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FPJ- HEF Forum: Management education-The way ahead

Management education has been sought after by students for decades. Now, when it is available to a much wider cross section of applicants, there are issues that need to be looked into at various levels. To discuss this, The Free Press Journal and Higher Education Forum (HEF) conducted a round table on ‘Management Education: Challenges and Way Forward’ with representatives from academic institutions as well as the industry at the Taj Lands End, Bandra.

The opening address was given by Dr. A K Sen Gupta, founder and convener – Higher Education Forum and mentor, SIES College of Management Studies (SIESCOMS). The other experts included (in alphabetical order) Dr. Dinesh Harsolekar, director – IES Management College and Research Centre; Jeevanandan B, vice president HR and Training, Reliance Digital; Devdutt Kadrekar, head HR of Lloyd’s Register Asia; and the executive vice president of Human Capital Management of a well-known private bank. Seema Mahajan, director – Pravin Dalal Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Business  Management – NMIMS University; Dr. Lakshmi Mohan, campus head – ITM Business School, Kharghar; Dr. Asit Mohapatra, former director HR of Raymond and currently head – corporate relations, SIESCOMS; Dr. Pradeep Pendse, dean IT/ e- Business/ Business Design, WeSchool; Bikash Prasad, general manager and head HR of Future Supply Chain; Dr. Navin Punjabi, assistant professor – HR College of Commerce & Economics and director Placements; Jagdish Rattanani – editor and faculty member, SP Jain Institute of Management Studies (SPJIMR); Dr. Sharad Sarin, professor, marketing and strategy – XLRI, Jamshedpur;  Prem Singh, president and global head HR of Wockhardt Ltd;  Dr. Bigyan Verma, director – Guru Nanak Institute of Management Studies;

The round table was moderated by R N Bhaskar – consulting editor, FPJ with editorial inputs by Shraddha Kamdar.

Knowledge, skill and attitude

AK Sen Gupta

A. K. SEN GUPTA: We want to calculate; that what is the proportion of the knowledge, skill and attitude which is being attempted by the management educators at the college level. We also tried to do something that whatever we teach to the students, how much is a knowledge component, how much is a skill component and how much is the attitude component. But by and large the research in the Indian context that shows that our teaching is heavily loaded in favour of knowledge. And whatever is happening at the skill level or the attitude level, there is no contextual relationship between the knowledge and the skill and the knowledge and the attitude.

PRIVATE BANK HR REPRESENTATIVE: When I go to a B-school one of the important aspects that I look for before recruiting is the attitude [of the candidate]. It is very simple, to you know what to talk about, the attitude of what next, the attitude of the digital world, this kind of attitude which is changing rapidly.  That’s the major concern. Focused attitudes on himself or herself about the future.

PRADEEP PENDSE: I think we overload student only with knowledge, but I think there is also an important thing that we have to develop in the student, the ability to learn on his own, which is there, but I think we are in a way telling him that no, no, you can’t learn, I have to tell you that. So I think we need to do away with that aspect. The challenge is the flexibility of the faculty, to be able to accept that new way of learning and teaching.

JAGDISH RATTANANI: So, as a faculty, I can give you knowledge. Knowledge is available. I can make you repeat and work with knowledge to acquire skills. But what is the framework with, which you teach attitude? How do you teach attitude? Are our B-Schools teaching attitude? And should we be doing it is a question I think that needs to be debated much more than it is. It touches upon value based growth of a kind that you mention, or I think these competitions are solely lacking in environment today.

How does a B-school of today really transform a student who comes in?  What is in the mind of a B-school student when he enters?  He typically wants a fancy salary, a fancy job, a fancy car or fancy house races, okay.  And if our B-schools are going to say, we are the factory through which you’ll attend this.  And we will help you do that and you measure your success only on that route then I think we have a problem.

LAKSHMI MOHAN: A major concern is the attitude of the students. Every student who enters into a B-School feels it is the responsibility of the school to place him.So the attitude itself is that “I am going to get placed and I am going to get you know this package”. So I don’t need to – even if I don’t work hard the B-School is obviously going to place me. So, how do we change this attitude which has been cultivated over so many years, and so the environment, the values and everything has been responsible for cultivating this kind of an attitude of the student.

BIGYAN VERMA: A large number of B-Schools have started emphasizing on self-regulation and focusing not just on course, on the business that takes two years time, but they are really trying to integrate many things. A study said that B-Schools were focusing on placement per se. But almost 58% of the schools, which they surveyed, said that focus is shifting and they are trying to churn out people who are likely to make a lot of difference in the years to come.

Development of Employable Skills

SEN GUPTA: Management education today is definitely, I don’t say in a state of crisis, but in a condition of flux. There are several challenges, the most important if I have to narrate today is directly related to the professional nature of the MBA education which should lead to development of the employable skills, which should lead to the more employment, and there is a lot of problem in that.

LAKSHMI: To quote Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, it is not unemployment which is a crisis today it is unemployability that’s become a crisis. So this is also because there is a huge gap that exists between educational institutions and industry. To just give you an instance in fact, we this year – we have five months of internship for these students. So it’s not the two months, so it’s a five months. So for industry to accept having these students for five months itself was a big shock, somewhere along I think they have got over it.

