06 Dec 2018 16:06 IST

IFIM looks to reboot B-school with new curricula

Dr Atish Chattopadhyay, Director, and Sanjay Padode, Founder, IFIM Business School.

AI, data analytics, blockchain, digital commerce to be core

On a couple of visits to the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where the commandant was a relative of his, Sanjay Padode, founder, IFIM Business School, saw that the graduate candidates who joined were in pretty much in the same physical shape as the recruits to his B-school. But, seeing them at the passing out parade the newly-minted officers were all spit and polish and brimming with confidence. “So, I was perplexed and wondered what do they do at IMA that we can’t do in civilian life,” he says.

He put this question to a tough-looking drill sergeant who was getting his wards to jump from a three-storey height into a pool. The sergeant would put these students through other intense drills, including riding a horse. The earthy sergeant told Padode that the officers would probably never ride a horse or jump three storeys into a pool once in service, but the importance of those exercises was that it built confidence in themselves. Overcoming physical hurdles also breaks down mental barriers was Padode’s learning as he thought to himself, “Why don’t we get these smaller wins for our students; win small and build confidence.”

Unique programme

With that objective in mind, IFIM launched its unique personality enhancement programme (PEP) six years ago, to build a holistic personality. PEP has two components, lifestyle and life skills. “Wellness is an important part of holistic education. Our students have to necessarily participate in yoga classes and in sport and they get credits for it. Every term they have certain benchmarks to achieve. Their confidence is built by small achievements and we keep pushing them to surpass the benchmarks. Two things happen; they get physically fitter and mental barriers also break,” explains Padode. On the life skills front, the students are expected to perform and demonstrate improvement in communication, leadership, negotiation and teamwork, for which too they get credits.

IFIM’s PEP, along with its social immersion projects, the industry internship programmes and the research incubation it offers its students, helped IFIM secure the AASCB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation, which only a handful of business schools in India have. Githa Heggde, Dean, International Relations, says that securing the accreditation required conforming to over 10 to 15 criteria, ranging from its bespoke curriculum to high corporate connect and faculty research.

As Padode explains, besides meeting the 15 standards as defined by AACSB, the challenge was to align the mission with the teaching and learning processes; demonstrate faculty sufficiency both in terms of qualifications, relevance and numbers; prove that the faculty was pursuing scholarly activities aligned to the mission; demonstrate financial stability as well as the acceptance of the mission by external stakeholders such as corporates and society. “And, the most important was that the efforts of the faculty and staff of the institutions were delivering the learning objectives derived from the mission.”

With the ASSCB accreditation in hand, Padode roped in former IMT Ghaziabad Director Atish Chattopadhyay as Director, to reboot IFIM and get its students ready for the jobs new businesses are throwing up. As he says, IFIM is now engaged in preparing a curriculum for the industrial revolution 4, which is all about a fusion of technologies from the physical and digital spaces.

Foreign partnerships

One of the first exercises IFIM embarked on was to invite 300 CXOs and industry leaders to respond to a quantitative survey based on the World Economic Forum framework for the skillsets required for in the future. Post that there were a series of industry conclaves in four major cities. Based on the quantitative survey and the qualitative inputs from the conclaves recommendations were made for relevant management education curricula, explains Prof Chattopadhyay. The revamped curricula will be introduced for the 2019 batch and will be unveiled early January by well-known academic Prof Jagdish Sheth.

Some of the contours of the new curricula, Prof Chattopadhyay says are to introduce design thinking and innovation incubation where the students will need to develop a business plan and demonstrate the proof of concept or develop a minimum viable product. The other spoke of the planned new curricula, spearheaded by Prof Asit Kumar Barma, is to develop a platform for skilling the industry, academia and professionals in gen-next technologies. The internet of Me platform, Prof Barma says, will focus on four areas: AI, data engineering and business analytics, digital commerce and blockchain, which will all be aligned with new emerging job roles.

IFIM is looking to seal partnerships with US universities which are the tops in certain areas. For AI and machine learning, the team will be in dialogue with Carnegie Mellon; for fintech and finance with Johnson; marketing analytics with Darden Virgina and for innovation and design thinking with Stanford. “It will give the cutting edge skills to our students and also to our faculty, who can also be present when the courses are delivered at these universities and they can benefit with interactions with the faculty at the US universities,” says Chattopadhyay.

(Seen in the picture above are: Dr Atish Chattopadhyay, Director, and Sanjay Padode, Founder, IFIM Business School.)