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Interview with Prof. Prashant Mishra - Dean - External Relations and New Initiatives, IIM Calcutta

Jan 25, 2019 09:24 IST
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IIM Calcutta is one of the pioneers of management education in India. In this video, Prof. Prashant Mishra  - Dean - External Relations and New Initiatives, IIM Calcutta shares with us how IIM Calcutta has been setting new benchmarks in MBA education. He also talks about the future of management education in India and what qualities do B-schools look for in an MBA Aspirant and what skills do they impart to them.

Future of Management Education in India

Management Education took root in India in the 1960s, and for the next two decades it was grounded in the Social Sciences. In the 1990s, the trend of Information Technology and Computer Science came to the fore which impacted all the fields including management education. So, over the period of last 6 decades, Management Education has undergone a lot of changes and churning in order to arrive at its current form.  The last decade in management education was marked by the advent of advanced digitization and internet technology which covered Big Data, Data Analytics and such other platform. During the last 6 decades, only those institutions and entities have survived who have integrated and adopted the new trends in their curriculum.

So, in general, the development of management education was marked by the changes that were facilitated by the integration of the new trends, technology and changes into the curriculum for MBA. But going forward, MBA in India is going to be multidimensional which will cover not only the Social Sciences and Technological Skills but also new and emerging fields like Data Analytics, Digitization and other emerging trends. All of these factors together will shape the education content that is taught in the B-schools.

Key Skills that B-schools look for in MBA aspirants

To start with, B-schools look for a certain intelligence level which would be required to cope up with the rigorous curriculum and teaching processes. This is assessed through the MBA entrance exams. Secondly, B-schools look for strong analytical ability, which essentially translates to strong quantitative skills and social skills i.e. communication and people management among the MBA aspirants. In addition, other competencies among the students like their ability to navigate diversity and potential to integrate diverse array of domains also are considering during the selection process.

Skills that B-schools instill in Management Graduates

MBA institutes, especially in the IIMs, students are imparted education through unique curriculum design which helps students hone their analytical and social skills. And this is done through various assignments, group activities and case-studies. Students interact, debate and discuss among themselves to enhance their analytical and social skills. Similarly, IIMs have also developed and adopted several innovative pedagogical interventions such as case methods, simulations etc. which strengthen or build on the foundation of the skills with which students are recruit the programme.

Skills that Recruiters Look for in B-school Graduates

Recruiters or Industry in general looks for three key skills among management graduates i.e.

  • Strong Problem Solving Skills
  • Solid Knowledge Foundation
  • Ability to Navigate Complex Environments i.e. Good social and people management skills

B-schools help students to develop all these skills in a way that the students are ready to hit the ground running when they join the industry. The Case Studies and project work that students do as part of their MBA education go a long way in helping them imbibe these skills. Add to that the unique teaching pedagogy and technology induced learning tools; this becomes the prefect mix that help B-schools to prepare industry-ready professionals.

Industry Interactions vs Case Studies vs Classroom Lectures

Over the years, B-schools have developed and adopted different teaching models which help train students in different aspects of management education and help them imbibe the necessary skills to excel as a business manager. The three key pedagogical tools that are commonly used in B-schools are

  • Industry Interactions
  • Case Studies / Case Method
  • Classroom Lectures

For few subjects and domains, Classroom lecture model has proven to be very worthy pedagogical tool. Especially while dealing with theoretical aspects and introducing new management concepts among the students, where intensive knowledge immersion is required.

Similarly, there are components of curriculum where you need to get down and get your hands dirty, in terms of your ability to think through. You should be able to work on data, work on information, to synthesize. You should be able to debate, listen to others’ point of view, critique others’ point of view. Absorb the criticism of your own point of view and then by listening to all these be able to synthesize and arrive at one solution. This is where case method comes in handy.

Industry Interactions is also an integral part of the academic culture of B-school as they help bring the most contemporary, real-life experiences to the classroom and with those interactions also the participants are able to gain significant insight into what the world is today.

So, all the three tools listed above are distinct and used for different purposes and one cannot be compared or preferred over other in terms of management education. All these tools deal with different facets of management education and therefore they all have their unique place in the academic culture of a B-school.


