Taking management education a notch higher
Prof. YK Bhushan, Senior Advisor, ICFAI Business School (IBS), Mumbai speaks to Vatsal Sharma about building the brand IBS
You have been a part of the education sector for over 60 years. Tell us about how you have innovated at the ICFAI Business School?
I have been a part of various management associations, AICTE and Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia (AMDISA) and I felt that this school has not realized its potential. In most of these forums IBS did not count at all and the only campus people were aware of was the Hyderabad one. My task was to get IBS included as one of the recognized B-schools in the country. We had no affiliations or engagements with the All-India level bodies.
The second agenda was to attract students. When I joined we had about 120 students which I thought was too small for a school. Third and the most important task – to bring placements which were also not up to my expectations. All of this and the challenge to buildbrand ICFAI Business School was a challenge.
We were able to add numbers in the first year and from 2002 to 2017 we now have over 1700 students. Our efforts to build a brand have paid off. Since corporate sector was known to me they supportedin. Confidence among students too increased. They held pride in being alums of IBS.
We gradually started attracting participation from other big schools in our competitions who started recognizing IBS. Enthusiastic participation from our students in such events helped in building the brand. Result is, today we have 9 business schools across the country with IBS Mumbai preferred over IBS Hyderabad.
What is the student’s perspective about IBS?
The students are a committed lot. We’ve taken steps to engage them closely with the faculty. As a student, I myself was president of the students clubs and I understand how these activities benefitted me and have tried to incorporate the same for our students here. The annual fest for instance, has helped us in being recognized amongst many universities in the city. The students have developed a sense of responsibility towards the institute. For the benefit of our students, we have set up a language lab for our students which would help them in learning languages which are widely spoken. Given the general lot of students who come for admissions, language has always been a sore area for many who don’t have a major command over languages like English especially. Our contact with the corporate sector has helped us in placements and has made us popular among them. Our students believe that the name of the institution is theirs as much as it is ours because it is the students who are at the core of this institution.
Tell us about the organisations that visit you for campus placements.
Our students are aware efforts that we put in to ensure that they get into the career of their choice. They also recognize the efforts we put into their careers to make sure they are ready for placements. Many corporates have shown interest in hiring our students. HDFC Bank for instance, conducts joint certification programs to recruit our students into banking. A similar program was run with ICICI Securities. JP Morgan has also shown a lot of confidence in the quality of our students and their will to achieve several scholarships. We are bound to be the first choice of recruiters from where they seek our students because they know the efforts we put into them.
Is ICFAI investing to proliferate the brand?
We have always invested in our own developments. In Mumbai we have looked at couple of locations where we could build our original campus. We are mainly looking at a large format for a campus in Mumbai, just like the one in Hyderabad. In terms of other investments, a large part of income accrued is spent on faculty development, student development and learning aids. As an institutional philosophy IBS has been investing a lot on learning development processes in conjunction to help the industry. We don’t have a typical corporate planning towards having an investment plan but we do it every year. Especially when we are required to call in international speakers and faculties to provide special lectures. If we have to conduct research activities for international conferences in which I mainly take part in also requires a lot of investment. The institute takes care of all of this. Investment in developing our own faculty, our own students is a continuous process for us.
How has IBS incorporated technology to provide better learning outcomes?
We have a tech platform known as Moodle on which we develop a learning platform known as Quick Force and this helps the students in their participation to their evaluation and it is also a seamless interface which is evolved. In higher education it is a gameplay of new things bringing in case studies and analysis and this is an institute where teachers are more like facilitators. Hence this home-grown edu-tech system works well for us.
What were the key strategies that you applied in uplifting brand IBS?
I would list the following as our efforts to uplift the brand IBS,
- We have a philosophy where we believe and ingrain into our students that they are our brand custodians. They are in the forefront and responsible for our reputation.
- We induct students in the manner where they are comfortable with us.
- We have routine visits by international faculties
- Our students begun showing interest in research and now work with the faculty on papers and live industrial projects.
While faculty members and students work together in understanding the administration and curriculum, we are disciplined and follow a strict code of conduct.
Where do you see IBS in the next 5 years?
The future plan for IBS is to go along the path we have chosen and that is to successfully deliver the brand in the hands of the students. At the same time we seek to make education available to the largest number of people. Business schools are spreading a lot of frustration these days because they take very few compared to the numbers they reject. We thought that if we lay down the standards of acceptability and create a scalable model to go along with that it would help us in solving certain issues. We should be able to take education to the largest possible number and make a difference to the families of students. Every placement we make is a difference not only to the individual but also his family. We have seen many students coming from lower middle class family backgrounds and have worked hard at IBS to later make a difference in their lives and have provided a huge support to their families. Placements from there on have been a primary focus for us since day 1 and also to make education available to the largest number of people.
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