The turnaround man: Director General Pritam Singh (centre, leaning on a chair) with students at IMI, Delhi. PHOTO: Aditya Kapoor
Frenetic construction activity is visible across the three-acre campus of the International Management Institute (IMI), Delhi. The B-school is adding rooms with "four-star facilities" for management development programmes that can house 70 managers on campus, says Pritam Singh, Director General, IMI. The institute is also building a hostel that can accommodate up to 200 students, he adds. As he walks around the campus, Singh is aware of the considerable amount being spent on the expansion. But he is confident the investment he is making will bear fruit soon. For the year ending March 2014 Singh is targeting a profit of Rs 9 crore, from the Rs 7.21 crore notched in the last financial year on a turnover of about Rs 40 crore.
Since its inception in 1981, IMI carries the mantle of being the country's first corporate-sponsored B-school. The recent expansion drive, however, is a marked departure from five years ago when IMI had turned into a rather quiet B-school in an otherwise aggressive northern region, where nearly four dozen management education institutes compete with each other to attract graduate students. Industry is, of course, taking notice: "IMI has roped in good quality faculty in the last two years," says Ulhas Vairagkar, Director at T.I.M.E. Education, which is among the largest B-school coaching institutes in the country. "We see them fighting back." For the record, IMI has seen one of the sharpest strides upwards in Business Today's latest ranking of B-schools. The institute is now ranked 10 versus 35 last year.
A lot of the credit for the institute's rebound goes to Singh. A recipient of the Padma Shri, the country's fourth-highest civilian award, Singh is known as the man with the 'Midas Touch' in the education community. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, and the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. He was director of MDI twice - first from 1994 to 1998 and then from 2003 to 2006, and he headed IIM Lucknow from 1998 to 2003. He was also dean at IIM Bangalore.
His reputation has attracted talented faculty to the campus in droves. Since he took over at IMI, 27 faculty members have joined, taking the count to 60. "I joined here because of Dr. Singh; he gives faculty members ample opportunities for development and research," says Asha Bhandarkar, who joined IMI from MDI late last year as distinguished professor. She is known as an authority in organisational behaviour and human resources, and has been a senior Fulbright Fellow at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and George Mason University in the US as well as Fellow at the London Business School.
Singh is initiating some more projects. IMI plans to launch in June 2014 an MBA programme in banking and insurance for people with at least two years of experience. It plans to introduce a global MBA programme for scions of family businesses. The one-year course will cost Rs 25 lakh and is slated to begin in March next year. IMI has tied up with four international institutes for the course. These partners are the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Glendale, Arizona; the Chinese University of Hong Kong; the SDA Bocconi School of Management, Milan; and Grenoble Ecole de Management, France. Singh says participants will spend six months of the course at IMI and the remaining time on the four international campuses.
What helps the institute further are its strong corporate connections. Many of its alumni hold fond memories of the campus. "I got a solid grounding here and exposure to futuristic concepts such as sustainability-oriented and value-based business," recalls Rajiv Arora, Leader - Human Resources at consulting firm Mercer.
Arun Sawhney, Managing Director and CEO at drug maker Ranbaxy, who studied at the institute in 1986, says he chose IMI because he found its corporate linkages and collaboration with renowned international institutes such as IMI, Geneva - now IMD, Lausanne - alluring. He says the teaching of Pradip K. Bhaumik, who has been with the institute for many years, still resounds in his ears. "He [Bhaumik] used to always urge us to seek solutions and tell us that our creativity should be used in that direction," says Sawhney. "That has stayed with me."