D Shivakumar’s 10 Thoughts On The Future Of Management Education

The Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy & Business Development for Aditya Birla Group, Mr D Shivakumar, spoke about the 'Future of Management Schools in India' in his keynote address at 'Future of Management Education Conclave' organized by BW Education.

As business leaders try to navigate and rebuild economies savaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic, business schools around the world are rethinking leadership and how to train the next generation of managers in the midst of unprecedented challenges. Mr D Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy & Business Development for Aditya Birla Group, spoke about the 'Future of Management Schools in India' in his keynote address at 'Future of Management Education Conclave' organized by BW Education.

There are about 12000 business schools in the world and about 4000 of them are in India, but things are changing – in 2020 there were 2.3lakh CAT applicants which is the lowest since 2015. “Only 19% of graduating Indian MBAs are fit to be employed,” said Mr Shivakumar 

D Shivakumar's 10 thoughts on what is happening with B-Schools, changes required and how they can improve: 

1. MBA Degree is dying and so are B-Schools 

“MBA as a degree is slowly dying and with it are the B-Schools, If you are running a B-School and offering an MBA degree you need to seriously think about it,” said Mr D Shivakumar. “ The number of programs that a B-School is offering is itself going through a dramatic change. There is a 2 year, 1 year Course, a Management program, all sorts of programs are out there so you really need to think about it a lot more carefully,” added Mr Shivakumar 

2. Business Schools are slow to change and loathe change

“For whatever reasons, Legacy has continued for a long time,” said Mr Shivakumar. “In a fast-changing world that is today its highly unlikely that LEGACY will take us forward” added Mr Shivakumar. The MBA degree is continuously being challenged by Specialized, focused skilled based jobs for example – Specialisation in Finance, accounting, marketing etc “MBA degree which was a wide degree in the past is now turning into a specialized degree because that is what the industry wants” Said Mr Shivakumar

3. All Business Schools offer the same thing, very little differentiation

“If all soaps offered the same thing, then you would buy the cheapest soap or the soap you are most familiar with” Said Mr Shivakumar. “Directors and board members of every B-School should take a long hard look at and think about what is their value proposition There is commoditization of B-Schools until some B-School will break through this mould and move ahead into the future” added Mr Shivakumar

4. Why do people do an MBA – Money! 

About 70-80% of the reason to do an MBA is the advancement of money and prospects of money “We have always found when times are good and the job market is very good its unlikely people will join MBA courses and now when the times are bad thanks to COVID people are unlikely to join an MBA because they know they need to protect their current job” Said Mr Shivakumar

5. A good B-School depends on 

A Real good B-School rests on three things – 

i) Rockstar Faculty - If you don’t have Rockstar Faculty you will not attract good students - Shivakumar

ii) High-quality Employers - Because Money is the reason people join B-Schools, high-quality employers are very important - Shivakumar

iii) Quality of Campus Experience and Network  - The diversity of students and opportunity to learn new experiences is very important - Shivakumar

6. Where does the faulty needs to change

A Rockstar faulty based on meritocracy will bring in better students. Mr Shivakumar said – “The Faculty needs to be less theoretical and more practical in their approach, they have to be industry-linked and lead concept work with fundamental new thinking, need of evaluation by students, more guest faculty needs to be invited. Fundamentally good research is very important, faculty needs to be involved and drive it. Professors of the department need to think not only about their department but the institute as well.”

7. What do students need to do?

Mr Shivakumar said – “Students to need to first focus on the course, because there’re multiple distractions in the colleges, as a large number of clubs in the. Focusing on industry-based aspects of projects, every project should have an industry sponsor and should address real-world issues” Mr Shivakumar also encouraged the students to read regularly and stay up to date on business developments. “Working in teams is a very important industry that doesn’t want a lone wolf and team working is something we can practice in b-schools. And students need to get out of ‘Word inflation, thought recession’ mode saying something with a lot of big terms and jargon while meaning nothing” added Mr Shivakumar

8. What's changing 

Diversity and Inclusion is very big today, IIM Kozhikode has 52% women out of the total batch right now while most institutes are aiming for 30-40%. Entrepreneurship Ecology and sustainability are focus areas today, Internationalization and field learning, Courses are online and offline both. Segmented Specialized modules are offered. “Most importantly Biggest employers of B-school today are consultancy firms BFSI, Retail is all there at the same time ‘Reskilling’ needs to be focused on,” asserted Mr Shivakumar.

9. Industry wants a finished product, they don’t want an Intern

“It’s the job of b-schools to finish the students in a much better manner rather than industry taking them on and putting them through another 12-18 month of course, especially in a POST COVID world people will not have the time for it,”  said Mr Shivakumar.

10. Future of B-schools will see the death of many B-Schools 

“The Future of B-Schools will see at the top end will be a bunch of marquee names, in the middle of the segment we will see a lot of b-schools dying and at the bottom end you will see a lot of specialization essentially lead by online courses,” said Mr Shivakumar. 

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