VERMA: Now it is really look into the B-School as such, business schools or managed school in world started more than 100 years back. But the kind of model which they adopted and they still continue with the same kind of model, like the location where the business school is set up, the students come in, like the product, when they get profits they actually reimbursed and they may get start out as a final product and they goes on.

Creating passionate teachers

SEN GUPTA: One of my close friends, went to Finland recently, well known for its education system, primary – particularly at the primary level. He spend a week there and looked into what makes Finnish education different. He saw that the one of the crucial factors was passionate and committed teachers, despite the fact that the teachers are not as highly paid that as people think. But the type of the passion, commitment was most distinctive feature of the Finish education. What it means is quality of education is directly proportional to the quality of the teachers we have. I think outside the rim of the very premier schools, there is a lot to talk about improving the quality of the teachers.

DEVDUTT KADREKAR: Dr. Sen Gupta said about passion of teaching, I like to spend more time with the students in terms of understanding where they are coming from and actually handholding them.

PENDSE: I strongly believe that faculty’s role today that of a experienced designer, so what we’re trying to do is consciously design systematically various experiences for the students, across the two-year period. It requires creativity, it requires work. For example, I have an academic who works with me who is a hardcore designer. He does not repeat a single assignment the next year. Every time he insists and makes us work hard to create a new assignment. That’s the kind of spirit that you need to be able to give a different edge to the student because he has to become a good problem solver.

ASIT MOHAPATRA: A serious matter is, many of the faculty members are not exposed. My recommendation is they should go for induction training or internship along with the students.

If possible, an institute could send the faculty for 15 days to the industry, and really sit down and understand. People may feel it is an insult, well, I am a senior faculty, I am a professor, so how can I go? I will recommend it should be made such a way that they also should go to the same company, probably they will not say no.

BIKASH PRASAD: As Dr. Sen Gupta mentioned, within the curriculum we have to make a shift from knowledge learning to experience learning. That is required. Last, but not the least, we need faculty who are coming not by default but by choice.

SHARAD SARIN: As a teacher I find the biggest threat today is a problem known as a smart phone. I just do not know how to handle a class, whether it is five students or 50, everybody who enters busy with a smart phone. The moment they come in, they are talking again, so a smartpone or Google has enabled what we called today, information rich and dying for it. That’s our tragedy. Regarding other things whether teachers are created or teachers are wrong, managers are created – managers – these are all endless debates, they will continue.

SEEMA MAHAJAN: I completely agree with Dr. Sen Gupta that passionate teachers always remain a challenge in our industry. It was when I did my Master’s and I’m sure it still remains. We like the subject where teacher was passionate. Passion always speaks.

PREM SINGH: About the teacher, are we also not supposed to talk about the teachers also jointly hands in the industry? I interact with at least 200, 250 faculty members throughout the country from various B-Schools. There are a handful of four or five of them who talk to me all the time, okay, Prem can we do this project? Can we write this paper? Can we do this joint work? Very few, and that’s in minority.

Dynamism in curriculum

PRASAD: There should be some regularity where there should be some guidelines on management schools establishment. Secondly, as we are seeing, every day there are changes happening. Now the socioeconomic environment is changing day by day so we need some dynamism in the curriculum, in a way that it can address the new challenges.

SEEMA MAHAJAN: I think inter-disciplined pedagogy and curriculum which sees each subject equally important is needed. When we’re talking about business analytics, when we’re talking about leadership with differential class, I think a neutral disciplined approach is the biggest challenge.  How we do it I really don’t know, but that remains a big challenge.

PREM SINGH: I think this requires a whole lot of reorientation on the part of educational institutions thinking overall what do, and what we focus on. Last month in one of the universities in Punjab, I said look, you are in Punjab, you know, that the major problem that Punjab state is facing is the drug menace. Can you think of commissioning a project, something which your students can go out there do and would the teachers be willing to give these students the credit for the work they do as if they have completed their subject? And there was a pin drop silence. I think that is something which we also need to introspect as a society because we talk about the dollars, the rupees.

I think there is something that every educational institution should talk about in terms of reframing the curriculum. You can’t be great in everything. Chose one or two areas and just try to go deep into those areas. For example, if somebody talks about great MBA grad options for Operations Management, I’m sure most people talk about S. P. Jain or NITIE. You know that kind of the reputation. Pick up one or two areas and go deep into that and develop the niche for that.

RATTANANI: Today we have MBA education backing up curriculum of the order that would shock some of us.  I remember going to IIM Ahmedabad and during one late night dinner, one of the senior most professors told me and she pointed to the hostel of the PGDM guys, she said, these are the best in the country.  I said, I agree.  And she said if they get two hours of sleep in the first year, they should consider themselves lucky. And I kept asking myself, if you’re sleeping for less than two hours, are you really learning anything about value? It’s a question as a journalist I would ask myself, as educator I would ask myself.

