There is a growing demand to reshape business education in the country due to digitalisation. PROFESSOR KIRTI SHARMA tells how Indian B-schools can prepare students to become globally competitive
A lot of times when I read about business and business education related articles these days both online and in mainstream print media, some of the keywords which I come across are: sustainable, impactful, society, talent, value, nurturing, entrepreneurial, creativity, distinctive, excellence, research, policy, practice, decision-makers, leaders, performance, culture, digital, AI-M/C learning, autonomy and design-thinking. This made me think what should be the ingredients and the recipe to make an Indian student compete in a globally competitive environment?
This further brings me back to the basic essence of gaining a business degree. In a generalised manner most people have two primary goals when they come to a B-school – “I want to be wealthy” and “I want to make some difference in the world which matters”. The current generation is more concerned about the second one, hence this makes it almost mandatory for Indian B-schools to have a relook towards the traditional curriculum to more contemporary curriculum.
In the medical colleges, doctors teach students and senior post graduate students teach juniors, similarly in a Law school – practicing lawyers teach the budding lawyers. But in a B-school, not all the faculty have experience with hands-on leadership and decision-making in the industry. Hence there is a need to address these challenges in the Indian B-school education and curriculum. I would like to propose the following six solutions for Indian B-schools to prepare their students to be globally competitive where the future is shaped by technology and innovation.
Technology focus: B-schools don’t have an option anymore to not have technology related topics across functional courses. We are living in the era of Ed-tech, health-tech, HR-tech, Fin-tech etc. As we witness technology’s increasing pervasiveness, the same should cut across all functional domains in a B-school like marketing, finance, operations, strategy, economics, public policy and of course information management.
Industry-institute immersion: To overcome the limitation of faculty not having hands-on leadership or decision making experience, curriculum should allow to have this intervention beside mandatory summer-internship. This will also help to get them exposed to various problems and improve their analytical skills.
Incubation centre: There is a GOI MSME incubation scheme under which they provide financial support to Institutions to develop Entrepreneurial and Managerial skills. B-schools can provide an opportunity to innovate new products and ideas. In fact this can be introduced as a ‘course of independent study’ and can be assessed. This will give freedom to students to craft their own learning and growth trajectory.
Boot camps: We have seen the technology bootcamps becoming popular among recruiters. Almost every company today is becoming a technology company. Hence B-schools should include Boot camps focusing on specific skills to replace traditional methods of teaching concepts like product development, value creation, delivery models to name a few. Hence, B-schools, which can offer a few Boot camps in the wide-range of courses will create a competitive edge for their students as these will have sanctity because of the assessment criteria and will be part of the degree at completion.
AI-data science focus: From banks, restaurants, government office to hospitals every business has some or the other sort of technology cutting across. Hence, Indian B-schools should include some input across functional domains of marketing, finance, operations and strategy. Some such topics should include: Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning applications, block-chain, cyber-security, e-commerce implementation, innovations etc. Field courses should be included where students who wish to get into a specific industry can understand the real problems and use of technology in those industries such as production units of FMCG or medical equipment, banks, refinery, power company.
Specialised electives: Business schools should introduce new contemporary electives as per the global skill demand like electives in machine learning application in marketing and finance, block-chain service, healthcare marketing, food innovation, real estate management and private equity management and doing business with India to name a few.
There is a growing demand to reshape the business education in India in this digital era. Almost one-third of the world population is Gen Z. These are also the future work-force and leaders.
The B-schools should focus beyond just advertising and scholarships to create a global competitive edge for students. It requires courage to chart new routes, which can vary for different B-schools owing to their capabilities, resources and location. But due to digital technologies this is not impossible. India has an advantage that we are in the midst of the whole economic activity. Doing business with India is a popular course across summer-schools in Europe and the US. Students should have a competitive edge as they are sitting right there to see how business is growing in India, how new unicorns are taking birth in India. So, one of the most important advantages Indian B-schools have is that they are located where the action is. This is the right time when business schools need radical innovations if they have to stay relevant.
The writer is Assistant Professor, Marketing, MDI Gurugram