India's Best B-schools

The changing business dynamics have ensured that hiring on B-school campuses remains steady despite the economic slowdown.

Illustration by Raj Verma Illustration by Raj Verma

Change is wafting through the air. From corporate board rooms to business school campuses, the new rules of the game are engaging all and sundry. Indeed, the past 12 months have been a tumultuous phase for the Indian economy and businesses - from the night of November 8, when demonetisation and remonetisation was announced to the midnight of June 30 when the political fraternity assembled in the Central Hall of Parliament to launch the Goods and Services Tax (GST). On top of these seismic developments, businesses have found value in tapping the digital route, leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning and business analytics. The net impact of this business churn has been a clear thirst for talent that can help organisations sail through it all. Not surprising, then, that despite economic growth slowing down, the mood on the campuses of some of India's leading business schools is still quite upbeat. It is in the backdrop of these developments that we bring to you the latest Business Today-MDRA survey of the best B-schools in the country.

Concurs G. Raghuram, Director of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB). "The mood on the IIMB campus and in the industry for high quality talent has been quite positive. Areas like Supply Chain Management, Marketing and Finance would require enhanced set of skills," says Raghuram.

Recruitments by e-commerce and IT companies may have come down a bit but conventional sectors like FMCG, consulting, banking and finance now actually have a bigger footprint on campuses, according to Ranjan Banerjee, Dean of the S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR). "We are finding a growth in fintech with companies like Paytm recruiting. There is increased convergence between finance and technology so even banks that are hiring are looking for technology and analytics capabilities. In consulting, fintech is a space that they are looking at."

Many in the banking space would agree with him. Consider, for instance, the small finance banks. All the 10 players licensed by the Reserve Bank of India have emphasised during the past year that their IT investments are a key area of strength in a demonetised/ remonetised India. "Each of them would have invested between Rs 25 crore and `100 crore in their technology infrastructure," says S Viswanatha Prasad, Managing Director, Caspian Advisers, an impact investor with over `1,000 crore under management and an early investor in three small finance banks - Equitas, Ujjivan and Janalakshmi. "Digital has become a feature of each and every business," says SPJIMR's Banerjee, who is seeing increased demand for those with a greater understanding of analytics within the marketing specialisation.

Gearing up: After a largely successful placement season in 2017, with robust pay packets ( as our survey finds out), Indias top B-schools are now looking ahead. As always, and more so in recent years, internships are being given lot of weightage. "Our summer placements happen in October and that is a big indication of the trend," says Kanwal Kapil, Associate Professor - Marketing and Chairperson - Placements at the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. So far, like last year, 120 companies have confirmed participation, reveals Kapil, pointing out that about 90 of them are likely to absorb the current batch of 300 students. "Summer placements are important because companies today tend to lay their bets more on these as they get to see the student more closely and about 30 to 40 per cent of students end up with PPOs (pre placement offers)," he says. While summer placement trends at the IIMs would be clear from November, others like SPJIMR have -- instead of summer placements - "autumn projects" around September and October with pre placement offers (PPOs) rolled out subsequently. The early trends at SPJIMR show that offers from FMCG, BFSI and even e-commerce companies are up, while consulting, which picks up in final placements and not in autumn, was stable at around 6 per cent. FMCG took the lion's share at 40 per cent.

RANJAN BANERJEE Dean, S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (Photo: Rachit Goswami)

The Indian School of Business (ISB) released its final placement numbers in June this year for the class of 2017 and disclosed it had completely placed the batch, its highest ever class size of 903 students. Consulting and IT/ITES continued to remain the largest recruiting sector - accounting for around 20 to 21 per cent of total offers each - followed by BFSI, healthcare and pharma. However, what stood out as a new element was offers from the government. The Nara Chandrababu Naidu-led government in Andhra Pradesh, for instance, made 21 offers on campus. Looking back at the previous year and reflecting on what to expect this year, Uday Virmani, Director, Placements (called Career Advancement Services) at the ISB told Business Today: "The mood at the moment seems consistent with last year. While traditional sectors are still in demand, going by our experience last year we see room for opportunities for technocrats in public policy also." The average salary of the class was `22 lakh.

Our survey throws up some interesting facts -- the top schools lord over the rest in terms of salary offers. The mean average annual domestic salary at the top 10 institutes was `18.52 lakh while for the top 100, it stood at just `8.86 lakh.

Changing Course: Meanwhile, the B-schools are also modifying their course content to stay in sync with the times. "Originally the operations area was much more about manufacturing but today it is much more about analytics and supply chain. Therefore, we have changed the name of our 'operations' specialisation to 'operations and supply chain management' and that has been received very well by the recruiters," says SPJIMRs Banerjee. It was done last year and implemented from the 2017 batch. He says, it is important since operations is one of the four important areas of specialisation in the course - the other three being finance, marketing and information management.

Refreshing the curriculum seems in tune with what the students expect. "We are seeing a resurgence in jobs from some of the traditional sectors. Other than few companies like Amazon and Zomato, e-commerce is being largely replaced today by demand from mobile payment players and by traditional financial sector," says Balaji Uppala, student of the PGP 2016-2018 batch at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). Post GST implementation, new opportunities are coming up in operations, marketing and sales, points out Uppala. "This is because of the reorganisation of the supply chain. Also, with maturity of niche start ups in technology areas like AI, ML, analytics, some of them are now visiting management schools with business development roles," he says. And more could be in store for B-schools. Uppala expects to see market expansion with companies from new sectors visiting campuses. "For example, driven by the large scale infrastructure NPAs (non performing assets), opportunities could open up in asset reconstruction companies also," he says. That is not all. Traditional companies also seem to be open to creating roles that give entrepreneurial exposure to its talented workstore. Sanjiv Mehta, Hindustan Unilever CEO and MD, in an interaction with students at SPJIMR, had disclosed that his company was considering supporting those who have an idea with capital to incubate it within the company.

How do the recruiters from some of these traditional hot sectors see the future? "Having set a goal of becoming a `1 lakh crore FMCG company by 2030, we, at `10,000 crore, are clearly at the beginning of our growth cycle therefore I dont see any let up in ITCs talent intake," says S Sivakumar, Group Head, Agri & IT businesses, ITC. The company, he says, hires around 120 managements graduates each year from the top 20 B-schools for its talent needs. So, what is the company looking for when visiting campuses of management schools? "The larger concern for the company would be to ensure the incoming talent meets the fundamental requirements of the business." These, he says, are a set of competencies around innovation: an ability to generate alternatives that are sensitive to customer needs; capability to collaborate across network and willingness to take ownership to outcome as opposed to mere completion of an assigned task.

The rankings: For the rankings of B-schools, the survey has, like last year, continued to use objective data. IIMA continues to remain on top, with IIM Calcutta in second place, XLRI Jamshedpur and SPJIMR, Mumbai have emerged as the third and fourth best B-schools in India and the Management Development Institute (MDI) is at number 5. The other institutes in the top 10 of past years have stood their ground. If some reputed schools are missing from the list, it is because they have either refused to participate or did not submit data on time. Some notable institutes like IIM Bangalore and IIM Lucknow did not participate.

S. SIVA KUMAR Group Head, Agri & IT Businesses, ITC (Photo: Nilotpal Baruah)

As always, there is significant insight from the findings of the survey. But here again, one element stands out: the future orientation of the schools, given that Indian companies are trying hard to establish themselves globally.

Much like last year, IIM Calcutta tops the list followed by XLRI. They have done even better than the list-topper IIMA. And coming close to IIMA and just a shade below on this parameter is SPJIMR.