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IIM A: Leading With Aplomb

One of the country’s first public autonomous institutes, IIM Ahmedabad continues to set the benchmark By Preethi Ann Thomas

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IIM Ahmedabad, one of India’s first public autonomous institutes of management education, requires no introduction. It has been recognised globally as a top-ranked institution and has consistently delivered on its promises to churn out graduates with exceptional managerial skills equipped to handle the dynamic business world.  Established in 1961, the institute offers diplomas through their two-year PG programme in management, two-year PG programme in agri-business management, fellow programme in management and a one-year PG programme in management for executives.

Their flagship offering is the residential, two-year Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Management and Agri-Business Management which has moulded the likes of Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Mallika Sarabhai, its current director Ashish Nanda and ISB dean Ajit Rangnekar.

IIM-A is also the first business school in the country to be awarded EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) accreditation awarded by the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) which certifies that institute’s quality is on par with the best business schools in the world.  The curriculum has been designed to build the capabilities of managers in leading businesses and have been prepared to handle increasing competition, pressure, market dynamics and changing consumer needs. Equipped with the latest research, outstanding faculty and best practices from around the world, students emerge with the required conceptual and interpersonal skills, a sense of social purpose for managerial decision-making and the ability to lead the pack, much like the institution. The high-profile course comes with gruelling hours, high impact methodology and intense, life –changing interactions with esteemed faculty and professionals.

The IIM-A campus is spread over 67 acres in Vastrapur and has tried to achieve the perfect symphony between modernity and tradition. Designed by American architect Louis Kahn and given shape by architects from the National Institute of Design, the institute is built to accommodate casual interactions, learning and thinking. Owing to the institute’s growing popularity, the campus required an addition of 39 acres which includes a state-of-the-art international management and convention centre.  

Graduates from this B-school are sought after by organisations around the world. Past recruiters reaffirm their preference for the B-school to recruit new talent and also to engage in lecture series throughout the year. Roles across finance, product management, operations, consulting and others are offered by firms like JP Morgan, Nestle, Morgan Stanley, Vodafone, Wipro, Airtel, Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, KPMG,, Coca Cola, Aditya Birla Group, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Microsoft, P&G, Accenture, Yes Bank and more.

 In a move to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs, IIM-A allows students to opt out of the placement process to pursue their dreams of starting up in areas of data analytics, adventure tourism, e-Commerce, etc. The “break” allows them to participate in campus placements in one of the next two years in the event that their venture does not work out.

What sets it apart?
According to popular opinion, IIM-A which has produced the largest number of CEOs, is set apart from other B-schools because of its faculty, despite the acute shortage of quality faculty in the country. The institute offers a world view that is comprehensive and current, and prepares its graduates to deal with any situation they may face in their career. Having been a pioneer in introducing the case-study method to study, IIM-A has always set the standards for B-schools in the country.

The autonomy it enjoys and faculty governance have been key factors in building this institute to the position it is in now. Leading by example in innovating curriculum, graduates are inspired to think out-of-the-box and emerge with winning solutions.  

Kunal Gupta (batch of 2013), founder of TinkerLabs, finds that the case study methodology employed at IIM-A has been instrumental in altering the way the techie and pedagogist at heart viewed businesses. “Three months into the course learning Finance, Marketing and Operations, I became much more confident about how to add value to companies in different sectors. It set the ball rolling for the width of things I could analyse. The PGP has brought me to where I wanted to be — creating a successful business that develops innovative learning experiences and offers Design Thinking services to institutes like IIMs and organisations like Future Group, L&T Infotech, Indian Railway and Amul. The business sense I have is all thanks to my learning experience at IIM-A.” He also expresses that despite the reputation of cut-throat competition, he witnessed a great camaraderie and knowledge exchange among students at IIM-A. It’s no wonder IIM-A is hailed as more than just a B-School. It’s an experience.

The author, Preethi Ann Thomas, is  a Chennai-based freelance journalist

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)