of the initiatives on environment and sustainability are teaching a course on sustainable development as part of the curriculum, creation of a Center of Excellence on Sustainable Development, conduct of research-based conference and publications in leading journals, creation of RASI (Regenerative Agriculture Sustainable Initiative) at the Somaiya Vidyavihar University level. Our faculty are part of a British Council funded research project on Circular Economy and as part of this project, three of our students were sent for a workshop on Circular Economy held at Aston University, UK.

*The country is going through a paradigm shift in education with the NEP, online classrooms and an emphasis on skilling and entrepreneurship. How is Your B-School aligning with these changing realities? 

The K J Somaiya Institute of Management has aligned itself to these paradigm shifts in education with NEP by creating the ‘Freedom of Possibilities’ initiative.   The institute is part of the multi-disciplinary Somaiya Vidyavihar University that offers education in diverse fields like Engineering, Design School, Dharma Studies, Yoga, Music, Sports, Liberal Arts, RIIDL (Incubation Centre), partnerships with international universities for student exchange and research, rural immersions and many other initiatives.   Our students can choose their courses of study and plan their careers accordingly to simultaneously pursue their passion and adapt to the changing environmental conditions.

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bschools Magazine 19 Nov 2022 kj somaiya institute