In this exclusive interview, Prof. L. Gandhi, Chairperson – Admissions at the Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Institute for Management Development (SDMIMD), talks about a few burning questions about the new normal for the MBA space, and SDMIMD’s key offerings, and a few valuable tips to the MBA aspirants, with Allwin Agnel, the Founder, and CEO of PaGaLGuY.
It’s been more than four years of your association with SDMIMD as an Assistant Professor and Chairperson-Admissions. What do you consider as your major achievements during this time?
SDMIMD recently got the diamond rating in the QS I-GAUGE (Nationwide Higher Education Rating System), besides accreditations by The European Foundation for Management Development or the EFMD (an international, non-profit organization of both business schools and corporations), and The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the ACBSP (accreditation for business programs focused on teaching and learning).
At SDMIMD, we majorly attribute all our accomplishments and success to teams. Getting nationally renowned and internationally accredited has been a collective effort. We have our programs, also, the high quality academic inputs and consistent placement records which are also some of our collective accomplishments.
‘Hard work and learning can and should be enjoyable’ is your institute’s one of the Credos. As a teacher, how are you trying to implement it in your courses offered at SDMIMD?
We generally have a judicious mix of interactive learning, workplace case studies, assignments, activities. This helps us to create a power packed environment which keeps the students on their toes, and they also enjoy it because, they understand the value behind this learning. We also collate articles, newspapers, journals and prepare short videos. We invite students to participate and make the classes interactive.
Our initiatives were published in the listed journals; besides, they were presented in the Academy of HRD conference in the US and the Pan-IIM World Management Conference.
Owing to this pandemic, we have been running the online lectures. But the professors and the management staff are available to the students 24/7, including weekends, whether it is academic-related or any other activity like placements, group discussions, etc.
We take student development quite seriously. We provide them with a great curriculum in each of the courses, the best faculty, and the right space to learn. They are free to go anywhere on the campus right from the classroom to the amphitheater, the library, or any part of the campus they find fit.
The faculty guide them through their academic assignments, projects, case studies, role plays, internships, and placements. We ensure that students also enjoy doing the program as they learn by making it interactive and fun.
The student exchange program with 15 leading international universities where students from other universities come to SDMIMD and mingle with SDMIMD students and faculty. Students from France and EAE Spain University have visited here.
Our students spend one term at universities like BUID Dubai, Texas A&M, USA, National-Sun-Yet-Sen University, Taiwan, Heilbronn university, Germany, University of Bordeaux, France, Montpellier Business School, France, ESC Pau, France.
How diversified is the new batch?
The male-female ratios 58-42 percent; the batch is represented by seventeen states in India.
Are there any particular efforts that you’ve taking in the Admission cycle?
We have created a video of the institute with the help of a news channel we have covered the institute’s great infrastructure of the classrooms, the hostel, the faculty, etc.
We have tied up with various educational portals like PaGaLGuY to share the space and interact with prospective candidates. We have also appealed to our alumni to reach out to more people.
Given that you are quite versatile, what are you deeply passionate about?
I play the Musical keyboard and I like cricket. But I am also into quizzing. I create quizzes based on the curriculum. Students get quite involved in participating and the activities are interactive too. This also engages them in teamwork. Now we do not complain about students’ attention spans.
I share videos of the Indian cricket team in action and ask students to analyze it. This elicits talks on leadership skills, team dynamism, performing under stress, and more.
What are the USPs of your programs, especially the flagship program?
Besides the international recognitions, our programs come with NBA accreditation, MBA equivalence by AIU so the students can pursue further program post the PGDM, which is equivalent to a degree.
SDMIMD subscribes to Harvard Business materials for their books, case, articles, etc.
We have a great placement record, headed by a placement committee.
And we emphasize on business ethics, values, and wellness management.
Can you tell us more about your award-winning campus?
The campus is built by one of the top architects in India.
It comes with a well-structured library, an amphitheater, an open-air theater, an auditorium, and more. The hostels for boys and girls are exclusive, with single-room occupancy for all the students.
The green campus, an eco-friendly campus, the garden of SDMIMD has been consistently winning the Mysore Dasara competition, in the Dasara competition for gardens.
What steps have you been taking to get both quality of students as well as diversity at your institute?
We offer scholarships to consistent performers who have a good academic track record, and to girl students too. Hence, we have a girls’ ratio of 42%. We ensure we allot seats to students from different streams too.
