How is FMS-DU’s MBA (Management of Services) different from your full-time MBA program?

To answer that question we’ll have to go back and explore why we launched this course in the first place. All over the world, MBA programs have a common core element where you have to teach the basics. So the finance, accounting, operation management, marketing or human resources have to and should be taught in all MBA programs.

So we realized that the services sector in India was growing fast but there was no stream of specifically trained managers to manage roles for this sector. By services, I mean services offered by the banking, financial services, consulting or FMCG sectors, as opposed to the products offered by these sectors. So traditionally MBA programs have taught management of products, but here I am talking specifically about the management of services.

So as an initiative to celebrate our Golden Jubilee in 2004, we launched the MBA (Management of Services) program. This was an MBA focusing on services and its special skill-sets. So the core courses in MBA (MS) are not vastly different from those in the full-time MBA, but from the beginning itself we sensitize the students about the services sector in these courses. The full-time MBA has some electives focused on the services sector, which are compulsory courses in the MBA (MS).As areas sectors like civil aviation, public services, telecom and others come up, we believe that the services sector will be very big and in 10 years most b-schools will have to start a similar MBA program.

How different are the jobs offered to MBA(MS) as opposed to the full-time MBA?

In terms of the jobs offered to MBA (MS), they’re not too different from those offered to the full-time MBA students right now. Even the recruiters are the same. The MBA (MS) course is more of a super-specialization keeping in mind the future.

In fact now the entrance exam for the MBA (MS) and full-time MBA is the same, which was not so earlier. We’re also looking to integrate the campuses of the two courses. Right now the full-time MBA runs from the Delhi University north campus and the MBA (MS) runs from the south campus. In about 3 to 4 years, we are looking to move FMS completely to the south campus.

What are the reasons behind shifting the campus?

South campus is closer to the airport, to the other prestigious institutions like IIT, Delhi or Jawaharlal Nehru University and most importantly it is closer to Gurgaon, the hub of industry in Delhi. We’ll build a new building and hostels for all FMS students in the new campus for which we have a fund of Rs 36 crores.

Nearly every national or state university in India has a department of management studies and most of their MBA programs count in the third or fourth rung. Why has only FMS Delhi University managed to break into the top-league of b-schools in India?

Well, we too have lived a stage when we existed as an island. But now DU respects us a lot because we have over time managed relations well with them. As a result of that we are able to function very independently.

Why have other universities’ management departments not done that well? It’s because most of them have been overnight converts from commerce departments to management departments. One cannot create a management department by just renaming the commerce department without adapting the faculty and resources involved. Moreover, the pedagogies of commerce and management education are vastly different. In DU, the department of commerce runs its separate courses (MIB, MHROD) because we respect the differentiation between commerce and management.

There is only one issue we face as a result of not being completely autonomous like say, the IIMs and that issue is in my opinion the price of democracy. You see, DU is one of the largest universities in Asia, if not the world and teaches nearly 300,000 students in its colleges, departments and correspondence courses. In such a huge system, decisions take time. But then, these decisions turn out to be better because they are scrutinized so thoroughly in the public system which is a result of the Indian democracy.

In fact, all the top b-schools of the world function as parts of universities, whether it is The Wharton School, Harvard Business School or Stanford GSB. It is only in India that we have the notion of autonomous institutions.

Has a small campus ever been an impediment at FMS?

Not really. The only limitation is that whatever we have as part of FMS is not exclusive to us but is part of the University. So for example, FMS has a great auditorium in the south campus but other departments in the university are free to use it when it is lying empty. At the same time, the huge library of DU has management books which are largely meant for and used by FMS students. So being part of DU, their resources are available to the students at any time.

Having a huge campus doesn’t really make a difference if most of it is used for maintaining lawns. In fact if institutes in India get 12-acre government land, they should be using it to teach 12,000 students which they’re not.

Moving to admissions, what has the turnout been at the FMS entrance test? How do you shortlist candidates for interview after the FMS entrance exam?

Last year a little more than 52,000 candidates took the FMS entrance test. We have a pre-decided number of people we want to call for the interview stage. Say for example, for the MBA (MS) program we set a ratio of 1:7 for admitted to interviewed, we call 280 candidates for the interviews. If, for example, the number of seats for the general quota is 26, we shortlist 182 general category students for the interview.

The admission process has been the same for several years, except for this year when we are looking at some changes. The most important change is that we’ll declare the scores of every candidate who takes the FMS entrance test. The scores will include the percentile rank for the overall score as well as the sectional scores.

What management area has FMS been strongest in?

In terms of placements, we have been traditionally strong in the marketing area but of late, investment banking, private equity and venture capital jobs have been pushing up finance. To support that we have recently recruited six faculty, all of whom are PhD, in advanced specialty areas of analytical subjects like statistics and accounting.

What is the way forward for FMS Delhi? Are you looking at seat expansion or newer courses?

The next priority for is us to reconfigure the 3-year part time MBA program taken up by working professionals. Three years is too long a time to commit if you have to attend classes every weekday after work for three years. We would like to redesign it, perhaps shorten it to two years and make it more convenient.

There are no immediate plans for seat expansion, though we would have done it had the OBC quota materialized from the Central Government last year. We still don’t know how the issue is going to pan up for the next year. We will surely expand, but only while ensuring that the student-teacher ratio is maintained. We’ll have to recruit quality teachers who are hard to come by.

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