Spotlight: The Need For A Global Perspective In Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders, And More With Dr Balakrishna Gandhi – Dean, Global MBA & MGB – SP Jain School of Global Management

Before enrolling in any MBA program or B-school, it is vital to understand your primary professional goal, the field you wish to operate in, the profile you desire, and even your salary expectations.

With national and international forces impacting development and productivity, companies are searching for individuals with a broad and global perspective. So, if you want to enter the global corporate platform and gain the skills and structures to conduct business with global strategies, as well as the chance for more extended continuing into diverse job scopes, in that case, the Global MBA is the way to go.

In a recent interview, we had a candid conversation about ‘Why aspiring MBA students should select MBA degrees that give a global perspective’ with Dr Balakrishna Gandhi, program dean of the Global MBA & Master of Global Business at the SP Jain School of Global Management. The complete interview is available here.

Q1: In the modern global setting, an MBA is a highly sought-after credential for those seeking management and international opportunities. How crucial do you consider a global perspective when choosing an MBA program?

Companies have been rethinking their corporate, business, and value chain strategies, especially in the current volatile environment. Business strategies refer to selecting a specific market and how you want to disrupt it with innovation in terms of product features, quality, pricing, service and delivery, etc. Value Chain Strategy is becoming increasingly important in determining where to locate R&D and manufacturing, where to build warehouses for your goods, where to market, and so on. Today, all value chain components can be dispersed across different countries.

We’ve discovered that most top organisations are looking for students with a global mindset. Students with international perspectives can land good-paying positions and advance up the corporate ladder faster.

Q2: How does learning in a diverse global setting shape a young manager?

When a student moves from one country to another, he gets exposed to different markets and understand various aspects of the business. They observe varying customer needs and cultures. In the Global MBA Program at SP Jain, our students visit Singapore, Sydney and Dubai for four months each, where they’re trained by senior faculty and practitioners from the local markets and industries. They work on projects for local companies, strive to understand their anxieties to develop viable solutions. They visit different corporations and interact with management to grasp various areas of production, branding, personnel, and managerial aspects of the business. For example, they visit the Parliament House in Singapore, the Opera in Sydney or the freezone and the logistics hub at Jebel Ali in Dubai. They learn by actually doing things and immersing themselves entirely, not just learning concepts in the class.

During the final placement interviews, when our students articulate how the market’s customers and practices differ, the companies get inclined towards the global perspectives the students have to offer and see value in them.

Q3: As a representative of one of the most prestigious global B-schools, could you share the key highlights of the unique curriculum implemented at SP Jain?

In terms of teaching methodologies, SP Jain has its distinct approach. There is no job crisis today; there are many available positions; rather, we are experiencing a skill crisis. Everything we do in the classroom at SP Jain is geared around helping students improve their abilities and become corporate-ready. We put them in situations, in hot seats, and let them critically think and make judgments just like they would in everyday business situations.

We use many contemporary case studies that require the students to engage in Student Board Rooms. Teams are created to represent and participate in a simulated business environment; each student plays a different role and passionately argues for issues from their point of view, eventually reaching an agreement.

We also do a lot of lab exercises where we choose an issue from recent headlines and challenge our students to see how they will handle the problem. For example, if you are the CEO of a company and there are concerns with supply chain management, how would you ensure that demand is getting fulfilled and inventory issues are addressed? It is not about getting the right or wrong answer but instead pushing our students to think through logical and consistent reasons.

Simulations entail making judgments in numerous areas, such as Operations, Marketing, Finance, and so on, in an online gaming context with limited resources.

We also have students work on live projects, such as consulting for corporations. Companies wishing to change or update their strategies are eager to obtain student projects. These projects have academic mentors who assist our students to perfect their skills so that when they work with corporates, they have a sense of walking the corporate corridor.

We also offer a rigorous soft skills programme. After speaking with recruiters, we are confident that it is not only your knowledge that is vital but also your soft talents. We assist students with critical thinking, making high impact presentations, participating in conversations, while monitoring their improvement from term to term.

These are the numerous techniques we take to ensure that every learner grows in confidence, transforms, and undergoes a true metamorphosis.

Q4: When it comes to an MBA, a B school’s prestige is crucial in launching one’s career. What are the most important factors a student should consider before enrolling in a business school?

