How IIMA, XLRI, SPJIMR ensure students get good placements

How IIMA, XLRI, SPJIMR ensure students get good placements

Learning has soared to new heights across top B-schools, embracing a world view that is holistic.

Photo: Vivan Mehra Photo: Vivan Mehra

Karan (name changed), a student of the 2017 batch of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), had a pre-placement offer from an FMCG major after doing summer internship with the company. However, he applied to four more companies - most of them in the consulting space - during the final placements in February. "I wanted to explore options in both FMCG and consulting ," he says. He eventually opted for the initial offer, convinced that consulting wasn't his cup of tea. The freedom to choose and explore job opportunities, says Karan, differentiates IIMA from other B-schools.

Many management schools dont allow students to appear for job interviews on the campus after accepting an offer by a recruiter. This becomes quite restrictive for students if a preferred recruiter comes for hiring later in the placement process, explains Nalin Gupta, General Secretary of the Student Council (2017), IIMA. The concept gets a big thumbs up from students as it gives them the freedom to get placed in firms of their choice. In 2017, 100 companies visited the campus - Amazon, McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs and PwC were top recruiters.

Not surprisingly, IIMA tops our rankings for the sixth successive year. The others in the top five include the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC), XLRI Jamshedpur, S. P. Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR) and Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurugram.

These institutes are constantly raising the bar in management education, blazing a trail for others.

It is often not just final placements that set apart the top B-schools. Often these institutes strategise to ensure their students get job offers even before the session ends. About 40 per cent of SPJIMRs 2017 batch had a pre-placement offer, says its Dean Ranjan Banerjee. There was a good reason for this phenomenon, according to Ankur Bansal, Head of Placement Committee, Class of 2017. Instead of summer internship, SPJIMR offers autumn internship in September.

C. P. SHRIMALI Acting Director, MDI Gurugram (Photo: Shekhar Ghosh)

This means that students start their internship a good three-four months after studying their specialisation subjects in the second year. "This way they are better poised to apply their classroom knowledge in a real world setting. Due to this the project deliverables improve and the chances of companies giving a pre-placement offer are much higher," he says. The highest salary on the campus was a record Rs 39.5 lakh per annum and the average salary shot up to Rs 20.9 lakh, up from Rs 19.3 lakh last year.

What it takes: To get the best recruiters, institutes have to hone the skills of their students. The world is competitive not only for students but also for institutions and so there is a lot of focus on quality education, says C. P. Shrimali, Acting Director, MDI Gurugram. "The quality is improved by getting international accreditations, publishing original research papers, using state-of-the-art technology in classrooms and teaching innovations."

Disruptive technology and a constantly changing world is also transforming how organisations work. It is pushing companies to look for people who are able to handle uncertainties, have a wider perspective and are leaders and not just managers. This has led the top flight management institutes to not only have a relook at their curriculum but also innovate on course delivery. In line with the recent and emerging trends in the industry, XLRI has introduced a compulsory course on 'Introduction to Sustainable Development and Corporate Sustainability', along with several electives in strategy such as 'Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid', 'Resource Based Strategy' and 'Transformation for Sustainable Superior Performance'. "Our intent is to help shape responsible business leaders who would also contribute in creating a more sustainable and equitable world," says Sunil Varughese, Chief Brand & Sustainability Officer at XLRI.

IIMA also has cut back on traditional programmes in finance, operations and marketing and is revamping curriculum. Its Post Graduate Programme (PGP) now has courses on entrepreneurship, environment sustainability and design thinking. Till last year, courses on entrepreneurship and designing were electives.

UTTAM KUMAR SARKAR Dean, New Initiatives and External Relations, IIM Calcutta (Photo: Subir Halder)

These curriculum changes are a conscious effort on the part of these schools to be on top of the emerging industry trends. "Modifying curriculum is a continuous process as elective offerings change every year. Major curriculum review is also taken up every few years to update the compulsory courses. In fact 20 per cent of the curriculum content is new every year," says Uttam Kumar Sarkar, Dean - New Initiatives and External Relations, IIM Calcutta. To meet the increasing demand for managers with exposure to niche areas, IIM Calcutta started a PGP for Business Analytics with a batch of 51 students in 2015-17. "We were wondering about the recruiters response but on the second day of opening placements all got hired," says Sarkar. The average annual domestic compensation for these students was `17.14 lakh with the highest package at a whopping `33.67 lakh.