We reach out to people across the country and thus get a good geographical representation too, covering twenty states across India.
Why should students choose SDMIMD over any other B-school?
For one, the academic support for placements at SDMIMD is phenomenal.
Our faculty come with academic as well as industry experience.
The national and global accreditations and recognitions already mentioned should make a student proud to be part of SDMIMD.
Are there any fundamental changes in your admission cycle for this year and how are you doing it?
We have filled all the PGDM seats for this academic year.
We have installed smart boards, interactive boards, and tie ups with the MS teams.
The mode of conducting classes, for now, is virtual.
We have conducted almost forty-five webinars for our students including some international webinars. Going forward, we are trying to move more towards digital systems.
Even before the pandemic, we had done a few webinars. We have been prepared.
What are your views on the consensus that B schools falling to tailor their curricula for local needs?
SDMIMD is an autonomous institution, and we have the liberty to choose our course structure.
Every year, we revise the curriculum and the rubrics, which is vetted by the academic committee and academic advisory council.
We update the curriculum every year, look at introducing new courses. For example, lateral thinking, critical thinking, or design thinking which is relevant in the current scenario.
In the last two years, microfinance and business analytics, or modular specializations are electives you can opt for. And because of the enhanced job opportunities available in the field of microfinance, microfinance is emerging as one of the elective courses here, besides business analytics.
Do people prefer to choose IIMs or DoMS IIT due to COVID-19?
Consider the number of people taking only the CAT. Last year over two lakh forty thousand people had taken the CAT. Surely, the IIMs and DoMs IIT cannot admit all these aspirants, considering the number of seats available in them?
Those who do not make it to the IIMs and DoMs IIT look at the next level of B-schools who offer quality management programs.
Students today are well-informed through various portals to check for an institute’s credentials before they enroll. No institute that makes tall claims can survive for long.
What are some key points that a student should keep in mind before choosing a B school?
The student seeking admission should look for:
- Faculty strength / profiles
- Academic rigor
- Course structure
- Accreditation (International and National)
- Alumni support
What do you look for in a candidate during an interview for selection to your programs?
Some key factors we look for in a candidate for selection to our programs:
- academic consistency – at least 60% in the tenth, twelfth, and under graduation
- decent CAT scores
- good communication skills
- fairly good English language proficiency
- domain knowledge of their specialty
- inquisitiveness to learn
- positive body language, maintaining eye contact with the interviewer with confidence
Any suggestions for aspirants preparing to appear for MBA entrance exams this year?
The current situation of the pandemic is a temporary issue.
Those worried about placements post their graduation can relax.
Industries like health care, consulting, IT, and digital platforms have been recruiting regularly. Other sectors will open for recruitments soon. Many consulting firms are looking for people. With several applications coming up we every day, digital platforms need people to engage them too.
The pandemic has opened the doors to people who can provide the much needed COVID vaccine.
When businesses require qualified people in their teams, they go to business schools to recruit, and this scenario is unlikely to change.
The role of SDMIMD in shaping the future of society, specifically, the socially relevant aspects of it.
SDMIMD trust is a philanthropic organization. Besides over 40 educational institutions, we manage some rural initiatives like the SKDRDP (Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development) wherein we support rural entrepreneurs. RUDETI (Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute).
SDMIMD offers a special program, a socially relevant project, to the students of PGDM. They will have to undertake socially relevant projects with NGOs or special education centers, or old age homes.
They spend a week at the village, learn the nuances and difficulties of those places, and prepare a report and submit it to the faculty.
This is meant to sensitize students to the needs of rural society. This project teaches the students to serve the needy and facilitate the students in making them socially responsible.
Challenges of conducting online classes
Thanks to the pandemic, now all institutions have shifted to virtual classes.
In this scenario, companies like upGrad, Emeritus, etc. are doing a phenomenal amount of work to get programs from offline to online. Although offline classes can make way for a bigger batch-size, we have seen the opposite happening everywhere.
Many universities and ivy league schools have offered deferrals and a good number of students have chosen to postpone their admissions. The burden of coughing up thousands of dollars to take web-based classes makes the students shy away from pursuing degrees in the current year.
Hopefully, these platforms may become more economical as more people have started working on them.
To know more about SDMIMD join, [Official] SDMIMD Admissions 2021-23 | PaGaLGuY