Dr.Bibek Banerjee in the panel discussion of Indian Management Conclave 2011

The second edition of the Indian Management Conclave (IMC) 2011 was held on August 11-12, 2011, in New Delhi on the theme — the ‘New DNA’ for Indian management education. The Conclave saw 50 eminent leaders from the academic and corporate world addressing a congregation of 500 delegates. The inaugural session was also addressed by eminent educationists that included Dr. Bibek Banerjee, Director, IMT Ghaziabad. Presented here are excerpts from his speech…

Online PR News – 23-August-2011 – – At IMT we often debate about what we are creating. Who are our major stakeholders? It is our students. But are we treating them as ‘customers’ or do we consider them our ‘products’?

The debate is ongoing because a B-school’s DNA is constructed and guided by how we treat our stakeholders — the students or the talent that we are actually mandated to help co-create. Are we taking responsibility for them? What we do, the way we structure our curriculum and our teaching methodology would actually depend upon our philosophy, of how we look at our position as a business school in the larger picture.

Many of my colleagues want feedback; it’s another ongoing debate at IMT. How seriously should we take this feedback? We have a mandate and what we are teaching our students makes sense to them and is of real value to them. But the point is that the metrics we use in actually running the DNA of the business school could get corrupted if we take a ‘product’ view than a ‘customer’ view.

And how are we measuring our throughput? If you look at the metrics that Indian B-schools use it always comes down primarily to the average salary. Most focus on the maximum salary — the 21st century’s proverbial Rs 1 crore job —but what about the percentage of students placed? I agree that in order to have an outcome-based system we must be able to measure what we are creating; but are we using the right metrics to measure what our throughputs are creating for the world?

With regard to inputs, Dr. Singh has already given us a sense of the enormity of the scale we are talking about — 4,000 B-schools and 200,000 applicants. How do we ensure that we are getting the right talent? We have a set of exams, we have a set of metrics and we use high cut-offs, CAT scores, MAT scores, GMAT scores, this score-that score… are we using metrics, which really are partial measures, only as great marketing tools?

My school-my CAT minimum score… that sort of sets the order. We question this at IMT. I would like to share with you an experiment we tried which shows that when we are talking of high cut-offs, there are certain errors we committing, for instance, not-so-deserving candidates just about make it through while there could be very deserving candidates who just miss.

We used an innovative technology platform and said forget about cut-offs, let’s talk to the 20,000 aspirants who have applied to IMT. What were our constraints? — time, money and manpower. So we created a virtual interview system through which we spoke to 7,000 aspirants, despite bandwidth and technology issues, and asked them five questions each. And we were actually able to overlay the standard metrics and had a far more flesh and blood sense of how each individual could be as a potential candidate and a potential leader. When we are talking about innovation, we ought to be innovating ourselves and that requires work.

With regard to the process, the issue that Dr. Singh touched upon is very important. To what extent should business schools be ‘market-driven’ as opposed to ‘market-driving’? Does the business leadership think that way too? We need to be far more innovative in our methods; we need more engagement with the business community which is an important process of leadership creation, and it cannot be at a better time because that is the fraternity to whom we are supplying our set of values. We have been conducting some experiments at IMT this year, for instance, we had a few students from Kellogg who were teamed up with the students of IMT and each worked on a consulting project in the social entrepreneurship and technology area. The details of the same are on our website.

The issue about the university system is an interesting one and I totally agree that what is academics if not freedom of thought. And about financial aspects, specifically of creating incentives, I cannot agree more as it’s incentives that drive people in any area not only in academics.

The other major motivation for academics is that you have the freedom to let your mind soar and actually create something of value and influence. Are the B-schools providing that? India is very different from the rest of the world, business schools have been standing alone; they are not part of the university system and perhaps the only way for us to go forward, and I think these platforms are vitally important for that, is to collaborate because we do not have the breadth of discipline or the breadth of resources available for us to let these minds soar to create things of value and influence. And therefore the business schools of India must be allowed to collaborate with all stakeholders.

I think for the sake of the future, business schools, together with all other stakeholders, need to really think about the set of values they are creating. Dr. Singh mentioned the meltdown, but I would disagree slightly with him. The cause of the meltdown was not the failure of fancy mathematical models but the ethos of human greed. That was the fundamental cause of where we are at today, and I predict that if business schools don’t change their ways, this meltdown is going to occur again.

Business schools need to actually start believing that being good businessmen means being good human beings as well. The role of ethics, integrity and hard work cannot be the 1.5-credit course or the 3-credit course; it needs to be in why the business school exists. I believe in order to make this happen, it is important that we keep envisioning the future, today we can’t see the forest for the trees.

It is crucial that we start working on that right now and understand why we need the accreditation, why we need the rating or the right research to dismantle the Western view and create an Eastern view… work has to begin immediately and I hope the rest of Conclave will join me in this endeavour, given that so much of work lies ahead of us.

Our first task of creating ethical and value-driven human beings who become fantastic business leaders in the future should begin right now and then should radiate along the entire eco-system.

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