T ucked away in Manamai village, 80 km south of Chennai, Great Lakes Institute of Management is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by farmland.
Students are not complaining though. The isolation helps them concentrate on the programme.
Great Lakes is among a handful of business schools in the country that offer a one-year post graduate program in management. The school considers applications only from students with work experience. Admission to the school is both through the common admission test and GMAT.
Founded in 2004 by professor Bala. V. Balachandran of Kellogg School of Management, Chicago, US, the school has developed a unique curriculum that includes community work and courses in Indian philosophy, Chinese language and Chinese business.
“The isolated campus and the course in Indian philosophy are attempts to create the atmosphere of a gurukulam on campus,” said Balachandran, who also helped set up other top business schools such as Management Development Institute, Gurgaon and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.
The course in philosophy includes teaching spiritual texts such as the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and community work in which students are required to visit villages, conduct surveys and come up with solutions for problems afflicting society.
“Although some business schools lay stress on foreign languages such as French, Spanish and German, we chose to introduce a course in Chinese language and Chinese business as clearly China is the country to watch out for,” said M.J. Xavier, director of the postgraduate program at the institute.
“In line with the tagline of our institute, 'global mindset, Indian roots', I wanted to create a curriculum that trained managers to be leaders who were aware of their culture," said Balachandran.
The campus, which was earlier in Chennai, recently shifted to its current location, though some construction work remains.
Spread over 18 acres, the campus is a LEED Platinum rated green building, something not many business schools can boast of.
The campus relies heavily on recycling and buildings have been designed to use natural light optimally.
Hostel rooms are air-conditioned. A swimming pool and a hostel block for married students are being built.
The school says all its students have been placed so far. "I was getting paid Rs 3.2 lakh per annum before I joined the course and I hope to get Rs 8 lakh per annum when I finish the programme," said Pushkar Bendre (24), who wants to get into branding and marketing.
Mahabalipuram, famous for its temples and beaches and 8 km from the campus, is the favourite student hangout.
On campus, a crowd can be seen at 24/7 Bistro, a café. College band Straight Fs entertains students in the evenings. Students, however, want more options to eat. “I wish there was a place around where I could grab some non-vegetarian food,” said Bendre.
Committees for media interaction, industry analysis and entrepreneurship endeavours are all headed by students with minimum interference from faculty.
2009: Rs 22 lakh
2008: Rs 16 lakh
2007: Rs 17 lakh
Placement season days
2007: 3 days
2008: 4 days
2009: more than a week
High profile alumni
High profile recruiters
McKinsey & Co, HSBC, ABN Amro Bank, Accenture, Frost & Sullivan