15 Feb 2016 20:11 IST

‘We strive to create business-ready professionals at IFIM’

The industry internship programme is an important part of our curriculum, says Sanjay Padode

With the Internet playing such a huge role in professional lives, it only makes sense to pursue a course that strengthens our skills on this front. And in keeping with the digital age, the 20-year-old IFIM Business School in Bengaluru has introduced courses in business analytics, digital marketing, global branding and is evolving a curriculum for digital business and innovation, entrepreneurship and global financial markets.

Founded in 1995 by a BITS Pilani alumnus and entrepreneur Sanjay Padode, the institute, which is part of the Centre for Developmental Education (CDE), has won many accolades, such as ‘Outstanding Business School’ (South) at the National Education Awards 2015, Best Institution for Promoting Industry-Academia Interface from Assocham and Best Business School in Bangalore by Brands Achiever in 2015.

Under Padode’s stewardship, IFIM is ranked among the top 30 B-Schools in India, and offers three core programmes — PGDM, PGDM (Finance), and PGDM (International Business).

In an interaction with BusinessLine, Padode said IFIM is striving to create ‘business-ready’ professionals who optimise available resources to provide solutions for the corporate world. Edited excerpts:

You have launched a clutch of what you call new-age courses. How are these courses being taught?

IFIM Business School is evolving a new curriculum by integrating the emerging competencies and skills required to create, sustain and grow a business in the digital world. This is being done by soliciting opinions and insights from new-age experts and executives, who are driving businesses in India and abroad.

Our faculty undergoes training from such experts and is encouraged to research and create relevant teaching content. Forty seven per cent of our faculty are pure academics and the rest are from industry.

The business school is also adapting technologies and new pedagogical techniques, such as flipped classroom teaching, where students learn by watching a subject video and come to class prepared to discuss and work on assignments.

The content developed by our faculty is also being tested through executive development programmes being offered to industry by our faculty in these emerging areas. We collaborate with companies such as IBM, to establish laboratories and build curriculum in business analytics and are thinking of partnering with many more firms.

Have you launched these courses based on industry requirements? What are the job prospects for those who specialise in these areas?

Yes, we have. In fact, our course on business analytics, developed in collaboration with IBM, has been a great success.

This course is an AICTE-approved 15-month Executive Post-Graduate Diploma in Management (E-PGDM), and is for professionals who are keen to make a career in business analytics. There is huge demand for data scientists and this course has been designed to enable executives to take advantage of the growing demand.

What are the other new programmes IFIM is looking to introduce?

Our strategy has been to support the local ecosystem, and we have aligned all curriculum development to the emerging needs of Bangalore city. The faculty is working on developing a curriculum for digital business, and innovation and entrepreneurship. The school is also developing a programme in collaboration with industry, on global financial markets. We hope these programmes will be launched in the next academic year.

How much industry interface does IFIM currently have?

IFIM is well-known for its industry connect. The B-school has signed more than 50 MOUs with companies that are partnering with the institution for delivering its Industry Internship Programme (IIP).

We have also designed a unique programme of corporate mentoring, where students can have a mentor from the corporate world. The objective of this programme is to help the student plan a clear career path. Currently, more than 30 senior executives are part of this mentoring programme.

To enhance intellectual contributions, IFIM has developed platforms such as Ascent Transformation Series and Entrepreneurship Transformation Series for students to intellectually spar with successful business executives/entrepreneurs.

What is the present ratio of girls to boys and engineers to non-engineers?

IFIM makes a conscious effort to ensure both regional and gender diversity on campus. For this, IFIM conducts its admission process on an all-India basis. At present we have students representing more than 24 States. Generally, we have found that that the male-female ratio is 2:1, while the engineers to non-engineers ratio is 3:2.

To encourage more women to enrol, IFIM offers scholarships to female students under its KanyaShakti programme, initiated five years ago.

In terms of placement, how has IFIM fared in this season? What are the expected median salaries?

In terms of placement, the business school has improved significantly over the last year. All our students have been placed for their four to five month industry internships, which, more often than not, leads to a job offer. Hence, 100 per cent placement is assured this season.

Beside this, we have placed more than 40 per cent of our batch and are hoping to complete our placements by March 15. The average salary of the students who have been placed is over ₹6 lakh a year and we hope to end this season slightly above ₹6 lakh.

Last season, we achieved 100 per cent placements for those who participated in the process. The median salary for the 2013-15 batch was ₹5.8 lakh per annum.

In the past batches, how many skipped placements to start up on their own, or join start-ups?

About 5 per cent of the batch did not participate in the placement process and opted to either start their own ventures or join other ventures.

How important is it to have a strong alumni network?

With IFIM completing its 20th year, it is now aggressively building links with its 2000+ alumni. We are also working on establishing local Alumni Association chapters in major cities across the world to conduct regular alumni meets.

We are inviting our Alumni to participate as mentors and be a regular part of our selection process for admissions. They are also involved in curriculum development and are often invited as guest lecturers.

Does the MBA in its present form need to be redefined in any way? And how do MOOCs impact the way the MBA is taught today ?

The last two decades have witnessed maximum disruption in the business world. Economies have become volatile, access to capital has eased and technology has created a level playing field for entrepreneurs. It is evident that this change has rattled MBA education.

The MBA curriculum is now rapidly evolving to develop solution-providers, data visualisers and storytellers. It is becoming more practice-oriented and skill-focused. Application of knowledge and optimising resources has become a scarce competence and the MBA is now evolving to fill this requirement.

Experiential learning, simulations, gaming, research, problem solving, and hackathons are fast replacing legacy pedagogical tools such as case-based teaching.

MOOCs are an excellent source for any student who wants to keep abreast of the latest happenings, and they widen the choice of faculty for a student. I see them as a blessing to enable learning and see them complementing the efforts of educational institutions. They are an excellent platform for making the latest content available to all students, which in the yester years was the prerogative of the few who could afford expensive overseas education.

How important are rankings for IFIM?

B-school rankings are a necessary evil that every business school is forced to participate in. Rankings play a major role in impacting the recruiter’s decision which, in turn, affects prospective admissions. However, with the mushrooming of ranking agencies, the process is losing credibility.

Most media companies use this as a tool to enhance advertising revenues, which further impacts the credibility of rankings. Institutions lose a lot of time and resources on managing and responding to surveys of ranking agencies.

I do not see this as a positive development, either for the media or B-schools.

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