21 November 2022 00:32:08 IST

IIM Ahmedabad Director: We are now more digitally oriented in our course

Errol D’Souza, Director, IIM Ahmedabad

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) revamped its identity with a new logo and new website, and appointed Zydus’ Pankaj Patel as the new chairman of Board of Governors. However, a controversy over the revamped logo has erupted yet again with several faculty members up in arms.

They also held a protest sit-in at the iconic Louis Kahn Plaza demanding a rethink over the logo redesign. In this interview, the institute’s Director, Errol D’Souza, speaks to blonCampus on the revamped identity and how IIMA plans to stay relevant in a globalised digital world. Edited excerpts:   

How will the revamped identity of the institute help strengthen its legacy?   
The revamp is done keeping in mind the vision that has run the institute for 60 years consistently. The institute has always thought of the three principles. First is to make sure that there is excellence in scholarship and teaching, second is to create leaders, who will make enterprises of the future and third is to impact the world of policy in practice.   
Keeping this vision in mind, we are looking to continue this journey with a revamped identity. We don’t see any disruption or a major change of course in journey due to this. It is the legacy that we are taking forward because we want to grow the institute further.   
The world has become more global. People are interacting more in the digital world. Our vision allows us to transform in this change that the world is undergoing and participate effectively.   
How is IIMA preparing itself for digital-led businesses?   
The institute has been doing it already. And in the past five years, especially since the pandemic, every year about ten new courses are being launched that are digital-oriented. The institute has its growth plan in place. Fifteen years ago, we were part of the old economy. But as the economy transformed, we also transformed, and more so in the past few years. That’s the growth vision we want to keep pace with.  
With the revamped website of the institute that aims to have a global appeal, are you looking to rope in global students?   
Global visibility is happening for us with the interaction we do with corporates on consulting. That is happening in PGPX and the consulting we do with corporates. We would actually love to have more global students. But, it is difficult for us to get them, because we cater to the national students, with which we are fine and are happy to do it.   
We are trying to make the website an interface. They should be able to see and interact with us on our research, our cases, teaching pedagogy and our life on campus. That’s why the globally-appealing design.   
There is once again a debate on the autonomy of the IIMs as the government seems to be interested in having a say.   
I think the government is sensible and sensitive towards the autonomy issue. The Boards are sensitive about it too. Autonomy is good for everyone. On the current status, we follow the IIM Act, which is what the government has asked us to do. And the government also follows the act. So there is no conflict.   
What is the strategy behind setting up more and more Centres of Excellence (CoEs)?
We have done many CoEs at the institute. And those are mainly to help generate the future growth of the institute, through the research and consulting that they do. They bring some of that back into the classroom. So that we have synergies with the practice of the external world with the teaching that we do on campus. It will help students in their growth journey as they go ahead in life. CoEs will continue to come up as and when there is a need.
The institute is undergoing restructuring and rebuilding of several blocks. How will you go about the corporate naming of the building in exchange of funds?
So far, we have not given naming rights of any kind for the restructured buildings, even for the library that we did, we mention supported by whichever corporate entity. For the rebuilding of the blocks, we will definitely seek funding support going forward.
We are very conscious that we will never use fees as a funding device for these sorts of measures. Growth will always be through means that do not put any burden on students. Whether these expenses on restructuring and rebuilding will be covered under the ambit of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandate, that is to be checked.
 After mentoring IIM Nagpur, are there more mentorship engagements in the works?
Anyone reaches out to us, we are happy to help. We have never shied away from it. We also mentored IIM Shillong. Over many years we have done faculty development programmes for institutions across the country at a low cost. At present, there is no newer IIMA. Now the vision has is to do it from the IIMs that are closer. It makes sense.
What has been your observation about the diverse group of students entering the institute and their choice of different domains?
I don’t think the students’ backgrounds have changed significantly. Yes, we are seeing more gender representation and more inclusiveness, which is a good change that has happened at the institute. But we would like to be blind once they are on campus. That’s the only way to treat them equally.
On their choice of domains also there is no significant change. Almost same composition of firms still hires them. But students are more inclined to get into digital start-ups and tech firms. These are the new areas where students are moving.