Director Speak: Interview of Dr. K S Subramanian from Dakshin Institute of Management Sciences

There is an overall notion now that MBA curriculum regulated by a central organization isn’t helping us create the required skill sets or talent. What’s your take?

Regulation is necessary, but empowerment is also required with it. If regulation is system controlled and transparent it will at least create a bench mark, but curriculum cannot and should not be controlled even by the Director of an Institute, leave alone a central organization. We need to maintain continuous research and relevance to the present to enable finished products being effectively utilized at the work place.

In your experience over the last few years, have you observed any significant changes in students’ attitude & motivation towards management education?

A good question. The way I would answer it is twofold.

Firstly: what steps has the educationist, faculty and staff done for the above.

Lack of research by the faculty, high commercial attitude by the entrepreneur, propensity towards placement based teaching has definitely degraded the whole process of management education. Even the selection process has been compromised, especially in 2nd the minds of the entrepreneur that let 50% of the batch is through selection and others through his quota, to enable him to make money. He does not realize that group learning is compromised. The relevance of Phd is also an issue. His ability to use his research to teaching is still a problem. Just imagine that even premier schools are talking of class strength of 90 students. Is it possible to be effective is the question?

Secondly: what have the students done to ensure the above?

The focus from day one is placement. The attitude of learning has been compromised by them. He will read only that which will allow him to scrape through the course and enable a placement. There is little knowledge orientation. One has to evolve the academy in such a manner that placement will happen if knowledge is imbibed, but knowledge will not be relevant if placement is focus. Once we shift the Director/ Dean Assessment to verify success rate of his talents two years after student exit, there will be realization. His institute selection itself is based on what are the placement opportunities and what is the average salary?

Where do Indian management institutes stand in the global scene? What factors can make a management institute in India at par with the best in the world?

Apart from IIM A, B, C, FMS, XLRI, International School of Business I do not think that we stand any chance to compare it in the global scene. Having said that it is important to note that global scenario of B schools is not very encouraging. All other institutes in India are from the same boat. There is actually no difference between the balance and second tier institutes. Research and innovation are two primary ingredients for change to occur. We require the following:

– Rigor of Academics ( 16 hours of engagement)

– Flexibility and transparency of evaluation

– Thinking Solicitation

– Cafeteria based learning

– Entrepreneurial mindset

What are the top challenges you are facing today when you are guiding a new brand as opposed to the Symbiosis brand?

It is a challenge to create a new product and it is strenuous challenge to get it branded in the first league. It is tough but doable if your fundamentals are in place and your master plan is fully evolved with promoter buy in. It is matter of time. SCMHRD as a brand evolved very quickly and sustained it. We can ensure that it is repeated here at Dakshin.

Some of the top challenges are:

– It is a new Institute, which means hard questions like – does it have the recognition and collaboration, Why should I go to uncharted waters, There are many B schools in Chennai and are closing down. Why another one? etc

(This is a pertinent question and the answer is simple. B schools in Tamil Nadu have not evolved successfully apart from one or two. They lack the rigor and are guide based curriculum. You hardly have five subjects a semester and we call it finishing school. Research is totally absent. Teaching is specific to exams and evaluation. Why should corporate take them? Sometimes we found students have not done a single case study or read single book and cleared the course with guides and teaching notes photocopying.Dakshin considers this as an opportunity, since we bring in different ideology to the concept.)

– The guarantee of placements? (I want to ensure they come with mindset to get knowledge and develop their skill sets and change their attitude and hence get a placement.)

– How are we different from the others if we are setting up a new institute? Some factors that we are currently working on are: Rigor of Academics, Heavy case study orientation, High research in faculty (all the faculty is already good quality PHD, Multi-disciplinary approach, Pedagogy being self learning and application center, Heavy skill set orientation ( all enterprise platforms are in place), Very strong on quantitative and analytics oriented, Additional courses (courses -are style based with credits in Transcripts), Buying of credits ( speciality schools will offer the credits, like law school, Faculty ratio target of 1:10. ( This is major failure in many B schools), Venture capitalists tie up, Excellent connections with the corporate for guided research and guest lectures,placements and consultancy, and Executive development programs to improve Alumni networking at the earliest.

Top 3 qualities you are looking for in a student when you are recruiting them for your program?

a. There is desire to become a leader and acquire the leadership qualities

b. His/her orientation is to become a thinker and have attitude of thinking to imbibe creativity

c. He/she has a wider canvas to reach out innovatively and does not believe in limitations and transform limitations into opportunities