13 October 2017 13:24:51 IST

‘Giving students a real industry perspective is our priority’

Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan talks about BBA & MBA offered by MOP Vaishnav College for Women

Today, the discourse on diversity in the boardroom is gathering momentum and laws are being put in place to make sure women are suitably represented at the top levels of management. MOP Vaishnav College for Women, Chennai, boasts of offering the MBA programme exclusively for women since 1997. “Our classes are all women and therefore, women's empowerment is something unique that we offer,” said Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan, Principal of MOP Vaishnav College.

“Even before Madras University emphasised certain skillsets, MOP had offered students these courses. For example, students had the option of choosing hospitality and healthcare management long before it was offered at University of Madras. That is one of the perks of being an autonomous college — we get to choose the subjects we offer,” Dr Lalitha said.

She added: “What is unique about MOP’s MBA is that we’ve always had elective subjects handled by industry practitioners. We do have the required number of core faculty but, when it comes to electives, the faculty from the department only facilitate the course; the industry professionals handle it fully otherwise. So there have been times when classes have been held on Saturdays and Sundays. This has helped students get a real industry perspective.”

Industry-taught electives

The college also offers a BBA course in both the morning and evening college programmes. “We’re going to make the course more focused. Earlier, the morning and evening batches had the same course. However, from the coming academic year, the morning batch will have a specialisation in Business Analytics and Marketing and the evening one will specialise in HR and Entrepreneurship,” Dr Lalitha explains.

The electives are taught by junior and middle management executives, Dr Lalitha says, adding that they’ve also conducted management education programmes (MEP) that are open to everyone, not just for students of the college. “Every alternate year, we have MEPs for specialisations such as Finance, Marketing and HR,” she says. Apart from this, a professor from IIM Calcutta also teaches a certificate course as a part of the inter-disciplinary certificate programme.

She adds that while placements are an integral part of the course, most students opt not to sit for them. “Even before classes start for the MBA students, they undergo ‘outbound training’. We used to conduct this at the TVS Plant in Hosur, but recently, we started taking students to some of the newer companies along the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), which is closer. These outings last for a couple of days,” she explains.

Internships and entrepreneurship

The college offers students great exposure via internships, which are compulsory for those pursuing MBA. “All of them go for a six-week-long internship. Some extend it to eight weeks too. The students from the 2016-17 batch went to UMass Lowell in Boston for an internship on entrepreneurship. Some students went to Kingston University in the UK as well, some years back. Being autonomous, we can award certificates, but because we are affiliated to the University of Madras, we had the internships evaluated here so the students could earn credits for their overall degree,” Dr Lalitha says.

The college tailors its courses as per industry requirements. “We have industry representatives on our board of studies, which meets at least three times a year. Professors also take industry inputs while framing the syllabus,” she clarifies, adding that they are working on updating the syllabus to reflect current trends. “For example, we’ve had guest lectures and seminars on digital and social media marketing but it’s not a part of our MBA course yet. It is a part of our IDE (Inter Disciplinary Elective) syllabus for the BCom students.”

MOP Vaishnav also has an entrepreneurship cell, or an e-cell, which has courses specifically for students who look to ‘turn passion into vocation’. “A lot of our students are from business families and want to do something by themselves. Under the banner of ‘Manoranjan’, we mentor students who show a flair for entrepreneurship.”

Founded in 1992 with three courses in under-graduation (BCom, BBA and BSc Maths), the college today has over 15 UG and seven PG courses plus a dedicated research programme in the Department of Commerce. The college, affiliated to the University of Madras, has a strength of 3,030 students. It was re-accredited in 2016 by The National Assessment & Accreditation Council with an ‘A’ grade and a 3.56 CGPA on a 4-point scale.

MOP Vaishnav College for Women also has the distinction of being one of the youngest colleges in the country to have been granted autonomy by the University Grants Commission and the University of Madras, according to its website.