One-year miracle

N. Madhavan        Print Edition: July 13, 2008

  • After 11 years in Tata Motors, Arun Pratap Singh (35), an M. Tech from IIT Kanpur, was getting increasingly restless with the routine nature of his job as a Senior Manager at the company’s Lucknow plant. He longed for faster career growth.
  • Sashi Sairaman (29), an electrical and electronics engineer, was part of the team at Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) that developed India’s first robot. But after six-and-a-half years in the technical line, she began dreaming of a job where she could handle the entire spectrum of a business.

IIM-C PGPEX Chairman Paul Abraham with his students
Paul Abraham
So, what did they do? Singh Enrolled for the one-year postgraduate diploma in management for executives (PGPX) at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in April 2007, while Sairaman enrolled for a similar programme, called PGPEX, at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta in December 2006. Today, three months after graduating, Singh is Vice President of Electrotherm India’s two-wheeler division, and heads its electric scooter business.

His responsibilities include product development, production and marketing. Sairaman is living out her dreams as well. She is now Business Manager (International Markets) at Levis Strauss India, and is in charge of the US jeans and casual wear giant’s business across five nations—Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Singh and Sairaman are typical examples of young and not-soyoung executives who have taken these career-changing programmes that the two IIMs launched two years ago. The numbers bear out the popularity of these two courses. IIM-A received 1,347 applications for the third batch of its PGPX programme, which began in April this year, up from 773 it received for the first batch. In response to the increased demand, IIM-A, which charges Rs 15 lakh for the one-year residential course, has increased the batch size to 78 in 2008-09 against 60 earlier. At IIM-C, over 3,000 applications have already been downloaded for the third PGPEX batch that will commence studies in April 2009 despite a sharp increase in fees from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 14 lakh. It is also increasing its batch size from 40 to 48.

Sashi Sairaman: Living out her dream
Sashi Sairaman
Why are so many people opting for these courses? “Many young professionals get into jobs immediately after graduating. Some years down the line, they feel the need for an MBA degree to accelerate their growth, take their skills to a different market and get a quantum jump (in pay),” says Arvind Sahay, Head of the PGPX Programme, IIM-A. Adds Biju Paul Abraham, Chairman PGPEX, IIM-C: “The shorter duration is an attraction as most people with over five years of work experience don’t want to spend two years in a college again.”

The course content is tweaked to factor in the experience of students. “We do not sacrifice content simply because it is a one-year course. They (students) learn everything that is needed; what is left out are things which they do not need because of experience,” says Abraham.

Such mid-career course corrections can be extremely rewarding. Thus far, both IIMs have a 100 per cent placement record and more importantly, companies are willing to pay a premium for PGPX/PGPEX students. The average salary for an MBA without prior work experience at IIM-A in 2007-08 was Rs 13 lakh; the corresponding figure for PGPX students was Rs 25 lakh. The highest salary paid for PGPX students in 2007-08 was Rs 51 lakh for a job in India and $155,000 (Rs 63.55 lakh) for an overseas placement. In IIM-C, the corresponding figures were Rs 43 lakh and $200,000 (Rs 82 lakh), respectively.

“Candidates with executive MBA qualifications are usually much more mature and balanced in their approach. They understand management principles and apply them better. They are also better prepared and ready to handle middleand senior-level responsibilities,” says T.V. Mohandas Pai, Director, Human Resources, Education, Research & Administration, Infosys Technologies. “There is a need for hiring people laterally at senior levels; so, it will be good if the IIMs expand their executive MBA programmes,” he adds.

Sahay: Charting a growth path
Sahay
But infrastructural bottlenecks are preventing both IIM-A and IIM-C from expanding. “The availability of faculty is the main hurdle; then, there is also a need to provide family accommodation for each student,” says Abraham. Like at the Indian School of Business Hyderabad, PGPX and PGPEX students can stay with their families on the campus. Abraham wants to expand the batch size at IIM-C to 120 over the next three to five years. Seeing the success of the programmes at IIM-A and IIM-C, IIM Lucknow has announced that it will commence a similar executive MBA programme from the 2009-10 academic year at its Noida campus.

IIM Bangalore also plans to launch a one-year executive MBA next year. These courses not only offer excellent scope for mid-course career corrections and a shorter route to middle and senior management positions but also a rapid increase in compensation packages.

According to data provided by IIMA, the average salary of incoming students in 2007-08 was Rs 10.80 lakh, while their average salary after passing out was Rs 26.80 lakh. That alone should explain the popularity of these programmes.

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