In an interview with PaGaLGuY.com, Professor Pankaj Gupta, Director Symbiosis Institute of Business Management-Bangalore (SIBM-B) explains how SIBM-B is not an offshore campus of SIBM-Pune but a management institute under the aegis of Symbiosis International University. He is rooting for prime placements for the first graduating batch of SIBM-B in 2010 which, according to him, will propel the institute to the circle of high-ranking institutes. Following is what he has to say about SIBM-B and his plans as a director.
Some time back, your website stated SIBM-B as the first off-shore campus of SIBM (Pune). However, according to AICTE norms, only Symbiosis International University or SIU can have an offshore campus anywhere in India. Was it a concious effort to ride on the popularity of SIBM-Pune?
First of all, I would like to make it clear that we are the first offshore campus of SIU in Bangalore. SIBM Pune and Bangalore are two different institutes under the same university that is, SIU. We are like the IIMs, though IIM A, B, C share the same name, they are individual institutes. In the same way, we share the same name but are different institutes. However, we do share very good relations with each other. We are not a younger brother of a big brother (SIBM-Pune) but an individual institute. SIU will be building many more SIBMs in the country, like the ones coming up in Hyderabad and Noida in a short while, hence the structure will be a number of SIBMs under SIU where all will be distinct institutes.
We are not riding on the popularity of SIBM as we have maintained our individuality. People are not ignorant and they will not confuse SIBM-Bangalore with SIBM-Pune. I agree that there might have been some confusion regarding the name during the start of the institute, however, today people are well informed and join an institute only after proper research.
Note: Few days after the interview, we noticed that the ‘about SIBM-B’ section of the SIBM-B website had been changed and now SIBM-B is termed as the first ‘outside-Maharashtra’ campus of SIU.
Screen shot of the ‘About SIBM-B’ section of SIBM-B website prior to modification
The rankings page of SIBM-B initially also carried the SIBM-Pune rankings. How will you explain that?
Yes, I did notice that and asked the concerned people to change the rankings; we are a new institute and we have to stand on our own feet. I am in no hurry for any rankings. We are waiting for the final placements at SIBM-B and after that only will we participate in any of them.
Now that we know that SIBM-Pune and SIBM-Bangalore are unrelated except the name, can you tell us three ways in which you are different?
SIBM-Pune has been around for the past 30 years, thus they have a better alumni base and corporate connections. We also aim to be as respected as they are in the corporate circles in the next five years. Three ways in which we different from SIBM-P are in our faculty and academic rigour, monitored student empowerment and International exposure. 95 percent of our faculty holds a PhD and our students go through continuous assessment for academic excellence. They have to make a journal of ‘reflective notes on key learnings of the class’ where they have to mention what they learnt in the class and how they participated and contributed there. This is the heart of our academic quality. With monitored student empowerment, I make sure that students’ input is taken only where it is suitable and no student enjoys absolute power as it might misused. We are not a student driven institute as many other b-schools are. Guest lectures by eminent international personalities and immersion programs abroad provide the much-needed international exposure to our students.
Tell us more about the faculty at SIBM-Bangalore. How do you ensure that they deliver the best to the students?
We have eight core faculty members at our institute and we have made offers to five more. We follow stringent selection procedure for our faculty at SIBM-B. In the process, we hold faculty seminar and demo lectures for the applicants. Only after we receive positive feedback for the demo lecture, do we make them an offer.
Every faculty has to prepare a session plan at the beginning of each course which contains essential reading, optional reading, cases and home-work. The objective of the session plan should be such that it should relate with the course objective which in turn should relate with the Institute objective and University objective.
We have a feedback system for the faculty after completion of 10, 50 and 100 percent of the course. If the faculty receives negative feedback at the end of 10 percent of the lecture, he is removed there and then. On the other hand, we have rewards and recognition program for high performing faculty at our institute.
What is the profile of a candidate that you look for during the group discussions and personal interviews (GD-PIs)?
The GD-PIs of our institute are conducted in Delhi and Calcutta, Mumbai along with Bangalore. The panel consists of one internal faculty member, one person from the industry and one alumni of the Symbiosis family. The panel looks for candidates who, apart from other things, have leadership qualities and carry a positive attitude. We also want students who come from all fields, such as medicine, commerce and the likes. We prefer a work experience of maximum three to four years as it becomes difficult to place students with more than four years of work experience. Also this year we have introduced two new features in the admission system, the Statement of purpose or SOP and three references. Thus, from now the panel will also grill the students on the basis of their SOP.
What do you mean by ‘Global Business School’ as SIBM-B is stated on your website?
We are a global business school because of the various international tie-ups we have with Universities abroad. As of now we are in a process of signing MOUs (memorandum of understanding) with The London Metropolitan University and University of Greenwhich. These MOUs cover student exchange, faculty exchange, joint research collaboration and joint international conferences. We also took a group of 19 students to Singapore and Malaysia to visit Universities such as National University of Singapore and Nanyang University. The students also visited organizations such as HCL which have their campuses in there. It was a great learning experience and I plan to include more such international immersion programs in the curriculum.
How are the palcements at the institute? How did the summer placement go for the first batch?
The placement scene looks optimistic. We already have 32 companies that have signed to participate in the summers and we are going to start with the final placements very soon. All the students who sought summer placements from the institute were provided so, which was about 70 percent of the batch. Rest of the batch got placed using their own contacts in the industry. Now a days, students work with companies on live projects and if the companies like their work, they make an offer. To allow this, we have made our schedule such that the students work with the companies for the first three days of the week and then attend classes in the remaining four days.
What are your plans for SIBM-B as a director?
We have come up very well in the past two years and we plan to grow all the more in the next five years. In the next five years, we plan to grow as respectable as SIBM-Pune has grown in 30 years. As a director, I want to make SIBM-B as a center of quality education which will be a close alternative to IIM Bangalore in Bangalore.