Interview: Prof. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean and Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management
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Prof. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean and Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management, speaks to Ashish Jha on the challenges confronting management education

 

Q. What are the key challenges for management education in India? What are the unconventional opportunities for fresh MBA/PGDM graduates? Prof. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean and Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management, speaks to Ashish Jha on the challenges confronting management education

A. There are two major challenges; one is qualified and competent faculty, both from academia with solid PhD and, of course, from industry, Govt and other sources of professional expertise who have good and effective communication skills; and financial resources to meet the rising salary and other packages to attract and retain such faculty. In terms of unconventional opportunities, students who are joining entrepreneurial ventures are getting substantial exposure and responsibility early in their careers and several are also starting new ventures on their own.

 

Q. Many management institutes closed last year. Also, the number of management aspirants has come down. How big is this challenge? 

A. It is important that mediocre schools know that if they cannot sell their graduates to the dynamic industry who wants talent and skills with adaptability to changing needs of the corporate world, cannot cater naturally, they have to wither and go, like what’s happening to Engineering schools over past few years. I say, "Be distinct or extinct".  

 

Q. Have you taken any initiative to enhance batch diversity in terms of gender, work experience, academic background, region etc?

A. This is the only B-School in Chennai, which has two-thirds of its students from rest of the country. Though we are located on the outskirts of Chennai in a 30-acre state-of-the-art platinum-rated green campus, we have 67% from North and non-south part of India.  In fact, Hindi is the language commonly used. We have over 37% women students, again the highest in any B-School. We have diversity in industry, academic background and religious diversity as well.

Prof-Bala-V-BalachandranSeveral ‘so-called’ faculty are being produced who have fake degrees and fake PhDs. Govt. should encourage students to pursue quality PhDs so that seeds can be sown for the future

Q. How do you rate the ROI in management education? What skill sets can guarantee a job to a fresher?

A. If you are a quality institution and preserve top-notch faculty with a decent infrastructure over and beyond the AICTE norms, ROI is automatic. We have 100% jobs year after year. Freshers can maximize their changes through a combination of (a) developing tangible competence in an area they are good at, (b) developing their soft skills enabling them to communicate well and (c) most importantly, having the right attitude and realistic expectations.

 

Q. What were the key placement trends in 2014? Which sector has seen a surge in demand?

A. Placement trend is getting better. 2012 was the worst, and '13 and '14 are getting better.  However, you cannot be complacent. There is an overabundance of graduates with MBA and the 'Survival of the Fittest' will be the mantra. Of course, IT sector is dominating and services sector also. Manufacturing needs soul-searching questions and the laws that are archaic need to be looked at. 

 

Q. Besides case-based learning and ‘hands-on’ exposure, what are the new modes of learning?

A.  E-learning and tech-supported learning are the new trends. We believe in substantial experiential learning. We have a stock market trading forum with Bloomberg Terminals and faculty who can also trade. Incidentally you don't need to have an exam and the money made with the same investment is a better indicator!   

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