Dr. M P Jaiswal is a PGPX from MIT Sloan School of Management, Boston, PhD in Computer Science from DU and Sr Fulbright Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He is currently serving as a Director at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Sambalpur. Prior to this, he was Professor & Dean (Research) at MDI Gurgaon, Faculty at IRMA, Anand, and Visiting Faculty at IIM Ahmedabad & CMU .

His area of expertise includes Start-up’s and Social Entrepreneurship Strategy, Digital Platform Innovation & Governance, Business Transformation, and Contract management for large ERP and e-Government Projects. This is also evident with the kind of innovation he has brought into the curriculum and pedagogy at IIM Sambalpur

This interview is an excerpt from a detailed conversation between the Director of IIM Sambalpur, Prof Mahadeo Jaiswal, and the Founder of PaGaLGuY, Allwin Agnel. Prof Jaiswal has been the Founding Director at IIM Sambalpur and has been associated with the Institute since 2017.

Amidst the pandemic situation, the interview was conducted on a video conference and is an exclusive conversation revolving around Prof Jaiswal’s journey, vision, the future of MBA, and his innate quest of providing a personalized learning experience to each of his students.

  • To be competitive with other leading IIMs, as one of the third generation IIMs, what are your action-centric research, value-based consulting and experiential learning pedagogy that has been adopted?

As an institute, our core values are defined by three I’s – Innovation, Inclusiveness, and Integrity and hence IIM Sambalpur is also known as IIM3.0. We at IIM Sambalpur lay emphasis on experimentation, differentiation, and collaboration while imparting thoughtful management education.

We strongly believe in Innovation led entrepreneurial grooming for enabling rapid socio-economic and sustainable development of our society.  At IIM Sambalpur we have implemented Flipped-Classrooms with an objective to adopt experiential learning pedagogy in all our management education programs.

Apart from the rigor in the classroom curriculum, we encourage our students to take up live projects from the industry, government, and NGOs so as to gain wholesome field experience.

In terms of inclusiveness, last year we had 49% female students in our MBA batch, which was the highest gender ratio across all the IIMs. We had specifically designed policies to attract quality female aspirants to increase our gender ratio. 

  • With your aim to develop professional business acumen while making your students’ versatile human beings and proud citizens of the Nation, what are the knowledge, values, and skills you wish to impart at IIM Sambalpur?  

The Vision of IIM Sambalpur is “To be an Institute par Excellence in Nurturing Responsible Leaders with an Entrepreneurial mindset”. Hence we expect our students to acquire such quality and become problem solvers and wealth creators for the nation through entrepreneurial approach.

Apart from the fact that every student should be open to learning, I do want some specific set of knowledge, values, and skills that will place them apart from the general crowd.

For knowledge, I want the students to know how to apply the gained knowledge and concepts.  How to commercialize knowledge, How to imply, and apply knowledge. 

For value, integrity should never be compromised, inclusiveness will always be given priority and innovation in the learning pedagogy and wealth creation..  

  • IIM Sambalpur is the only B-school in India to introduce the Flipped Classroom concept. What compelled you to come up with this innovation?  

As a part of traditional classroom learning, we get a lot of Harvard cases to read, discuss, and solve. Since it did not bring any newness, it was lacking excitement. We wanted our classroom to be a far more engaging place.

This pushed me to come up and introduce the Flipped Classroom concept. Here, the student can read and gain the traditional knowledge, concepts and basic teaching can be done online through structured learning management systems (LMS), but when they are in the classroom, live projects, simulation, case studies, create and solve burning issues.

A research-based approach to be used extensively during classroom hours. Industries are ready to sponsor projects for  these classes. All the ideas are being created in the classroom. Internal faculty will also be engaged to a greater extent.  Today, a student can gain knowledge online, the point is to elevate the learning and discuss things in class that isn’t available online. 

This is one of the unique approaches and propositions and we are proud to say that we are the first ones to implement this innovative and experiential learning pedagogy!

