Discover the importance of innovation and sustainability in your MBA programme and how it can boost your career. Join Dr. Prabhu Aggarwal, Director of Badruka School of Management, as he explores this crucial topic. Learn how tracking innovation can drive success and open new opportunities in the business world.


There is a notable shift towards integrating sustainability and innovation into academic curricula in the ever-evolving landscape of management education. As global challenges like climate change and resource scarcity increasingly shape business dynamics, educational institutions are redefining their approaches to prepare future leaders. This evolution goes beyond traditional business models to emphasise environmentally responsible, socially inclusive practices, and economically viable practices.

The recent advancements in management education reflect this transformative journey. Institutions are introducing courses that explore sustainable business strategies, corporate social responsibility, and green technologies. Moreover, collaborative projects with industry partners provide students with hands-on experience tackling real-world sustainability issues. These initiatives not only enrich learning but also empower students to drive positive change within their organisations and communities.

Visionary educators and leaders like Dr. Prabhu Aggarwal are at the forefront of this movement, whose innovative approach at Badruka School of Management set benchmarks in integrating sustainability into MBA programmes. Dr Aggarwal’s initiatives focus on embedding sustainability principles into core curriculum frameworks, fostering a mindset where innovation aligns seamlessly with environmental stewardship. By equipping students with the knowledge and skills to navigate complex sustainability challenges, these educational innovations pave the way for a more conscientious and resilient future workforce.

In this exclusive interview, Dr Prabhu Aggarwal discusses the evolving landscape of MBA education, highlighting strategic initiatives at Badruka School of Management and sharing his vision for nurturing future business leaders who excel in a rapidly changing global economy. Join us as we uncover Dr Aggarwal’s transformative leadership and the promising future of MBA education at Badruka School of Management.

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Q1: Reflecting on your journey, we see a deep commitment to academia through your roles at institutions like Bennett University, NIIT University, O.P. Jindal University, and now Badruka School of Management. What inspired you to choose this academic career path?

Ans: There isn’t a single moment that led me to pursue a career in academia, but my passion for it can be traced back to my upbringing. My father, a professor, had a significant influence on me. Additionally,  I’ve had the privilege of being exposed to exceptional institutions both in India and abroad, where I  interacted with outstanding professors who played crucial roles in shaping my academic journey. 

After graduating from IIT Kanpur, I pursued an MBA to enter the corporate world.  However, I soon realised my true passion lay in research and academia. My PhD mentor at the  University of Washington, Seattle, was instrumental in this realisation, encouraging me to return to education after my MBA to complete my PhD Reflecting on my journey, which spans over thirty-five years, I’ve held various positions in academia—from lecturer to assistant professor, associate professor, full-time professor, dean, and now my fourth year as a Vice-Chancellor. This journey has been incredibly satisfying and rewarding, and if I had to do it all over again, I would gladly choose the same path. 

My experiences across different institutions have provided me with a comprehensive understanding of institution building from a global perspective. This diversity of experiences has been immensely gratifying and has enriched my professional journey in ways I couldn’t have imagined. In summary, my inspiration stems from personal influences and the profound impact of mentors and institutions that have shaped my career. 

Q2: As someone affiliated with various institutions offering different versions of MBA/Management degrees, what, in your opinion, are the three factors that render MBA relevant in today’s world? 

Ans: In today’s corporate world, it’s imperative to avoid remaining unidimensional. Excelling solely in one area, such as technology, is no longer sufficient due to the volatile and uncertain nature of the modern workplace. Dealing with ambiguity has become a constant challenge, making the MBA degree particularly relevant. It doesn’t focus solely on fundamental skills; instead, it helps you develop critical skills. 

You asked for three factors. First, an MBA enhances critical thinking skills. Second, it significantly expands career opportunities. Third, it cultivates a global perspective. These elements ensure that  MBA graduates are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape,  drive innovation, and contribute to their organisations’ overall success. 

Q3: How does Badruka School of Management aim at incorporating these trends in your curriculum to help students become industry-ready?

