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BW Businessworld

Any Course Is Incomplete Without ESG, Sustainability

Located 25 km from the Jim Corbett National Park in the scenic Uttarakhand state, IIM Kashipur, established in 2011, offers flagship MBA and MBA Analytics courses in addition to executive and doctoral programmes. Director Kulbhushan Balooni, in a chat with BW Businessworld, talks about the shifts that have taken place in management education, and how the institute is creating a name for itself in the galaxy of IIMs. Excerpts:

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

B-school education has changed in many ways in the last five years. This period has seen more uncertainty in the business world than in the past 50 years. The changing world order is a single phenomenon that seems so distant to education but has such a deep impact leading to changes in curriculum and coverage. This has resulted in the focus being shifted to new domains and geographical regions and hence new cultures and societies. The new socioeconomics has warranted new theories and knowledge and the generation of new case studies to discuss based on these new theories. This has resulted in an overhaul of both curriculum and coverage. This has been exacerbated by the need to rapidly change skill sets – the rise of data and analytics plus creative problem-solving curriculum and new courses reflect the same but run deeper in the way they have impacted the delivery of each standard course and the basics of management and business education. 

On the other hand, with market and government failures becoming more common and recognised, there has been a phenomenal rise in entrepreneurship and interest in entrepreneurship. As a result, entrepreneurship is now part of the MBA curriculum and most of the courses have propositions for entrepreneurship. Each of these need to be brought to the class else the teacher and the teachings are considered outdated and archaic. This is also a very sensible change as startups and entrepreneurs have emerged as one of the large set of recruiters. 

However, the change that has superseded all and transformed specialised institutions and courses is one that is termed as sustainability and ESG. They are now core and occupy too much mind space of recruiters and therefore faculty and students as well and the same needs to reflect in courses as well. Any course today is incomplete without integrating sustainability and ESG into its fold. 

Emerging paradigms such as new transition economies and design thinking are influencing business and business education in more ways than is visible. 

What has been your biggest challenge as director of IIM Kashipur? How did you manage to overcome them? 

After taking charge as director, the biggest challenge has been convincing the ecosystem that we are ready to stand with the bigger and older IIMs. We are still convincing parts of the ecosystem. It has been a rewarding journey of more than three years to bring recognition to IIM Kashipur to a level where it is starting to develop recall and enter the consideration set of more people than ever before. This is the result of the collective endeavor of all the stakeholders in the institute. In fact, we at IIM Kashipur have expanded our outreach in terms of students and learning activities that both meritorious students and the masses benefit from in a mutually fulfilling manner. 

With Tier-2, Tier-3, and Tier-4 cities and towns, and rural areas coming to the fore, what do B-schools have to offer for the empowerment of this large segment of Indian society?

IIM Kashipur has taken multiple measures. Our student counseling policy and the academic advisory policy have been designed keeping these realities and segments in mind and they are able to take care of many concerns that we have here. 

We have specialised attention to empowering such students, and this starts right from the onboarding process into the campus such that each student has a buddy allocated who provides personal attention and mentorship, faculty mentors only add to the support available, and the community is strong to take the student in its fold and create a home away from home. 

Academically, we have a very strong focus on new-generation courses such as critical thinking, interpersonal and individual behavior, design thinking and entrepreneurship, and leadership communication to help them make a smooth transition from their humble backgrounds to preparing for serious and important decision-making. 

The co-curricular calendar of the institute is replete with talks and events hosted by industry and society stalwarts and thought leaders who not only inspire such students but also at times guide them on how to move towards fulfilling their aspirations in today’s world. 

Post the economic downturn of 2008-2012 and now Covid, is the B-school education viable and affordable for average Indian families?

B-school education appears costly when compared to government university education which is highly subsidised by the government out of taxpayers’ money. B-school education is a fully self-financed course. The ROI that B-school education gives especially at a college such as IIM Kashipur or any of the other IIMs and similar good colleges is considered very healthy by global as well as local standards and this means that the MBA continues to be one of the most sought-after educational programmes globally.