It's not just the FMS tag that binds first-year batchmates Shakti Prakash Chittara, Giriraj Meena, Samvedna Shirsat and Ashish Kumar. They share another link: all of them cracked the gruelling Common Admission Test (CAT) and sailed through the interviews at IIM-Lucknow, but chose the no-frills Faculty of Management Studies of Delhi University (DU).
In doing so, it's as if these students pre-empted the findings of the latest BT-Nielsen B-school survey, which places FMS at No. 4, up seven positions from No. 11 last year. This year, FMS comes right after the crème de la crème of the IIMs - Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta - and above IIM-Lucknow. In 2008, it was ranked No. 9.
Though the students consider lack of good infrastructure a major shortcoming, FMS has its draws: a 56-year-old pedigree, strong alumni base, the low tuition fee (a measly Rs 10,000 a year), a great placement record and a strong faculty. The smaller batches also matter, says Shirsat, a B.Tech from SNBP University, Mumbai.
FACULTY OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES
The institute was one of India's first management institutes, beginning with courses for working professionals in 1954. With an alumni roll that reads like the Who's Who of the corporate world, FMS attracts applications from 60,000 students every year, but admits only 166 for the full-time MBA programme. The institute offers two full-time courses - MBA and an MBA-MS (Management of Services) - but will merge these into one full-time MBA from 2011 admissions. This will increase the seats to 226.
FMS has been experimenting to make up for the paucity of faculty as is common across B-schools in India. "For the past two years, our teachers have been working extensively with industry experts. These experts are alumni of the institute and are invited to come and teach here," says Pradeep Nagraj, a second-year student and joint placement secretary.
The FMS faculty is a mix of economists, sociologists, psychologists and engineers-turned-MBAs. At the same time, it has built special relationships with leading companies and refers to them as legacy recruiters - companies like Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Citibank.
Recruiters seem to be happy with FMS products. "FMS students are driven by a strong value system," says Sonali Roychowdhury, Associate Director and Head of Human Resources, P&G India. Adds Leena Nair, Executive Director, HR, HUL. "One distinguishing feature of FMS has always been the rich diversity of student profiles in terms of work experience as well as educational backgrounds. The students we have recruited consistently exceed our expectations."
The number of students with work experience has also increased, from 49 per cent in the 2005-07 batch to 64 per cent in 2009-11. Companies often offer "live" projects in marketing and technology to students; this year, students completed over 50 such projects from Cisco, KPMG, Grow X, Q-Equip and others.
The institute has also increased the component of internal evaluation from 30 per cent to 50 per cent with a new course this year, says Prof. K. Mamkoottam, Head and Dean. The new course has subjects like corporate social responsibility and business ethics. "MBA today has become a money-making exercise. We're trying to tell the students that the money doesn't belong to you, so use it responsibly," he says.
Manoj Kohli, CEO and Joint MD of Bharti Airtel's International Business Group, says: "It's a family institution… we were so closely knit with the faculty." Kohli, an alumnus and a member of the FMS academic council, recalls: "They would always encourage us to achieve more."
It is perhaps this thirst for more and the willingness to adapt to a changing environment that keeps the FMS flag flying high.