Ans: There are several key aspects to consider. Firstly, we emphasise honing the critical and soft skills of our students. Our curriculum is robust, focusing on what we call ‘extra skills and perspectives,’ which helps students develop holistically by enhancing their problem-solving, critical thinking, and persuasive writing skills.  Additionally, our students are exposed to modern technological tools such as AI and machine learning,  ensuring their relevance in today’s job market. 

Secondly, our curriculum is designed to evolve continuously, reflecting the future trajectory of businesses. Two defining themes for the next decade are climate sustainability and technology. We prepare our students to address these challenges by integrating UNSDG goals and climate sustainability issues into their learning. They learn to consider the carbon footprint of their organisations and aim for zero emissions, which are crucial topics for the future workplace. 

Technology’s role in reshaping workplaces is another critical focus of ours. We ensure our students are comfortable navigating and managing the technological advancements defining modern work environments. Lastly, having faculty members who have been exposed to world-class institutions brings a global perspective to our classrooms. This international outlook is invaluable in preparing our students to excel in a globalised business world. 

Q4: Could you share an example of projects or certification at your BSM that prepares students with practical skills to be industry-ready?

Ans: I believe three essential components of our curriculum emphasise practical experience.  Firstly, students are required to complete a mandatory eight-week internship at the end of their first year, providing them with their initial practical exposure. Secondly, during their second year, students must undertake a live project focused on climate and sustainability. These projects align with the  United Nations’ sustainability and development goals, offering hands-on experience in these critical areas. Thirdly, students have the option to pursue a semester abroad as a substitute for one of their internships, adding an international dimension to their experiential learning. These three components collectively ensure that students gain valuable practical skills and industry readiness. 

An interesting aspect of the Buddhuka School of Management’s academic delivery model is its non-prescriptive approach to faculty instruction. We have distinguished faculty from top institutions such as Wharton, Washington, Ohio, IIMs, and ISB. Given their extensive and varied academic careers, we allow them the flexibility to bring their unique perspectives to the classroom, enriching the learning experience for our students. 

Q5: In your opinion, what are the three factors that students should take into account when assessing the optimal suitability of an MBA programme for themselves?

Ans: First and foremost, it is crucial to understand that an MBA is a professional degree tailored for individuals aspiring to pursue careers in the corporate/business world. For many, this is the primary motivation.  If one does not have an interest in advancing within corporate environments, an MBA may not align well with their career goals. 

Secondly, for current professionals with 1 to 3 years of work experience, there exists a practical understanding of workplace dynamics. These individuals are better equipped to recognise the necessity of broadening their perspectives beyond specific roles like business analysis or technical expertise. Therefore, it is essential to choose a programme with a curriculum that addresses these evolving needs.

Thirdly, prospective students should consider their programme format preference—whether a part-time evening programme or a full-time residential programme—each offering distinct advantages and fitting different lifestyles and career stages. 

Fourthly, evaluating the faculty delivering the programme is crucial. The expertise and teaching style of faculty members significantly impact the learning experience and the practical takeaways from the  MBA as a degree. 

Lastly, prospective students should assess the academic rigour of the programme and determine if they are prepared to commit to the discipline required for success. Personal introspection regarding these factors helps determine the right fit for an MBA programme, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The programme’s ability to meet the student’s expectations and deliver desired outcomes is what defines its quality and suitability. In conclusion, it is essential to move beyond herd mentality and carefully select an MBA programme that aligns with personal career aspirations and learning preferences. Whether opting for a large or small programme or choosing between different formats, one must ensure that the educational experience is tailored to individual needs and goals. 

Q6: There’s a notable increase in the desire and demand among Indian management and leadership aspirants to obtain globally competitive degrees. According to you, what are the trends in the global business landscape driving this demand?

Ans: There are several key drivers behind the increased demand for globally competitive degrees among Indian management and leadership students, as you mentioned. Here’s a breakdown: 

Globalisation: The world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and businesses operate on a global scale. This necessitates graduates with a strong understanding of international markets, cultures, and business practices. 

