We seek to ensure diversity in class for significant peer learning: Dr Bala, Founder and Dean, Great Lakes Institute of Management
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Great Lakes Institute of Management founderDr Bala V Balachandran is a veteran academician with over 40 years of experience in teaching in India and abroad.  In this interview with Careers360 Dr Bala talks on the broad contours of management education and shares his insight on the future of management education in India.

Further, he also shares institute-specific details including placements, intake, fee structure and admission criteria of Great Lakes. Read below for full interview:

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Careers360: How has the value of management education in India changed in the last 3-5 years?

Dr Bala: The most important change in the Management education landscape is that out of about 4000 Institutions that used to offer MBA a few years back, about 1000 have collapsed. I further expect another 500 or more to also withdraw their offerings. This consolidation has happened mainly because of the realization that stellar faculty members and a robust campus placement program are critical drivers to the success of any b-school. If the two are not good, the school will go down. Ratings and Ranking of various magazines are helpful in creating visibility but only one part of the assessment that the schools are put through by prospective students.  Thus, the knowledge, curriculum, the potential to learn current and important skill sets are all essential variables in the selection of a good b-school apart from the placement performance.

Careers360: How do you foresee the MBA programme scenario in the coming 1-3 years?

Dr Bala: In terms of upcoming changes, I foresee the potential for more integrated courses (like a 5 year Bachelors and Masters course), and also regular courses integrated between class room and e-learning through IT, integrated between Theory and Practice, or Academic Elegance with Business Relevance and Integrated between class room and experiential learning.  Largely speaking, foreign immersion type constituents of courses etc. will be on the decline since the returns are not commensurate with the Investments.  Further, there will be a significant improvement in community activity and real creation of value including MOOC.

Careers360: The number of MBA applicants has remained stagnant and it has fluctuated around 2 lakh for last 4-5 years now. What could be the key reasons for this?

Dr Bala: There was a steep rise in both business schools and applicants before 2008 with the economy witnessing high growth and the MBA degree seen as a shortcut to high paying jobs. With the increased demand even poor quality schools saw applicant interest. However post the global economic crisis, there has been a correction with applicants becoming more careful in their choice and only willing to invest in high-quality programs. Hence, there was a drop in interest from students not sure of getting into top schools and having good outcomes. 

Careers360: What is the USP of your flagship management programme which differentiates it from the others?  How do you plan to enrich your flagship management programme in next 1-2 year? 

Dr Bala: I don’t believe in having one single USP – there need to be multiple “buy-ins” for the customer – I am a firm believer of Customer Centric culture. Generally, our motto is ‘To be Distinct or Extinct’. This is a constant reminder to keep our offerings relevant so that we get the best customers on either side of the spectrum – student and corporate.

 

Thus, we have Multiple USP’s and keep adding new ones. Our mandatory Mandarin language module coupled with doing business in China (understanding the psyche and cultural connotations), KARMA YOGA  program (to bring about complete personality development, instilling a sense of CSR while helping the rural agricultural poor), Empirical Project work to appreciate the value of Experiential learning in real world with team work, Business Analytics modules along with Business Intelligence as a new required core course and a vertical, Experiential learning besides case, Distinguished Thought Leaders series are all Unique Selling Propositions of Great Lakes. 

 

Careers360: What is the total intake in the flagship PG programme in Management in your institute? Please also mention annual fee (excluding hostel charges) for the same?

Dr Bala: The total intake in the flagship one-year full-time PGPM is limited to 400. Fee structure for the session 2016-2017:

PROGRAM & ACADEMIC FEES

Indian Student
(in INR)

International Student 
(in US$)

Tuition & Academic Fee

940000

19250

Program Fee

525000

10750

Total Fees

1465000

30000

Careers360: How has been the placements at your institute for 2015 batch? Any sector/function specific trend that you noticed during the placement season this year?

Dr Bala: The PGPM (Post Graduate Program in Management) has now established a track record of successful placements and the Class of 2015 witnessed the best placement season till date. The average CTC was Rs. 12.02 lakhs per annum with all participating 371 students securing final offers. The interesting highlight of the placement season 2015 were the several new roles offered in the areas like Analytics and E-commerce. E-commerce recruiters included majors like Amazon, Caratlane, India Property.com, Matrimony and Snapdeal.  Amazon India also offered the highest compensation.

 

PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) class of 2013-2015, also saw 100 % placement of participating 115 students with average CTC of Rs.  8.75 lakhs p.a. The 2015 placement season also saw new roles being offered in E-Commerce by organizations like Snapdeal, Shopclues, Matrimony.com, MeetUrPro and Indiaproperty.com.

 

Careers360: What will be your selection criteria for MBA/PGDM programme for academic session 2016? Is it any different from the last year? Is there any institutional emphasis on gender and academic diversity to accommodate more female and non-engineer students?

Dr Bala: Our emphasis continues to be on having candidates with demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and team skills and having a strong value system. While we use exams like CAT and GMAT as screening criteria, the selection is based on a broad assessment of the candidate during the personal interview. This year we have dropped the Group Discussion component since we found it be of limited help in the overall evaluation especially for our flagship program where we admit only experienced professionals. We do not discriminate based on the undergraduate degree type and are more interested in the skills and competencies that applicants demonstrate.  We do seek to ensure that there is diversity in the class based on professional experience so that there is significant peer learning.

 

Careers360: Any message to B-school aspirants? 

Dr Bala: Learn Continuously.  Start with a good school which provides you good quality, faculty and peer group but take the onus of learning on yourself. In this day and age, even to stay where you are, it is not enough to be jogging, or running, but you need to be sprinting. Sprint and Succeed. And always remember to ‘Achieve with Humility and Succeed with Integrity’. 

Also Read:

Top B-School Director Interview

 

Stay tuned to www.bschool.careers360.com for more news and special interviews with B-school directors.

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