04 Mar 2021 16:22 IST

How agile B-schools are responding to industry demands now

The updated MBA is keeping up with the trends, training managers to perform better in the current environment

The landscape of management education has evolved over decades, from the industrial revolution to digital transformation. Industrial production, scientific principles of management, specialised skills in operations research, modern finance theories, leadership theories, and 4Ps of marketing, were dominating the curricula of programmes offered by B-schools thus far. But in recent times, organisations across the globe have started focusing on emerging trends, to meet the needs of what is referred to as ‘Industry 5.0’ in corporate circles. Progressive and agile B-schools responded to these contemporary needs.

During VUCA times, the objective is to not only create economic value but create social and ecological value as well, for the corporate shareholders. This is referred to as ‘triple bottom line.’

According to World Economic Forum Skill Report 2018, aspiring business leaders should be able to demonstrate skills/attributes such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, emotional intelligence, sound judgement and decision making, service orientation, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility. Also, a recent survey conducted by Mc Kinsey of 800 executives across the globe, reveals that acceleration of automation, digitisation, and focus on hygiene and safety would disrupt workplaces. Roles that may see the greatest increase include jobs that involve health and safety, technology and automation, digital learning, and agile ways of learning. These required skills/attributes can be achieved through contemporary courses, activity labs, workshops, social immersion, global immersion, projects, leadership series, symposiums, and one-to-one coaching by industry mentors. A brief outline of these best practices is presented below.

Corporate connect initiatives

One-to-one mentoring by industry leaders will help students hone their interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in real-life situations. Through this initiative, they will be able to appreciate and acknowledge the responsibilities and challenges of a career in a specific industry. Distinguished speaker series by CXOs from leading corporates can be invited to share their institutional building experiences to keep the students up-to-date.

Another initiative that B-schools have adopted is nurturing relationships with corporates through immersive internships. Students can undergo three to four months of internships to apply the knowledge they have acquired during the first year of their programme. This will enable students to experience the rigour of a professional environment and provide opportunities to learn and practice business knowledge.

Management institutions have also started roping in senior executives to deliver sessions in a course to teaching whole or partial courses. This ensures that the courses offered are relevant.

Global connect programmes

Through global immersion programmes, students can be exposed to the best management practices. And student exchange programmes where they spend a term pursuing courses in the partner university helps appreciate different work cultures. Students develop global perspectives and business across economies.

Social connect involves community outreach initiatives at B-schools, which nurtures volunteer-ism among students. Social initiatives such as teaching in under privileged schools, blood donation camps, plantation drives, and rural immersion, will sensitise students and bring a positive change.

Industry inputs

Hands-on skill labs in emerging areas such as AI/ML, programming for business applications, blockchain technologies, advanced spreadsheets, personal branding, leadership and personal effectiveness, creative innovation, and design thinking, assists management students to stay relevant for the challenges of ‘Industry 5.0.’

Students are encouraged to pursue industry-endorsed certification programmes offered by the Global Association of Risk Professional (GARP), Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Project Management Institute, National Stock Exchange, Google Analytics, and KPMG Six Sigma Certification. Today, B-schools have realised the importance of Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) advocated by the United Nations, and have embarked on a journey to provide future leaders with the skills needed to balance economic and sustainability goals.

(The writer is Dean, IMT Hyderabad.)