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GL going pan-India

Great Lakes in Chennai is expanding with a new campus and programmes

education Updated: Jan 27, 2011 09:22 IST
Rahat Bano

Tell us about your expansion plans?
India is at a significantly different point in time. HRD minister Kapil Sibal is encouraging international schools to come to India. The number of Indian Institutes of Management has grown from six to 10.

The Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, is going to Mohali. Symbiosis and IMT Ghaziabad, too, are expanding. So it makes sense that we go pan-India. We are not able to give the full spectrum of business management. Chennai is focusing on areas like finance, entrepreneurship and marketing. (The prospective campus in NCR/)Delhi will possibly be for public management with a political angle and infrastructure and energy management. The course offering will be unique to this place. I need to introduce a location-specific focus in the programme.

Bhubaneswar (were Great Lakes is creating a university) is about a lot of innovation and biotechnology. Bihar and Orissa are springing up. Orissa is the place where education in the world started. Nalanda and Taxila are very well-known. But there stood a university, Pushpagiri Vishwavidyalaya, 2600 years ago.

At what stage is your university in Orissa?
The chief minister of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik, has given us about 100 acres of land and allowed us to create and cultivate a state university for teaching business and allied areas, based on Indian values.

The first business school in the world started in the United States. The US model was replicated everywhere but after the recent economic meltdown, it became questionable. So, business education is at a crossroads. The new model has to come from China or India. In India, it's going to be from Bhubaneswar.

The legislation for setting up the university has been passed. The university is expected to be ready in one-and-a-half years.

What programmes will it offer?
It wouldn't teach subjects like history. It'll teach business-related fields including technology, biotechnology, corporate governance, innovation, economics, maths, psychology, English/ communication. It'll be selective, all geared towards creating, communicating and delivering value. So, ethics will be an integral part of the proposition.

And what about the campus in NCR?
I think it should be functional in about a year. It'll be a residential school. We are looking at three-four sites in the suburbs - Greater Noida, Noida and Gurgaon. It may offer a two-year programme. We'll partner with a trust, foundation of a major corporation, somebody with the same values as us.

What's your new MBA programme in carbon credits about, launched in association with the University of Houston?
It's the only programme of its kind in India. If you look at energy officials in the country they are only technologists. They are not technocrats with training in areas such as strategic and investment planning. If I take place people with 10 years' experience in this field, I can give them the best MBA degree in energy management in the world. The session is going to begin this April.

The ministry of petroleum is very interested.

I think India needs, not a carbon copy of some programme, but a curriculum that nurtures emotional quotient. India has leaders but we need more.

How much will Houston be involved in delivering it?
Fifty per cent of the faculty will be from Houston. The CFO of Exxon Mobil will come and teach at Chennai. Admission will be done jointly by the University of Houston and us, based on GMAT scores and an interview.

Bala V Balachandran, professor, Kellogg School of Management and founder and dean, Great Lakes Institute of Management intreviewed by Rahat Bano