The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has remained the country’s top ranked B-school since its inception 50 years ago.
IIM-A director Dr Samir Barua says the institute has, by far, contributed the largest number of CEOs to Indian organisations among all the B-schools in the country.
According to Barua, the institute has probably also produced the largest number of entrepreneurs in the country because over the years, more than 10% of graduates from its flagship post-graduate programme in management (PGPM) have become entrepreneurs.
So what is the secret of this spectacular success?
IIM-A professor Ram Mohan, who recently authored a book on Ravi Matthai (the institute’s first director) and the making of IIM-A, writes, “Matthai taught three main aspects to the institute — autonomy, freedom of expression and sense of faculty governance.”
Perhaps, it is this sense of faculty governance at the institute, where the curriculum is modelled on the lines of the Harvard Business School, that gives the innovative edge to this perennial topper.
Faculty sets IIM-A apart from other B-schools in the country, but, like its peers across the country, the institute has to contend with shortages in this vital segment.
Barua says, “As of now, we have 92 members, but at any given time, five to seven are on study leave or some assignment. Effectively, we have 85 members against a requirement of 125 to 130.”
He adds, “On an average, each faculty member takes around 100 classes (each class of 75 minutes having 80 students) per year, which is more or less on a par with global B-schools. Secondly, we have visiting faculty and professionals who take sessions and conduct courses.”
Asked about the main challenge the institute will face as the gap between it and other B-schools reduces, Barua says, “It is a positive development that the gap is reducing. But to me, the main challenge will come from international B-schools, which will set up their campuses in India once they are allowed by the Centre.”
He adds, “We will have to go global and, therefore, we are tying up with leading institutes across the globe. As of now, we have over 50 collaborations.”
The core strength of IIM-A that benefits its students is a noticeably homogeneous group. More than 95% of the students are engineers and almost 30% are from IITs.
Sanjiv Deb, a second-year student of PGPM says, “I was not sure if I wanted to do MBA when I was studying engineering. But I appeared in CAT (Common Admission Test) and was called for an interview here. I fell in love with the architecture here and decided to study. It is fun to be here.”
Asked about the number of work hours a student has to put in every day, Deb says, “The first year is very tough and if a student gets to sleep five hours a day, it’s a luxury. The second year is more relaxed.”
Second-year student Divya Suresh, who is not an engineer and has studied at the National Law School in Bangalore, says, “I am probably the only student with a background in law.” Asked about any concerns, she says, “Only 10% are female students.” The institute does try to induct more girl students, she adds.
Alumnus Vivek Tuteja, who passed out in 2004 and runs a coaching centre for CAT, says: “My two years at IIM-A shaped my thinking and perspective. It’s a great place to study in and broadens your horizon and world view.”
He adds, “Besides studies, events like Chaos, Confluence and many other quiz shows are very entertaining and educative at the same time.”
IIM-A students vouch for the various clubs — photography, nature, sports and others — on the campus, which provide avenues for engagement.
IIM-A has been a torchbearer in most aspects. It was the first B-school in the country to adopt a case study-based model for education.
The rationale for this is that analysing cases forces students to grapple with the same kind of decisions and dilemmas that managers confront every day.
Instead of traditional lectures, in which professors dispense knowledge and students are passive receivers, the case study method creates a classroom in which students succeed not only by absorbing facts and theories, but also by using the skills of analysis, synthesis, leadership and teamwork in the face of real problems.
Under guidance, students work to analyse and synthesise conflicting data and points of view to define and prioritise goals, to persuade and inspire others who think differently, to think through situations, take decisions with incomplete and uncertain information, and to examine the implications of decisions.
Established in: 1961
Main courses: Two-year PG programme in management (equivalent to MBA) (PGPM); two-year PG programme in agri-business management (equivalent to MBA) (PGPAM); fellow programme in management (equivalent to PhD) (FPM); one-year PG programme in management for executives (PGPX, equivalent to MBA)
Other courses: Faculty development programme for teachers in universities and colleges
Course fee: Rs13.7 lakh for the flagship programme (excluding food bill)
Number of students per batch: 773 in PGPM, which is the flagship programme of the IIM-A
Faculty-student ratio: 1:10
Facilities offered: IIM-A has world-class infrastructure in terms of classrooms, dormitories for students, computer centre, round-the-clock library and sports facilities
Day zero placements in 2011: Not given
Top recruiters: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Tata group, RIL, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, Axis Bank, Bharati Airtel and ONGC
Famous alumni: Kishore A Chaukar, director, Tata Sons; KV Kamath, chairman, ICICI Bank and Infosys; Som Mittal, president of NASSCOM; Harsha Bhogle, noted cricket commentator
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