Why should we make the MBA completely experiential?
Vice President- Operations and Marketing, ITM Group of Institutions
IN our two decades or so of running MBA programmes, our primary focus has always been to offer value to our students, so that they are employable. We have gone the whole way, with teaching and propagating a whole range of concepts from ERP to downsizing, but the value that a recruiter attaches to them is minimal. Their demands are much more basic. An attitude that let them soil their hands, being more adaptive and diversity-friendly, ability to recover from failure, social skills, ability to connect with the reality of business, IT skills like making an effective presentation, researching for data, preparation of useful reports, the list is endless. But we end up teaching them esoteric concepts.
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Something as simple as MS-Excel is so crucial, but half the MBA population equates Excel with colouring. They learn to dress up the data. You can not analyse the data, because it is dressed up so much. And each of these skills are essential for the company. If we do not train the students, then somebody else will have to do. And that is not good for any of the parties, the school, the students and the corporations. So it is imperative that an MBA-holder becomes employable from Day 1.
As the world of business and technology is converging, the complexity and volatility of the business environment demands aspiring managers to be more knowledgeable in a wide array of areas. Essentially, the sheer mass of business knowledge and technological progress has overtaken the capability of any MBA programme. At ITM, we realised the implication of this, on how we teach and develop our students. So at the outset, we forced ourselves into a “Blank Slate” approach of development - we agreed to challenge everything about the ITM PGDM, from curriculum to pedagogy, training and placement. Once we wiped the slate clean, a project team headed by ITM chairperson Dr PV Ramana, began to conduct extensive ‘open-ended’ discussions with over 100 CEOs and business heads across India. We wanted to tap their thoughts and critical ideas in an unfiltered, unprompted manner to enable frank and free ideation.
One can’t analsyse the data that many students present, primarily because it is dressed up so much...
The learning we gleaned from these hundreds of interactions has been carefully analysed and consolidated into four core focus areas. Building up from these focus areas, we have redeveloped the ITM PGDM into a programme that we call “iConnect”. The fundamental change here is that the programme is structured over four semesters. The programme begins with a six-month course work, wherein they learn what are the basics that one needs to know to hit the ground running. In addition to providing functional domain knowledge, we have integrated skills too in this semester.
The core of the programme is semester 2 wherein the student spends a full six months in a company and engages with a business project that has immediate relevance to the student. The third semester is meant for regrouping and the students do six advanced courses in relation to the specialisation he or she chooses. The last semester is a Capstone project, which ideally must link back to internship, probably culminating in a job or a career.
So it is Initialization, Core, Consolidation and the Capstone. The result we hope is an employable MBA...