The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) is one of the most talked about B-schools in India. Its aggressive marketing draws hundreds of students every year. In a candid conversation with Business Today, Arindam Chaudhuri, Honorary Director, IIPM Think Tank, speaks about the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), his courses and marketing strategy. Edited excerpts:
Q: How is IIPM different from IIMs?
A: Engineers comprise 80 per cent of the IIM classroom, and there are hardly any girls. On the other hand, anybody can sit in an IIPM classroom. IIMs have 40 papers, we have 72 papers in a two-year programme. I tell students that my entrance exam is to test whether I can make them future managers, not future engineers.
Q: How many permanent members of faculty do you have? Do you rely more on visiting faculty or permanent staff?
A: We have 140 permanent members. This is 33 per cent of the total faculty size. It's pretty normal unless you want to ruin your faculty standards. Permanent faculty means faculty ruined. We lay huge emphasis on visiting faculty. First, I get exciting people from the industry and other B-schools. I am packing the classroom with the best teachers, so there's no question of them being bad. Visiting faculty members are a boon for us. We have also taken 15 professors from IIMs, XLRI, SP Jain and the Indian School of Business. These professors will drive new research work and supervise the research activities of other faculty members.
Of the permanent staff, 60 are IIPM alumni. From 1996 to 2006, we gave join-back offers to our top five per cent students. The payout was so low that, in 1996, we started a consulting firm to try and retain our own students. Later on, the batch size increased and the numbers eventually dropped. While doing consulting, these top five per cent students would teach communication for two years and complete their fellowship programme from IIPM. After two years, these people start taking some basic papers.
Q: How many consulting projects are your faculty working on?
A: The number is in thousands, be it technology consulting, market research, brand building or creative industries. The big challenge is not doing consulting for some dead sleepy public-sector company. If railways wants consulting, it will go to IIMs only. Their one project is worth Rs 20 crore. So from two projects, IIMs will do some Rs 40 crore. In my case, we have to do 400 projects to earn Rs 40 crore.
Q: What is IIPM's research output?
A: In the past one year, 22 research papers have been published in refereed journals. Besides, over 200 papers were published in our in-house journals. It's a huge number.
Q: You offer a degree from International Management Institute (IMI), Belgium. But IMI is not recognised by NVAO, the accreditation organisation for educational institutions in the Netherlands and Dutch-speaking parts of Belgium.
A: We are a registered B-school in Belgium which gives a degree. NVAO's compulsory accreditation started probably three years ago. The accreditation for degree is subject to the word 'Masters'. If an institute is giving anything called a 'Masters' degree, then accreditation is necessary. Our students get a post-graduate degree in management from IMI, Belgium. Besides, we have tie-ups with five B-schools such as NYU Stern School of Business, McCombs, Cornell University, NUS, Singapore, and Imperial College in the UK.
Q: Your three-year course combines both BBA and MBA programmes. How do you ensure you are not compromising on the rigour of a full five-year course?
A: For our three-year integrated programmes, we have tie-ups with Mahatma Gandhi University in Meghalaya and MS University in Tamil Nadu. While studying at IIPM, the students do their BBAs from these universities simultaneously. Students can do their graduation from other universities as well. Since I have taught them a masters level programme, we also give them a post-graduation degree in management from IMI after two years.
Q: You have positioned your brand really well over the past couple of years. How do you maintain your brand image?
A: On the orientation day, I tell parents that their children will be in love with studies and teachers within 10 days at IIPM. It's the only guarantee I take. Students at IIPM look forward to learn because studies are no more illogical for them. They do not have to mug up things. The most knowledgeable professor can talk about the most exciting thing and yet students could be sleeping if the teacher does not know how to teach. On the orientation day, I tell students that whenever a teacher tells me that a particular class is unmanageable or there are rowdy students in a class, I fire that teacher. Students are supposed to be rowdy, they are not supposed to be disciplined. When I was teaching regularly at IIPM, I used to tell students to play book cricket. That's what students love doing. If I teach them something interesting, they will automatically start studying.
Q: What is the fee for various programmes?
A: The fee is Rs 14.25 lakh for the IIPM's flagship programme, and Rs 18.5 lakh for the three-year integrated programme.