  • In times of social distancing, when exams can’t be conducted offline IIM-Sambalpur geared up to conduct the end term examinations of the first-year MBA students using an online proctoring system where AI played the role of an invigilator. How effective has been this system proved and do you plan to implement this for all the exams going forward?

This system of AI based online proctoring system for conducting descriptive exams has been pretty effective particularly during the lockdown due to Covid19 and we have decided that this proctoring system will be used not only for the end term exam, but also for all the exams going forward.

We also used this online proctoring systems for our WAT component in the MBA 2020 admissions process. Hence IIM Sambalpur became the first amongst all top Institutes in the country to introduce AI based online proctoring systems for conducting exams.

During the admissions process, we have a common process with CAP rounds but we conduct separate interviews for Gender Diversity. Due to the unforeseen lockdown, taking physical interviews became a challenge, but that did not stop us.

We used this online proctoring system as a mock test for all admission candidates and then went for the WAT Test. Based on the initial feedback received during the mock test, we created the instructions set for future references.

As I said, now onwards most of the exams will be conducted in online mode. As we emphasize more of case based learning and in case based examination, questions are unique and situation-based and hence online proctoring based exams works extremely well. For other subjects that are  Quant based and Finance related, we would like students to come to the campus and then take the exams online.  

  • People are afraid of the reducing value of an IIM degree and prefer to choose DOMS IIT or some of the top private institutes/universities located in metro cities. What are your thoughts?

The final outcome of pursuing a degree or a post-graduation is to look for a great long term professional career. One should not only look for placements as an outcome, but also about the value creation.

What value creation has this institute built? How strong is the alumni network? How will you be able to differentiate yourself in the market with this brand name? When it comes to IIM, these above questions are rated high with significant values as IIMs are globally known.

Be it the brand name, value creation, or the alumni network. One should look for long term value and extended brand and IIMs do contribute a significant brand value and alumni network.  

  • What are the reasons a student should choose you vs any other competitive IIM that a student is considering? 

I guess placement value if we look from the students perspective. All the students need jobs with great ROI as the immediate outcome to cover their expenses and loans. IIM Sambalpur’s highest package last year was INR 53 Lacs which is one of the highest amongst most of the new  IIMs.

Apart, in terms of ranking, IIM Sambalpur is ranked amongst the top 27 B-Schools in India as per the MBAUniverse 2020 ranking which is a significant mark within a short span of time of 5 years.

Additionally, the quality of companies visiting and the good quality of roles being offered here at IIM Sambalpur is something to look for. We have an innovative pedagogy, strong leaders interaction, seminars, multiple workshops, and much better engagement with the industrial connect. We have about 30 – 40 large scale industries in the vicinity of the campus.

We are also a part of SME forum from Mumbai which has about 86,000+ SMEs associated with. We will get a good number of Live Projects and Consulting Projects to work with these SMEs directly. 

  • What do you feel are IIM Sambalpur’s USP that a student needs to know before he/she joins the institute?

Beautiful and safe Campus surrounded by many other University, Medical and Engineering colleagues,  large and small industries, mountains, forest and world largest Hirakud Dam! It is one of the strongest USP especially now when moving out is a constraint in cities and metros. We have nil coronavirus cases in Sambalpur for now.

We are now blessed to have an Airport at Jharsuguda (Sambalpur), which started operating from last year. There are 7 direct flights to major cities from this Airport. Apart we have the best faculty, innovative learning pedagogy, incubation centre and industry collaboration.

  • With the recent pandemic attack of COVID-19, what are your views on the preparedness of the Education System in India (especially MBA & IIMs)?

Everyone is confused. We are going online. Most of the institutes are also going online. Now the fact is everybody is forced to go online out of compulsion. We are in a situation which is uncertain and would recommend that we should not wait for the problem to get out of hand but we need to shift the model of management education and not merely the mod.

The flipped classroom is the new model using LMS (Learning Management System) for conceptual learning outside class and experiential learning through projects/ cases in the class.. There should be massive education and orientation for faculty for adapting to the new model.. 

