One of the most important revelations that education thinkers have unfolded to the corporate sector in the last few years has been the need for ‘just in time’ rather than ‘just in case’ learning to skill and re-skill the new leaders of organisations and prepare them for an ever changing business landscape. Ronald Alsop writing in the Wall Street Journal has argued that companies will demand higher returns on educational investment and programmes tailored to their particular problems and strategies will provide a bigger and more immediate feedback than the general programmes that have often been the only choice for executive training.
If organisations like Deutsche Bank, Autodesk and Constellation Brands are partnering with the likes of Kellogg, the Haas school of business at Berkeley and the Tuck School of business at Dartmouth to create customised offerings despite the significant cost of consulting and curriculum design time in the US and Europe, why is it that most business school programs in our country are still ‘cookie cutter’ and aimed at a general point of view rather than solving specific learning needs of individual firms?
The IT and BPO industry in India has been shouting itself hoarse about the inappropriate curriculum and pedagogy adopted in most engineering and management schools in the country and invested heavily in designing its own training to help their new recruits ‘unlearn’ outdated skills and absorb industry relevant skills after they join the firm. And the financial services and retail sector have followed this example.
The time has come for a new breed of business education in our country aimed at building a new generation of business and technology analysts who can walk into organisations within the industry they have been trained for and start contributing from the first day they join the company.
The chase for an MBA degree should not consume the real need for students to get the maximum concepts and skills in the minimum possible time to prepare them for global careers in the industry of their choice. This ‘finishing school’ is not a new idea — it has been talked about as a post engineering degree input by renowned academicians like Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala of IIT Madras. While this would be a yeoman venture aimed at improving the single digit percentage of graduating engineers who are seen as suitable for immediate recruitment by the knowledge sector, a similar move in management education is waiting to happen.
All the new industries that are desperate for good talent in India — from Retail and Investment Banking to Retail and Logistics firms to all the knowledge industry sectors are ripe for a partnering program if the Indian School of Business, the Indian Institutes of Management, NITIE and a few of the competent private business schools are willing to make the investment in building long term partnerships. A lot is already being done in these venerable institutions but their future moves could well redefine the objectives and outcomes of management education in our country.
It’s now or never for academia, industry and the student community.
The writer is Deputy Chairman & MD of Zensar Technologies