16 Dec 2015 19:49 IST

At XLRI, diversity is in terms of ‘thinking’: Fr E. Abraham, Director

At the Jamshedpur-based B-school, diversity is not based only on gender, education or work experience

Founded in 1949, the Jamshedpur-based Xavier School of Management, better known as XLRI, has risen to be a school of eminence. Notable alumni include the likes of B Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman, Tata Steel Ltd; Arun Maira, former partner at Boston Consulting Group; and K. Pandiarajan, Co-Founder Ma Foi Management Consultants, MLA Virdhunagar, Tamil Nadu. Little wonder then that the institute has secured fourth place in The Hindu BusinessLine-MBAUniverse.com B-school Ranking 2016. Responding to e-mailed questionnaire, Father E Abraham, SJ, Director of XLRI, speaks about the institute and what makes XLRI one of the premier business schools in India.

To read exclusive content from The HinduBusinessLine-MBAUniverse's Inform and Inspire, a special handbook for MBA aspirants, click here .

How has XLRI ensured that it stays among the top B-schools in India?

XLRI as an institution, at its core, places emphasis on academic excellence, personal values and social concern. Over many years XLRI has developed its own identity. The hallmark of this identity is to walk the beaten path but to strike new routes instead.

This enterprising and pioneering spirit can be witnessed throughout the history of XLRI. The institute spares no effort to constantly update its curriculum to world-class standards and deliver it in the most effective manner. It constantly scans the developments in the world of business and in the society at large and tries to proactively meet these challenges.

How do you plan to get XLRI up the international rankings of B-schools?

XLRI has received the coveted international accreditation by Association of MBAs (AMBA), UK, which represents the highest standard of achievement in postgraduate business education. This accreditation will further enhance the credibility of the management programmes offered by XLRI to prospective Indian and foreign students ensuring them the finest business education available, thereby positively impacting their careers.

Also, we are at an advanced stage of receiving the accreditations of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and NBA. We are also working on acquiring the European EFMD Quality Improvement System accreditation.

How are you ensuring academic and gender diversity in the B-school?

We do not believe in diversity for diversity's sake. Hence, gender, educational, work experience based diversity is rather a restricted way of looking at it. For us, diversity is in terms of “thinking”.

There have been instances that students from entirely different backgrounds end up thinking very similarly, while students from similar educational backgrounds have different ways of thinking. Diversity helps create a classroom environment where spirited debate and differing opinions and viewpoints can be exchanged to encourage innovation.

Regardless of where the innovation is being applied, it comes about more easily when you have a group of people who each think about the problem differently. If everyone comes from the same background and thinks the same way, they tend to come up with the same conclusions.

That isn’t to say that we ignore often understood forms of diversity, but we realise that understanding both aspects of diversity is very critical (based on gender, which is more overt, and based on “thinking” which is more subtle). We have constantly tried to capture this broad-based understanding of diversity within the institution.

Our entrance exam XAT follows a multidimensional testing framework and is designed to meaningfully assess the aptitude of candidates for future business success. We follow the pen and paper format, in order to ensure equal opportunity to all candidates. This way, even those who aren’t computer literate can take the test. This year, we have added more logical questions instead of technical quantitative questions to make it a level playing field for everyone.



What are the new programmes and courses that the B-school is unveiling to be current and in keeping with industry and corporate requirements of talent in particular sectors?

The curriculum at XLRI has constantly evolved in line with industry needs in particular and the economy at large whilst striving to shape management education by giving due importance to ethical and socially responsible practices in management.

In addition to its portfolio of full-time programmes, flagship management programmes in business management, HR management and general management, XLRI also offers programmes across all segments of students through part-time and virtual interactive learning.

Students are encouraged to apply theoretical learnings, those learnt via case studies, research methodologies, and frameworks to solve real-life management challenges facing private, public and non-profit sectors of the economy.

Apart from developing proficiency in the functional disciplines in the management curriculum, it aims to develop a new breed of executives well versed in different cultures, and capable of being effective anywhere. It also seeks to build bridges of understanding to connect India, China and USA, three of the most important countries in today’s world.

Does the MBA need to be redefined?

With the Indian economy getting more mature and diversified, the importance and need for high-end vocational programmes such as an MBA is definitely on the rise.

In the years ahead, also with the rise of start-ups, various sectors of the Indian economy will require business leaders who have specialised expertise across management domains such as finance, marketing, human resources, operations management, and IT.

Thus, the MBA curriculum and pedagogy will have to be constantly updated and adapted based on the evolution of the Indian economy in particular and the global economy at large.

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