As a step ahead, we at IIM Sambalpur have issued a letter to all our faculty (in-house and visiting) about the revised methodology and pedagogy including the new concept of online classes and models. We want them to adopt the new mechanism and tweak in their teaching to suit the current mode and teaching method. 

  • Do you feel that due to a potentially recessionary situation, there will be less demand for business school education over the next couple of years?

I strongly believe that most of the job opportunities come from MNCs and Start-ups every year. Whenever there is a recession, there is a room for Market creation and Job creation. There will be more opportunities in manufacturing, consulting, digital marketing, digital transformation, education, healthcare, etc.

The jobs market will be less initially for a few months but over a period of time, it will create more opportunities. Also, the students must be aware that we will have to adapt to the changing market and situations.

We will have to learn from the bottom of the pyramid to learn and understand the basics of any business and then get into strategic roles. I encourage students to do the tougher roles that enable a business to grow and scale for eg: sales, operations and over a period of time move into more strategic roles

  • We’ve noticed that students find it tough to engage in online programs – what are your suggestions or ideas to create more engaging online programs?

LMS is the key for effective engagement of the audience for online courses. The time duration for lectures should be variable to suit the attention span of the students. Grades should be fixed rather than being variable. A combination of live problems and case studies to be included to make it more engaging. The classes should be conducted in small groups rather than the entire batch in one go. 

  • During an interview, what are the key things you are looking for in a candidate? 

Communications skills, overall personality, articulation skills, and analytical skills are the must.  Additionally, team orientation skills and leadership traits are also something we look  for in a candidate. 

  • What are the pros and cons of being situated in Sambalpur, an Industrial Hub?

As you mentioned, it is an industrial hub and we are the Top institution in the area. We have signed MoUs with the government and industries for a number of projects and consulting opportunities. We have a better place to live in especially during this pandemic situation. Campus is located in a peaceful environment.

The only con I see is since Sambalpur is a small town, there are no big malls or city life. Life is confined to the campus itself. 

  • Do you have sufficient hostel facilities to deal with the higher number of incoming students? 

We have now increased our intake to 180 in our MBA program. The final number of students in the previous batch was 94. Although our permanent campus is under development, We have ample hostel facilities in our temporary campus.

We have 3 buildings dedicated to hostels, out of which one is a dedicated facility for girls. The hostels are inside the campus and within only 500 meters from the main academic building. . 

About the news report that few students left the campus in 2018, they left as they got admission in other older IIMs and not because of the lack of hostel facilities. We have ample hostel facilities for the revised seat capacity of 180 students for now. 

  • Would you recommend the aspirants to join the PGDM program this year or defer their plans for the next year? 

I would not recommend any students defer their plan this year. It is not a good idea. If you have good options for the future then you may think of it. Otherwise, the program, the degree, and the methods will still remain the same.

So what is the point in deferring when in the end you want to pursue the same program, get the same degree, and go learn the same methods? There is no logic for deferment. 

  • Do you expect the CAT/MBA numbers to go up or down due to the current situation?

The number of applicants would increase this year. Traditionally, looking at the trend the number has increased every year so it will continue to do so. Also this year due to the pandemic situation, some of the graduates and working professionals would have lost their jobs and they would want to upskill and upgrade their resume.

Any country’s success is measured by the quality of education and the quality of job opportunities. B-schools should be flourishing and should be pushing to create more business avenues for the upcoming generations. 

  • Any last-minute tips or suggestions for aspirants preparing to appear for CAT this year? 

They should focus on reading business articles, newspapers, magazines, and refer to portals from where they can get regular updates. They should also focus on data crunching and analytical skilling, communication skills and get into a habit of analyzing the data with reasoning. They should make use of this pandemic situation and participate in social initiatives.

They should not  sit idle and must be engaged in productive work online as well as in the field.  They may also do some basic skilling courses online. Apart they must work with socio economic projects such as to help the migrant workers and SMEs to set up their work and culture again. This will help them a lot during their interviews in the admission process. 

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