Director Speak: Interview of Prof. Kamal Sharma from FOSTIIMA

What according to you is the answer to the alleged managerial talent gap in the industry today? Do you think MBA curriculum needs to be deregulated?

There is no managerial talent gap. What appears to be some lacunae in the induction process is a demand supply mismatch due to wide variations in economic growth. When growth is high and demand is ahead of supply, all are forcing new hires to hit the ground running and also accepting any inadequacy of talent or training. When the economy slows and sales are declining, the same fresh hires are accused of being slow and under qualified.

The answer to this is to give the students a genuine 12 week serious (paid) internship and also utilize faculty from corporate who can flesh out the real world’s stress-filled, target chasing environment. Faculty from Corporate with real world, hands on experience is a must and so also practical field sales force exposure. In the curriculum, all have to keep abreast of emerging technology enabled techniques such as social media, data mining / analytics, F & O, Commodity Exchanges, SIP’s MF’s etc. The content of the curriculum is now dictated by the Regulatory agencies and technology and bi-annual revision of curriculum is called for.

What is your view about the current requirements of the industry and the preparedness of our MBA grads towards these requirements?

There are several variations in the output, faculty and curriculum of various types of MBA / PGDM institutions. Depending on the location, financial resources, access to corporate exposure, paid internships, modernized contemporary curriculum, team building camps, group projects in the field, regular assessments, mentoring by faculty and very dynamic ‘placement mangers’, the output of the graduating class varies. Merely possessing a valid PGDM diploma/ MBA degree with high grades but lacking corporate exposure is not the path to a rewarding corporate career. Yes, therefore, one is forced to admit that an overwhelming majority of MBA’s is not ready for industry.

Students should also complete some courses on Marketing and Entrepreneurship at Harvard and Stanford via the MOOC route and do some tests, exams, online in their areas of specialization (such as on cyber security, digital marketing, etc)

What are the qualities you look for in a candidate you would finally offer an admit in your program?

We are very sure that we shall admit only those students who have the attitude, aptitude, track record and soft skill set to obtain a highly paid & rewarding career at the end of his MBA at our Institute. The marks are not the sole criteria for this; a willingness to work hard, play smart and rise to the challenge is essential since MBA leads to a goal oriented career and is not an academic career, based on seniority. How will a student fare if he does not have the strong foundation in character and positive attitude on ethics?

He needs to imbibe values wholesale from our all IIM-A corporate experienced Faculty. That is what we seek. Therefore, we require serious and mature students, willing to be groomed into superlative corporate professionals.

Do you feel that “future managers” need placement support, or do you think it is a necessary launch pad everyone needs?

All the Law Schools and IIT’s have grand, meticulously arranged ‘placement fests’ and so also the IIM’s. Since all verticals of the Economy need trained Engineers, Lawyers, Managers, obviously, the correct timing and location is for the employers to visit the colleges and recruit directly prior to passing out and lessen the enormous load on the recruitment arm of the HR establishment. At the height of the software boom, the large Software firms were making over 500 offers per day and interviewing over 5000 third year students engineering every week! Obviously, this cant be done in a dispersed manner. and has to be done on Campus. Yes, Placement ( and paid Summer internship) by b-schools is a necessary part of our activity and each manger deserves such a launch pad.

What’s your biggest achievement as a part of this Institution?

I have attempted with some success to ensure all round development of our students by ensuring they learn about culture, history, museums, and tie all the loose threads of the information overload by ‘learning to think through for themselves’. I have ensured that all students spend time in the Mountains achieving goals while building teams (under the supervision of an IIMA trainer). Keeping such a galaxy of talent of our Faculty pool together and growing was amply rewarded by ASSOCHAM which gave us the ‘Institution with Best Faculty’ award for our all star IIM-A Faculty.

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