Consistent Performance of IIM Calcutta in B-school Rankings

IIM Calcutta participates in various rankings that are awarded by different independent agencies. The institute lays a lot of importance on ranking and accreditations. As a result, it is the only B-school in India with triple accreditation from international agencies i.e.  

  • AMBA

In order to internationalize the presence of IIM Calcutta, the institute also participates in a number of international rankings as well. Backed by the institute’s commitment to imparting world-class management education, the efforts of the institute have been recognized in independent agencies at international level as well.

Some of the factors that have helped us to maintain our position among the premier B-schools, not only in India but even internationally include unique curriculum design, faculty strength, enhancing student experience, right environment and infrastructure, library, living experience and international exposure or diversity. IIM Calcutta works extensively on providing a fulfilling learning experience to the students, both, in terms of programme content as well as the living experience on the campus which in-turn enhances their employability and their employment opportunities. The institute is also focused on expanding its research footprint. For this, the faculty and students are involved in the cutting edge research on contemporary issues related to management education, related to public policy, related to economic policy.

In any kind of competition, reaching on top surely takes a lot of effort but being at the top takes even greater effort. IIM Calcutta is pretty conscious of this fact as an institute and based on the external evaluations and feedback, the institutes works on the domains to bring them at par with the international standards.

Future Vision of IIM Calcutta

IIM Calcutta has set aside the following priorities for itself in the coming days:

1. Internationalization: IIM Calcutta wants tocome more forward from where it stands right now in terms of internationalization. The B-schools wants to expand its academic footprint beyond the geographic boundaries of India.

2. Faculty Strength: The institute also wants to augment its faculty strength. As of now, the B-school has 90 faculty members. However, in order to expand its operations in core degree area as well as other areas such as executive education and research, the institute has to augment its faculty strength without compromising on the quality.

3. Executive Education: Executive education is another priority that the B-school is focused on. Even today, IIM Calcutta is one the leading institutions that caters to the continuous education needs of the working executives. IIM Calcutta is a pioneer when it comes to long distance and technology enabled programmes. The B-school wants to take these programmes international, especially in the neighbouring countries as well as in countries like South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Camaraderie among Students and Faculty

Culturally, IIM Calcutta has had very collegial environment. The institute has developed a unique concept of hierarchy of deeds, wherein colleagues have a very healthy competition to do better and better in their academic life.

Similarly, when it comes to faculty and student relations, as a teacher, faculty at IIM Calcutta treat themselves as the custodian of the students’ interest. They think about the concerns and feeling of the students and this build the relationship of trust among them.

Advice to Management Aspirants

MBA aspirants must be true to their goals; i.e. they must have some clarity about why they want to come into management education. This is because; the demands of management education are very diverse as compared to traditional academic domains wherein the expectations are largely uni-dimensional. After taking up management education, the spread of knowledge that students have to navigate is very diverse. It ranges from social sciences to quantitative skills, finance and covers even latest technological developments. This is where the ability to integrate different domains and learn different skills comes into the picture.

Secondly, having a solid knowledge foundation is of utmost necessity for a management aspirant. During and even after completing your management education, strong analytical skills will play a pivotal role in your career. Strong analytical ability translates to strong analytical capabilities need to have grounding in some set of quantitative skills and a good set of social skills. If these qualities and skills are not your forte, then you may develop them during the programme, but, your chances improve, if you are more grounded into quantitative skills and communication or inter-personal communication. So, try to develop them.

About the Expert:

Prof. Prashant Mishra is the Dean, External Relations and New Initiative at IIM Calcutta. As a faculty at IIM Calcutta he teaches various courses on Marketing Management, Marketing Research, Services Marketing, Managing Retailing and Consumer Behaviour. Prior to IIM Calcutta, he has taught at PIMR Indore (Devi Ahilya University), Nirma Institute of Management (Nirma University of Science and Technology) and NMIMS Mumbai. He has also consulted in a diverse array of domains starting from Customer Orientation Audits; Brand Strategy; Market Mapping; Sales Process Improvements for Govt, Public sector and Private sector firms.

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