Stress on values: It is not just skills and knowledge that are important but companies are also looking at the right personality fit and emotional quotient of the individual. At SPJIMR every student has to do a compulsory five-week internship in development programmes and projects in the non-profit sector as a part of its compulsory Development of Corporate Citizenship (DoCC) course. Also, in the first year, the MBA student has to mentor bright, underprivileged children from the neighbouring schools as a part of the course's Abhyudaya year-long mentorship programme.

XLRI has also introduced a core course on 'Managerial Ethics'. Millennials today don't work just for a paycheck but also look for meaning in their work. To connect with the new generation, XLRI changed its mission statement to 'For the Greater Good'. XLRI also has an Ethics Research Centre and a Father Arrupe Centre for Excellence to promote human values. "It is ethics and culture that have kept XLRI at the top because then students bring to table more than just hard skills. It is this ethical approach that is becoming increasingly relevant in today's business world," says Varughese.

Faculty feedback: The holistic development of the future leaders at management schools cannot happen unless there is a strong focus on pedagogy. For that to happen, it is important that there is constant feedback between faculty members. At MDI Gurugram, every year there is a two days retreat for faculty members where they participate in a brainstorming session on the changing management landscape and suggest changes to the curriculum.

"The idea is to make the institute faculty centric and not leader centric. It gives the faculty a voice and they do all the chintan and manthan of the changes they want to see in the classrooms," says Shrimali. He says that, within a year of receiving feedback from faculty and industry partners they are planning to lauch two courses: Decision Making in Uncertainty and Design Thinking.

At SPJIMR, there is a weekly faculty meet to discuss new innovations in curriculum and course delivery. This also allows them to introduce courses faster in the classroom. For instance, the institute was able to conceptualise a course in Liberal Arts in September 2016 and are offering it to their current batch. They also have a teaching panel of nine faculty members. Here, each member gets an opportunity to teach the other eight. "The rationale is to get teaching feedback and share best practices on course delivery," says Banerjee.

DR RANJAN BANERJEE Dean, SPJIMR (Photo: Milind Shelte)

As out of the classroom and experiential learning becomes an integral part of the curriculum, schools are experimenting with different pedagogic styles. At XLRI, the course Strategy Implementation is taught partially through games. Also, the "Integrated Course" in the General Management Programme was taught with five faculty members together to bring multiple perspectives to theclassroom. Then, a lot of courses are taken by industry professionals to bring industry experience to the classroom. At MDI, at least 10 per cent of each module is taken up by industry practitioners to help bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Going global : In an interconnected world, institutes have to bring global expertise to their school. "In the last five-six years we have been aggressively improving our brand presence in the international arena," says Sarkar of IIMC.

One way has been through accreditations. IIMC is the only management institute of the country with triple accreditations - by Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, Association of MBAs and EQUIS, the three major international accreditation bodies for business schools and has entered the Triple Crowned Club. "There are only 78 institutes in the world who have all three accreditations and we are one of them," he says. Another milestone is their partnership with CEMS, a global alliance of 30 premier business schools from across the world.

IIMC is the only Indian member of this alliance of leading global business schools and multinational corporations.

It also has tied up with 80 foreign management institutes from which they get 100 foreign students in a year and around the same number go to foreign schools where they stay for one term. "This also helps to be recognised in global landscape where the degree gets recognised in those countries and also helps students get placements there," says Sarkar.

IIMA also partners with 82 foreign B-schools for student exchange programmes. 153 students went to foreign universities and 90 students came to IIMA through such programmes.

This is in line with the attempt of the B-school to bring greater diversity to classrooms.

Meanwhile, these top schools are also trying to bring in students with non-engineering background and more women in classes.

At IIMA, intake of science students increased from 12 in 2014/15 to 23 in 2016/17 while number of commerce students rose from 23 to 48.

IIMC has 30 per cent women in classrooms, up from about 15 per cent five years back, says Sarkar. "It is still not 50-50 but is a significant improvement from before."

The top B-schools in India are making their presence felt in the local and global management education landscape.

And this may just be the beginning.