Where does management education stand today?
We are at the crossroads, where a deep introspection is required in fine tuning the curriculum and focus more on moral leadership. The recent sub prime crisis and the resultant economic crisis had several critics wondering if the education imparted in Business schools (B-schools) worldwide focused more on ruthless result achievement than responsible leadership with a high degree of moral and ethical consciousness. This has led to the inclusion of credit courses on ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. At great Lakes for instance, students are taught management lessons from the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita to make them more conscious s of their responsibility towards the society. This is where the East Scores over the West; our values go back several centuries and we are endowed with a wealth of literature which serves as a guiding principle.
The recession saw many professionals choosing to take a study break, how has that impacted the sector business wise and academically?
From a business standpoint, this movement of professionals towards academics was a good thing – they were able to right size and also had access to talent which has right priced instead of what progressive economic conditions and inflation would normally price them at. From the stand point of academics the resultant pool form which institutions got to choose their students were of very high quality in terms of prior work experience and qualifications. I would say that individuals took the opportunity and changed the grim situation to what could be described as a win-win situation.
In a classroom situation, how does one aim to bridge the gap between industry and academia –for instance , when it comes to problem solving?
Case studies and experiential interludes are the best ways of doing this. I pioneered the LEAP (Learning through Experiential Approach) format in Kellogg that I have found to be extremely successful in bridging this gap. This involves a set of things such as brief internships with companies’ problem solving through cases studies empirical research as well as inviting relevant and specific industry practitioners to visit and deliver guest lectures.
Does management education dilute the core competencies of technical graduates?
I don’t think so. I believe that management education allows the technically accomplished to appreciate the other side of business. It helps them understand the implications of their decisions and contributions.
How do you think South India is poised as a management education destination?
The advantage of the South lies in the fact that education is given a lot of importance Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Calicut and Tiruchi already have several top of the line B schools offering quality management education.
What are the avenues into which management education can specialize? Of these which subjects do you think will be most relevant to this part of the country?
Energy and agriculture are the most relevant. Research in the alternate energy field is in a nascent stage. Qualified professionals are the need of the hour in order to make India energy independent.
What do you think South India needs in terms of infrastructure and industry relations to be the top management destination in the country?
Better power roads and unwavering support of the Government.
Where do you see South India going in the next decade in terms of education?
One of the main reasons I chose Chennai as the location for Great Lakes was that I wanted to put Tamil Nadu on the management map. In the last couple of years, I have met with several industrialists educational entrepreneurs from the four Southern states who are very keen to set up more institutions in their native areas. At this rate, I reckon the South will be unstoppable and will undoubtedly be an education hot spot.