Director Speak: Interview of ARKS Srinivas from Vanguard Business School

Which term comes close to define you – Educator or Administrator? Why?

A Teacher and a Mentor! I have been associated with mentoring students for more than 15 plus years now. To me the greatest thrill of being in education is the pure joy of being a part of my student’s success. We do not run VBS as administrators but believe the only way to really develop these students is to be their Mentors.

There have been other business schools that were set up by successful founders of Prep companies. A lot of them failed. How is Vanguard Business School different in its definition?

The DNA of a B School is different from that of a coaching institute. Unless one recognizes that, one is bound to fail. Vision and Patience are inevitable traits one needs to succeed in the B-school. In a Prep Course the success of a few students at the top substitutes for the failure of the bottom. In a B-school, every student has to be taken care of. Every individual needs to grow via this course. Also B-schools have a longer gestation period and most didn’t hold on to the required patience this needed. Some went for Massive expansion because of the boom in MBA demand without realizing that the capacity building in B-schools is not just hiring more teachers but building the entire Eco-system for the same unlike that of a Prep Course.

These are all the aspects that we built into our DNA before we started and are read to build our school at the right pace so that we are always on top of the demand.

How has your role evolved in the context of a business school, as against your previous roles?

In a way, the responsibility has grown. As I have said in the previous question, in the test prep, my role was more or less limited to grooming a few of the top students. However, the responsibility of being in B School is far higher and for every student you have to become a role model. The expectations from you change tremendously in a B School and the onus is on you to deliver. In a way, it is far more challenging and therefore satisfying.

What difference are you trying to bring in through your current venture (the business school) in the already saturated MBA domain in India?

You’re absolutely correct in stating about the saturation. However, this saturation is not of quality establishments but in quantity. The biggest problem in B-schools in India is that there is hardly any quality delivery at the bottom of this pyramid. Top B-schools provide immense value to students. However, once you breach the top 40-45 schools, there is absolutely ZERO transparency in information about the rest. This creates a sense of disbelief amongst students who then have to depend on hearsay and common (mis) perceptions (built by Marketing Spends of each school in advertisement ) to actually make a decision. What was even more disheartening was that once a student was inside the walls of these schools, delivery was taken for granted and hence all they got was an extension of their grad school life which is absolutely not the purpose of a course like MBA. Accountability and Return on Investment had become an alien concept in these schools. The focus has been unfortunately on huge campuses and great modern facilities there by compromising on the quality of teachers/mentors and delivery. All this came at a huge cost to students because they had to pay off the huge costs incurred by Colleges.

We are here to only cater to that Gap. We are here to provide quality at a sub INR 5 Lac Management Program which delivers accountability and transparency in its operations. It also has the strongest outlook towards perfecting delivery. We will also ensure that every student is taken care of and not just the top performers. We will mentor each individual who puts trust in us to help them go and develop them into frontline managers.

We only focus on what is essential and invest in the most important facilities required for imparting the course and not get the cosmetic aspects into the school. This provides insurance against undue escalated financial burden and benefits of the same are passed on to the students via an extremely affordable education that promises the right returns.

Do you have an “ideal” profile of student in mind for your program?

Our ideal student is someone who is hard working and wants to grow as an individual in the space of Management Education. We look out for profiles and not for any particular score. VBS interviews every student that applies to give them a chance to showcase their intent of wanting this change. While good scores across academic life adds to this, it essentially helps them gain a shortlist for scholarships.

We already have proven record where we have given admits to students who had below average scores and turned them into fantastic frontline managers who gained salaries of above 5 Lac INR- Something they could only dream of with other schools.