This month, IIM Kozhikode (IIMK) secured 100% summer internships for its biggest ever – placing 541 students with 144 recruiters, beating the ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and the dissemination of knowledge. “This shows that the ability to secure a large tender mandate in a tough business environment is the hallmark of a top B-school,” says Debashis Chatterjee, Director of IIMK. In an interview with Vikram Chaudhary of FE, he adds that in order to become truly “global” B-schools, IIMs need more freedom to attract foreign students. Extracts:
While the summer internships at IIMK have been 100%, are there apprehensions that not all students will be able to find a job during the final internships, especially since the economy is not going well? not good?
We believe the overwhelming response to summer placements bodes well for final placements. No less than 144 companies recruiting 541 students, from our three PGPs, for our largest batch ever, proves that the ability to obtain a large mandate of offers in a difficult commercial environment is the hallmark of a B school. been delighted to have companies like Coca-Cola among the recruiters, who trusted us after a few seasons. Additionally, the economy has started to recover which is also a good sign as we move forward with healthy optimism for final placements.
How difficult (or easy) was the transition to online education during the lockdown? Did the faculty need special training?
There were some problems initially. The assumption we went forward with was that this was a “golden crisis” from an education sector perspective. The best possible use of resources to continue on the learning curve came into play as the crisis unfolded. There is no doubt that technology is the immediate and medium future.
Teachers have different skills. Some newly recruited professors quickly adapted to the technology, while some, very exposed to the human-human interface, needed a helping hand. But as an institute with a state-of-the-art infrastructure, we encouraged the establishment of formal and informal spaces where the faculty could adopt the technology.
Do you have students who were short of equipment (laptops, internet connectivity, etc.)?
We have faced some issues related to the digital divide with regard to Internet connectivity; we have supported some students facing this difficulty, to bring them back to campus – after taking all necessary precautions for Covid-19 – and allowed them to take online courses with the support of the campus infrastructure.
What do you think will be the impact of NEP on management education?
There will be long term impacts of the NEP in terms of management education. The direction of multidisciplinary approaches suggested by the NEP will prompt many high-level B schools to rethink their curriculum. Pioneers like IIMK who have anticipated this future course will be able to attract the best teachers as well as students.
Some IITs criticize certain global rankings (they say the “perception” component is too subjective). Did IIMK have any differences with a global ranking agency?
If the perception is meaningful, the parameters and methodology of the ranking process adopted by global ranking agencies must be transparent to convince higher education institutions of their neutrality. We cautiously entered the waters of the world rankings and made our world debut this year at QS World University, where our EMBA (Executive) and PGP (MBA) were ranked 101+ in the world. Globally, IIMK now stands alongside Kent Business School (UK) and Brunel Business School (UK) for the Masters of Management (PGP), achieving the highest score in ` “ thought leadership ” ranked 90th among the world’s 148 best MBA programs. For EMBA, IIMK is tied with HEC Lausanne (Switzerland) and Kent State University (United States).
How will you rate the NIRF?
This can be taken as a welcome sign, as the methodology relies on global recommendations and understanding to identify major ranking metrics. It also creates a healthy competitive environment within the national system.
The IIMs, it is claimed, are not really “global” B schools because the faculty and students are mostly Indians. What can be done to make IIMs more global?
IIMs should be allowed to participate in the global admissions process. A greater degree of freedom to attract international students as a lucrative and quality educational center will overcome current systemic issues and lead us on the path to global recognition.
The IIMK is probably the only B school to have such a high percentage (52% in the current batch) of female students. Was this achieved through a planned process?
We have a distinct heritage and a pioneering role in building affirmative action towards gender parity in management. With nearly 54% women in the flagship course, IIMK women make up 30% in faculty and 40% when it comes to the Board of Governors, the highest among IITs and IIMs. This has been at the heart of IIMK’s efforts over the past decade and its conscious contribution to the empowerment of women.
IIMK has organized numerous “women in leadership programs” since 2012-13 to encourage gender diversity. One of our popular programs is the School Leaders Program, which has trained school principals in leadership roles as they play an outstanding role in educating young minds. Our efforts were not only limited to the institute, but also transcended barriers to reach large groups in society that had been neglected until then.
How strong are the IIMK alumni?
The IIMK Alumni Association has been instrumental in transforming alumni engagement with the institute and branding IIMK as one of the best institutes. It is made up of nearly 10,000 alumni spread across the world in renowned positions. The IIMK has formulated some major ideas to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the institute in a proper manner. Part of these plans is to showcase the strength of our alumni and their prowess.
With so much focus on the liberal arts these days, should the management training curriculum change as well?
The management training program draws heavily on scientific methods of inquiry in controlled environments. In reality, business is often done in environments in which judgments are made on confusing, incomplete, and inconsistent data. The scientific method of teaching and learning alone is not enough to prepare future managers. An alternative form of management education is needed. The liberal arts can fill this void. The need to build an emotionally strong, creative, and culturally sensitive workforce in this age of artificial intelligence motivated us to dive into a PGP in Liberal Studies and Management. We are the first and only IIM to do so, and we are confident more will follow. We anticipated the idea of a multidisciplinary approach to the future of education long before the mandate given to the NEP.