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Aspirational B-school

IIM-A attracts the best students and great teaching turns this raw talent into gold standard management ability report Mahesh Langa

education Updated: Sep 01, 2010 11:48 IST
Mahesh Langa

Here’s confirmation of what you probably already know: the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has been rated India’s best B-school by the second Hindustan Times Best B-schools in India Survey.

So, what is it that enables the institute to maintain its ranking year after year?

“It’s our greater commitment to teaching and strong internal processes,” said S.K. Barua, director of the institute.

“Teaching is something we have always been committed to and all our faculty members perform more than they are required to. It’s a way of life here,” Barua, who met HT immediately after taking a class, said.

Although in IIM-A, each faculty members is supposed to take around 100 teaching sessions a year of 75 minutes each, most teachers exceed their quota by 15-20 per cent.

The faculty’s commitment to teaching is evident from the fact that although the director is not required to teach, Barua takes around 50 sessions a year.

“All of us take teaching very seriously and do it with passion,” said Sebastien Morris, who teaches economics.

This commitment and hard work obviously has its rewards.

K.V. Kamath, non-executive chairman, ICICI Bank, an alumnus of IIM-A, admitted that the institute had shaped his career to a great extent. “It gave me outstanding exposure to the theory of leadership and management and to concepts of finance,” he said.

The informal “learn-in-the-dorm” system also helps hone talent. Every dormitory is shared by seniors and juniors and the informal discussions they have in their spare time also makes for a great learning experience.

More importantly, the institute helps students develop their full potential and this helps them succeed in fields other than management as well.

Well known cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle and danseuse and social activist Mallika Sarabhai are two former students who have made it big in non-corporate fields.

“My professors allowed me to skip exams in 1984 to do commentary in a Test match for Doordarshan. Then, when I returned to campus, each of them set up a special test for me. That’s the kind of encouragement IIM-A teachers give you,” Bhogle, an alumnus of the Class of 1985, told HT. Incidentally, his wife Anita is from the same class.

But that doesn’t mean the institute doesn’t push students to their limits. It’s common to see students skipping breakfast and tripping over each other in the corridors of the Louis Kahn-designed red brick institute in their rush to reach classes by 8.45 am. “Many teachers prefer to close the doors once classes start, so you have to be on time or miss the bus,” said a student, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the process, students learn a critical lesson — the importance of punctuality and commitment in the corporate world.

Despite the institute widely being considered the gold standard of Indian management education, a senior faculty member, admitted the gap between the IIM-A and other B-schools had reduced in recent years.

“It’s true that other institutes have improved significantly, but no institute can match it in the areas such as its case study-based method of teaching, involvement of the faculty and students,” said Suman Chatterjee, who passed out in 1995.

“Just check… students who gain admission into multiple institutes, including IIM-A, almost always choose Ahmedabad. This gives you a crème-de-la-crème peer group, which is both competitive and fun,” said Glen D’Souza, a second-year PGP student.

“IIM-A remains hugely aspirational,” added Bhogle.

India's Top 50 B-schools

Factfile
Main courses offered: Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGP), Post Graduate Programme in Agri-Business Management
Course fees: R13.70 lakh for two-year PGP
Current batch size: 380
Male-female ratio: 333 (male): 47 (female)
Faculty-student ratio: 1: 9-10
Placement season: 2010 – 1 week; 2009 – 3 days; 2008 – 3 days
Number of offers (2010): Not declared
Average domestic salary (2010): R14.94 lakh
Average international salary (2010): $110,750
Foreign placements (2010): xx
Famous alumni: K.V. Kamath, Chairman, ICICI Bank; C.K. Prahalad, management guru; Harsha Bhogle, cricket commentator; Jerry Rao, serial entrepreneur
Top recruiters: ICICI Bank, Aditya Birla Group, Arcelor Mittal, Morgan Stanley, Citibank, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co
Fun factor: Confluence, IIM-A’s annual international B-school festival