50 years of IIM Bangalore: Creating a robust supply line for India Inc

To become a developed country, India needs more and more world-class managers, and that calls for more world-class management schools.

In its 50 years of existence, the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) has created as many as 20,000 world-class managers just from its long-duration degree-granting programmes, including the full-time MBA. If you include executive education, the numbers would more than double.

“The contribution of IIMs to the development of the Indian economy cannot be merely judged in numbers,” Prof Rishikesha T Krishnan, director, IIMB, told FE. “These institutes have helped raise India’s standing in academics, executive education, research across management, and entrepreneurship.”

Founded in 1973, IIMB was the third IIM (after IIM Calcutta and IIM Ahmedabad) and all three — collectively known as A, B and C — have emerged as global business schools (top 100 in the world).

The best in the world!

Prof Krishnan told FE that while IIMB has been ranked “among the best,” there are areas where it is matchless. “We are very good in management research — a focus area for the last 15-20 years. We are possibly the best in teaching in general — we have been very effective in using different media for teaching. We have great infrastructure — physical as well as intellectual — from the library to software support. And we are possibly the best in the country in terms of supporting students with disabilities,” he said.

IIMB is the most active IIM in terms of online teaching. It offers MOOCs on the edX platform (called the IIMBx). “It is our window to the world,” Prof Krishnan said. “More than a million people from over 150 countries have attended our MOOCs.”

Through IIMBx, the institute has also reached out to learners in sectors that are traditionally distant from management education. “Doctors are among the busiest professionals and it’s very difficult for them to attend physical classes. So we launched the online Professional Certificate in Hospital Management for upskilling them,” he said.

Has the campus changed post-Covid-19?

Prof Krishnan said that attendance is still strict, but classrooms are a bit flexible now. “There are certain topics and subjects that students can learn at their own pace, and we don’t need to use the precious classroom time for such one-way teaching,” he said. “While lectures still take place, classrooms are being now extensively used for discussions, debates, knowledge exchange, peer learning, and so on.”

Student fees are high

It’s often argued that fees at IIMs — despite these being public institutions — are very high. The two-year full-time MBA, for example, costs Rs 24.5 lakh. Prof Krishnan said that this year the average salary of an IIMB graduate was about Rs 35 lakh. “A student is able to recover the entire fee shortly after leaving college. So the fee she pays is an investment into the future, and the return happens immediately,” he said. “We have a generous internal financial aid programme and any student who needs support is supported. No IIM has turned down a student due to lack of finances. Even banks readily offer student loans.”

While IIMs are indeed public institutions, they work like private ones. IIMB, for instance, hasn’t received any grant from the government since 2005 (barring some capital grant in 2008-09 to build OBC hostels). “The government has limited funds which should go where needed, such as school education,” he said. “While new IIMs need public support, the older ones are quite capable of running on their own.”

Women in management

In India, women keep dropping out of the education system as they advance. In primary education if there are, let’s say, 50% women, in secondary schools that percentage will reduce, and in higher education it will reduce further, and even further in the corporate world, reducing to a trickle in the boardroom. “When I joined IIMB as a faculty member 27 years ago, there were only about 15% women in the core MBA programme,” Prof Krishnan said. “Today, it is up to 30%. Our intake has also improved. This year there will be 600 students in the MBA, and 30% means about 180 women. It’s a matter of time and in 10-15 years we will see a significant number of women in senior executive positions in the corporate world.”

He added that IIMB has notable women alumni, including Prabha Narasimhan who recently became the MD & CEO of Colgate-Palmolive India is a 1997 batch student.

Management schools at IITs

Last year, the Department of Management Studies at IIT Delhi was ranked the fourth best management school in India by the NIRF (higher than many IIMs). Prof Krishnan said he welcomes more quality B-schools because that is what India needs if it is to grow 7-8% for the next 10-15 years. “We need more and more world-class managers, and that calls for more world-class management schools,” he said. “Only that will help us become a $5-trillion economy in the short run and a developed nation in the long run.”

B-School rankings

He said that while there are numerous rankings, IIMB only looks forward to two of those. “One national ranking (NIRF) and one international (FT business school rankings) are enough. These two are the ones we track, as these give us a clear idea of our position vis-à-vis others,” he said. “Taking part in too many rankings can shift the focus away from excellence in education.”

Source: Financial Express