In an exclusive interview with Higher Education Review, Prof. Prakash Satyavageeswaran, Chairperson, Two-year MBA Program, IIM Udaipur shares his valuable insights on the Indian MBA education landscape, the increasing importance of inculcating leadership skills in students, growing demand for executive MBA programs and more.
The employment rate for Indian MBA students stood at 46.59 percent in 2021. How do you evaluate the MBA education landscape in India?
This is a concerning data point. The corporate landscapes are becoming more complex which is increasing the demand for capable professionals. Owing to the growing need for managers and leaders who can handle th complexity, the demand for MBA is also growing. Moreover, the fact that we are a growing country also increases the need for more capable leaders and managers. Because of that, from a demand perspective, there has been no better time to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. Also, the above mentioned statistics exclude the fact that MBA graduates from better quality institutions are getting employment. Hence, the need of the hour is to create more business schools that are capable of preparing industryready students.
Real world industry exposure is a key aspect of modern day MBA education. In your opinion, how can MBA institutions use simulations and case studies to better prepare students for the industry?
This topic draws on the very basic notion of MBA being an applied degree. All of the theories and concepts we teach are meant to be applied. From that perspective, case studies are an extremely good mechanism for getting students to
apply what they are learning to a real-world context. Case studies do two things: on the one hand they are forcing the students to step into the shoes of the decision maker. On the other hand, as we go through large numbers of case studies, students are also exposed to different industries. And owing to this, they learn about different industries,
companies, countries and cultures.
Simulations are the next growing trend and especially from an Indian MBA education perspective, there is an increasing acceptance and use of simulations. Simulations are great because there is an aspect of gamification in it. Simulations where we make groups of students compete with each other in a virtual market. It helps them come up with individual strategies which can increase their success. Therefore, it allows for the application of theoretical concepts in practical scenarios. Also, at IIM Udaipur, more and more courses have simulation components included in them and faculties see this as a great way of engaging students and enhancing the learning in various subjects.
Challenges are part and parcel of working in the corporate realm and during uncertain times, it is important to have strong leadership skills. How can MBA institutions inculcate a leadership mindset in students through outbound training programs?
Many business schools do have components of outbound training programs in their curriculum. In his book, ‘Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads’, Srikant M. Datar talks about the notion that business education cannot be just about knowing, it has to be about being and doing. I think it is in this being and doing that transformation happens. And one of the things that we fundamentally believe in at IIM Udaipur is that we are a student-run campus which means that all the activities that we do are run by the students. Through this, students gain the experience of being and doing.
Executive MBAs are growing in popularity in India. How different is the teaching process in executive MBAs when compared to conventional MBA programs and how do executive MBAs increase the employability of the learners?
Not every one of us might get the opportunity to do a full-time MBA and owing to this, there is a genuine need and demand for an executive MBA. Where executive MBA differs from conventional MBA programs is in the orientation. In a regular MBA program, teachers take the students from concepts to practice whereas, in executive MBA programs, students already come with a lot of practice. Because of this, teachers have to take them from practice to the concepts. The attempt here is to get them to reflect and in the reflection, they are able to see what they have been doing. Collectively, they are able to bring the essence of their experience into frameworks and the biggest contribution for an executive MBA is the fact that it allows them to consolidate their experience. The learners are able to step back and incorporate their experience into something that is consolidated which helps them see it from a strategic perspective. In doing so, the executive MBA program prepares the executives for higher leadership.
According to you, what are some of the key factors that can determine the sustained success a business school?
Focusing on the fundamentals is crucial. The job of a business school is to provide the basic principles of management and leadership, helping people understand team work, and developing EQ and soft skills to name a few. The environments and trends can change but these fundamentals remain the same. Moreover, the most important point when it comes to the long term sustainability of a business school is its culture. The culture of the institute defines who the students are, what they become as alumni, who are the faculty, and what the staff sees as their purpose in the institution. At IIM Udaipur, we carefully nurture our culture and this makes a big difference.
Both technology trends and industry requirements are changing rapidly. What are the new teaching pedagogies b-schools should introduce to keep up with these changes in order to increase the employability of their students?
The first step for a business school is to become aware of what is going on. This is very importantas business schools are insulated to a certain extent from the outside world. Owing to this, being able to spot these changes/trends requires a plug-in with the real-world. One of the things that IIM Udaipur has done systematically well over the years is setting up advisory boards which includes industry experts. These people see trends and conversing with them helps us understand where the industry headed. These advisory boards also help us understand what the in-demand skills in the industry are. Apart from that, we have an arsenal of tools to keep our students up to date with the latest trends including launching electives when we see an increase in demand in a particular space, and conducting regular workshops and industry interactions, to name a few.