01 Jun 2015 16:35 IST

Students must think ‘globally’, says C Gopinath, Dean, Jindal Business School

With businesses crossing boundaries, understanding global best practices is very important

The competitive environment has changed, and students today have to be aware of both the local and the global. And B-schools need to keep up with changing trends, if they want to stay relevant, says C Gopinath, Professor and Dean, Jindal Global Business School, OP Jindal Global University. Excerpts from the interview:

What is different about Jindal Global Business School’s offering?

The vision of Jindal Global Business School (JGBS) is to create global leaders by equipping students, managers and professionals with the necessary knowledge, acumen and skills to enable them to effectively tackle the challenges faced by transnational businesses.

With business crossing borders, it becomes even more important to understand global best practices. We aim to deliver that through global courses, global curriculum, global research, global collaborations and global interaction through global faculty. In addition to this, we have a multidisciplinary approach to learning, and stress experiential learning. Another distinguishing feature is that our university creates a vibrant intellectual environment on campus; hardly a week goes by without some visiting scholar presenting a paper, a research conference taking place, student debate, and so on.

The business environment is changing dramatically. How is JGBS reorienting its B- school education to help students cope with this new order?

We maintain close connections with the business world by inviting practitioners to be guest faculty, and inviting business leaders to visit [our] campus and interact with the students. While most business programmes require the students to do an internship, our students do it for course credit and have faculty mentors to ensure they are guided through the internship. Students can do up to two majors, and take relevant courses offered in other schools (such as a business law course from the law school, or courses on regulation from the school of government and public policy). Our curriculum is flexible enough to accommodate changing requirements of the business world, and we allow students to do guided independent study when they identify a unique area in which they want to learn further.

In your experience as the head of your Institute, how has management education changed?

The nature of the competitive environment has changed, and this requires students to be aware of the local and the global. This has influenced the kind of course material we use such as having a mix of local and international cases. Global exposure has become a requirement and we encourage the students to take advantage of the opportunities we offer. Moreover, students like to see the immediate relevance and connection between learning and the business world. Hence, activities like live projects, field assignments, and simulation games form an integral part of the programmes.

With our economy doing fairly well, stories of entrepreneurial success abound and the students are enthused with the idea that they too can ‘make it’! The challenge of faculty and administration is to capitalise on this enthusiasm and involve the students. We have regular ‘Open Houses’ with the students to tap into this and encourage them to start being entrepreneurial even before they graduate.

What qualities do you look for when accepting students?

We evaluate our prospective students across five broad areas, namely personality, communication, analytical skills, self-confidence, and how they see the education benefiting them.

To do this, we use entrance exam scores, academic record, extra-curricular activities and a personal interview. We take a holistic view in making the admission decision, rather than assigning weights.

What is the gender ratio at your school? Do you think this is a valid question in management education?

Our present gender distribution is about 70:30, male/female. We do not discriminate in the area of admissions nor do we have affirmative action, and we would certainly like to have more women students apply to help improve the balance. We keep that in mind when we do outreach and visit schools and colleges across the country for this purpose. Gender imbalance is a serious problem in our country and [though it] is getting better.

Are there other kinds of diversity that you think are necessary?

India is a diverse country and press reports suggest that people from some parts of the country do face discrimination when they travel and work in other parts. We need to sensitise the students to the diverse environment they are going to find in the workplace. We try to admit people from different regions and being a residential programme, provide them with a safe atmosphere that includes zero-tolerance towards discrimination.

Diversity in terms of educational background and the amount and type of work experience also enriches classroom learning for it presents different perspectives and helps students learn from their peers.

What’s your placement record like? What percentage of your students join start-ups and social sector initiatives?

JGBS has a 100 per cent placement record year-on-year for our graduating MBA students. A majority of the students join large corporates like Dabur, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Jindal Steel and Power, Sodexo, Havells, Fortis and so on. A smaller number have preferred the excitement of IT-based small firms. About 15 per cent of the students turn entrepreneurs and start their own venture.

Can you provide a profile of your academic faculty?

Since we are a research-focused institution, we prefer faculty with a doctoral degree from a reputed university. Industry experience is valued, as also international exposure. About 40 per cent of our current faculty have graduate degrees from overseas.

Which are your most popular courses? Are you planning to introduce new ones?

Marketing remains a popular area, as also finance and operations. We have introduced courses related to digital marketing and also data analytics, which is drawing a lot of attention among companies. Services are an important sector in our economy and our courses on services marketing and supply chain management are also well received.

What do you think of MOOCs? Do you think this makes learning democratic or is this a drain on college resources?

MOOCs are generating increasing interest around the world, although they remain at the level of providing opportunities for continuous learning rather than leading to credits (currently being experimented) and a degree. It is at present a diversion of resources for an institution and a suitable business model is yet to emerge. There is great potential for online learning in India and we will be considering this in the future.

At present, we have offered a few courses taught by experts from overseas using the internet and video projection. We will also be offering some unique courses to our students from our overseas collaborative partners through online platforms.

Do you think the best Indian students prefer to do an MBA programme abroad? What are you doing to make management education in India globally competitive?

The best among the Indian students generally prefer to join top programmes in India that are more affordable and have global reputations. The students who are unable to get into the top Indian B-schools may consider going abroad. Top B-schools in India are well recognised worldwide and hence Indian students cannot justify spending the high fees charged by overseas programmes. At JGBS, we provide our students global exposure through well-designed programs and curriculum, faculty current with global thought practices, and overseas travel programmes. In addition, students who also want a second degree from an overseas institution have that option of studying with one of our collaborating institutions. Such options give the student international exposure while remaining affordable.

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