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Our Students Will Not Have To Unlearn Anything

The School of Management of Mahindra University in Hyderabad, is barely 18 months old and its first batch of students are preparing for job. S Ramakrishna Velamuri, Professor and Dean at the School of Management, reveals though, that its curriculum that blends 'academic rigour with industry relevance' has already created a stir among students. Excerpts of a conversation with Meha Mathur

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

Business schools provide education, both at the undergraduate and post-graduate levels, which is tightly aligned to industry needs. 

The undergraduate students of the Mahindra University School of Management can pursue Masters studies, such as a general management focused MBA, or a broad range of functional and sectoral specialisations such as Finance, Marketing, International Business, Data Analytics, Supply Chain Management and Healthcare, to name just a few. Since they are highly employable when they graduate, they can also work for a few years before taking up higher studies. The unique value proposition of the School of Management to undergraduate students is that they will graduate with a sound foundation in business and economics as well as the ability to function in an increasingly digitalised economy.

The MBA degree is the most demanded post-graduate qualification in the world, because graduates are in high demand from industry. The alumni of MBA programmes can be found at all levels of organisations and in all sectors, including in the founding and top management teams of some of the most successful entrepreneurial ventures. The MBA programme does a great job of sensitising students in the language of business and prepares them for a successful career in industry.

What are the things that students learn in B-Schools, that the corporate world invariably makes them unlearn?

We are barely 18 months old and have therefore, not graduated our first batches. However, word has spread among our prospective students that our curriculum combines academic rigour with industry relevance and that we have an exceptionally well-qualified faculty team. We are confident that our students will not have to unlearn anything when they join the corporate world. 

Are students inclined towards generalist B-Schools and MBA programmes or specialised B-Schools?

Many leading business schools, such as Harvard, Darden, IESE, CEIBS, and IIM Ahmedabad, offer only a generalist MBA. However, in the last couple of decades, a number of specialised MBA programmes, such as those focused on sectors such as Healthcare or Hospitality and others focused on specific functions such as Marketing, Finance, Analytics, etc., are being offered by business schools. Some firms, such as those in the strategy consulting industry, prefer a general management focus, whereas those in the investment banking sector may prefer a finance specialisation and those in the FMCG industry a marketing one.

What has been the major infrastructure augmentation at your institute in the last few years?

We are fortunate to have a 110-acre beautiful green campus in the northern part of Hyderabad, a city that has been designated by the Central government as one of the nine education hubs in the country. We have state-of-the-art classrooms, engineering labs, a high-performance computing centre, sports facilities, library, student accommodation and dining areas. There is currently a Master Plan in place for new buildings for the Schools of Management, Law, Education and Media Studies. We had a meeting recently with one of the leading international architects to discuss the design of the new School of Management building, which should be ready for us to move into by 2024.

What is the research thrust of the institute? Also, which are the prominent areas of interdisciplinary work at the institute?

The School of Management has hired full-time faculty who have world-class research training and the ability to publish in the top peer reviewed journals in their respective fields. I can say that in the approximately 18 months since we have been in existence, we have already become one of the most productive faculty teams in India on a per capita basis, with multiple publications in journals that appear in the Financial Times 50 list and in the ABDC A*, A and B journal lists. 

Our faculty are undertaking collaborative research between departments, such as between Marketing and Decision Sciences, but also with our sister schools, such as between the Department of Mathematics at the Engineering School and our Finance Department. Real world problems lie at the intersection of multiple disciplines and functions and being part of a multi-disciplinary university, affords a great opportunity for our faculty to work with colleagues from other schools.

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 am delighted to say that in our undergraduate programme, we have almost a 50-50 gender split among students. We will strive for a similar gender balance in the post-graduate programmes too and amongst our faculty.

The university is setting up three centres, one each for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). In the social vertical, we will be emphasising diversity, equity and inclusion. I have observed that our students are already highly sensitised to these issues and in fact, demand that their educational institutions and workplaces address them. I am confident that our future is in good hands.

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bschools Mahindra University Magazine 19 Nov 2022