20 Nov 2017 20:35 IST

Only a learning culture will make an institute stand out: CP Shrimali

MDI acting director talks about what makes the institute stand out among B-schools and plans for future

Acting Director of Management Development Institute (MDI) CP Shrimali has been associated with the college for 40 years. He joined MDI on March 14 1977 as a professor, and has since held almost all important posts.

Shrimali got his doctorate from Udaipur, in Rajasthan, after which he did a consulting course from Manila, and a post-doctorate fellowship at Kellogg School of Management. Shrimali also studied labour laws from Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.

As his tenure comes to an end on December 31, Shrimali spoke to BusinessLine on Campus about what makes the management school different, the variety of courses the institute offers and plans for MDI’s future.

What makes MDI different from the other top B-schools in India?

In MDI, merit is the only criteria; the institute does not offer any quota and the students gain admission only on the basis of merit. MDI has also developed a variety of programmes for different strata and segments of courses. We have courses such as a Public Policy Programme for policy makers in the government, a human resource management course, the National Management Programme, the International Management Programme, and many others.

The second advantage that the institute has is location. Gurugram being a corporate hub that houses all the big companies really benefits us.

What makes MDI one of the top ranking B-schools in India?

Any institution can climb the ranks only if it has a learning culture. Our focus is not only on teaching but on learning. I think our distinction is that the institute runs 24 hours — the students do not sleep for more than five hours and the library is open throughout the day. The faculty here do not have a 9-5 mindset; they work round the clock.

Second, in India, placements get high weightage, so our focus is also on level two competence, which means that those picked from MDI are industry-ready. The company will not need to train them for their jobs and, hence, they will be productive from day one.

So, what differentiates MDI is that the students, while doing this two-year MBA programme, do a large number of projects and assignments and are thus confident of taking up specific responsibilities once they begin working.

Lastly, a school becomes top-ranking if it’s a knowledge-creator; that means the faculty devotes enough time for research. The faculty at MDI devote half their time for teaching and another half for self development and research. It is engaged in knowledge creation.

MDI was the first business school in India to be accredited by the Association of Management in Business Administration (AMBA)? How did this come about?

The institute’s focus has always been on providing international quality education, which will happen only if we have a global mindset. That’s why the college applied for this accreditation. Right from the beginning, we have wanted to differentiate ourselves from others. Our MBA programme was started around 1994 and that was the time when the economy was opening up; so we could visualise that in a decade or so the economy would be integrated with the world economy. Consequently, we decided that our mindset, education and courses should all be global.

For this, MDI wanted someone to evaluate the courses the college was offering to develop global managers. Say, a student wants a job at an MNC. What are the requirements of that company? Are the students being taught the right of things to be placed in that company? So, the institute invited AMBA, which took a look at the courses and made certain suggestions. Based on those suggestions, the institute was accredited.

How has MDI fared in placements in the past few years? Does it offer any specific course that other top management schools in India do not have?

Placements at MDI have been outstanding, with the salaries only increasing. Students are getting their dream jobs, and almost all the companies that go to IIM Ahmedabad also come here. So that way we are in the same pool.

When someone is looking for a finance, strategic or marketing role they come here. Our advantage is we have an HR programme while IIM-Ahmedabad does not. So, MDI’s HR programme competes with XLRI’s. The institute also has an international management programme, which is why our placements too are global. The students who are selected for the international management programme spend the first year here at MDI Gurgaon and for the second, they go to Europe and study at one of ESCP Europe’s campuses. Some students do their internship in Europe; some even get jobs there. For all our courses, we have a 100 per cent placement record.

What are the plans for MDI’s future?

This year the institute is planning to apply for a course in finance and insurance. The course design will keep in mind the fact that at present, the economy and financial sector are undergoing a major change, the banking sector is transforming. With falling interest rates, share markets and mutual funds are offering new instruments. The bond market is emerging, and a number of new financial instruments are being created.

How strong is the MDI’s alumni network and how do they help the present students with the placements?

We have a large alumni base because we have been running our national management programme since 1986. Today, many of our alumni are CMDs and CEOs.

The PGP programme started in 1994, and a large number of our alumni are in high-ranking positions.

We undertake many initiatives during our alumni meet and Guftagoo is one such. Also, during the admission process, we engage with some alumni to give us a third-person perspective.

We also engage with alumni for competency building. Students do a large number of projects and assignments, right from the induction stage. Alumni evaluate these projects and assignments and provide feedback which helps the students to know what the industry expects and whether their training is relevant or not.

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