Hands-on Learning : Run an Investment Bank as a student at Masters’ Union School of Business

A new post-graduate, business school, Master’s Union, will soon be opening its doors to students in 2020. Located in the heart of Gurgaon’s business hub, the Union is attempting something unprecedented in the field of business education. They promise to equip students with practical knowledge, allowing them close acquaintance with business and investment as a part of their education. This allows the students to be prepared—and have an edge over other students—when they enter the workforce.

Speaking with some of the founders and the Masters, their passion is palpable. You can tell they’re proud of the model they’ve created. And, for good reason. Master’s Union has taken a concept most-associated with medicine and adapted it to business education. “It’s the novelty of it,” says Karthik Rammana, Director, University of Oxford, teaching Business and Public Policy at Master’s Union, “that makes it so special—this is the first time this means of education has been employed outside the field of medicine.” The concept that medical schools use is that of ‘teaching hospitals’, wherein students work with doctors to treat patients, understand conditions first-hand, and come up with diagnoses and treatment plans under the guidance of doctors. They work closely with doctors, learning and observing, throughout their tenure as students.

To visit the official college page of  Masters’ Union School of Business  CLICK HERE

By that he means the hands-on, learn-on-the-job approach that Master’s Union takes—the students don’t simply learn from books and practice years-old problem sets. They take an active role in their education, shaping it rather than absorbing the information thrown at them. In the same vein, the teachers, known as Masters, aren’t professional academics. They’re professional business people, industrialists, and experts. They actually do what they’re teaching for a living, and have done for years. Think of the expert, one-off guest lectures that happen at many universities. The concept is that but for every lecture. 

The idea they’ve employed is to allow the students to partake in activities and tasks they would perform at work. The teachings they absorb aren’t just in a classroom—they travel with their Masters to office, they run investment funds, they incubate start-ups, the network vigorously. 

“‘Show, don’t tell’ is a widely used technique in Literature. Instead of explicitly stating the goings-on, the reader is made to breathe the text in and truly make it an experience. It makes you utilise all your senses. That’s what we’re trying to achieve,” adds Mihir Mankad, another founding Master who will be teaching The Arts of Communication once the university opens its doors. 

One way in which Master’s Union employs ‘show, don’t tell’ is through their Investment Fund. Most students of business know the very basics of investing, facts they’ve read and step-by-step processes they’ve been made to learn. They know it well, they’re test results prove that. But rarely can they translate that learning into action, and definitely not in the first few years of work. How can they? They’ve never actually done any investing before. Except, the students that will graduate from Master’s Union. “This is going to be the first-ever student-run investment fund at least in this country,” says Vijaya Bhaskar Marisetty, who will be teaching Modern Financial Accounting. 

Master’s Union Investment Fund: 

He tells me that the students, who will become the ‘managers’ of the Investment Fund will be given Rs 5 crore as seed money to start their investing ventures. Plus, the students can also raise funds in addition to the money given to them, from other investing agencies and philanthropists. They can invest as they please—in any idea or start-up where they see merit and potential. The freedom they have to invest is immense: they make every decision themselves. They can invest in any idea, from agriculture to stocks. The best part is that they can make mistakes without the kind of repercussions these mistakes would make in actuality.

It’s important to mention that the managers aren’t entirely in the wilderness—they work with venture capitalists and an investment advisor, all at the top of their careers. These individuals mentor the managers such that they make rational investments. Additionally, they taught how to analyse ideas and gauge potential and marketability. The cost of this mentorship is a slight limit on their freedom–but maybe that’s not a bad thing? 

To visit the official college page of  Masters’ Union School of Business  CLICK HERE

What the students do as managers: 

Allowing the students to hone their skills as investors, in a relatively controlled environment, reduces the time they take to attune to the system when they start working jobs. Think about it: they’ve already had a chance to make a bulk of their mistakes and learn from them. They run a private equity fund, a venture capital fund, deal with stocks, invest in real estate, deal with debt—everything they would learn at work for the first few years, they learn at school. They also learn how to raise funds and are thereby responsible for other people’s money. 

What the students learn: 

While this looks good on a CV, increasing their employability, learning about managing money is also a good life-skill for any young professional (and layperson) to have.  They learn to invest, and through that, they learn accountability and working in high-pressure situations when money is on the line—here, the profits that they get to keep for themselves. 

The Union’s perspective:

The school doesn’t seek any returns from the Fund, either. If they lose money, that’s okay. If they earn money, they can keep it. The idea, clear from the excitement etched on the Master’s faces, is that they learn. They also hope the Fund creates a legacy as it gets passed on from each class to the next. They don’t intend for the legacy to only be about the money, but also of the quality and what it teaches the students.This environment fosters creativity, decision-making, and teamwork. 

From my understanding, the education imparted is more holistic than most: the students learn the work and also how to do the work, which is most-often a missed point. There’s a difference between knowing what the work is and knowing how to do that work, and Master’s Union bridges that gap. 

Masters’ Union’s industry interventions:

As the teachers are working professionals, they also go to the office and have meetings and run companies. The students have the ability to ‘shadow’ them—go to their offices, sit in their meetings, learn how to run a company. This makes their education more like an apprenticeship. It also allows them the opportunity to make lasting relations, essentially network, making lobbying for good jobs easy in the future. 

They also run a start-up incubator, wherein students come up with their own ideas, and the Masters nurture them and guide them. Here, the ideas are fostered such that the ideas are allowed to blossom and become viable businesses in the future. They can also be given funding. The students also take trips to factories and industry-defining sites where they imbibe the atmosphere and learn the making of products at the source.

Master’s Union is a new concept. It’s not something I’ve seen before, especially not as a business school. This unique amalgamation of apprenticeship and pedagogy is what we need in this dog-eat-dog world, and it’s going to be interesting to see top professionals mould the future of the industry where they are already stalwarts, mentoring the stalwarts of the future.

To visit the official college page of  Masters’ Union School of Business  CLICK HERE

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