Technological Advancements: Technological advancements are rapidly transforming the workplace.  Our students are seeking degrees that equip them with the skills and knowledge to navigate this evolving landscape and thrive in a globalised, tech-driven economy. 

Shifting Workplace Trends: The workplace is undergoing significant changes. Employers increasingly value skills like adaptability, innovation, and cross-cultural communication. Globally competitive degrees often emphasise these crucial skill sets. 

Sustainability: There’s a growing emphasis on sustainability across industries. Programmes with a global focus may integrate these principles, preparing students to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Q7: In your opinion, what are the two key advantages that could make India a prominent hub for MBA education? On the flip side, what factors might currently be obstacles to this development?

Ans: The primary challenge India faces in becoming a globally competitive destination for MBA education is the lack of international faculty. This scarcity hinders efforts to attract students seeking a world-class educational experience. Attracting renowned faculty is arguably the most significant obstacle to overcome.  

However, India possesses a distinct advantage: cost competitiveness. MBA degrees in India are demonstrably cheaper compared to those offered by internationally renowned schools. By leveraging this cost advantage, India can attract students if it can simultaneously bridge the faculty gap. Strategic partnerships with international institutions offer a viable solution. 

Collaborations across borders allow  Indian institutions to leverage the expertise of globally- recognised faculty. The recent trend of Indian business schools forging partnerships and even establishing international campuses is an encouraging development in this direction. In conclusion, while the lack of international faculty presents a significant hurdle, India’s cost advantage and growing focus on international collaborations offer a promising path towards becoming a major player in the global MBA education landscape. 

Q8: Based on your extensive experience leading various institutions over 30 years, what qualities do you consider essential for effective leadership?

Ans: Effective leadership is a complex skill, but some core qualities consistently stand out.  First and foremost, a strong leader is a visionary thinker, able to paint a clear picture of a desired future state and inspire others to work towards it. This vision should be coupled with an innovative mindset,  constantly seeking improvements and embracing change. However, vision and innovation without integrity are hollow. A truly effective leader acts ethically, holding themselves and their team accountable, which builds trust and motivates those around them. 

Communication is another cornerstone of leadership. The ability to clearly articulate ideas and goals,  both verbally and in writing, is essential for guiding a team. But successful leaders don’t just talk, they listen actively. By truly understanding the perspectives and feelings of their team members, they foster a collaborative environment and gain valuable insights. Empathy, especially in today’s world, is crucial for building strong relationships and motivating a diverse team. 

Finally, effective leaders must be decisive. They can gather input and consider options but ultimately need to make timely and well-considered decisions, even in uncertain situations. This decisiveness should be coupled with confidence, as leaders who project self-belief inspire trust and motivate their teams. While these are some of the key qualities, it’s important to remember that leadership is a balancing act. The specific mix of these traits will vary depending on the context and situation.

Q9: Reflecting on your rewarding career in academia, is there anything you would have approached differently or emphasised more in your teaching or leadership style?

Ans: If I could go back in time, one thing I would definitely do differently is place a much stronger emphasis on work-life balance. The recent pandemic, coupled with the changing nature of work and technological advancements, has highlighted the importance of this concept. Clinging to outdated notions of physically being present in a workplace from nine to five is a flawed approach. Leaders today need a deeper understanding of work-life balance. Focusing on this would have fostered a healthier, more productive environment for myself and my team, ultimately leading to more sustainable success. 

This advice is particularly relevant for Gen Z, who can be susceptible to the “fear of missing out”  (FOMO) effect. Students and young professionals can sometimes become overly focused on achieving their goals, neglecting other important aspects of their lives.  

Q10: As we near a crucial phase in the admission cycle, what advice would you provide to students currently shortlisting their college options?  What three factors should students prioritise when selecting their ultimate business school?

Ans: Choosing the right business school hinges on how well the programme aligns with your career aspirations.  A school’s reputation, network, and the effectiveness of its career services office are all crucial factors.  Conduct thorough research, seek insights from current students and alumni, and prioritise these considerations when selecting a programme. Now, to maximise your MBA experience, the first year should focus on developing the right mindset and strategies. Before entering the programme, set clear personal and professional goals. Strike a balance between academic excellence and non-academic activities like networking with peers, faculty, and alumni – these connections will be valuable for years to come. 

