08 Jul 2016 19:46 IST

We want to produce socially sensitive managers, says IIM-I Dean Ganesh Kumar

Dean of Academics at IIM Indore speaks about IPM, curriculum changes and more

The new batch of PGP students are just arriving at the IIM Indore campus. The institute's Dean of Academics, Prof Ganesh Kumar, is rather busy coping with his new charges. But he takes time out to talk to BLonCampus on the new initiatives the institute is undertaking. Excerpts from the interview:

Earlier this year, students of the first batch of the experimental five-year Integrated Programme in Management (IPM) graduated. How were the placements?

They were absolutely great. All those completing the programme landed good offers and have been placed. Of the 120 who had joined, 106 finished the programme. As you know, we are the only IIM to offer this integrated programme, which has been well received by the market.

Today, we get around 19,000 applications and take in only 120. Effectively, the selection ratio is even better than PGPs, where we take 450 from a pool of more than two lakh — but that pool is all the IIMs put together. In terms of the selection ratio, we find IPM is better.

Do you have an exit clause for IPM? Can you quit after three years and still get a degree?

No, there is no exit clause. Of the 120 who joined in the first batch, very few students dropped out to pursue studies abroad. But we don’t give them any degree if they leave mid-way.

How do you select students for a management course after Std 12? Isn’t that a bit too early to figure out their aptitude?

We conduct an entrance test, based on which we shortlist names. Then we conduct an interview. In that, we make sure we take only those students who are interested in a management career.

They are not exposed to management in the first three years. We focus more on economics, math, social sciences, and liberal arts. In the last two years, we merge the programme with PGP.

So the IPM students start with an advantage over the PGP direct joinees…

The only advantage would be familiarity with the campus, not so much with the subjects. They would have studied economics and mathematics, but that is not an advantage as such. We hope that they derive value from the five-year exposure they get in an IIM set-up and the networking that happens.

Prof Jagdish Sheth, in his book, has mounted a stringent criticism against B-schools and called for curriculum changes. Are you doing anything in this respect?

Every business school is grappling with this issue. We went through a review process too. One of the things we did last year was introduce a few skill-based programmes. We have also started courses in design thinking and entrepreneurship. People may not become entrepreneurs, but at least an orientation is given. We have also commenced a programme on leadership. So far, one batch is over.

Where do you get the faculty for these?

Some are internal and some are external. We have also introduced an elective package on entrepreneurship in the second year.

This way, students don’t have to do the full set of courses. They can take some time off their regular course and take up entrepreneurship. The idea is that they should be able to come up with a business idea, register their companies and possibly also go for funding, before they pass out of the college.

Do you have an incubator?

Not yet, but that is on the anvil. Eventually, we will tie these things up. In the five-year integrated programme (IPM), we find that students are quite entrepreneurial — a number of them have business ideas.

How is the Indore ecosystem, in terms of fuelling entrepreneurship?

This is the only city with an IIT and an IIM, so it’s unique in that respect. Last year, we started a summit — the i5summit, where our undergrads tied up with IIT undergrads and came up with this conclave and a business plan competition.

Last year was the first time we held it and it was reasonably successful. We even have a network with TiE, and have an entrepreneurship club.

The summit is going to be a regular feature (i5Summit will be held on August 20-21 this year).

Are you in any way, involved in the Smart City project in Indore?

No. We are not integrated in that sense with the government authorities. We have too much on our hands as it is — we have two campuses, one in Indore and one in Mumbai; and we are mentoring IIM Sambalpur. Our faculty is taking care of the full set of courses there.

Internally, we have seven full-time programmes. We have PGM here, PGP in Mumbai, a doctoral programme, executive programmes as well as weekend ones.

Is there a reason you are mentoring Sambalpur?

That is part of our social commitment and the mandate of the HRD Ministry. When a new institute is set up, they attach to it an existing one. Till the institute is up and running, you are supposed to mentor it. That’s the model. Sambalpur was started last year.

Nowadays, the trend is endowed chairs from industry at management institutes. Have you got any?

We don’t have one right now, but the board recently approved a policy to support endowed chairs, so it will start soon. For us, apart from the money, it will also help attract bright people to do research. And we get an additional position open at a senior level.

Most management students end up in corporate jobs. Is there anything in the curriculum to attune them to the social sector?

If you look at our mission statement, we aim to produce socially sensitive managers.

Here’s how we go about it. In the first year of the programme, all our PGP students visit rural Madhya Pradesh. They study the economy, the rural livelihoods, the impact of government social sector projects and other factors.

In their second year, they go on an outbound programme to the Himalayas. So, while the first initiative develops social sensitivity, the second heightens environment sensitivity.

Last year, the Madhya Pradesh government started supporting us in the rural immersion programme. They even asked students to evaluate the government schemes.



What has been the outcome?

They filed the report with the government. They cannot solve the problems in one week, of course, but the idea is to sensitise them to what is happening in the countryside. They may or may not take up social entrepreneurship but in any job, we hope it helps them keep all stakeholders in mind while taking decisions.

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