'We prepare our students for resilience': IIMA director

Prof Bharat Bhasker on the trends in management education and more

96-Bharat-Bhasker Bharat Bhasker | Salil Bera

Q/ What are the trends you have observed in management education, both in India and globally?

A/ All businesses are going through major transformation or have already gone through transformation. So the workplace environment is completely new and, as a leading management school, we have to keep a track of it and prepare our students for that kind of an environment. Since we are creating future leaders, we should prepare the students to be capable enough to adopt [changing] technology quickly. They should also know how technology will transform and how the transformation will help.

We have believed from day one that Indian CEOs are not meant for India alone. There are many faculty members who train our students in cross-cultural aspects.

To prepare them for all this, we need to change our curriculum. The course names will be the same as we will still teach strategy, but now it is the strategy of a digital, emerging and innovative organisation. Earlier it was strategy focused on consumer tech, the high performing organisation or the stable organisation.

Earlier, organisations moved slowly and transformation was gradual. But, technology-based transformation is so quick that if you keep chasing the ball you will always be chasing. One must quickly guess where it is going to land and be there when it lands. This is the change in the corporate world. We are trying to map the same thing in our education system.

Q/ How is the teaching methodology in b-schools creating better business leaders?

A/ The case study methodology is aimed at simulating a corporate scenario in class and asking students to solve problems and how a manager or CEO came to that decision. It helps them become better decision makers. We have a huge stock of cases written by our own people and when our students go to the industry they face similar issues. It is like practising decision-making on a daily basis.

The cases change in view of the new business environment. For instance, earlier case studies talked about the regulatory environment, but the current cases talk about the technology environment. We also put them in a multimedia environment―as one can simulate the environment better―so that the students can imagine what happens in a corporate boardroom. In the future, we are aiming to use the metaverse for classroom simulation.

Q/ Business leaders have to deal with challenges such as economic uncertainty and cross-cultural adjustments. How is management education helping them excel?

A/ I do not think India is facing the kind of economic challenges that the west is. But, we prepare our students for resilience. Our HR faculty members work with them because we have believed from day one that Indian CEOs are not meant for India alone. There are many faculty members who train our students in cross-cultural aspects. We have a course here known as ERI (exploration, role and identity). The course tries figuring out your role and your identity. It brings out risk-taking capabilities of students. This in turn helps them to be resilient in uncertain business environments. If the captain of a ship panics during a storm, everyone panics. So, we need captains who do not panic.

Q/ What qualities are new-age companies looking for in management graduates?

A/ New-age companies are looking for adaptability and the ability to solve problems as they do not have experts. For instance, in a startup everyone has to pitch in with ideas and solutions. Agility of such companies is very important and that comes when your teaching is decision-making and problem-solving oriented.