ITM Business School : Interview with Mr. Ganesh Raja

1. What, according to you, are the components of a Tier-1 MBA program today? 

Most leading business schools lay a great emphasis on diversity and students from different backgrounds (both professionally and personally) in order to create collaborative cultures and drive the concept of teamwork. Diversity mapping goes beyond the traditional lenses of gender and ethnicity and looks to encompass geo-demographic backgrounds, career experiences, significant co-curricular and extra curricular achievements etc.

Increasingly, the focus of MBA programs is shifting towards having students think out-of-the box, elevating the entrepreneurial mind-set and allowing for selective risk taking. Business Schools are also realigning the internship model that forms the base for infusing business education with corporate life experience. Having a structured, collaborative and hands-on immersion with industry over a longer duration (4-6 months) enables a greater shift in imbibing business discipline and knowledge pertinent to specific domains. Increasing the internship tenor also creates an anchor for business schools and industry alike to seek out meaningful other engagement possibilities, not restricted to collaborative research and curriculum reengineering. 

Therefore, in evaluating a business school program, it would augur well to seek the following elements in the program:

– Curriculum: Structure, Contemporariness, Industry endorsement

– Teaching methodology: Case based teaching 

– Anchor tenants in specific domains through Centers of Excellence

– Creating an entrepreneurial mind set

– Skilling infusion through insights and vocation specific value adds

– Career counseling, mentoring and management immersions

– Research and analytical competencies

– Immersions in not-for-profit and other social causes

2. What is your suggestion to candidates when they select between new IIMs and other non-IIM but Tier-1 programs?

IIM’s have the historical backing of providing extremely sound business education over generations and have contributed in immense measure to the leadership talent pool for industry. However, the IIM brand now hems in a group of 13 public, autonomous institutes of management education and research. The true equity of a business school is a measure of its alumni, acceptance by industry and research output over time. Many of the non-IIM business schools in the Tier-1 cluster have evolved over time with path breaking progress in teaching-learning outcomes, differentiated course offerings, scaling up the academia-industry linkage and producing a talent pool on par with the leading IIMs.

Therefore, the immediate choice available to students in the Tier-1 cluster is perhaps validated by the test of time and comparable to the best global offerings. This should be enough reason for students to eliminate their potential other choices by adhering to rationale and betting on business schools / programs that have been around a while and continue to excel.

3. How much change can an MBA program bring into a candidate in the rapidly changing global corporate landscape?

At the heart of any MBA program is the velocity of adoption to the ever-changing façade of the corporate landscape. This calls for closer industry-academia linkages. Business Schools that weave in industry integration into their programs are always able to adapt and address next practices. They are able to predictably stay on par if not ahead of the curve when it comes to VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) times. Sensitization to the changing landscape and the ability to cope with trying times through simulations and predictive modeling are but a few immersions that help students cope with ambiguous issues. The tremors of such changes are felt across the business ecosystem – from operations to finance to marketing and other functions. An MBA program seamlessly integrates the ability to understand pain points across verticals and comprehend issues from a larger canvass, thereby enabling a better outcome to problems at hand.

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4. Who is an ideal candidate for ITM?

At ITM, the over arching principle for admission over the past 23 years has been gender and geographic diversity. While a sound academic record is at the core of the selection process, students with special abilities in arts, sports, dramatics etc. are often sought after. The selection process at ITM is not dependent on a single variable as the entrance test. Rather, ITM accords importance to the academic performance over a long haul, performance in GD & PI, additional work experience and special abilities. This gives an opportunity to candidates who have an average entrance score but a terrific academic record or other achievements. Since being entrance test neutral, students minimize the risk of failure, and those with a decent academic history benefit. In selecting a student ITM seeks out those with creative and innovative thought process, achievements or pursuits across a broad canvas and a mature life perspective.

5. What would be your top 3 topics for anyone looking to apply to the ITM program? 

– How can management principles and expertise be applied to achieve social impact and make the India growth story more inclusive? Is Corporate Social Responsibility one answer to tackling this issue?

– How can the Government and Industry use big data to improve service delivery? 

– What is required to encourage greater technology innovations in India?

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