It goes to the fundamental point I made earlier: Transformative power – B- School’s potential to change students into future-ready professionals. Today, students should regard themselves as indispensable individuals rather than just employees. So they need to invest in a B-School program that would help them move into a higher orbit year after year. A student’s career should be viewed as a marathon rather than a sprint. We advise our students to consider prospects for advancement more than the size of the packages and the pay they would receive. One should look at schools that don’t just transform them at the time of graduation but teach them ‘learning to learn’ to keep transforming themselves over a period of time.

Q5: What, in your opinion, are the perfect qualities of a candidate when it comes to getting selected for SP Jain?

We are not looking for any one particular skill. We are looking for multiple traits before we select our students. The student should be able to engage in a decent conversation and have the art of listening and speaking.

We prefer somebody who’s on top of current affairs. For example, there’s so much happening in the world today, and one needs to read the newspapers, such as Economic Times or the Business Section or even subscribe to Wall Street or The Economist because, in class, they can relate better. It’s all about what is happening in the business environment that is not in one’s control. What needs to be done by an organisation to adapt to the changing circumstances to build a competitive advantage? One should also be comfortable with numbers and have significant clarity in terms of what one wants from for their academic and professional journey.

At SP Jain, we have introduced a new feature whereby all the students do a common set of course subjects. But when it comes to electives, they can choose electives across the areas of various specialisations. We have found that MBA students have different academic backgrounds, different aspirations as to where they want to be and, as a result, different kinds of gaps. So we felt we should give our students flexibility to co-create and customise a learning experience that is needed for them.

For example, students who are strong in finance, technology, or IT enter the programme and take consulting management, supply chain, or marketing management courses to get cross-functional knowledge. I believe that if you’re in finance or IT, don’t study it. Increase the breadth to gain a cross-functional view so you may talk more relevantly in senior management or boardroom discussions. 

Q6. What is your philosophy when it comes to Global Career Growth?

Today, talent is being sought no matter where the candidate is because the skills deficit is real. We have students working in the US and Canada at the World Economic Forum, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. It only goes to show how MBA students with the right skills, plus a global mindset, can get picked up by either regional companies having a global footprint or global companies themselves. So I believe the opportunity is right for professionals to be hired for senior positions not just in their country of origin but even across the world.

We are a niche school. And we are not walking the beaten path. We are trying to differentiate ourselves by honing the right skills that are needed for the current challenging environment. Our objective is to help the students become indispensable through their demonstrated capability to add value. So only when you add value by solving problems, and helping the companies reinvent themselves.

 I say every student should have the capability of ICE. By representing the ability to gather insights(I) -Insights of a market. Insights of what a customer has in his mind. Insights by analysing the data. Having gathered insights, they should help the company decide how they should commit resources(C). Every company has limited resources; they can’t spread it thin, so they need to spend it in a highly focused manner. Which specific products, in which specific markets, to which specific segments for the maximum return investment? And then, the third alphabet of the acronym ICE is E for execution. They should be able to understand the different business models available for disruption. We teach them Blue Ocean Strategy to engage in creative ways of doing things and to leave the competition far behind. So we help the students get an edge to become indispensable by ICE capability.

About Dr. Balakrishna Gandhi

Dr. Balakrishna Gandhi holds a Master’s degree in Management Sciences from Madras University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In addition, he was awarded a scholarship for his PhD program. Recalling his time at the Carlson School of Management, he said,

“My major was marketing, and my minor was finance.” This has benefited me since I incorporate a cross-functional perspective of marketing and finance into everything I teach, as no choice can be made without knowing the financial ramifications.” 

Dr. Balakrishna has worked in the education industry for over four and a half decades. He began his career in 1977 and has worked in teaching, research, consulting, entrepreneurship, and leadership profiles in academia and the real world. In a word, his passion is to be a catalyst in the transformation of young students. He believes that every young student has enormous potential, that they are rough diamonds, and that it’s his personal and institutional responsibility to educate them for the commercial and corporate worlds so that they might excel ahead.

SP Jain is now accepting applications for the next MASTER OF GLOBAL BUSINESS (MGB)/GLOBAL MBA (GMBA) intake – APPLY NOW.

Get in touch with SP Jain’s adcom team & stay updated on the current status of admissions for 2022-23; join: [OFFICIAL] SP Jain School of Global Management (SPJSGM) | Dubai, Singapore, Sydney: MGB & GMBA – Admissions 2022-23