‘Equating of Mah-CET and CMAT scores during admissions is a concern’: JBIMS director

The JBIMS Mumbai building
Dr Stephen D’silva, director, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), Mumbai tells PaGaLGuY that the institute is contemplating constructing a new building on the campus. He also expresses concerns about how the admissions process will equate CMAT and Mah-CET scores.

JBIMS has often been termed as the ‘CEO Factory’. What is the mentoring process of the institute, and how is it different from the other b-schools that it churns out leaders?

The process begins at the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (Mah-CET) entrance test itself, where if one lakh appear for the test, then say, the top 120 of them opt for JBIMS. As per statistics, the next 80 to 100 of the test-takers also do not apply to any other place. As a result, our students belong to the creamy layer. These students are nurtured with the help of our faculty who are our renowned alumni and leading corporates. Our teaching methodology involves case studies and also analysis of occurences in the corporate world, and their repercussions and consequences, and the ways to tackle these challenges for the best future actions. Besides, we have a mentoring setup in place, where each juniour student has a mentor in the form of a senior batchmate and an alumnus who holds a senior position in some organisation.

This year’s Mah-CET was dubbed as one of the toughest ever. Do you reckon the cut-offs will come down for JBIMS?

Considering that this year’s Mah-CET was not the easiest, based on the feedback of the test-takers, the cut-off score might come down to below 130 but the percentile will remain the same, which is around 99.8. However, our concern is how the two tests, that is, the Mah-CET and the CMAT, will be equated because while the former was tough, the latter was comparatively easier. As you may know, we are accepting CMAT scores this year in addition to the CAT and Mah-CET.

Dr Stephen D’Silva, director, JBIMS Mumbai
What changes in curriculum will JBIMS see this year?

In 2009 and 2010, we underwent a change in curriculum as per the University of Mumbai guidelines. Also, the option to modify the curriculum, albeit in an informal already way exists. Our faculty strives to bring in new dimensions to the existing curriculum. To cite an example, we have introduced new sectors like infrastructure development and housing in our syllabus, as we thought it was relevant. We have had people from corporate India such as Anil Aggarwal, founder and chairman, Vedanta Group and Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures, deliver guest lectures. Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO, ICICI Bank is a frequent visitor, and also an alumnus. As far as curriculum changes are concerned, the University of Mumbai might bring in minor changes in the curriculum in a year or two. In my opinion, the curriculum must focus on making students more employable. It should be attuned to the major stakeholder in this, which are the companies. Other than that, our students also take up off-campus projects throughout the year besides the regular summer internships.

With this year’s job market being bleak, what is your viewpoint about this year’s placement season?

Our placements turned out to be better than what we had speculated, considering the current market situation. Of course, the hindrances in this placement season were that some of our last year’s recruiters did not turn up because they had frozen their hiring, number of offers made by companies were lesser compared to the previous year. But we overcame this situation by inviting new recruiters who offered profiles from fresh sectors. Renewable energy was a debutant sector in our campus this placement season. Also, while the leading companies did not trim pay packages, towards the fag end of the placement season, there was a reduction in compensation which led to marginal decline in our average salary. There was slight reduction in our highest salary offered as well, which was Rs 24 lakh per annum this year.

Any infrastructure restructuring in the pipeline for JBIMS?

Infrastructure improvement is carried on as an ongoing process in relevant areas. We are contemplating on the lines of a new building in the campus, but as of now, nothing has materialised on paper. We have also upgraded our intellectual infrastructure by subscribing to databases such as CMIE, which create industry-relevant data, which is used for research and analytical purposes by students. Our library budget is Rs 25 lakh per annum which is spent on books, journals and databases. We also have Wi-Fi facility for students in the campus.

Several b-schools such as JBIMS have converted movies such as 3 Idiots and Rocket Singh into case-studies. What is the takeaway from movie-based cases and how do they contribute to learning?

The procedure followed is that post viewing the film assigned to each group, there is a brainstorming session amongst the students monitored by a faculty member, and then the application of management principles in the movie is analysed. The social lessons that the film is trying to convey are also discussed, as they would also be relevant for us as managers for tomorrow. To state an instance, in marketing, one of the fundamental concepts is the marketing-mix which means that while designing a marketing plan, we need to take care of the 4P’s namely Product,Price, Promotion and Place. The movie 3 Idiots set new standards for promotional and in-film marketing strategies used in Bollywood. Students at JBIMS tried to delve into the product and promotional aspects of the movie. Also, as a part of the ‘Organisational Behaviour’ course work, the students analysed the classic My Fair Lady. The movie aptly highlights the Pygmalion Effect. In the movie, when the protagonist placed greater expectations from the lead actress, her performance improved. The students studied it from the point of view of organisations where these strategies can be used for effective leadership to motivate the team and enhance the team performance.

Any initiatives being taken by the students in JBIMS to address socially relevant issues?

We have quite a few socially relevant events. One of them is Strategym, annual business convention of JBIMS. It is an amalgamation of innovation and ideas of the youth with the expertise of the corporate. A total of seven papers were presented by the students that emphasized poverty alleviation and equitable justice, the theme for this year. The teams presented research papers in varied fields that offered pragmatic solutions to tackle various socio-economic issues. Then there is ‘Marketing Maestro’ which is an exclusive entrepreneurship event of our institute. In this event the students of JBIMS procure products, for example, key chains, chocolates, candles or perfumes from various NGOs such as the National Association for the Blind, Vivekananda Youth Forum and Om Creations and thereafter sell these products in the marketplace. The profits made from this are then given back to the respective NGOs. Hence, this event fulfils both social objectives well as allows the students to put their entrepreneurship skills to the test. Then there is Munijan, which is a social initiative by the University of Mumbai where JBIMS has been an active participant. The objective of this initiative is to bring about positive changes to the society at large by involving its students in a series of constructive socially responsible activities. This initiative is drawn from the Gandhian Principles of serving the society.