BSM Director Dr Prabhu Aggarwal discusses the future of higher education & more - Hindustan Times

HT Interview: BSM Director Dr Prabhu Aggarwal discusses the future of higher education, B schools and more

By, New Delhi
Feb 29, 2024 04:19 PM IST

In an email interview with HT Digital, Dr Prabhu Aggarwal, Director, Badruka School of Management, shares his views on the evolving higher education sector.

The education sector is evolving faster than one can imagine, promising a brighter future for everyone who embraces the change. This golden period of transformation which involves the integration of AI in teaching, learning and many such developments will see the education sector reshaping for the better.

Dr Prabhu Aggarwal, Director, Badruka School of Management (BSM), Hyderabad, shares his views on the evolving higher education sector and how BSM stands out from other business schools in shaping business leaders.(Handout)
Dr Prabhu Aggarwal, Director, Badruka School of Management (BSM), Hyderabad, shares his views on the evolving higher education sector and how BSM stands out from other business schools in shaping business leaders.(Handout)

Among all the transformations in the higher education sector, students choose to study courses from B schools to shape themselves as business leaders in a dynamic and technology-driven business landscape.

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In an email interview with HT Digital, Dr Prabhu Aggarwal, Director, Badruka School of Management (BSM), Hyderabad, shares his views on the evolving higher education sector and how BSM stands out from other business schools in shaping business leaders.

How do you see the future of higher education evolving, and what role do you hope Badruka School of Management will play in shaping this evolution?

Badruka School of Management (BSM) aims to be at the forefront of global competitiveness, leveraging top-notch faculty from around the world. With a focus on providing motivated students with promising career opportunities, BSM aspires to play a transformative role in shaping the evolution of higher education in India.

Embracing technology, fostering interdisciplinary learning, and maintaining a commitment to academic rigor will be crucial in shaping the future of higher education, and BSM aims to lead by example in these areas.

What role do you believe B Schools play in shaping the future of aspiring professionals?

B Schools, particularly through programs like PGDM (MBA), play a pivotal role in preparing the next generation of business leaders for the dynamic and technology-driven business landscape.

The next 15 years present a unique window for B Schools to provide the talent necessary to unlock the potential of India Inc. We should recognise the responsibility to not only impart knowledge but also to instill leadership skills, ethical values, and a global perspective in aspiring professionals.

Could you shed light on the distinctive features that set Badruka School of Management apart from other business schools, emphasising its value proposition for students?

BSM’s distinctive features include a roster of top-notch faculty, block teaching methodology, small batch sizes for personalised attention, and an industry-focused curriculum.

Special attention is given to developing essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and understanding the impact of AI on the future of work.

The emphasis on personalised attention and a curriculum aligned with industry needs ensures that students not only gain theoretical knowledge but also develop practical skills essential for success in the business world.

In the current era of technological advancements, artificial intelligence is playing a significant role in reshaping industries. From your perspective, how do you see the importance of incorporating AI in higher education?

The transformative impact of AI is unmistakable, permeating every facet of our lives. Beyond being a technological augmentation, AI represents a fundamental shift in how we approach problem-solving, decision-making, and innovation.

By incorporating AI education, we can ensure our students are not just users of technology but innovators and leaders prepared to navigate the evolving landscape of AI-driven industries. This inclusion is not merely about technology adoption but about instilling a mindset of adaptability and creative application of AI tools, ensuring students are at the forefront of industry trends and technological advancements.

This strategic integration prepares students not just for today's challenges but equips them with the foresight and skills to shape the AI-driven future.

What cultural aspects do you believe are essential in fostering a global perspective among students in a B-School?

Having undergone graduate studies abroad, I recognise the pivotal role of firsthand experiences in cultivating a global perspective. B-Schools should actively encourage students to engage in international studies and internships, facilitating a profound understanding of diverse cultures, institutional frameworks, and global industries.

This exposure is crucial for developing not only a global mindset but also cross-cultural communication skills, essential in today’s interconnected business landscape.

How can educational institutions effectively bridge the gap between academic knowledge and real-world application, particularly in the field of management studies?

Bridging the gap requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing meaningful summer internships, interactions with corporate speakers, and exposure to real-world problem-solving.

B-Schools should place a strong emphasis on diverse exposures, including projects related to social responsibility and sustainability, ensuring students are well-equipped for the practical challenges of the management field. This approach ensures that academic concepts are not isolated but are integrated into the dynamic fabric of real-world business scenarios.

Would you like to share an experience that significantly shaped your perspective on higher education leadership?

Returning to India after completing my Doctoral work in the US marked a transformative moment. Over two decades with a single University, progressing from Assistant Professor to Assistant Dean provided nuanced insights into higher education’s multifaceted aspects.

This journey uniquely positioned me to apply these learnings in establishing and leading educational institutions upon my return to India. The pivotal aspect was the continuous progression through various roles, offering a holistic understanding of academia’s intricacies.

How do you balance your roles as an active speaker, consultant, teacher, and researcher alongside your responsibilities as the Director of a B-School?

My diverse roles converge synergistically, creating a symbiotic relationship between theory and practice. Experiences gained from speaking engagements, industry consulting, and executive education significantly contribute to fostering a dynamic learning environment.

This balance ensures that the academic environment remains connected to real-world challenges, providing students with a comprehensive and practical education.

As someone deeply involved in operations management, how can businesses benefit from integrating lean processes, and how do you plan to instill this mindset in students at B-Schools?

Operations excellence through lean processes is transformative for businesses, leading to waste reduction and cost efficiency. Integrating lean processes into operations can streamline workflows, improve productivity, and enhance overall quality. By implementing lean principles, businesses can identify and eliminate non-value-added activities, optimise resource utilisation, and enhance customer satisfaction.

To instill this mindset in students, it’s essential to integrate specialised Management Development Programs (MDPs) on lean processes and Theory of Constraints into both core courses and electives. This ensures that students grasp the practical applications of operational excellence.

By immersing students in real-world scenarios, they develop a keen understanding of how lean processes can optimize operations and drive organisational success. Hands-on projects, case studies, and simulations can further reinforce these concepts, allowing students to apply lean principles in diverse business contexts. Ultimately, this equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to lead operational improvements and drive sustainable business growth.

How do you approach the task of creating a cohesive and collaborative environment among faculty members and students?

I advocate for a faculty-led teaching-learning process, where faculty members actively contribute to shaping the institution’s culture. Maintaining a clear boundary between administration and academics is paramount for fostering a cohesive and collaborative environment, ensuring each faculty member’s integral role in defining the institution’s academic ethos. Encouraging open communication, collaboration on research projects, and a shared commitment to academic excellence cultivates a vibrant and supportive academic community.

How can universities and business schools contribute to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship?

B-Schools should envision establishing a dedicated center of excellence to guide students in translating innovative ideas into practical applications. The focus should be on providing students with comprehensive resources and mentorship to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, aligning closely with industry demands.

Initiatives like incubators, mentorship programs, and collaboration with industry partners will create an ecosystem that nurtures and supports aspiring entrepreneurs among the student body.

Drawing from your academic journey, what advice would you give to aspiring academics and researchers looking to make meaningful contributions to their respective fields?

Early and sustained engagement with industry-linked problems is imperative for success in academia, especially within management institutions. Aspiring academics should proactively participate in industry-linked research, gaining exposure to practical challenges that enrich and contextualise their contributions to their respective fields.

Establishing a strong connection between academia and industry ensures research remains relevant, impactful, and contributes meaningfully to solving real-world problems.

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