MBA programmes offer a wealth of opportunities to develop leadership skills. Consider joining existing clubs or starting new ones. Balance participation with academics. Remember, an MBA is most valuable when combined with practical experience. Seek internships, and participate in projects and case competitions. Finally, dedicate time to personal development, focusing on both soft skills and, most importantly, time management. The MBA curriculum will be demanding, so mastering work-life balance is crucial. This first year will also be a period of self-discovery. Some students are naturally organised,  while others need to develop these skills. The programme will provide opportunities to identify and work on your strengths and weaknesses, so get the best out of whatever programme you commit to. 

Q11: What according to you is your definition of success?

Ans: That’s a thought-provoking question and one that perhaps merits ongoing reflection. Traditionally,  success has been closely linked to happiness. However, the key lies in defining both concepts for yourself. Are you content with your current definition of success? Does it align with what truly brings you fulfilment? 

Success itself can be measured through a multifaceted lens. For some leaders, it may manifest in achieving the CEO position. Others might prioritise financial security or the opportunity to contribute to society through philanthropy. Perhaps the ideal outcome is achieving a healthy work-life balance.  Ultimately, success is a personal construct, and it’s up to each individual to determine the factors that contribute to their sense of accomplishment. This concept brings to mind John Lennon’s insightful response when asked about his childhood aspirations. He simply replied, “Happy.” While the interviewer initially found this answer dismissive, Lennon’s words held a profound truth.  Understanding what brings you genuine happiness is a cornerstone of defining your unique path to success. 

Dr Prabhu Aggarwal’s remarkable journey in academia is a testament to the transformative power of passion and mentorship. His career trajectory, spanning prestigious institutions like Bennett  University, NIIT University, and now the Patricia School of Management, reflects a lifelong commitment to advancing knowledge and shaping future leaders. 

Reflecting on his academic odyssey, Dr Aggarwal credits his upbringing and the influence of his father, a professor, for instilling a deep-seated passion for education early on. His transition from IIT Kanpur to pursuing an MBA and PhD at the University of Washington, Seattle, marked a pivotal shift towards academia, driven by a profound realisation of his true calling in research and teaching. Over three decades in academia, from lecturer to dean and now Vice Chancellor for the fourth time, Dr. Aggarwal’s journey has been marked by continuous growth and impact. Addressing the relevance of an MBA in today’s competitive landscape, Dr Aggarwal underscores its pivotal role in fostering critical thinking,  expanding career opportunities, and cultivating a global mindset. These attributes, he emphasises, are crucial for navigating the complexities of contemporary business environments and driving innovation. 

At Badruka School of Management, Dr Aggarwal’s leadership is reshaping MBA education by integrating forward-thinking initiatives. The curriculum emphasises not only core business skills but also practical competencies essential for industry readiness. Initiatives such as mandatory internships,  sustainability-focused projects aligned with UN goals, and opportunities for international study experiences underscore the school’s commitment to holistic development. Looking forward, Dr.  Aggarwal’s vision for MBA education is anchored in academic excellence, innovation, and a deep understanding of global perspectives. Through his leadership, Badruka School of Management is poised to nurture a new breed of business leaders equipped not just with theoretical knowledge but also with practical skills and a global outlook, ready to make meaningful contributions to their organisations and society at large. 

In conclusion, Dr. Prabhu Aggarwal’s transformative approach to MBA education sets a compelling example for the future of higher education. His dedication to academic rigour, combined with a focus on real-world applicability and global awareness, ensures that graduates from Badruka School of  Management are prepared to excel in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic world. As we navigate the complexities of the 21st-century business landscape, Dr. Aggarwal’s vision promises to shape leaders who are not only capable but also visionary, ethical, and ready to drive positive change.

Admissions to the PGDM programme at Badruka School of Management are closing soon. For more information, click here.

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