Collaborative courses


The feverish pace of growth in emerging sectors like Retail marketing and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has led to a talent crunch. Graduates with conventional MBAs often fail to make the cut as these industries need specialized skills. This challenge is now sparking off a trend: MBA programs specifically tailored for different industries.

Take retail giant Pantaloon based in India which has 100 stores all over the country, but plans to have double that number next year. For that, the head count including managerial talent needs to go up from the current 16,000 to 40,000. Anticipating this, company’s HR head did a smart thing three years ago. He partnered with Welingkar Institute of Management and KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research at Mumbai, India to create two MBA programs on Retail sales management.

Some B-schools are training students specifically for ‘retail’ but retail organizations already set up or going to be set up need a lot more people than just that, given the pace at which the business is growing.

New trend:

* New Industries like retail and ITeS need different skill sets and there is a dearth of such talent

* Firms seed programs in B-schools to produce the kind of skills they need by providing inputs for the curriculum and pitch in with guest faculty.

* While designing the curriculum, companies often share proprietary information which could be a risky proposition.

Retail Organizations would ‘seed’ programs in B-schools to produce the kind of skills they need. It would help with curriculum inputs, pitch in with guest faculty, be part of the evaluation and screening process, provide students internship opportunities and upon graduation, employ the students.

Pantaloon group who has set up chain of retail outlets in India has already absorbed two batches from B-schools. The students were specially undergone the course for retailing stores or management.

The success of collaborative MBA programs is prompting more companies to follow the trend, while companies like Pantaloon, which have already dabbled in this field, are extending it in a big way. This year Pantaloon has ‘seeded’ MBA programs in seven B-schools.

Pantaloon has extended its relationship with a management Institute to another program in business which intends to “carry analytical and creative skills for business design�. Collaboration with another institution for a specialized program in ‘visual merchandising’ it ventured into the under graduate level as well with a three-year BBA of retail in collaboration with Madurai Kamraj University.

Partner companies have lot of stake. In the XLRI (management institute) an international company ‘Accenture’ pays the fee for the entire batch of 34 students for two years. For the enterprise risk programs, Deloitte gets some of its global leaders to take special lectures. All these companies bear training costs and in some cases, also pay students a stipend.

Save for Accenture wherein students are already formally a part of the company once they join the program, in others students do not have to compulsorily join these companies at the end of the program. The firm’s HR chief says they are not treating this as a captive program. Ideally they would like every student to join them but if they get a better opportunity, they can go elsewhere. Deloitte make them a job offer during the initial selection process and also give them a figure of the kind of salary they will earn with us. While some programs may be rather narrowly focused from a student’s point of view, they need to be given credit for making B-schools more industry-oriented in their approach.