19 Jun 2015 17:10 IST

We want to make IMI ‘the best private B-school in India’

Bakul Harshadrai Dholakia

In conversation with Bakul Harshadrai Dholakia, Director General of International Management Institute

The New Delhi-based International Management Institute is the oldest corporate-sponsored business school in the country. The institute was created in 1981, since the primary focus at that time was executive education because at that time the education sector was not yet opened to the private sector. The institute has come a long way ever since with its flagship two-year PGDM (post graduate diploma in management). Bakul Harshadrai Dholakia, the present Director General of IMI, best known for his term as IIM Ahmedabad Director (2002-2007), has many plans for the institute and shares those (plans) with BLoC.. Excerpts:

It has been a few months since you joined the institute; what are your plans for the institute?

We are already rated among the top 10 B-Schools in the country by various publications. The institute has a lot of potential with about 62 faculty members, of whom 90 per cent hold a PhD. So I am not worried about the intellectual capital. The challenge is to put together processes, and systems which can lift the institute from being among the top 10 or 15 to the top 5. Eventually, the objective is to make IMI the best private sector B-School in the country. For this, a very comprehensive strategy is required which cuts across products and segments.

What is the USP of IMI?

IMI is a fully integrated B-School. Conventionally we are recognised for our two year PGDM programme, which is our bread and butter. In addition to this, we have many other programmes. IMI offers two-year programmes in banking and finance, general management, and human resource management. We also offer a one-year programme in general management, and a PhD programme.

We also have significant presence in executive education and run more than 70 management development programmes in a year. On top of that, we are also recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs as a premier institution that can train international students. So every year we run about a dozen hi-tech programmes which are attended by participants from abroad. Therefore, we have a presence in every segment of the business education market.

We are also deeply involved in research. IMI is a rare example of a private institute that also has a highly recognised journal -- Global Business Review (GBR). Inspired by the success of GBR, we want to launch another journal. We will soon be launching Emerging Economy Studies in May, which should take about five years to stabilise.

Have you brought any changes in your course structure and curriculum?

There are three products we have restructured: the first is a programme on Banking and Insurance. The initial response to that programme didn't turn out the way we were hoping, the problem was a narrow focus on the insurance domain. So, we broad-based and changed the nomenclature of the programme to Banking and Financial Services. Consequently, we have restructured the second year’s course structure of the programme too. The first year curriculum will also go through a review and in 2015-16 we will be launching a fresh programme. We are expecting a good response.

Second, our one year programme was a fully sponsored programme for corporates. Now, we have restructured that programme to be market centric. It is also offered to self-sponsored candidates now. In the process, we restructured and revamped the entire curriculum.

The programme will kick-off in the month of May. Now it is focused on three types of candidates: sponsored, self sponsored, and international candidates. In fact, 11 international participants of the campus have already come to the campus and are pursuing a preparatory module at the moment.

Third, FPM programme we earlier had was part time. Now, we have restructured the FPM (Fellow programme in management, equivalent to a doctorate) programme on the lines of IIM Ahmedabad's FPM programme and it will be starting in July. It will be a full time, four-year, residential programme.

Are you launching any new courses?

The course curriculum was long due for a revamp at IMI, and full comprehensive review would have taken another one-two years. So we decided to allocate special incentives for the faculty to introduce a new course. This year we announced 18 new courses. Now the challenge is when the delivery starts in mid-June the instructors need to be there. So the broad lines have been drawn up, andnow details are being taken care of.

Also our focus is to at least change 20 per cent of the course material in the first year courses. We are emphasising on the development of indigenous case material, and strengthening partnership with the corporate world.

How has an AMBA accreditation helped?

Unfortunately, there are just three to four institutes in India currently who have AMBA accreditation. The AMBA accreditation is valued a lot. Now, how it is helpful - we have academic tie-ups and partnerships with other institutes, half of which are defunct. Wwe are trying to explore the possibilities of collaboration and tie-ups with other AMBA accredited institutes in Europe and South East Asia. Even if we are able to develop three-four partnerships with institutes having a shared vision, we expect fruitful results. Similarly, we have applied for ASCSB accreditation. If we get it, we will have a large pool to choose our partners from. Once you have an international accreditation, it gives you a natural advantage in creating international tie-ups.

How different is it from heading a government institution and then turning to a private one? What are the challenges?

When I took over IIM Ahmedabad it was already a renowned institute in India but it did not have a presence abroad. So, the challenge was to firmly establish IIM-A as the number one institute in India and improve its global visibility. We needed to participate in global rankings and succeed, which I tried to accomplish during my tenure and succeeded to a large extent. There the challenge was how to refocus research, consulting, and executive education; all from the point of view of global branding.

Now, at IMI we have to first establish ourselves in the domestic market as the number one school, and then in the Asia Pacific region. This is a smaller system as compared to that but when it comes to governance structure, we also have a board just like IIM-A. At IIM-A, although it was an institution, we ran it by adopting best practices in the corporate world. Here at IMI, we have to adopt some best practices of the public institutions, so that there is a blend of good features of governance in both public and private institutions.

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