Dinesh Harsolkar, Director, IES Management College and Research Centre

DINESH HARSOLEKAR: B-schools themselves have their own constraints and limitations in terms of the expertise available with them, in terms of resources available with them. And therefore they are not able to cope up with those challenges. Secondly, the constraints and the limitations under which business schools have to operate and these concerns are being created by the regulator assessment. So that is where we are all helpless. Now when we talk about for example, passionate teachers, the question is, do I have a choice to recruit a person, where I see, yes, he is passionate for teaching. No, I cannot. I have to check his paper qualification.

Lakshmi Mohan, Campus Head, ITM Business School

LAKSHMI: We approached a lot of industries to understand whether they could collaborate with us in certain courses. For instance say, digital media and marketing, so we had a company give you the curricular design, and they came as faculty members. So if you could have even more such courses where we could – we could collaborate with the industry, I think a lot of our problems the gap would be minimized.

Student Generalisation

MOHAPATRA: My question is, every management institute will have a different set of students with different expectations. Can we categorize them? People who are really serious and  interested, maybe we invest more time in. For students who come with unrealistic expectations and they don’t want to invest what are they want the best of the faculty, a lot of counselling is required. We should invest in proper counsellors who should spend time to understand and make them understand the reality, because sometimes it’s a square fit in the round hole.

MAHAJAN: Today, a student has predefined the profile even before the company comes in. This is the project I want to work. Owing to the exposure, they have information on their palm and details on their lap that has made all the difference. So it is the attitude shift which leads to a kind of thought leadership. This is tremendously on our shoulders to create that attitude shift and make them open to little wider horizons rather than being fixed. Second is being adaptive. The biggest challenge which we face is that we have very fixed system and methodologies to teach.

NAVIN PUNJABI: The first thing as a student I feel is aspiration versus expectation in terms of what a B-School is in a student’s mind. So let me put it this way. If I ask any of my friends in finance what was your dream job? It was investment banking, research analyst. These are set defined roles which a finance person if you ask, do a survey randomly, he will give you these answers. This is a concern. As a student where I feel the institute’s expectation, what they are creating, in general, versus what the student’s aspirations are. Is there a mismatch or are both on par? If there is a mismatch there ought to be tension and there ought to be dissatisfaction.

HARSOLEKAR: When we talk of student quality, again as long as the student admission is cut-off driven. I don’t think again there is any solution to that. In many US business schools, the admissions are not completely based on GMAT score. It is taken just as a base but otherwise the admissions are based on overall profile. Can we do that in India? As of now, the answer is no. Somehow we have to find out some balance.

Collaboration among B-Schools

PENDSE: Increasingly there is a need for B-schools to go beyond being isolated and standalone B-schools, but also collaborate with technology institutions. I mean in the U.S. if you see most parts, you have this university system where there’s a lot of sciences which go along with business school and that adds, because I think industry is integrated if you see. There is manufacturing which is a technology but there is also sales and marketing and things like that.

PUNJABI: It is important to create a collaborative mindset, whereas at the B-school we are more competitive. You need to get that placement instead of what I have experienced a little bit in my life is more collaboration works instead of competing with people. If you collaborate, you can live happily the other person can live happily.

Value addition to students

JAGDISH RATTANANI:  Interesting point to that is once the participant has come to you, then you have two years to participate.  My question is once you have the best what are you doing with them that is also a question to answer.  You must ask the question then what do I do.  And answer to that will lead us how the system will change.  How cultures will change?  How people will change?  How schools will move?  And how the system will move?

LAKSHMI MOHAN:  In two years how can the person be changed entirely? Of course it’s not a transformation.  We can’t change the individual behaviour of a person.  But if you’re going to transform somebody’s mindset, we have to be capable enough. I worked with the spirituality for example they practice yoga, so practicing for two years, a person’s mindset will transform to something else.

SEEMA MAHAJAN: I also feel and why environment is going through a shift.  What did I see?  What people saw 10 years ago and what we see today is completely going through a very big shift.  Are we relevant?  And I am very confident of the fact that the minute we as faculty are relevant and we delayed with the situation, a student is going to have – going to feel –  and being it putting it very boldly, am I –  am I going to be a value addition to them? This is something what a student is looking for.  So beyond classroom thinking and beyond classroom execution, there is something which is wanted by me and that is more relevance.

The question is, is our faculty willing to put in that kind of [effort and time]?  My challenge is, if you are making them teach eight courses, 10 courses, 12 course at times in private schools, it becomes difficult.  Faculty also is not to be blamed because can you give that kind of time, but that is the kind of time which is required.  So how can you be more current?

Brand image

KADREKAR: When I see the students coming in, I see many of them coming with that brand. There is no harm in carrying that brand of the institute with them. But just carrying the brand doesn’t help. They should come with the conservative upgrade as to how do I apply the education application which I have earn from such a prestige institute to this particular business solving the business problems. And that’s is where I find that they come with a remade list of education and what I should do for it, rather than if they come with conservative approach of understanding what are the business needs and how I can utilize education to solve it and it becomes much more easy.

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/management-education-the-way-ahead/1076247
By: FPJ Bureau
Posted: May 29, 2017, 9:37 am