A B-school big on Asia

The Asia Graduate School of Business focusses on the business needs and practices of the Asian region.

Most global corporations today look at the Asian region with great interest. To many of them, it is the Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant that will jointly drive future growth. So, how about a business school that offers a fast-track MBA programme tailor-made to suit the business needs and practices of the Asian region? Well, that’s exactly what the Asia Graduate School of Business (AGSB), coming up near Hyderabad, is attempting to achieve.

Promoted by the Mumbai-based ITM Group (a trust and a Section 25 company), AGSB has a clear Asia focus and is associated with the Ohio State University of the US and the Tianjin Polytechnic University (often called as the MIT of China). “In the US, when I talk to recruiters, they seem to be looking for people who can go and work in Asia, and especially in China and India, and that is not quite the emphasis in Indian B-schools,” says H. Rao Unnava, W. Arthur Cullman Professor of Marketing at the Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University. He is in India to recruit faculty for the new school.

E. Kumar Sharma
E. Kumar Sharma
But there is more to AGSB than just an Asia focus. “India promotes commodity-type MBA education under the AICTE-approved MBA formula,” says P.V. Ramana, Chairman of the ITM Business School, adding: “AGSB is an attempt at emulating the success of ISB.” The school, he says, will charge half of what ISB does but the question is: how, with foreign institutional backing, can AGSB hope to be affordable? The mantra is to cut administrative overheads, build efficiencies and plough back money into education. This explains why, even though the school will begin its first course only in September this year, it is hopeful of breaking even next year.

Brigadier P. Raj Kumar (Retd), Director of AGSB, says the school will offer two programmes: a oneyear Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGPM) with six foundation courses and 12 core courses with two areas of focus (International Business and International Finance). The programme includes a six-week summer term in Tianjin, China. Five courses will be taught by the faculty of Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University, and two courses by the faculty of Tianjin Polytechnic University. The rest will be taught by the Asia Graduate School faculty.

Then, there is also a two-year Post Graduate Programme in Asian Management (PGPAM) being offered. Year I will include six foundation and six core courses and a summer internship in India, while Year II will have six courses focussed on Chinese businesses and a four-month internship in Chinese companies. The fees for the one-year PGPM is Rs 8.5 lakh (including hostel fees and expenses for a summer internship in China but excluding living and travel expenses in China). The two-year PGPAM costs Rs 9.5 lakh (Rs 5.5 lakh for Year I and Rs 4 lakh for Year II).

The school will have facilities for 1,200 residential students and 100 full-time resident faculty members at full capacity, in about five years. The work on the campus, modelled on an American campus, has just started. The high-tech prefabricated steel and glass structure is being built in Uttaranchal and will be installed on site by September 2008.

What about recruiters’ interest in AGSB? BT spoke to some of them and not many are still aware of this new school. But one leading recruiter, who did not wish to be quoted, as he did not know much about the school as yet, felt that for Indian companies, which are increasingly going global, an Asian focus may be interesting, but that by itself, will not be sufficient as most global players have fairly comprehensive leadership templates. At the moment, therefore, they may want to wait and watch.